Saturday, July 3, 2010

Daytona Firecracker 4 Miler

This morning was the running of the Daytona Beach Firecracker 4 Miler sponsored by the Daytona Beach Track Club. The race is an out and back course beginning at the Main Street Pier. It runs 2 miles north, you turn, and then sprint back to the pier. There is something brutally honest about a course like this, especially on the return leg when you can see the pier two miles away.

Temperatures were in the mid 70’s at 7:30 am for the race start. Thunderstorms were forecast but fortunately they stayed offshore so we were blessed with overcast skies and a moderate breeze. This is a relatively small event and I think the foul weather forecast kept some people at home.

My daughter and I arrived about 30 minutes early for packet pickup. The goodies included a souvenir beach towel and other sundries packaged in a plastic sand bucket and shovel, very cute. I had just enough time for a quick warm up run before heading to the starting line. This was my first run in the sand and I was a little concerned about how I would handle it. The race followed the water line where the sand is fairly hard packed. It had some give in it, but it made a decent running surface. The beach was littered with jellyfish left by the tide. They are harmless but a little slick if your foot lands on one.

This was my first short race since 2006 so I was unsure how well I would perform.  The lack of experience showed in a very fast (for me) first mile – 7:30. That was the fastest mile I had ever recorded so I was both ecstatic and concerned that I was starting out too fast. At about 13:30 I passed the front runners on their way back to the pier from the turnaround. I reached the mid-point at 16:42 with a ho-hum 9:11 split, the cost of starting out too fast. Mile three started to get tough. The pier is immediately visible from the turnaround at 2 miles but the distance was hard to judge, especially with the visibility clouded by windswept sand and salt spray. I was also beginning to feel the fatigue caused by running in the sand. The slight slope of the beach toward the water, which I had hardly noticed in the first two miles was also becoming an irritant.

I hit the third mile marker at 26:10 for a split time of 9:28 and it was time to push hard for the finish. I reached the finish chute at 33:38 sprinting to stay ahead of another runner I could hear hot on my heels. My final split was a much improved 7:27, which broke my short lived one mile PR by 3 whole seconds. My average pace for the race was 8:25.

After the race I caught up with some of the other members of the West Volusia Runners and exchanged war stories. We had about 8 or 10 people running. Then my daughter and I hit the surf and took a quick dip in the Atlantic. The water was refreshingly cold.

There were bagels, oranges and bananas waiting for us at the awards area. We stayed to hear the announcements and learned the winner crossed the finish line at 22 minutes and change. Very impressive.

My Budding Young Sport's Photographer


  1. I had a son run in this race. I was wondering if you had more pictures of this event somewhere that we could look at them to see maybe if he was in any of them. He was on vaction for the week. Thanks

  2. @Anonymous - These pictures are from the 2010 Firecracker 4 Miler. I unfortunately missed this year's race. I hope your son had a great race!