I had been looking for a local race to sign up for when my friend Becca, of Chambray + Coffee, suggested the annual Subaru Thanksgiving Day Classic. I jumped at the chance to do something new this Turkey Day and registered weeks ahead of time. My favorite thing about this race is that organizers used packet pick-up as a canned food drive for local homeless shelters.
Thanks to Becca’s wisdom from running this race in previous years, we made sure to get to the race start extra early before police started shutting down roads. This year there was a record turnout with hundreds of people showing up to register Thanksgiving morning. A finisher medal was offered for the first time this year and I think that may have motivated more people to run.
The on-site registration line was insane.
Walking up to the race area, Becca and I ran right into an old friend from high school. Jacksonville really is the biggest small town. After pinning our race bibs on and making a porta-potty pit stop, we took advantage of the finisher photo op spot before the race started.
We look nice because this was *before* the race.
I was surprised by how close the 10-minute-per-mile pace flag was to the actual starting line. Fall in Florida is wildly unpredictable. One year the timing mats were frozen. The previous year, the temperatures were in the 80s. This year, it was nice and cool – at least until the sun got all the way up. After the national anthem and the gun, we were off!
The course is an entirely flat loop through the Mandarin area. After the first half a mile on a major road, we turned into a more residential area with lots of oak trees and hanging Spanish moss. I felt great and felt like I was going pretty fast – until a dad pushing a double stroller passed me.
I only stopped to walk at the one water station on the 6K course. A quarter mile before the finish line there were other runners who had finished that walked back onto the course to cheer on friends, so I really picked up the pace at the end.
As soon as I crossed the timing pads, I grabbed a water bottle and found the beautiful pile of bananas. The only time I ever crave a banana is after a race.
I was so happy to collect my medal and snag a picture of my race time. My watch read 9:28 minute-per-mile pace, but the official race results gave me a chip time of 9:16 minute-per-mile pace.
As soon as my friends and I found each other in the crowd, we headed home to shower and make our way to the annual block party at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach. It’s a great local tradition of mimosas, bloody marys and pilgrim costumes on Thanksgiving morning.
All in all – I loved adding this race to my holiday tradition and would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to gourge themselves on turkey guilt-free.