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The lure of rolling hills

Call it serendipity. I had expected to finish off my 2017 racing season with the Hot Chocolate 15K in St. Louis.

But after a week off following my back-to-back weekend races in November, my legs recovered well. And then a trip to the Tampa area opened up. I wondered whether there would be a race worth adding — it would certainly be a nice warm one, which would counter some of the cooler ones I did in the fall.

The Mount Dora Half Marathon spoke to me with its festive atmosphere, small-town charm and rolling hills. Yes, even the rolling hills. I fared well with a new PR during my recent half marathon in Kentucky, which had rolling hills throughout.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Mount Dora race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check out to review, find and write race reviews.

With my 2018 racing calendar coming into shape with my first 100K and its promised elevation gains, I thought another race with hills would be a good way to continue the buildup.

Mount Dora also offers a 5K and virtual race. As of now about 75 percent of the nearly 1,600 entries are doing the half and most of the rest are doing the 5K. Eight people are running the virtual race. To join us, go to and use code “BIBRAVE15” to save 15 percent on the half or 5K.

The reviews I found online indicated that the race is pretty well organized, parking is easy and the course features nice scenery. Additional reasons to run the sixth annual race include good crowd support, free race photos and a downhill finish.

Apparently once runners get through the downhill finish, they receive the typical medal and the atypical greeting from Santa and Mrs. Claus. A nice touch and a last-chance opportunity to make sure St. Nick has you on the correct list.

And after I cross that finish line, my 2017 racing season will officially conclude. Then I can hang my running sneakers by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nick will soon be there.

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