Every year, hundreds of runners wake at the crack of dawn and lace up their running shoes, high on adrenalin and ready for a great race in Seaside, ready to run the annual Seaside Half Marathon and 5k. Whether traveling for a girls’ getaway weekend or as a serious runner looking to take home the title (or both!), the runners who enter this race are lucky to enjoy not only one of the most beautiful courses in the country, but a full weekend of happenings that make for a truly memorable experience.
Benefitting the Seaside Neighborhood School, the race is sponsored by some of the area’s heaviest hitters and also by nationally acclaimed designer brand Vera Bradley, which affords each race participant a beautiful tote bag to carry all the goodies collected over the weekend. Seaside provides the perfect backdrop for the race weekend, and a full schedule of events keeps runners busy before and after the big run.
The fun starts Friday evening, Feb. 26, with an event that’s enjoyed by not only runners but everyone in the South Walton community: the Taste of the Race. Hosted by celebrity chef and local favorite personality Emeril Lagasse, this culinary delight offers the chance to taste some of the area’s finest cuisine, including Great Southern Café, The Bay, Stinky’s Fish Camp, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, Bud & Alley’s and more. Favorite brews and spirits from Wine World, Buffalo Trace, and Grayton Beer Company ignite the crowd to the dance floor where live music keeps the party moving. This can’t-miss event is the perfect start to the race weekend and one that is often the talk of the town for weeks to come.
Saturday gives runners the opportunity to explore Seaside and all the area has to offer, including spending time at Beach Ready Spa for a relaxing massage, exploring the town, or just putting their feet into the sand for some quiet time before Sunday’s races begin. Runners can also visit the Race Expo, where runner-focused shops and information booths will be set up for browsing. Live music and a silent auction will also be available for runners’ enjoyment during the expo.
Runners have to pace their fun, because race day starts bright and early on Sunday, Feb. 28, with the half marathon kicking off at 7 a.m. and the 5k beginning at 7:25. The course runs along beautiful 30A, with gorgeous views of the coastal dune lakes and beach towns Watercolor, Grayton, Blue Mountain Beach and Santa Rosa Beach, and the half marathon has seven water stations providing water, Gatorade and moral support along the way. Awards for both races will be given to the first place male and female in the Open, Masters, and Grand Masters divisions, with one-of-a-kind awards designed by local glass artist Russ Gilbert presented to the top male and female half marathon finishers.
The post-race party follows the race, complete with food, live music and awards. If you missed the sign-ups for this year’s race, there’s no better time to start preparing for next year. The weekend of fun might just be worth the training.
For information about the Seaside Half Marathon and 5K, visit our website.