Carb loading is a dietary tactic that has been used by runners to fuel up pre-race to bank energy and improve stamina for long run. When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin giving you energy over a long period of time. Fortunately, South Walton provides countless opportunities to consume some carbohydrates before you get to the starting line in Seaside on race day.

Experienced runners will tell you that carb loading should start on the day before the race, but if you’d like to get a head start on your competition head to Taste of the Race, the event that officially kicks off race weekend. This annual event marks the official start to the weekend’s festivities on Friday, February 28th. One of South Walton’s top culinary events, Taste of the Race features food from dozens of local restaurants, wine, craft beer and live music. The event sells out early, so purchase your tickets to make sure that start the weekend off right.

On Saturday, after visiting the race expo, picking up your race bib and experiencing all that makes Seaside the perfect race weekend locale, you should starting thinking about your race eve dinner. Regardless of where you race weekend accommodations are, you won’t be far from a great meal.

The host of Taste of the Race, Emeril Lagasse, has a year-round presence in the area with his restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian. As the name suggests, Emeril puts his personal stamp on house-made pastas, brick oven flat breads and fresh seafood dishes. To maximize your carb intake, start with the smoked yellowfin tuna dip and move on Meril’s Linguini and Clams. You won’t leave hungry. The restaurant is located in Grand Boulevard, a nearby lifestyle center featuring some of the area’s top shopping and dining.

Speaking of shopping, South Walton is home to Silver Sands Premium Outlets, an outdoor shopping experience boasting over 110 retailers and eateries including Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Ciao Bella Pizza. Either of these options will provide an opportunity to consume some carbs in the form of pastas, pizzas and other Italian staples.

Seaside is the hub of all activity on race weekend, and fortunately, the beachside town is home to several of the area’s top restaurants. Local landmarks Great Southern Café and Bud & Alley’s have been wowing guests for decades with fresh seafood and craft cocktails all within a few steps of the finish line. If your group can’t decide on one type of cuisine, consider Seaside’s Airstream Row, An eclectic collection of Airstream trailers permanently parked offering everything from gourmet grill cheese sandwiches and award-winning barbeque to hot dogs and snow cones.

Runners will be treated to an ice cold beer from Grayton Beer Company after crossing the finish line, but you don’t need to wait until race day to experience the flavors of this local brewer. In addition to their brewery and its tap room featuring dozens of beers on tap, the Grayton Beer Brewpub perfectly pairs craft beers brewed on-site with a full menu of fresh seafood, sandwiches, wings and more. Consider the Shrimp and Scallop Linguini to maximize your carb intake.

Other local spots for a great meal include the gulf-view restaurant FOOW at the WaterColor Inn, the Perfect Pig with multiple locations in the area or any of the restaurants under the leadership of the Spell Restaurant Group. If your plans for the night before the race include staying in for a home-cooked meal, Publix Supermarkets has everything for the home chef.

Whether you opt to stay in Seaside, venture out to find the perfect dinner spot, or stay in to mentally prepare for the race while preparing the perfect dish, South Walton offers a plethora of option to feast your eyes and fill your belly!

Seaside School Foundation

Author Seaside School Foundation

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