Each year, thousands of runners arrive in Seaside for what could possibly be one of the most scenic marathons in the country. The Seaside Half Marathon and 5K, hosted by the Seaside Neighborhood School, encompasses so much more than the race, including a weekend of events designed to tempt each of the sense.
Seaside Neighborhood School, a Blue Ribbon School, offers a high quality education in an architecturally lovely schoolhouse right in the middle of Seaside. Its students and faculty have won many awards for academic and artistic excellence, and the Seaside race brings funding into the school that expands learning possibilities for each and every student.
The race itself offers two choices in length, including a Half Marathon and a 5K, both running along Scenic County Road 30A with views of the Gulf of Mexico along its route. Race participants travel from all over the country for the race and the weekend of happenings, including a Friday night event, Taste of the Race, hosted by Emeril Lagasse, and featuring celebrated chefs from all over the Gulf Coast. Trick Pony, of country music fame, will be headlining the Friday night event, and Saturday’s post-race celebration features the musical stylings of “The Voice’s” Geoff McBride.
In addition to bringing a dedicated group of athletes to town for the race, the events also bring together a community of generous sponsors who each bring a unique flavor to the race and surrounding events. Main sponsor Vera Bradley offers, in addition to financial support, covetable Vera Bradley items to race participants, including the iconic bags for which her design is so recognized. Other sponsors, including Jim N’ Nick’s Barbecue and Grayton Beer, are on hand with delicious food and drinks, and high-level sponsors will be represented on race day at an expo at Seaside Neighborhood School. While race entry fees bring in their share to the fundraiser, the sponsors play a large part in the success of the weekend, and are one of the most memorable features noted by race participants.
The course itself is fast and mostly flat. USATF certified, the half marathon starts and finishes in downtown Seaside, enticing racers to follow the course through Watercolor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach and Santa Rosa Beach, with the halfway mark landing in Gulf Place. Volunteers and community groups will line the race course to offer encouragement along the way. In years past, heartfelt moments have added to the wonderful stories of the race, including the marriage of two racers who met at the race, family race teams, and enthusiastic racers overcoming personal obstacles and physical challenges to cross the finish line victoriously.
While the races are both sold out, the Taste of the Race has open spaces for anyone wishing to attend (not just race participants) and the whole weekend of events promises a lifetime of memories for everyone involved. For more information, visit runseasidefl.com.
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