Race Recap: Escape to Belle Isle 10K

Surprise, surprise! I ran a 10K race over the weekend! And in a beautiful setting. Check out these views!


There are two countries in that photo. Downtown Detroit, part of the good ol’ U.S. of A., is on the right, while the buildings on the left are in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. HELLO, CANADA! And I’m standing on Belle Isle, in the middle of the Detroit River. Belle Isle was the venue for the race, which makes sense, because the race was called “Escape to Belle Isle.”

With 982 acres, Belle Isle is the largest city-owned island park in the country – even though it’s a state park now, because Detroit leased it to the state of Michigan two years back, to save money. I remember going to the Belle Isle Aquarium as a kid, and there’s also a noted conservatory on the island, as well as a small nature zoo, golf course, sports fields, and other park amenities. There’s a road that runs around the perimeter, and guess what? It’s just about 6 miles long. Add in a short loop near the start and finish line, and you have a great 10K course!


There was also a 5K race, where you take a shortcut across the center of the island.

I’ve been eyeing this race for about a month, even though I didn’t official register until last weekend. I wanted something physical to do while in Michigan, to keep me motivated, and a 10K was a good choice, because I haven’t competed in a 10k in nearly four years. (My last 10K was a fun race through famous movie sets at Universal Studios.) I considered the 5K, but thought I’d regret not running around the entire island when I had the chance.

RELATED CONTENT: Check out my recap from when I did one of the most famous 10K races in the world!

We got there nice and early on Saturday morning. I say “we” because my mom came along to spectate and cheer me on!


I got my bib: lucky number 2031.


I couldn’t resist a selfie with the mascot. This lion is either named Lucy or Sammy, I’m not sure which:


Then I loosened up by taking a walk/jog around James Scott Memorial Fountain, one of the island’s best-known landmarks.


I took a lot of time to stretch, as I was still a little sore and stiff from a tough workout two days prior (which I shared on social media and hope to blog about soon), and I didn’t want to hurt myself.

There were a few hundred people running, but they started the 5K and the 10K runners at the same time, so it was hard to discern how many were doing each distance. I like positioning myself towards the front of the crowd, so I don’t have to dodge and weave around walkers, who tend to congregate towards the back.


The horn sounded at 8:30am, and we were off! We ran around the aforementioned fountain, and then headed down the perimeter road, just a bit from the water’s edge. I loved looking out across the water and seeing a foreign country just a few hundred yards away.

These are Canadian buildings.

These buildings are Canadian.

There were a couple places where you could see the mainlands of both countries, and I thought that was pretty cool too: The U.S. to the north, Canada to the south. (That’s not a mistake, folks. When you’re in Detroit, Canada is due south. Strange, but true!)

I wouldn’t have guessed there’s a Coast Guard outpost on the island, but there is. I suppose homeland security is an issue along all our borders. We ran by this station on the run, too.


The run, by the way, was great. I felt good. I loved the wide open park spaces, and other runners and passersby were friendly and encouraging. I didn’t start off too fast – a problem I often have – and I found a good, maintainable pace. Plus, the course was completely flat, and that helped, too!

I clearly remember the intersection where the 5K runners turned left, and the 10K runners kept going straight. I was behind a larger group of runners, most of whom were doing the 5K, and when they turned to cut across the island, a twinge of pride spiraled through my body. “I’m doing the 10K,” I thought. “I’m doing more.”

That fueled me for the next couple of miles, but I started feeling really tired and achy around the four-mile mark. But I knew exactly where I was on the island, and how much was left, so I powered through. I never stopped. I never walked.

RELATED CONTENT: I raced up the stairs in Detroit’s tallest building last year!

I didn’t set a firm goal for this race, mostly because I haven’t done a lot of running lately, but I arrived on Belle Isle thinking, “Gee, it’d be nice to finish this race in under an hour.”

I turned up the juice when I was around 100 yards from the finish line, and heard my mom cheering during the final approach. I also saw the official clock, just seconds from hitting 60 minutes, so I made a mad dash for the finish line. My mom got a great action shot (where I’m prepping to stop my watch), just feet from the mat:


They gave out great medals to all the finishers, and after catching my breath, and I went and got water, a banana, some apple slices, and a yogurt.


Shortly after that, I logged onto the results website, and saw the great news. My official time was 59:40! Twenty seconds faster than my unofficial goal! I finished 9th in my age group, 43rd amongst all men, and 63rd overall. Woo-hoo!


Not bad at all for my first 10K in four years!

Keep it up, David!


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