As I indicated yesterday, in addition to the small 5K I ran, I also ran for the 5th time the "Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon". I am lucky enough to have this event be in my home town, Rockledge, Florida and just a 10 minute drive from my house to the start. I am also lucky enough to have been involved with this event for the past 6 years (I took a year off somewhere in there) and experience first hand how it has grown and matured. This event is no baby, this year was the 40th Anniversary, but up until about 4 years ago, it was still treated very much like the hometown race. My first year I ran it, I vowed to never run it again (thus the year off). It was Florida hot, and water and aid stations were severely lacking. I remember on volunteer blocking traffic giving a lady her water bottle because the next water station was not for another 2 miles... At the time the race was only attracting around 1000 runners, understandably small.
Then things changed, the people who organize the race, The Running Zone of Melbourne, apparently listened to our comments and suggestions and started promoting the race on a national level. They gave the race a space theme (I now have a really nice space shuttle medal) and enhanced the overall quality of the race. I can now say that it is one of my favorite small scale races.
The changes have worked so well that this year there was over 3000 participants, plenty of water stops (one every mile) and energy gels (one every mile after 15) and one of the best post race celebrations I have seen (pancake breakfast, pizza, fresh Florida orange juice etc...) Additionally, they have stepped up the game with a really great medal, and a beach towel for each racer in lieu of the ever popular metallic blanket.
The course is very nice as well, I do have to warn that it is an out and back race down a single road, but it is very scenic, with the river on you side and in view the entire way. If you are lucky, you will see some dolphins in the water pacing with you. The road is easy for spectators as well and because of the out and back layout, they can see you two times without even moving.
Overall, it was a good experience and I am all ready looking forward to doing it again next year.