Thursday, September 12, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Races are here, even if cooler weather isn’t

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, September 12, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

Are you ready to run? Well, the races are ready for you.

The calendar says September even while the thermometer says it’s still summer. Nevertheless, the fall racing season kicks off this weekend with three event that seemingly cater to your level of run readiness:
  • If you’ve been putting in the miles all summer (for which I doff my sweat-soaked cap to you), there’s the Venice half marathon (with a 5K as well, if you’re not quite ready for 13.1 miles of steamy fun).
  • Haven’t laced up the running shoes in a while? Consider the Average Joe 5K in Naples, where the pitch is: “Welcome to ‘The World’s Easiest 5K’ where the person who finishes in the middle is the winner!”
  • Somewhere between the two you’ll find the Tunnel to Towers 5K run/walk at Lakes Park, organized to honor FDNY firefighter Steven Siller (a victim of 9/11) as well as first responders and the military overall.
After this launch, you’ll find almost every weekend through Thanksgiving hosting a running event of some ilk, from the typical 5Ks to the next-step 10Ks, then to a half-marathon and finally reaching an 80-mile relay from downtown Naples to the Sanibel Causeway and back. And that’s just this year!

So what do you need to do if you want to join the race? The first question may be what have you been doing already?

If you’re a regular runner used to the still-sultry temps, pick a distance you feel comfortable doing (or have the time to train for) and go. You’ve likely gotten the acclimatization thing down cold (or warm), and you know what you need to do to stay hydrated and happy for an early-morning race (which most of these will be until we shave a few more degrees off the thermometer).

Not used to the heat or distance, but still used to running? Pick a short and simple event and watch the weather for a break in the humidity (we got a little taste of that with Dorian’s passage to the east, short-lived as it was). And if the going gets too tough, stop going (or at least walk it off). How well you are able to handle the heat may determine how long you will be able to run in it… and living to run another day is smarter than making yourself sick (or worse).

A better compromise? Look at the upcoming events and distances, and pick one to set for a goal. That will give you the time you need – and the drop in temperature you want – to help you have a great race.

There could just be a 10K or half marathon out there with your name on it.

ERRATA: Checking the event calendar for Critical Mass (the street party where a bike ride break outs), it appears the group shifted both the date and location for its sixth anniversary party. Now it’s planned for this Saturday (Sept. 14) beginning around 5 p.m. at Millennial Brewing Company in downtown Fort Myers. Details online at

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? As mentioned above, things really pick up on Sept. 14, with the Tunnel to Towers 5K run/walk in Lakes Park, the Average Joe 5K in North Collier Regional Park, and a half-marathon in Venice. Details at,, and This is followed by the Downtown Dash 1-mile run/walk on Friday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m., Lee County Regional Library, downtown Fort Myers (

Ride? Besides the anniversary celebration Saturday at Millennial Brewing, Critical Mass has the regularly scheduled rides on tap as well:
  • Saturday, Sept. 14: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel.
  • Friday, Sept. 20: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd.
  • Friday, Sept. 27: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m., start at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street.
  • Saturday, Sept. 28: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details at

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Saturday, Sept. 21: The Original Siesta Key Tri, sprint (
  • Sunday, Nov. 17: Longboat Key Triathlon/Duathlon, Olympic and sprint distances (
  • 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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