Running Against Child Abuse: Racing in the Park

There are a few races that I hope to run in with my daughter every year. The Stop Child Abuse Blue Ribbon 5k benefiting Suncoast Center is one of them.

This was my 4th year running this race and technically A’s 3rd (I was about 34 weeks pregnant with her during her “first” Blue Ribbon 5k).

I love trail runs and the Blue Ribbon 5k is held through the scenic trails of Walsingham Park. It’s an intimate, unsanctioned race where strollers are welcome.

There are a select few races that I can still participate in with A because most of the sanctioned races don’t allow strollers. She and I run together several times each week, so I don’t want to leave her behind just because it’s race day. Now I seek out races that allow us to run together.

Pre Race Blue Ribbon 5k


We almost didn’t make it to this race. The weather forecast called for rain the night before and running in the rain with a toddler in a stroller is not my idea of fun. So, I was on the fence about going. I woke up early the morning of the race to double-check the weather and it looked promising, so I woke A up early to get her ready, then I woke Eric up since he had been up late working the night before.

Race Recap

On-site registration was a breeze, but since we just potty trained A, we had to stop at the restroom before heading to the start line.

We strolled up to the back of the race crowd just as the horn announced the start of the run. Since it wasn’t chip-timed, we lost a bit of time getting up to the actual start line and navigating around walkers, but I wasn’t planning to “race” – just run. My training schedule has been lighter since the miscarriage and I now finally feel like I’m getting back into a groove.

We settled into a comfortable pace. The wind was strong, but the temperature was comfortable and there were plenty of clouds keeping the sun at bay.

I digress briefly…

Back before I had a child, I ran with music. I used to have one headphone in one ear (so I could still hear what was happening around me) with music playing and my distance tracker talking to me each time a mile went by, but all of that changed when I had A. Now, I want to be sure I’m fully aware of my surroundings and I want to be sure that I hear her if she needs anything. My phone tracks distance, but I don’t have it set to talk to me, so I never know how my run is going until I finish it.

Most of the time when I run with her, she talks and sings or sits quietly and watches the world go by. Sometimes she needs a snack or some water and sometimes she wants to get out of the stroller to run around.

…back to the race…

She was pretty self-sufficient during the first two miles. She snacked on some crackers that were attached to the stroller and I stopped to give her water once, but otherwise, she watched the trails and the people and she sang.

During the last mile, she started to get restless. She wanted to get out to play and she said she had to use the potty. I figured the faster I got her to the finish line, the faster she would get to a bathroom.

As I rounded the final curve and the finish line was in sight, I was surprised to see that our time was still under 30 minutes. Being late to the start line, pushing a stroller, and stopping to give A water and snacks made me think I was much further behind.

We clocked in at 29:04, earning me the top spot in my age group. While it was definitely not my fastest time, I don’t often run races with a stroller and little training.


Walsingham Park is a great trail and the Blue Ribbon 5k is an intimate, stroller-friendly race. More importantly, it’s a race against child abuse – a cause I feel strongly about. As A’s “third” Blue Ribbon run with me, I hope it’s a race we can continue to be a part of as she gets older.


What’s your experience running with a stroller? Do you ever race with one?

Blue Ribbon 5k Medal
Suncoast Center logo

About Suncoast Center

Suncoast Center offers mental health, substance abuse, family counseling, trauma services, and child advocacy services to individuals and families throughout Pinellas County. They are also the only certified rape crisis center in Pinellas County, accredited through Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.

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Author: Michele

Co-Founder of 615media. Married to Eric. Strong attachment to coffee. Occasional blogger. Social media and marketing consultant. Website designer and manager. Recent masters grad. Toddler mom.

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