Race Report: Clermont Clay U Pick U Run Blueberry 5K 2017

The U Pick U Run Blueberry 5K is fun themed race that takes participants along a clay road course through and around Southern Hill Farms in Clermont. Blueberry pancakes are offered to runners following the race, and spectators can also join for breakfast for a small fee. Afterwards, particpants and spectators are invited to pick blueberries to take home.

Training & Goals
Through September I'm keeping my modest base, hoping to remain "half (marathon) ready". This race sold out last year and I was sorry to miss it. I signed up early for this race and purchased a spectator breakfast voucher. Arthur ended up traveling during race weekend so my mom came with me. This was my first run on the locally-known clay roads of Clermont and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I had no notions of a PR and only planned to have fun and finish healthy.

Race Day: April 29, 2017
Mom and I left my house nice and early but we shouldn't have followed my car's GPS because we got extremely lost. There is a lot of new construction between DeBary and Clermont and for a while we were on roads my car's GPS didn't recognize. We managed to find our way using Google Maps on my phone but we arrived much later than I had hoped and we ended up in long slow line of cars filing into the parking area with little time to spare. Race volunteers had us park in a soft dirt lot and we passed a couple of smaller cars that were stuck, abandoned by their drivers in the middle of the through lane. I was fairly panicked we would also get stuck in our Prius but we managed to plow through and actually lucked out with one of the last parking spots in the over-stuffed lot. There were a lot of runners in line behind us also trying to park and I'm not sure where they ended up but the race was significantly delayed due to parking problems (apparently exacerbated by a tractor accident on the road as well).

Because of the delay I had time to pick up my packet, hand over my shirt and goodies to my mom, and have a look around before getting lined up to run. The race was delayed by about a half hour.

It was 73°F and partly cloudy when we took off around 8AM.

Mile 1: 11:18
It was a crowded start out of the blueberry patch. The dirt road had a lot of puddles and ruts from recent rains and footing was tricky.

Mile 2: 11:52
And then I found out I don't like to run on clay roads. I felt like I had to watch my feet the whole time and couldn't really enjoy the course, which took us along some woods as well as the blueberry fields.

Mile 3+: 11:45, 2:45

After Party
I found my mom and we spectated at the finish line for a little bit before lining up for blueberry pancakes. There wasn't enough seating for everyone so we huddled over a utility box of some sort with a few other runners. When we were done we picked up a bucket and container for blueberries. I thought it was fun to go out and pick berries. The little farm shop window had fresh blueberry treats for sale, and I got a couple of blueberry muffins to go.

When I went to check the results later, I couldn't find my name. When I got home I sent the race director an email and was told to check again -- they had been added. The results are pretty far off from my Garmin data. It looks like they recorded my clock time and not my chip time? I'm way out of the running for any placement so I'm not too bothered.

Recommendation
While I don't personally like running on clay roads, I know they are popular with some runners. The parking situation was unfortunate, as was the late start, but I don't put too much blame on the race organizers -- we were late due to our own mistake and a traffic accident can always unexpectedly add extra trouble. I don't plan to run this race again but I hope to get out to the farm in a future season for blueberry picking.

Official finish time: 38:35
Placement details:
33rd of 68 in age, 378th overall out of 828 finishers
Race Amenities:
Runners received a nice cotton race shirt, custom medal, blueberry pancake breakfast, and 1 container of u-pick blueberries.
Cost: $42.00 including $5 spectator pancake breakfast voucher

Report written May 18, 2017

Addendum 9/28/22: I gave this shirt away (Goodwill) in September 2022

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