McGuire’s 5K Pensacola — How Big is Too Big?

A Calhoun County crowd: 50 customers at the Piggly Wiggly

If you’re in Pensacola during mid-March of any given year, you really ought to run the McGuire’s 5K and participate in all the St. Patrick’s themed activities, by which I mean wearing silly costumes, drinking and running/walking/staggering the 3.1-mile route. It’s an experience everybody should have at least once in their lives. Just not me. Not anymore. I’m done with it.

For the past two years, I have trooped downtown and joined the masses waiting forever for the start and then navigating a maze of walkers, weirdos and winos to the finish line. Both times, I felt like a drop of blood making my way through an ocean of cholesterol. My jaws were clinched, my stomach was tight and my stress level was rising with every step. Then it occurred to me that I enjoy running (and being outdoors in general) precisely because it gets me away from this kind of feeling.

It may seem strange coming from someone who has spent most of his professional career in politics, public relations and other people-oriented pursuits, but I truly despise crowds. Crowds make me impatient, angry and claustrophobic. Crowds are ill-mannered, impersonal and impolite. Most of all, crowds are crowded with otherwise nice people who by virtue of proximity become nameless, faceless obstacles between me and my peace of mind.

I don’t mean to pick on McGuire’s. It’s a locally owned, family-operated business and a Pensacola institution. And obviously the event is popular because the crowd keeps growing year after year. All I’m saying is that there was one person too many this year and last — and that one person was me.

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