My friend Mariam was planning to run her first 5k and asked me to run with her. How could I say no to such an honor. She had selected the Annapolis Strider’s Dashing Through the Show 5k at Sandy Point State Park.
It wasn’t your normal 5k. It took place on a Friday night, had a limited number of participants and ran through the Lights on the Bay. Lights on the Bay is a series of lit up scenes which normally you would pay to drive your car through. It is awesome if you have little kids and we have done it the last three years. The proceeds benefit the Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Pre-Race: All the information that is available is a one sheet PDF located on the Annapolis Strider’s website. It had just the basics. The gates to the park would open at 5pm, there would be no online registration, cash or check only and there was a limit of 200 cars. Being a bit of an information whore I had hoped for more but you get what you get and you don’t get upset.
Race Day: As I mentioned earlier, it was Mariam’s first 5k so I was hoping things would go as smoothly as possible. The weather was unseasonably warm and it was sprinkling on and off all day. Unsure how crowded such a limited event might be, we got there at 4:45. We weren’t the first car in line, and by 5pm I would still say the line was no more than 10 cars deep. You pay at the entrance to the park (14$/person which is the same as a car on a normal night). Kids under 10 were free.
The park attendant directed us to the starting area (go to the big red crab and make a left). You turned in the registration form and received a blinking red light and a pair of 3D (?) goggles. There were cookies and hot chocolate available and bathrooms close by. Sadly they did not have race bibs or a race shirt for Mariam’s first 5k. I understand it was a run for charity and only 14$ but it would have been nice for her first race. She did get an experience unlike any other 5k.
The Race: The race takes you through all of the Lights at the Bay displays which is what sets this race apart from the others. It is very, very flat the whole way through. I did have a problem with how the race was marked. They did have a map at the starting line and they did have people around the course, but I know I saw people running all over the place. I do think there was some confusion on the course and our GPS said we did closer to 3.4 miles. I wasn’t running for a PR and it was more of a fun run but I still like to have the course marked a little better. We finished our extended 5k in about 41 minutes.
I had 3D glasses but all they did for me was make everything blurry. I felt like a drunk runner when I had them on and could only stand to wear them for about a minute. I can only speak for myself but I found them to be unnecessary.
More importantly Mariam completed her first 5k and I was honored to be there to support her.
Post Race: The awards started at 6:45 so we weren’t there during that phase of the race. 30 minutes is a little short before starting the awards but I know they had a timeline to get everybody out of the park so they could let cars in. They did have water and pretzels at the end.
Goodies: You get the 3D glasses and a blinking star pin. You also only paid $14 for this race which is what it would cost to drive your car through.
***Overall I would give it three and a half stars. I am not a big fan of running at night and I would like the course to be marked a little better. On the other hand you can’t beat the price at $14 and you get to enjoy the Lights on the Bay in a unique way. Not my favorite but it is for a great cause.