Parkrun in Florida!
Whilst overfeeding and joining endless queues for rides I managed to squeeze in a ‘local’ parkrun.
If staying in Orlando the nearest parkrun is Clermont Waterfront, about a 40-60 minute drive from the main resorts. If you post on the Clermont parkrun Facebook page you might be able to tie up with some other tourists to car share.
If looking to go then key points are –
- Start time – it’s a 7:30am start, earlier than most UK runners are used to.
- Barcode – the same UK barcode you have works here, they’re standardised worldwide, so don’t forget to pack!
- Parking – free parking opposite the start
- Bring some change – they sell fridge magnets for a suggested $2 donation to help fund the event.
- Visitors Book – the event asks visitors to sign a book with their home location and name in as a nice log of how far and wide people have travelled. You’ll also get a special mention in the briefing.
- Mosquitos – the route is along a lake so worth spraying some bug spray first. You’ll likely be fine without but worth making sure.
- Route – it’s a simple out and back along the side of the lake. They refer to it as trail since it’s not on a road but it’s wide concrete so more akin to a road, bring appropriate shoes. It’s very flat route with only a very minor slope up and down a bridge no steeper than a drop kerb in the UK.
- They have an alternative route for when other events are using part of the course and it’s a proper trail through the trees on dusty unmade paths so maybe don’t wear your brightest, newest, whitest trainers.
Getting there – the website is very handy and outlines as “starting location is at Lake Hiawatha Preserve (LHP). The address is 450 12th Street, Clermont, but some GPS maps take you to West Park, which is about a mile before LHP, so please keep reading. Once on 12th Street from Highway 50, continue north until you cross a small bridge and arrive at a round-a-bout. LHP is at the round-a-bout on the west side. Parking is in the park. Our start is by the pavilion by the lake, and you’ll likely see the setup crew already there.”
I went in March 2018 and the numbers were pretty high for them, around the 130. Compared to my home course in Milton Keynes which is typically in the 500-600 this is a small event but parkrun in US is still growing and this one is attended by a lot of tourists and ex-pats.
Given how expensive US races are (typically $30 minimum) you’d expect a free weekly ‘race’ to spread like wildfire. The volunteers are the usual cheerful and helpful sort that appear at all parkruns.
The standard of runners I’m told varies massively with such a transient group running. When I ran the first 14 runners out of 130 all went sub 20 minutes. Despite running a parkrun PB sand only being a second off my 5k PB I didn’t even make top 10! On quiet weeks a 21 minute would see you win.
Best bit about the early start is you’re done and dusted and back to the parks when they open.