The Flanigan’s Rockin’ Rib Run 10K has got to be, without question, my favorite local 10K in South Florida. Maybe even the BEST 10K around.
A bold statement, I know, but one I’ll wholeheartedly support. Allow me to elucidate.
10K races are, by their very definition, a pretty popular race distance. It’s a step up from the 5K, but not quite the commitment of a half marathon. A lot of runners start out using the 5K as their base training distance (Couch To 5K isn’t as popular as it is for no reason!) and, upon attainment of their goal, are ready to take that next big step. I mean, by the time you can run a 5K, actually racing one becomes just another fun morning of challenging yourself or, at the very least, just going the distance.
But a 10K? It’s pretty much the same experience, but just doubling your fun. Kind of like a Doublemint commercial, only without some ghastly Aryan clones.
It’s double the fun, but also double the challenge, so accordingly the race requires a bit more love than just a Powerade, a bagel, and a banana at the Finish Line. We’re talking music, excitement, all you can eat ribs from Flanigan’s, all you can drink “beer” from a brand I refuse to promote, and a most buttkicking morning at Vista View Park… which is exactly what we got during the 2016 Flanigan’s Rockin’ Rib Run.
I covered the run before when I participated in the 2014 event, and I really enjoyed it back then, albeit with a few tiny caveats. In 2014 the race started and finished in Tree Tops Park in Davie, which was enjoyable enough, but the course itself was fairly routine. It took you up and down Nob Hill Road on an out-and-back course; not the most scenic or exciting of routes. This was compounded by an underestimation of demand for post-race ribs and beer. Quite frankly, they were tapped out of both before all runners had completed the race.
This year (their fourth annual 10K) the race location was moved to Vista View Park, a few miles west of Tree Tops on Griffin Road. I’m assuming the move was made to accommodate more runners; there were 1,350 runners this year, about 50% more than in 2014. Vista View affords a lot more space for an expansive staging area, more parking spots, more variety in the race course, and opportunities to spot all kinds of wildlife like owls, bunnies, armadillos, and so on.
Let’s step back for a second and take a look at bib pickup, which took place at Runners Depot in Davie. As usual, the race features some of the best swag around!
Along with your bib and the race shirt, the swag comes packed in a nifty backpack that houses a hand towel, bottles of water and energy drinks, a can of Red Bull, a large pink (!) Flanigan’s cup (every South Floridian probably has a few dozen green ones floating around the homestead), beer cozies, and perhaps most impressively, a $10 gift card and two free drink tokens redeemable at any Flanigan’s restaurant.
The race took place on the early Sunday morning of November 20, 2016. Running Buddy Kristi, Boots, and I arrived at the park around 6:00 AM to some heavy traffic. There’s only one entrance into Vista View and even at 6:00 AM, it was bumper to bumper for a while.
After parking we met up with our pals Jackie and Jennifer. All of us had run the Everglades Half Marathon the day before, which made this an unofficial “two-day challenge” of sorts. Jennifer in particular lucked out bigtime; she flew in from California to take place in both races, and both times she experienced the absolute BEST of South Florida weather: no humidity (by South Florida standards), cool breezes, and temperatures in the low 60s. In fact I felt a wee bit chilly in the early morning weather. Always a great sign.
The pre-race environment exploded with excitement. We’re talking the usual DJ, announcements, group stretches, general kibbitzing, and so forth. I think the great weather really contributed to elevating everybody’s moods. I’ve never seen so many people REALLY ready to run. Listen, South Florida doesn’t get great racing weather all that often, so when it comes, we relish in it.
My hip was still hurting from running the New York Marathon two weeks before, in what soon would be diagnosed as tendinitis. That, combined with running a half marathon the previous day, compelled me to just “take it easy” during that day’s 10K. I had already PR’ed a 10K last January, so I figured I was good to go for 2016 when it came to 10K races. It kind of took the pressure off everything as we lined up by the Start Line.
After the National Anthem and a few pre-race announcements, the race started in earnest just after 7:00 AM. We clicked our Garmins and took off running in easy 5:1 intervals. Our 10K had begun!
The 2016 Flanigans Rockin’ Rib Run 10K!
