Pensacola Double Bridge Run—Ideal Race in the Perfect Place
A February Destination for families, clubs, couples—the 15K and 5K run/walk have excellent venues and terrific organization, along with the area’s natural beauty and intriguing history.
Posted Monday, 3 December, 2007
On Saturday, February 2 the place to run is Pensacola, Florida. The 11th annual Pensacola Double Bridge Run offers three options in a beautiful location—the 15K race from Pensacola across Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound to the sugar-white beaches of Pensacola Beach; the 5K run from Gulf Breeze to the parallel finish at Pensacola Beach; or the 5K walk on the same course. On the 15K course, nearly half of 9.3 miles will be over water; for the 5K walk and run, two thirds of the race will be over water. And the views are spectacular. This Double Bridge offers double enjoyment.
There is much to see and lots to do in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pensacola Beach. This event, an ideal winter getaway, will kick off Mardi Gras Week on the beach, so you know there will be a great party atmosphere. What an adventure in Pensacola, with the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, bounded by the National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island. Natural beauty, outdoor enjoyment, history, art, entertainment, and shopping are there for you and your friends—take the opportunity for a long, true destination weekend.
The Pensacola Double Bridge Run 15K carries runners over two bridges, across Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. It will run from downtown Pensacola with a tour that includes the historic district, and picturesque Bayfront Parkway, a run through Gulf Breeze, and onto Pensacola Beach. The 5K invites both runners and walkers to travel from Gulf Breeze to beautiful Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
In addition to the main event, your weekend will offer opportunities to run on the gorgeous beaches of Santa Rosa Island and run through history where the first European settlement in what is now the United States was established. Enjoy the ambiance of early colonial architecture mixed with a dynamic, modern city. Set your sights on this mid-winter 15K and reward your dedicated training with a fantastic run, and vacation fun.
This is the only 15K in Florida, or perhaps anywhere, that is more than 40% over water; and not just water, but the beautiful blue of Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. The Pensacola Bay region is an ideal destination for winter racing, if ever there was one. Terrific planning and attention to detail by the host Pensacola Sports Association along with terrific sponsorship will provide runners with a wonderful race experience—and a marquee happening for the region.
The Double Bridge Run 15K will start on South Palafox Street in front of the new DeLuna Park in Downtown Pensacola at 7:00 a.m. (Please note the new time.) It is an accurately measured 9.3-mile course that begins in the historic district, runs north on Palafox, east on Garden Street, south on Alcaniz Street for a tour of downtown, then east on beautiful Bayfront Parkway, past the Visitors Center at the head of the Bay Bridge, and crosses the Pensacola Bay Bridge (three miles long) to Gulf Breeze. It then crosses the Bob Sikes Bridge to Pensacola Beach. Nearly half the 15K is over water, with gorgeous views all around—a unique running adventure.
Both races finish at separate points on the Portofino Boardwalk side of Via DeLuna on Pensacola Beach, across from the famous Beach Ball water tower. The colorful tower landmark will be invitingly visible for much of the last few miles.
Awards—New Cash Prizes
One of the other changes this year is the introduction of cash prizes for the top three women and top three men in the 15K. The first place prize is $1,250, second is $500, and third is $250. The Overall Male and Overall Female winners will also be named the Pensacola Mardi Gras Parade Grand Marshals, and asked to lead the annual throng through Downtown later in the day. In addition to the overall top three, there will be awards for the top three masters, grand masters, and senior grandmasters. There will be 30 (five year) age group divisions in the 15K, and 32 in the 5K (also 5-year age groups). Prizes for age divisions go three deep. Walkers will receive awards in five divisions for women and five for men. These races provide a lot of prizes.
Point-to-Point with Shuttle Service and Bag Check
Post-race transportation will be available with shuttles from the finish back to the start, with extra shuttles added for 2008. They will run to both start areas beginning at 8:00 a.m. and run continuously until 2:00 p.m. So you can get back quickly or enjoy the post-race festivities. Check the Website regarding post race celebrations at Bamboo Willie’s and Hooters on Pensacola Beach.
Convenient bag check at both start areas enables you to have a change of cloths and essentials delivered to the finish line for your comfort. Gear bags will be transported for you in vans from the start areas to the finish line.
Registration and Packet Pick-up
There is an opportunity for registration and race packet pickup before race day on Friday, February 1, 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Hooters, 400 Quietwater Beach Road, Pensacola Beach. Please note there is no race day registration.
Convenient on-line registration is available through Active.com. Please check the race Website for registration options.
Records, Weather and Such
Ann McGranahan of Blacksburg, Virginia set a new 15K course record last year with her 54:17. Jennifer Hanley has won five of the first ten contests. Pensacola's Everett Whiteside has won seven of the first ten races at the longer distance; and he holds the course record, 45:12 set in 2002. The first race was a 12K in 1998, so this will be the tenth annual 15K.
The weather in Pensacola on February 2 is usually ideal for running: the average high is 62, average low 43, with a mean temperature of 53 degrees. There is usually bountiful sunshine with sunset at 5:25.
