Thursday, February 11, 2021

BikeWalkLee: Races return, but with new rules

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, February 11, 2021
by Ken Gooderham

The good news? Races are returning to the run and bike event calendar. The bad news? Things are going to be a little different for a while.

Let’s start with the biggest running event in town – the Edison Festival of Light 5K.

While the Grand Parade has been cancelled this year (details at, the run goes on… with a new route, new rules and new requirements.

All the details are spelled out on the race website (, but some things to note:

  • Online registration closes at midnight on Friday, Feb. 19.
  • There will be NO race day registration – no exceptions.
  • Masks and social distancing required (except when running).
  • Start and finish at Campo Felice in downtown Fort Myers.
  • Plan on a time trial start to keep runners the required distance apart.
  • No awards ceremony, and overall awards have been reduced.

The Junior Run (four different lengths based on age) will be held prior to the 5K, starting at 4 p.m. on Feb. 20. Many of the same restrictions and requirements apply, and you can get all the details at

This year’s events won’t offer thousands of cheering spectators lining the streets, but at least there’s going to be a race at all. There will be a lot of local runners who are happy just for that.

Trail runners can look forward to the Hooters River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run on Sunday, March 7… also with some new rules:

  • The race is capped at 350 participants.
  • No race-day registration and no spectators.
  • No water stations, but you can bring your own bottle and refill along the course.
  • No awards ceremony.
  • Masks and social distancing required (except when running).

It’s a 10-mile run only this year, with the usual 5K on hold due to pandemic concerns. All the details are at

Cyclists looking for an organized ride can mark March 7 on their calendars, as the Naples Bike Brunch rolls out with five different distances (all mapped for your convenience) starting from Lowdermilk Park in Naples (or from your own home, if you prefer).

Serious cyclists can tackle a century (100 miles) or a metric century (62 miles), while those looking for a more reasonable ride can pick from 40 or 20 miles or a 5-mile family fun ride. Proceeds support the Naples Pathway Coalition’s effort to promote safe biking and walking.

Details are at or

Finally, there’s a different take on cycling events: The CSW Florida Bike Challenge.

All through March, individuals, workplaces and bike clubs can sign up to see how many miles they ride and how many people they can encourage to get out on their bikes. Miles add up to points, which add up to prizes.

The challenge covers Central Southwest Florida (hence the CSW), from Polk County to Collier County, and kicks off March 1. Details are online at

Of course, cyclists can still show up for the myriad Critical Mass rides, covering Cape Coral, Sanibel, Northeast Lee and downtown Fort Myers. And the Caloosa Riders calendar is always full of club rides in a variety of routes, speeds and locales.

EVENTS: Here’s the latest in organized running and biking events locally… but confirm with the organizers and be flexible in case conditions change and large-group activities are limited. Of course, wear a mask and act appropriate to your age, physical condition and medical concerns.


  • Edison Festival of Light 5K, Saturday, Feb. 20.
  • Edison Festival of Light Junior Run, Saturday, Feb. 20, 4 p.m.
  • Hooters River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Sunday, March 7
  • Downtown Dash, 1-mile run/walk, in person in downtown Fort Myers Friday, April 16
  • Head & Neck Cancer A Hard Thing to Swallow 5K Run & 2-Mile Walk (in-person and virtual), Saturday, April 24


  • Naples Golden Eagle 5K (in-person and virtual), Saturday, Feb. 13, Lowdermilk Park, Naples.
  • Baker Park 5K, Saturday, March 27
  • Run for the Music 10K, Saturday, April 10


  • Paradise Coast Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, March 13 
  • Venice Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, March 27
  • City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K, TBD



The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar ( for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.

SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up online ( for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).

  • SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers. 
  • Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
  • Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
  • Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.

If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new helping hand would certainly be welcomed.


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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