GlowBash 5K Tampa Race Recap

GlowBash race shirt & bibThis past weekend my mom and I participated in the GlowBash 5K in Tampa. This race/scavenger hunt kicks off “race season” for me. I try not to run between April and September as the weather here in Florida is typically ungodly hot and humid. The other six months of the year I attempt to do a race a month. This season is going to be a little different. It started with registering for the Avengers 5K in Disneyland for the second weekend in November back about six months or so ago. Then my mom found a zombie run in Sarasota she thought sounded kind of fun on Groupon. We’ve both decided we’d like to do races, but want to focus on some that are more affordable than the runDisney races tend to be. After researching the fact the race was a little more off road than either one of us wanted to deal with since we’ve both had knee surgeries, I found a Living Social coupon for the GlowBash.

The race is typically around eighty dollars per person with a t-shirt, post race refreshments, some glow paraphernalia, and a finisher’s medal. We looked at the GlowBash website and learned it was more of a scavenger hunt around downtown Tampa than a traditional race, and this appealed to my mom. So after finding the deal for half off the race, we registered and then tried to find out more about the race. Not much information was out there as far as race recaps, other than one from several years ago, but it ended up being a bit different.

Packet pickup was the two days prior to the race at two Sports Authority locations in the Tampa area. Any team member could pickup the packets with either a copy of the other teammate’s photo ids or a picture of their ids on a smartphone. This made it relatively easy for one person to get the whole team’s packets and t-shirts instead of each individual having to go. The day of the race an email was sent out from GlowBash warning that there was a Tampa Bay Lightning preseason hockey game at the old Ice Palace (I never can keep up with the changing sponsorship names, so forgive me, it is still the Ice Palace), and that there was a possibility of rain, so come early.

Living about an hour away in Bradenton, we decided to leave at 5pm, two hours prior to the race start so we would have plenty of time to find a paid parking spot with race participants now competing with hockey fans for limited space downtown. We arrived at Ferg’s Live, the bar sponsoring the race, right about 6pm, and splurged for parking paying $20 to literally park next door to the start and finish line for the race. This made life so much easier when we were done, it was well worth the price. We could have showed up about half an hour later, but it was fine getting there early since the weather was actually quite nice. The rain held out, the temps dropped into the mid 70s and there was a gorgeous breeze making it one of the nicest evenings in months weatherwise.

About five minutes before start time, each team captain went to the announcer’s table to pick up the race clues for the scavenger hunt. We were instructed not to look at them and were told we would have two hours to complete 10 out of the 11 clues and come back with proof. Some clues required we take pictures, others we had to get a stamp, a coupon, or a wristband from certain locations all over downtown Tampa. We were warned we were not able to used any motorized mode of transportation. Foot travel only was permitted, and we had to adhere to any traffic laws, meaning no jaywalking and only crossing on the walk signal. This proved to be quite interesting, but also provided a nice rest sometimes in between spots.

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At 7pm we were on our way! Since neither of us was in any shape to train recently, we both decided before the race we were not running at all, only walking. We had some experience in the race/scavenger hunt area since we had both done runDisney’s Expedition Everest Challenge before, so at least it wasn’t completely foreign to us. Mom had done some homework, looking at maps and points of interest of Tampa that afternoon, and I used my Google Fu as smartphone use was strongly encouraged, as was the use of GPS and maps. We figured out all the clues first, then decided to map out the locations and go in an order that made sense geographically because we had been told the course could be anywhere from 3 to 7 miles depending on the order in which you did the clues. We were not doing seven miles.

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We were unsure of the location of one of the clues exactly, but found that talking to people as we were going around the course helped. Contestants were helping each other with clues and even asking strangers on the street. Part of the scavenger hunt required you to talk to strangers. We even had to quack like a duck for one of the clues. It was a lot of fun, but we were honestly worried at first we wouldn’t finish in the allotted time. We ended up finishing the race in about an hour and a half and exactly at 3.1 miles, so we were happy considering at least half an hour of that was waiting for traffic lights and crosswalks. Mom really enjoyed it and she said it was even more fun than a regular race because it didn’t feel like a race just running in a big circle looking a the same thing.

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As the name indicates, GlowBash is in the evening with glow necklaces, bracelets, glasses, etc. for the participants to wear, which was cool to see at night all around the city. Folks in Tampa were entertained by us and supportive of us at the same time. There were no road closures or anything, so almost the whole race was completed on sidewalks and crosswalks. It was a different, but fun way to get out, get some exercise and see the city. There’s another one coming up in St. Pete in the spring, and I think we may check that one out too. Have you ever done a scavenger race or other non-traditional race like GlowBash? What were your thoughts?


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