The inaugural Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation Half Marathon was announced earlier this year. The race boasted a one-of-a-kind course around historic space launch facilities that are normally not open to the public. The beneficiary would be the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundataion, and the finish line would be right beside the iconic 150-year-old structure. I signed up right away. Later, a 10K option was added, and boy, am I glad it was. Still suffering from some Achilles issues, I dropped down to the 10K race day morning.
The usual goal lately applied here once more: to finish and not further injure myself. I knew there would be a lot of walking.
Race Day: November 11, 2018
It was made clear that security would be tight for this race, which took place on Cape Canaveral Air Force Base property. I aimed to arrive early, especially since runners had to be shuttled from the parking lot to the start line. I left home around 4AM and had the car parked by 5:30AM. I had no problems but I know several runners who arrived later than me were stuck getting into the parking lot. The start of the race was eventually delayed due to the backup. We had a nice sunrise while we waited.
It was 72°F at the start with sunny skies and about 83% humidity.
Mile 1: 12:19
I knew the course would take us to old spaceflight locations but I was not sure exactly what we'd see or experience. I aimed to take it easy and not worry about stopping for photos or if I wasn't feeling great. There wasn't a lot to see during the first mile, which took us out along Phillips Parkway. The road is named after the Director of NASA during the Apollo Missions, Samuel C. Phillips.
Mile 2: 12:32
We took a right turn onto Pier Road, heading east. Here we passed some administrative buildings in current use and we were not allowed to take photographs of them.
Mile 3: 17:17
Shortly into this mile we passed the old Launch Complex 25, used for several missile test launches from 1959 to 1979. Now we were starting to see some interesting things, and I took my time to look around and take photos. Before turning left onto an unnamed service road, we ran up a small hill, used as a rocket camera tracking mound, for some ocean views and first our peek at Launch Complexes 5 and 6 to the northwest. We could see a rocket in the distance. Besides this hill the race was entirely flat.
Mile 4: 18:18
We ran right by Launch Complexes 5 and 6. LC-5 and LC-6 were both used to launch Jupiter, Juno, and Redstone rockets in the 1950s and early 1960s. They are no longer used. A Mercury Redstone rocket stands on the site. Lots of runners stopped to take pictures.
We took a right turn onto Museum Circle, which looped around the Air Force Space and Missle Museum, on old Launch Complex 26. This museum is accessible to the public via NASA bus tours only. Running around the site, we saw lots of artifacts outside, including a Delta IV Common Booster Core (CBC), a Titan I, and various Gantry and Blockhouse buildings.
Mile 5: 15:05
We headed out onto IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missle) Road. This was a long straight piece with little shade. We could see some more old defunct launch pad complexes in the distance (LC-17, LC-18, LC-31, LC-32). We turned left onto Flight Control Road.
Mile 6+: 18:06, 4:28
The final mile took us down Flight Control Road before turning right onto Lighthouse Road, heading for the lighthouse. We passed some storage buildings used to keep wreckage of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
The 10K ran the same course as the first part of the half marathon; 10K runners walked another kilometer to the main finish line party where the half marathon ended. We were treated to this fun quote from Neil Armstrong after we got our medals.
There was a lot going on after the race. Water, bananas, pizza and beer were on offer. The lighthouse was open for tours. And another awesome treat: Hangar C was open. Completed in 1954, Hangar C is one of the oldest structures on Canaveral Air Force Station property. It is the oldest surviving structure. It was originally used for missile assembly, but today it is a museum warehouse. It sits close to the lighthouse.
Inside Hangar C are various restored rockets, drones, and missile-related equipment. Dr. Wenher von Braun had an office in the building in the mid 1950s.
I am all about races in unique places. All of the old rockets and buildings and space history were very cool. I was hurting a bit in the second half so while I was disappointed to not run the half marathon, I knew I made the right choice. This was a well-run race in a seemingly difficult location. There were fine amenities and treats after the race. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope it will continue because I would love to run the half. Highly recommended.
Chip time: 1:37:59
Placement details: 233 out of 343 women; 353 overall out of 500 finishers
Race Amenities: Long sleeve tech shirt and medal for all
Cost: $87.95 (I had paid for the half; this includes $7.95 processing fee)
Report written November 25, 2018