|Port of Pensacola [Photo Credit for all photos unless otherwise indicated: Pensacola Double Bridge Run-Facebook Photo Gallery]|
and, when the alerts are not too high, the National Naval Aviation Museum. [Current guidance is that access to the installation is available only for someone who is a veteran [VHIC card] or who has DoD ID. Those individuals may also escort visitors to the museum without such id.]
|National Naval Aviation Museum|
It's a destination for northerners in the cold months of winter; highs in January are typically in the 60's and lows in the 40's, but it can get hotter or colder. It was ten degrees warmer just after New Year's a couple of weeks ago. Last time I ran in 2017, the temps were just barely above freezing in the run up to the 7 AM race time. The forecast this year looks more favorable, with temps in the low 50's; 9 mph winds will make it feel like 47, but that's not bad for 7 AM, and good for running; in the afternoon it should get up to the low 60's. The humidity of 86% will not be bad for folks from the area, but a few folks have wondered if someone from the Great lakes should not allow an extra couple of days to acclimatize to it. Things worked out okay last time but I have not run as well as I had hoped on my other two Florida jaunts, to Tampa in 2017, and to Naples last year. I drive the longer stretch on Thursday, staying in southern Alabama, with a short stretch on Friday into Pensacola. I hope it will go well, as it did when I traveled to Pensacola in 2017!
Tyler McCandless has often raced in their elite Open field; he was the winner 2013-2015 and in 2018.
|Tyler McCandless wins in 2018 with a 46:03!|
Sonja Friend-Uhl took the Women's Open crown in 2013; her Atlanta Track Club teammate, Mary Sweeney, was first Masters winner in 2015. James Carney set the course record of 43:31 in 2009 for Men, a twitch over 4:44 pace; in 2011, Janet Cherobon ran 49:58, just under 5:22 pace, the fastest time for Women recorded so far. Smoking fast!
|Kimi Reed wins in 2018 in 54:42!|
I ran in 2017, clocking 1:11:35 at age 71, beating my 1:12 goal by 25 seconds, to run my age in minutes. I missed my goal of getting the Senior Grandmaster 1st place. That went to Stephen Bauer, 62, who ran 1:10:32. The last two years the winning Senior Grandmaster time has been faster, 1:02:51 in 2018 and 1:09:46 in 2019. Breaking 1:10 is probably out of the question for me this year; in October I ran 1:13:58 to take 2nd at the USATF Masters 15K National Championships in the 70-74 division.
|2919 USATF Masters 15K National Championship in Tulsa OK--70-74 Podium Finishers L to R-Jerry Learned Bronze Dave Glass Gold Me, Paul Carlin Silver [Photo courtesy of Lloyd Hansen]|
That race is tough because of the many hills and just one long straightaway to find your rhythm. The Double Bridge Run is not easy, but it has a stretch of about 6 miles with nary a turn, just a couple of bends. The first bridge is 3 miles long taking the runners from a little over 3 miles to a bit over 6 and a brief run through the town of Gulf Breeze at the end of a peninsula, before taking the second bridge to Pensacola Beach where the race ends.
|There are Long Bridges to Race Over!|
|Heading Up the Incline on a Foggy Morning|
The two bridges provide the hills on the course. I remember the first one as being the steeper, as well as longer of the two. I understand the 3 mile bridge has been replaced; I trust it is no steeper, but steeper or not, we will all get over it!
The 15K is point-to-point, so early risers have an advantage. The shuttle buses leave from the Finish Line area from 5 am to 6 am. The staging area for the start is at a park surrounding a Minor League Baseball stadium; restrooms are open but there is no shelter to speak of. Luckily it is rarely needed. Gear check ends at 6:40 am so you need to have a plan for keeping warm enough and/or dry enough, depending on weather specifics, for about 20-25 minutes. They have had plenty of time to make sure things are well organized. At 6:55 is the Presentation of the Colors and the National Anthem; five minutes later a cannon is fired and the race is underway!
|They are Off and Running!|
The finish area is big enough so there is plenty of space for the thousands of runners to arrive, yet compact enough that everything from refreshments to gear bag pickup to posted results to awards are located for convenient access.
|Diagram of Finish Area [Downloaded from http://pensacolasports.org/doublebridgerun-maps/#1449774002789-618418e0-0b14]|
My goal is to run as fast as my age, now 74, or faster, so under 1:15:00, but I hope to run closer to 1:13. In 2017 I tweaked something in the week leading up to the 15K in Tulsa so just ran easy to finish in 1:19+. I ran much faster this year but was healthy. A sub 1:13 would be very nice! Either way it will be good to be back out on the roads again!