Myakka Mystery Solved

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

Myakka River State Park is home to many amazing sights.  With each visit, the park continues to impress and astound me.  Although I had gone out to view the flooded river and its effect on the park, I did not expect to come across MACHINERY that would intrigue me!  For the life of me, I could not figure out why anyone would park all this equipment in a park whose forecast was to involve more flooding in the days to come.

"Surely this is not for the campers...why wouldn't they just evacuate the park if they're worried about the river becoming a problem?"  were my initial thoughts.  On and on I imagined all kinds of uses for the portable spotlights.  It wasn't until I got home and called the park that I found out THE REAL STORY and I never would guessed the reason for the lights.

It turns out that Myakka River State Park hosted a MOON OVER MYAKKA 5K run.  Because the event was from 8:30--11:59 AT NIGHT, the lights were there to illuminate the course and to provide the "glow" factor that inspired runners to get past all those woods and lakes and flooded fields that were "home" to many glowing eyes.

All slots in the race were sold out by the time the race was held.  The race was limited to 400 runners.  Participation awards were given to all participants and no doubt bragging rights and awards were granted to those who placed in their divisions.   There were even awards for the "most lit up runners" (I think the hard cider was served afterwards) as well as for the runners having the best costumes.  

For those who were unable to get to the park, the organizers even offered a VIRTUAL MOON OVER MYAKKA 5K run and I believe that this too was sold out!  If you're wondering "What on earth is a virtual run?"  You're not alone.  I didn't know either.  It turns out that you run or walk the same amount of miles, but you do it at your own pace, in your own gym or home, through your own neighborhood, etc.  You turn in your results and you too get a participant award.  The virtual run participants, however, don't get the fun of attending the party afterwards.

Following the run, cheeseburgers and fries, cold beer, hard cider, soft drinks and music awaited all who attended or participated in this event.  Group karaoke and competitive games of corn hole were also on the list of activities.  Whether they had to harmonize with the alligators and other night creatures, I don't know, but I imagine it must have been lots of fun for everyone!  

As for how the park looked a few days after the race, it was as mystical as ever.  The Myakka River was laying claim to her woods...

and to her fields. The river had not yet claimed the road...

but park benches and picnic tables were coming a bit too close.

Dry access to trails or picnic areas were now offering the "wet" experience...

and birds of prey could be seen "hunting" along the main road...

and in all of this,  the woods continued to provide mystery and allure to any who take the time to wonder.