I knew I messed up the moment I arrived.
The race was supposed to be in Hampton. That is what it said on the Running in the USA web site, my favorite source since it lists the city and county of events. Hampton was an ideal run this particular week because it was on the way to Ocracoke, N.C., destination for our 20th wedding anniversary adventure.
When I got to the packet pickup, a park sign clearly said “City of Newport News.” And the all-important t-shirt said “Newport News” right across the front.
I was screwed. I ran in Newport News in October. Given the chilly, drizzling morning, it would have been perfectly reasonable for me to head back to the hotel. But I had already paid my $25 entry fee, and it was only a 5K and, well, I was already there. So what the heck.
From the run along Chesapeake Avenue, I could look through the mist and see the Hampton Roads Harbor, billed as the world’s largest natural harbor. On the other side of the harbor, I could make out some of the large military ships stationed in Norfolk.
The flat course made for a quick run. The family-friendly event ended at the Riverside Rehabilitation Institute and benefited patients that needed help with medical bills.
The next morning, I was absolutely sure I was in Hampton when I headed out in a pedestrian unfriendly part of town near the Hampton Coliseum. My goal was to run to Action Park and take a quick tour. West Mercury Blvd. was busy enough early in the morning that running in the street was not an option. There was no sidewalk and the small strip of grass next to the road was uneven at best and had small metal posts sticking up from it at worst.
Action Park, a collection of old planes and rockets commemorating Hampton’s part in the history of flight, seemed like a dazzling attraction when I read through the city’s tourism brochure. It ended up being more of a small roadside lot filled with a collection of cool but rusting metal. It was worthy of about a 15-minute tour.
All-in-all, I probably should have found a place to run in the downtown area.
Hampton is the sixth largest city in the state with a population of about 140,000. It is the home of Langley Air Force Base and the NASA Langley Research Center. Langley, built in 1916, is where U.S. military aviation got its start and where much of the original space travel research took place.
50 runs down, 84 to go.
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