Enjoy a Vacation
There will be plenty to do on your mini vacation. First, there's Mardi Gras (for complete details visit www.pensacolamardigras.com). Running, hiking, biking, fishing, harbor cruises, trolley tours, museums and history tours, galleries, the National Museum of Naval Aviation, shopping, buffets, dancing, dinner, concerts, and professional hockey are some of the many activities available.
Exploring the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island is a must. There are 52 miles of beaches in the area (24 on Santa Rosa Island), and all pure snow-white sand contrasting with the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico--ideal for running and walking. Wide paths parallel shore roads for accessibility. Contrast beach runs with winter in northern regions.
National Museum of Naval Aviation
Recognized as one of the best aviation museums in the country, the National Museum of Naval Aviation is free to the public and open 9:00 to 5:00 every day. It is one of the largest and best-presented air and space museums in the world. There are over 170 aircraft displayed, both within the museum itself and on the adjacent flight line. They encompass the history of aviation from its earliest beginnings to today, from crude craft to spacecraft. Exhibits include the famous NC-4, the first aircraft to fly the Atlantic Ocean in 1919. Four A-4 jets suspended overhead remind you that Pensacola is home to the famous Blue Angels precision flying team.
Also housed within the museum is the Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library, established in 1992. Its holdings focus on naval aviation from1911 to the present, and include photographs, books, manuscripts, technical manuals, historic newspapers and periodicals.
Heritage and History
Pensacola is called the “City of Five Flags”, and it should be six if we include the “flag” of the original inhabitants, the Penzacola Indians. And it would be many more flags if we included the number of times the area changed hands, especially between the Spanish and French. Pensacola is the “Place Where America Began.”
The region was home to the Penzacola Indians prior to European exploration. The beauty of the location and the ideal harbor of Pensacola Bay caught the attention of the Spanish, who explored the area in the early 1500’s. Here they established the first colony in present day United States in 1559 on what is now Santa Rosa Island, led by Don Tristan de Luna. It was the first European settlement north of Mexico. This first colony at Pensacola was wiped out by a massive hurricane two years after being settled by 1,400 Spaniards. (Via de Luna, named after the leader of the first colony, is the main highway on Pensacola Beach today.)
French Huguenots established Fort Caroline (near present day Jacksonville) in 1564. But Fort Caroline was destroyed by the Spanish, who then built St Augustine in 1565. St. Augustine was therefore the first “Permanent Settlement” (although nearly destroyed several times by British attacks), but Pensacola was the first.
The Spanish sailed back into Pensacola Bay in 1698, only to be challenged for the area decade after decade by the French, who were entrenched in Louisiana just to the west. The Spanish built Fort San Carlos on what is now the Pensacola Naval Air Station to guard against French invasion. It was built in 1698 and unearthed exactly 300 years later in 1998. It was the first of many forts built by all the “five flag” nations to protect this key location. The City of Five Flags Monument is adjacent to Seville Harbor Dock.
The Spanish held western Florida for most of the colonial period. It was owned by the British from 1763 to 1783, the end of the American Revolutionary War. It reverted to Spain in 1783 until ceded to the United States in 1819. The Spanish flag was lowered for the last time in Plaza Ferdinand VII, and Florida formally became a US territory in 1821. Pensacola was the original Territorial Capital. Florida became a state in 1845, the 27th.
The five flags that have flown over the city include those of Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States. The key location and the conflicts of the competing powers have created a rich history and remarkable heritage, a multicultural legacy. The influences of the colonial periods are still apparent today.
Pensacola is a terrific location for history buffs—and there is much to see. Pensacola has many museums. And there are forts to visit from many eras, including Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island (which is surrounded by beautiful trails and beaches), and Fort Barancas on Pensacola Naval Air Station. The Pensacola Lighthouse is nearby. The Pensacola Historic District, the Pensacola Historical Museum, the Seville Historic District, the Pensacola Colonial Archaeological Trail, St. Michaels Cemetery (essentially an outdoor museum), the North Hill Preservation District, and the Palafox Historic District are all tremendously interesting.
Pensacola, seat of Escambia County, is centrally located, and surprisingly easy to get to, whatever your mode of travel. It is further west than Indianapolis, and almost the same longitude as Chicago. Pensacola is closer to New Orleans (166) than Tallahassee (192), Closer to Atlanta (287) and Nashville (442) than to Orlando (450), and closer to Houston (525), Dallas (651), and Louisville, Kentucky (616) than to Miami (681). Interstate 10 passes just north of the city, with the convenient Interstate 110 spur going right to the city center, almost directly to the 15K starting line.
Pensacola is accessible by a wide choice of airlines, including Air Tran, American Airlines, Com Air (Delta Connection), Continental, Delta, Northwest, and US Airways.
There is a wide variety of lodging available in the Pensacola area, all price ranges. This includes hotels in town, at Pensacola Beach, and near the aviation museum. Check the race Website for choices on accommodations.
Sign up Now and Set Some Goals for the first Saturday in February
This race is a terrific opportunity to set goals to keep your running sharp during the winter. Combine the race with a mini vacation, or make it part of a weeks-long celebration to take in all Pensacola has to offer. Take our advice, and go for this one. For additional information, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (850) 434-2800.