Thursday, September 27, 2018

Let’s get ready to run!

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 9/27/2018
by Ken Gooderham

If you’re a competitive runner, your season is right around the corner.

Starting this weekend with the Walk Like MADD 5K Dash at JetBlue Park, you can find at least a 5K race almost every weekend through Dec. 1. And if 5K isn’t enough, there are some 10Ks, 10 milers, half-marathons and even an 80-mile relay on the menu.

Why the glut of good races after a summer of scarcity? Heat and humidity, of course… or, in this case, the relative lack of it as the calendar moves into October and November. The gradual return of snowbird runners doesn’t hurt either, since a bigger pool of potential entrants ensure more successful events.

Why the plethora of 5Ks? They are an easy race to run, and an easy race to organize – and, thus, an easy place for both runners and run organizers to try out an event.

Most runners can handle a 5K without much training, so that distance can draw a lot more entrants than, say, a half-marathon… where adding 10 miles to the 5k’s 3.1 miles makes it a lot more daunting.

Longer run courses mean more work for organizers and more time for racers to be on the course – both a complicating factor when you’re sharing the roadway with vehicles, which means more public safety concerns, more volunteers, more logistics to deal with, etc.

If you already run, skip the next part. If you don’t run but would like to try, read on.

Want to do a 5K? Great! Don’t know how to begin? There are plenty of people ready to help.

  • Go online. There are thousands of websites and blogs ready to walk you through preparing for a 5K (or more)… all with some variation on the “check with your doctor, pick a race, buy some running gear and start moving” theme. Find the one(s) that sound best to you and begin… and, in particular, get yourself ready for the race itself, which is a different experience that just running on your own.
  • Go to a run store. That’s where the experts are, and they are happy to help create new runners (meaning customers) as well as to help build the strength of the sport (since they’re probably runners themselves). They can also get you started on the right foot (literally) with gear (particularly shoes) and advice.
  • Go talk to other runners. They can tell you which are the good races (vs. the ones that don’t always have their act together), offer sage counsel and even become someone that can help you get started in your quest to become a runner – or can hook you up with other beginners to give you a training group to work with.

What if you want to start running but don’t really want to race? Also great! Running is a sport that can be whatever you want it to be, both in terms of exertion and sociability.

Want to run races? Plenty to choose from. Want to run in a group? Our area has a number of options, from the very organized Fort Myers Track Club or Gulf Coast Runners to MeetUp groups such as Running Friends. Prefer to run alone? Grab those headphones (or not) and head out the door.

For some people, races are a motivator, a reason to lace up the shoes and put in those miles. For others, races are irrelevant… it’s just running that matters.

So if it takes a race to get you moving, good. Don’t need one to get you going? Also good. The point is to get fit and have fun… how you get there is up to you.

Ready to ride or run? 


Run?  On Friday, there’s the Bocca Lupo Howl at the Moon 5K at Charlotte Sports Park 7:30 p.m. ( Saturday morning is the Walk Like MADD 5K Dash at JetBlue Park, Fort Myers ( Oct. 4 brings the GCR Corporate Run at 6 p.m. at the Gordon River Greenway, Naples ( Oct. 6 is the Busey Bank Run for Prevention 5K at Centennial Park, Fort Myers, 5-8 p.m. ( And Oct. 13 brings the popular Cops & Joggers 5K in downtown Fort Myers at 7:45 p.m. (

Ride? Critical Mass rides abound: Cape Coral is Friday night, followed by the Saturday morning Slow Roll in downtown Fort Myers, then the original SW Florida downtown night ride on Oct. 5. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details at

Those looking for a longer ride can consider the Gran Fondo Sarasota on Oct. 7, with four distances from 8 miles to 100 miles ( You can also join the no-drop Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning ride leaving from Fort Myers Trek. The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, so helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group.

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Sunday, Nov. 18: Longboat Key Triathlon & Duathlon, sprint and Olympic-distance tris, plus a sprint and Olympic duathlon. Longboat Key Club & Resort (
  • Sunday, Dec. 16: Christmas Sprint Triathlon/Duathlon, Sugden Regional Park, Naples (
  • Jan. 6, 2019: HITS Triathlon Series, with sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman distances. Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota (
  • Willing to drive? Check or for tris around the state.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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