The Seaside School Half Marathon and 5K is one of Florida’s favorite running events — luring runners who love the excitement of getting up early, pinning their bib, tying their shoe laces and relishing the joy of a run on scenic Highway 30A.
Benefiting the Seaside School Foundation, and presented by Vera Bradley, the race focuses on fun and fitness. While the event appeals to those from all over the world who want to run on one of America’s most celebrated roads, many locals sign up for the event to support the Seaside Neighborhood School. “This is the biggest fundraiser for one of the first charter schools to open in the state of Florida,” says Rick Helfand, race director and chairman of the Seaside School Foundation. “The destination is beautiful, too, and runners get the opportunity to see all the dune lakes, as well as the Gulf of Mexico on one of the most beautiful roads in the country.”
This year, runners from 45 states and four countries are participating. The most notable demographic is women — making up nearly 80 percent of the participants. The average age is 41. “It’s become a fun weekend where a lot of women get together to take a weekend trip,” Helfand says. “The fact that Vera Bradley became our presenting sponsor is a huge part of it, and women tend to sign up early.”
Two options await the runners. The 5K, which sold out in less than 15 hours, is ideal for runners, walkers, first-timers and those who want to beat their personal record. For those who want to go the extra mile (or 10), the half-marathon offers a lofty, yet attainable reward.
For those who are registered, the fun begins Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Seaside Neighborhood School, where participants can pick up packets, enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, listen to live music and get a sneak peak at the silent auction. The festivities continue on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at the school and the Seaside Amphitheater where guests can pick up race registration, browse a vendor expo and bid in a silent auction.
The Half Marathon race begins at the Seaside Post Office on Sunday at 7 a.m. and the 5K Run kicks off at 7:25 a.m. Silent auction bidding will remain open up until 11:30 a.m. After they reach the finish line, racers can enjoy a complimentary post-run meal donated by Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q and Grayton Beer Company with entertainment by 107.1 Radio in the Seaside Amphitheater beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Tips From a Veteran Racer
David Leuze, co-owner of Sunburst Beach Vacations in Seagrove Beach, has run in the Seaside Half Marathon or 5K every year (except one due to an injury) since its first year in 2002. He also coached the Seaside Neighborhood boys and girls cross country team.
Before the Race:
• Drive the course, all the way down to Ed Walline Park at Gulf Place and back to Seaside. Check out where the water stations will be and get a feel for the course.
• Get plenty of rest and hydrate your body well.
• Layer your clothing with items you don’t mind discarding along the way. Any clothing runners shed will get picked up and recycled. And you won’t mind tossing a $2 pair of canvas gardening gloves when your hands warm up.
• Don’t start out too fast. You’ll tire out quickly, and no one ever set a record in the first five minutes of the race. Just enjoy the camaraderie of the other runners.
Visit Seaside Neighborhood School online.