A beautiful course and a meaningful cause make for a memorable weekend by Laura Holloway
It would be difficult to find a more beautiful racecourse than Scenic Highway 30A, or a more idyllic place to cross the finish line than Seaside. But most of all, it would be a real challenge to find a more dedicated group of runners than those that converge upon Seaside each year for the Seaside Neighborhood School 5K and Half Marathon, traveling from around the country (and even the world) to lace up their collective sneakers for a great and noble cause.
Benefitting the Seaside School, the annual race (presented by designer Vera Bradley) encourages an extended weekend in Seaside, partnering the traditionally sold-out race with other can’t-miss events. The festivities kick off on the evening of Friday, March 3, with the immensely popular Taste of the Race, a celebration of food, drink and fun, presented by Emeril Lagasse and Visit South Walton. General admission tickets present guests with the most delicious of dishes from favorite area eateries, including Great Southern Café, The Bay, Trebeaché, Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant, Wine World, Buffalo Trace, Grayton Beer Co., and others. Attendees can also upgrade their experience with a special VIP reception hosted by Chefs Emeril Lagasse, Jim Shirley, and Jim Richard.
The race itself offers the option of a half marathon or a 5K, and runners of all skill levels and experience find a place within the herd. Upon arriving into town, or after catching up on some sleep from Taste of the Race, registrants can pick up race packets during a community-invited expo on the Lyceum lawn on Saturday, providing unique shopping opportunities and a chance to meet (and pick up some freebies) from race sponsors. Race day starts bright and early on Sunday, March 5, commencing with a shotgun start at 7 a.m. for those running the half, and 7:25 a.m. for 5K runners.
Many people say they “run for the bag,” meaning the Vera Bradley tote all race finishers receive, along with other worthy goodies, an after-race meal, and Grayton Beer at the finish line (for those of age, of course).
The race weekend grows bigger and better each year, typically selling out before the end of December, and race organizers continue to raise the bar in making the race and events unique and memorable. The best part? 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the Seaside School, a small, tuition-free neighborhood public charter school serving students in South Walton, as well as all of Walton County. With the funds from the race weekend, the school is able to provide greater learning opportunities for its students and continue to expand programming and availability of elective classes, including gardening, technology, music, art, modern jazz and ballet, an award winning robotics program, advanced placement classes, and more.
For more information about the race registration or Taste of the Race tickets, visit runseasidefl.com.