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Wish List Wednesday- Im wishing I could run a history themed race….

This week’s Wish List Wednesday finds me dealing with history and races. Let us clarify first, there is a difference between historical races and history themed raced. Well, at least there is in my mind. A historical race is a classic race that has been put on for decades like the Boston Marathon or even most Turkey Trots. A history themed race is a race that bases itself around an historical event/person/ location like for instance the Pike’s Peak Marathon in Colorado or the Lewis and Clark Half Marathon. It is the historically themed races that the history nerd in me wants to badly get a chance to run.

I wish….. I could run a history themed race!

Set Up- Geeked out for History

Im kind of happily saturated with history these days, between watching the “Hatfields and Mccoys” on the History Channel and my near 3 hour visit to the Tampa History Musuem. Plus I have always been something of a history geek. When I went to college I planned to study history before I was carefully guided into teaching. This did not stop my enjoyment reading druing those days from being books about historical events and happenings like the Battle of Cowpens, War of 1812, and Verdun during WWI. History has always been a central part of my intellectual life and I would love to be able to coalesce that with my love of running.

This beautiful new history center in donwtown Tampa had me longing for a history themed race in the area

In Runners World I have read of several historical races.  Ones that take place across the historic battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam, or on the trails once used by the “Swamp Fox” Frances Marion for hit and run assaults on British forces in the south.  There is the Battle of Bunker Hill Road Race up in Boston or the Richmond Ukrop 10k along historic monument avenue. Longer races that fit this description might include the Marine Core Marathon or the JFK50 MIler. These are just the ones I know of, but I would be willing to bet if you searched around more online you could compile quite a list. It might make for an interesting website idea. So why cannot I do one?

The Battle of Antietam was a landmark violent battle in the Civil War and every year they do a road race through the national park that now celebrates its history

Well for one reason, I dont think Tampa really celebrates their history. At their history museum the other day I was dazzled and amazed by the level of history pertinent in the area. I was also disturbed that I had lived here for 10 years, actively sought out culture and had found very little. This town has tons of it but does a very odd job of inculcating it from mainstream life so that it is hard to find. Therefore, while Tampa has a ton of races that celebrate the different areas of a widespread variety of communities, it doesnt really emphasize any truly historical themed runs that I have seen.  I would love to run something that commemorates the rich history of the area. Is there one I am missing? Or iss this something I just cant get to until I leave the area permanently since road trips are out of the question .

The Ideal Wish- A city rich in history themed possibilites

That Tampa would have a race to celebrate the copious culture and history. Perhaps something related to the Roughriders and the Spanish American War or something related to the Seminole raid on Captain Dade’s March. Maybe a Cigar City Half Marathon or something celebrating Tampa’s rich connection to shipping and ports. I dont know, people who are for me creative than me could surely develop something. I would run it, I would love to run it. I would love to run a a race that celebrated the history of a town I have lived in for 10 years and may be leaving shortly. I wish they had one so much, that I would come back for it at some cost.

Ybor City, just a short trolley ride away from downtown Tampa, was a famous cigar rolling center between 1880-1920. A history themed race through this area could be fascinating

The Reality- Am I missing it?

I dont think one in Tampa exists. The races in this area tend to take on other themes. They celebrate the areas vast connections with nature as well as its many different runnable areas. Clearwater, St Pete, Bayshore, Temple Terrace, Tarpon, New Tampa are all great places to run and loaded with races. Miles upon miles of run friendly roads and trails only enhance this. Aside from the heat, Tampa’s spread out setting and its flat landscape make it an ideal runners town. The history dork in me would just love it if there are one or two history themed races out there, so that I wouldnt have to find one elsewhere. Especially since I cant really afford to find one in another location at the moment

Bayshore is an amazing place to run, and many road races cover it. It seems to be Tampa’s tradition to celebrate its locational beauty as opposed to its history

The Possible- Down the Line

I have not looked at races up in Tally but Im willing to be that their are one or 2 up there which will fit my history themed needs. Tally has an odd mix of culture and history especially in relation to the Seminole Indians.  I also have friends in different parts of the country and at some point in my life I could link up a trip to visit friends in Virginia with a race in Bull Run or a friend in Pennsylvania with the Gettysburg race. I just have to keep a list of this races handy in case the opportunity arises.

Their were 2 battles of Bull Run, which is probably why they can celebrate the history with an ultra sized 50 mo miler. Yikes, but I would train up and try it if I lived in the area

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… Florida Parks and Trails

This weekend’s huge runcheap thank you goes out to Florida Parks and Trails!