And here’s the race course, courtesy of Google Maps and my most revered Garmin 920XT watch:
The first two miles occur entirely inside the confines of Vista View Park, starting in the parking lot and taking us past and around the man-made “hills” that make up the park. Exiting onto Boyscout Road, the course turns south and then north onto Orange Drive, a nearly two mile stretch that reaches the turnaround point as Orange Drive curves into SW 154th Avenue. The final third of the course takes runners back down Orange Drive and Boyscout Road, turning into Vista View Park for that last half-mile that brings them to the Finish Line.
It was a perfect day for running.
I can’t stress that enough. The clear, cool, breezy weather felt magnificent throughout the entirety of the race. The first two miles barely felt like running at all, and Kristi and I were maintaining a respectable pace, given that (1) my hip wanted nothing to do with me, and (2) neither of us wanted to really push it all that hard. I usually race 10Ks by running pretty hard, only stopping to walk at water stations. This time around, we did easy 5:1 run/walk intervals. After two miles, I did the math in my head and realized that Kristi was doing great pace for a PR.
Even if she didn’t feel like PR’ing. So naturally I *INSISTED* she had to go for a PR. And she had no choice in the matter.
I’m the best/worst running buddy ever.
Anyway, those first two miles through the park were the most scenic, but they were also the most crowded. We’re talking the usual “Five Runners Running Side-By-Side Chatting Away” disorder. Yeesh. Thankfully we maneuvered our way past (and sometimes through) them. By the time we got to Boyscout Road, the course opened up enough to feel less congested. And there were PLENTY of spectators out on the course to keep us motivated.
Boots was snapping pics on Orange Drive, but I also saw plenty of other buddies like Mare, Marcela, Meredith, and a bunch of other people whose names don’t begin with M but I can’t remember them right now, because I’m a dingbat. Meanwhile, that turnaround at Mile 4 seemed like it would NEVER come, until it finally did, and Kristi and I kept our pace strong and consistent. I really wanted her to PR and kept pushing her accordingly. She really wanted me to drop dead, but I knew she was up for the challenge.
We even spotted a couple of owls coming out of their burrows to stare at us during our run back into Vista View Park. Now if that’s not one hoot of a cheering squad, I don’t know what is!! EHH? GET IT? “HOOT” of a cheeri– OK, I’ll stop. Sheesh.
Anyway, we pushed our way into the final stretch and I knew Kristi’s PR was in the bag… which was solidified as we crossed the Finish Line at a net run time of 1:03:06. She did it! Running Buddy Kristi PR’ed and she didn’t stab me in the face once! Talk about your win-win!
It was a great race, we had an amazing time running it, but enough of this clap-trap. Besides grabbing our bling, featuring the smilin’ mug of Big Daddy Flanigan himself…
… we also needed to avail ourselves of the goodies. The endless slabs of ribs…
… and endless cups of ice-cold “beer”!
And guess what? They never ran out of either. We were soon joined by buddies Richard and Mare (Rich had KILLED it running a 48 minute 10K) and celebrated accordingly. Jackie and Jennifer soon joined us and the feast continued. MAN those ribs were good. I should know; I went back for more about a bunch of times. The same could be said for the “beer”, I suppose. No matter. We were all in great spirits.
Kristi also removed a splinter from Jackie’s butt but I’m not allowed to post pictures of that. I will, however, post a pic of the post-removal celebration!
After shutting down the race area, we continued our celebration by motoring over to the Flanigan’s in Weston, maybe five minutes from Vista View Park. Hey listen, we all had $10 gift card and two drink tokens. It did make strong logistical sense. And man that Philly Cheesesteak and Blue Moon drafts were so durned tasty. Plus we got to see the local wildlife ignoring all the posted rules, because rules are for suckers.
Anyway, the 2016 Flanigan’s Rockin’ Rib Run 10K solidified its position as my favorite local 10K. Yes, the perfect weather helped, but even if it were hot, muggy, and nasty, it still take place on a good course with plenty of pre- and post-race amenities, and let’s not even mention the killer swag. It’s also produced by Runners Depot and Flanigan’s, two of my favorite local institutions, so as a longtime Broward running guy I’m kind of morally obligated to show up. Showing up is one thing, but loving it is another, and I love this race. So if you’re local, you need to drive over and run it next year. If you’re in California (like Jennifer), fly in and run it next year. This is a great time indeed. Here’s the video — take it away, Diamond Dave & Pals: