Yes, we’re on holiday, but there’s only so long we can sit still so running remains part of our routine even when we’re away. Our plans this year meant that we would have to skip our usual trip to the Run Thru Hell, but when dad came across this new-to-us race, we couldn’t resist!
Billed as “America’s Coolest Race”, The Chocolate Sundae Run offered a 5k route, gender-specific tech Tshirt, medal and chocolate sundae at the the finish. Sold! All 4 of us signed up and were looking forward to trying something new.
Llike last Saturday it was another early start as we had to leave at 5:30am for the one hour drive down to Tampa. Funnily enough, we were actually at the race venue (The Florida State Fairground) last Sunday evening to see Rascal Flatts at the Ampitheatre there so we knew roughly what it would look like and anticipated a flat course, mainly around the grounds/car park.
We arrived around 6:30am, were directed to a parking spot in the huge car park then walked around to the other side of the grounds to collect our race packs. Once more, our race numbers had a tear-off coupon on them, this time for our post-race sundae!
I was pleased to find there were proper toilets available so nipped in while it was quiet before walking back around to the car to get organised and leave our bags. Once back in the start area, things were getting a little busier and there were more people gathering to register.
We grabbed a seat under the canopy until it was time to start, listened to the announcer and watched some of the setup, particularly the all-important sundae prep!
Then with a few minutes to go, we headed over to the start area and caught our first glimpse of the race medals – spoons!
This was billed as more of a fun run than a serious race, although there were a couple of fairly serious-looking guys there. That said, it was chip timed so everyone would get an official time. There were no age group prizes, but the race info did say that the top ten would be “scored”. I wasn’t really sure what that meant and wondered if the top ten got extra sprinkles on their sundaes, however while I thought Steve could make a top ten finish, I expected to just miss out so didn’t give it much thought.
As we lined up, the announcer mentioned that it was a mainly female field. I wonder if the chocolate sundae was the draw? I decided to position myself a little further forward than usual, but then Steve beckoned me forward and before I knew it I was up front, lining up with the big boys. Eek!
We were counted down and underway. My legs tried to start out at “Parkrun pace” but I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto that in the heat and didn’t anticipate much shade along the course, so pulled back a little and settled in. A few guys passed me, but soon I found myself running completely alone with a big gap in front and behind, which seemed strange in a field of over 400! Undeterred, I kept running and followed my usual “humid run” pattern of first mile ok, second mile starts to feel a little warm, third mile tough. There were water stations at the first and second mile markers, so I took a cup, walked while I drank and poured the rest down my neck.
In all honesty, the course was dull. Lots of tarmac around the grounds, zigzagging around the paths and very little to look at. In some places, it was hard to tell whether the other runners I could see were ahead or behind as the route twisted so much. There was also a tantalising glimpse of the finish line ahead with around a half mile still to go, and although I knew I hadn’t covered the distance yet, it was still disappointing to be so close to the finish then veer off the other way!
As I came in towards the finish I was still alone, but could see Steve waiting to call encouragement to me. I sprinted over the line, stopped my watch and collected my medal and a bottle of water. I then headed for a seat to cool down a bit before going to get my sundae. Ironically, despite the fact that it would be cold, I knew it would make me feel sick as I was so overheated. I sat down under the canopy again, which had a fan in the roof, and drank my water with dad and Steve. We then wandered over to the finish line to wait for mum, checking the results board on our way.
And that was when I got my big surprise. Official time 25:55 (marginally faster than at Cool Summer Mornings last week), 26th overall (out of an eventual 466 finishers!) and 9th female (out of 264!). Yes, 9th. I sneaked into the top ten after all! Actually, I was initially listed as 10th, but someone ahead of me was disqualified (no idea how you get a DQ at a fun run, but there you go) so I was bumped up to 9th. Steve was 6th overall and 5th male. It was only as we headed over to watch for mum that we spotted a table of medals for the top ten finishers. Yes, it was to be a two medal day 🙂
But before that, there was the important matter of having a chocolate sundae, so we joined the line and collected our yummy treat:
No sooner had I finished it, than the announcer was saying they were going to award the medals to the top ten finishers, so Steve and I headed back over to the start/finish area and waited until our names were called. The medals had the race branding on one side and the finish position on the other:
Dad then took our “double medal” photo by the race backdrop before we headed home. (Actually, he took about 15 photos. He somehow always manages to hit “burst” mode!)
Weighing up up the pros and cons of this one, I’m not sure if we would do it again. It wasn’t a cheap entry fee, although the race swag of two medals, a tech Tshirt and a chocolate sundae was pretty good, however the only other post-race food was a banana whereas cheaper races we’ve been to have had a massive spread. This meant a breakfast stop on the way home. Also, it was a long drive for a particularly dull route and fewer opportunities to win a prize. That said, if this race is taking place near you, I’d say give it a go as it was well organised, the staff were friendly and there were no obvious issues. If you don’t mind running round some cones in a car park, then this is the race for you! Still, you never know until you try and I did have fun. The top ten finish was just the (extra) cherry on top of the sundae 🙂