Thank you for your excellent, convenient, extensive, and cheap spaces to improve my running!

*****An especially big thank you to Starkey Park and Flatwoods Park, where I have logged many quality miles ****

Now I could write a huge posting about all of the ways I dislike Florida for runners. There are plenty. But thats not what this series is about, so I am going to take this opportunity to focus on something extremely positive about living in the Tampa area of Florida. Namely- the copious, well run, convenient, and ultra cheap parks and trails. A big thank you to all of these trails for all of the following reasons.

1) Convenience- I have talked a few times in previous postings about how much I am sick of driving and do not want to add more mileage or spend more gas money than I already have to for my commute. I need places to run that are NOT out of the way and near locations which I already frequent. In the Tampa area there are parks and trails everywhere, and they are super easy to find. They are not tucked away but very often right off of or near major roads and locations. 2 in particular have been particularly valuable to me. Starkey Park in New Port Richey is a delightful park thats close to where I work and has superb running trails.  Then there is Flatwoods Park in New Tampa which is directly near my parents house and off of a major north south road and near the interstate (both of which I have to drive for various reasons). That park is likewise well kept, well used, and perfect for all sort of runs. Finally, the Suncoast Trail parallels the lengthy Suncoast parkway and is incredibly easy to access. It goes on for miles and miles.  I am just starting to use this one because-Like Starkey Park- I can get to it directly on my way home from work. Convenience is so lovely, and makes things cheap and easy to plan for.

The Suncoast Trail is a popular and convenient haunt for runners and cyclists in the area. It goes for miles along the parkway of the same name, and connects to many Florida parks

2) Cheapness- These parks used to be free. Reality is that the economy in Florida blows worse than it does in most of the country so now they charge a 2 dollar fee to park for a day. I used to gripe about this, but the reality is that its fair compensation for what they provide and what you get access to.

Jay B Starkey Park is the full name of this cheap running location near my house. It is surprisingly located by where I work and is mile marked every half mile. Great Spot

3) Quality- I have done most of my “park running” at those 2 locations , and one of the reasons I go back is that they are quality locations. How could I not go back to a running location that provides me a quality place to run without a lot of personal expense? What do I mean by quality? They have good parking. Their trails are well paved, well mile marked, and have copious water stations. They WANT athletes to come use them. Whether it be runners, hikers, cyclists, or just people looking to walk a dog- all are welcome. I have seen a few other trails in Florida and they have similar characteristics. Also from what I have heard, many of the parks are really good for camping as well

I did a lot of marathon mileage build up at this location. Completely flat, and usually quiet. This is a great place for any type of pace running you want to do.

4) Safety- Florida is not one of the safest places to run on roads. Its just not. It has a high pedestrian accident rate, and its reputation for having bad drivers is (in my opinion) well earned. If you are lucky enough to live near one of Tampa’s extensive housing communities with the stupid flowery names, they usually have runnable sidewalks and trails. I did a decent chunk of my base building at my parents community. Still I never felt really safe and I never do unless the trail really isolates itself from the road. You dont have to think about that when you are running in parks. When you are there, you get ” race time” conditions. You can just let it go and blast a good tempo run or chill and enjoy the nature around you with a LSR .  Obstacles and what not can be fun, but to me,  my running improved because I didnt have to worry about traffic lights, stop signs, and cars while I was trying to build mileage.

I would love to do more running on the Pinellas Trail

5) Races Lots of parks with trails also means lots of great chances to run races. This weekend I am running the Florida Beach Halfathon, one of a four road race series in this area that all take place (at least somewhat) on these trails. Additionally, there are races on the Pinellas Trail which goes through Palm Harbor and through Clearwater quite frequently. There are ultra races up at a park near my house this weekend, and a few trail races in local/close parks this summer . Hell there was a half marathon at Starkey Park just last weekend. Races abound. I think the extensive park system in the area really lends itself well to setting up a variety of races, which is why there are so many in Florida during race season. To me races on these trails also seem cheaper. This is an unscientific theory, but one I will pay closer attention to in the future.

Ft. Desoto Park is where my race is this weekend and has trails and a scenic locale

Whenever I move away from this area to another permanent location, I know one of my requirements will be that my new location  has a great public parks system with runnable trails. Florida has set a super high bar for that. So a huge runcheap thank you once again to Florida Public Parks and Trails!

Enjoy your. Enjoy Your Day :0

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