Every year in July thousands of revelers take to the streets in Milwaukee for Bastille Days. And every year, thousands of those revelers put on their running shoes and walk, jog, skip, dance, or run in the Storm the Bastille Fun Run. All these years I’d been attending Bastille Days, I never once participated in the run.

Until last night.

The route is city all the way, as local law enforcement closes down portions of Wisconsin, State, Broadway, and Milwaukee to name a few.

Going into this race–ahem, I mean fun run–I had no intentions of even thinking of competing for a personal record, or PR. The venue isn’t very conducive to that sort of thing. People are here to run 5 km or walk 2 miles. People are here to have a good time: cheering, laughing, drinking, wearing costumes, and kicking large beach balls in the air along the route.

After walking about one minute at the start of the route, I could finally start running. And I almost bit it as my feet got tangled in a stray garbage bag which had floated out onto the course unseen under the runners. Heading down Wisconsin Avenue was a rush–the throng of people and the bobbing of heads in front of me was a memorable sight. My picture below, taken from my phone, was obviously not what you’d call optimal.

The crowd was heavy until Broadway. Felt like I got in a bit of a groove heading downhill here, but at the same time my calves were tightening with the shortened, slower stride to this point. It’s interesting to note this–my body would have been more comfortable in full stride running at a faster clip. With the race adrenaline, it was really tough to suppress the urge to sprint ahead past all the slower runners, especially when I could see down the side streets to Milwaukee Street and runners were already hitting the home stretch going the other way.

As we approached the end, the crowd jammed up again, and the last thirty seconds were spent walking to the finish line. But water was everywhere! And beer! By the end of the race, I felt like I’d sweat as much as I do on runs twice as long. Having the mass of (sweating) fellow humanity around me probably had something to do with this. After the race, my girlfriend and I rewarded ourselves with two tall glasses of chocolate milk and a helping of crème brûlée, courtesy of Lagniappe Brasserie.

My final time? A very literal 34:16 from what I guessed was the start line to the finish line.

Hey, at least I beat Mayor Barrett.