Everything kicks off in the heart of Seaside on Scenic Highway 30A. You’ll be surrounded by your fellow runners on the street as you await the start of the race. With the Gulf of Mexico to your left and Seaside’s Central Square to your right, there may be no more perfect locale to start your 3.1 or 13.1 mile journey. As the race kicks off, you’ll be part of a sea of runners making their way west along the coast shoulder-to-shoulder with competitors from around the world. The cheering crowd that lines the street for this portion of the race should alleviate any pre-race jitters and within minutes you’ll find yourself leaving Seaside and entering the neighboring beach town of WaterColor. By this time, you’ll begin to settle in to your pace as the crowd thins out and you can prepare for the miles ahead.

Western Lake & Grayton Beach State Park

It only take about a mile to get to one of the most visually stunning segments of the course: Western Lake. This is the first of four rare coastal dune lakes that your cross over as you make your way to the finish line. The flat water of the lake reflects the towering sand dunes and pine forest that separate it from the Gulf of Mexico creating one of South Walton’s most instagramable sights. Take a moment to soak it in before the roadway bisects Grayton Beach State Park and its dense pine forest.

For the 5K participants, this is where you’ll turn around and head back to the finish line in Seaside. The half marathoners will continue westward passing through the historic beach town of Grayton Beach founded in 1890. It’s here where you’ll be greeted by one of the most festive displays on the course at the Grayton Beach lululemon store. Enthusiastic performers, crowds of spectators and cheers of encouragement will provide the perfect distraction as you start to feel the toll of the first two miles of the race.

Point Washington State Forest & Blue Mountain Beach

The quaint coastal architecture of Seaside and WaterColor will seem like a distant memory as the course takes you through a portion of the 15,000-acre Point Washington State Forest. This massive area of protected land will provide the quiet isolation that you’ll need to focus on getting closer to the finish line on step at a time. With no manmade structures and minimal cross streets, you’ll find yourself and your fellow runners immersed in centuries-old nature. No cheering crowds, no bustling restaurants, just you and thousands of competitors all with the same goal in mind. You’ll cross over more rare coastal dune lakes that will provide a visual break from the from the forest scenery that lines both sides of Scenic Highway 30A. You may even spot a curious deer or two peeking out from between the trees to take in the action as you approach the laid back beach neighborhood of Blue Mountain Beach.

Don’t let the name intimidate you. Although you’ll be reaching the course’s highest point, the change in elevation won’t have much of on impact on your legs nor your lungs. Here you’ll start to see more unofficial cheering sections with rows of lawn chairs filled with spectators waving homemade signs and cheering you on. You’ll be about four miles in at this point, so be sure grab a cold drink and some encouragement at one of the many water stations that dot the course.

The Turnaround

Just as your legs are getting fatigued and your breath is getting tougher to catch, you’ll spot the portion of the race that will give you the mental lift that you need: the turnaround. A digital clock placed in the middle of the street will provide your midpoint time as you come upon Gulf Place, the half marathon’s halfway point. You can catch a glimpse of the beach through the applauding spectators that make this the course’s largest gathering spot for onlookers outside of Seaside. Staying on Scenic Highway 30A, you’ll make a U-turn and head right back where you came from. By this point you’ll have settled into a group of similar-paced runners that’ll stay with you as you make the turn. You’ve come this far, now all that’s left is to make it back to Seaside.

The Return

Every step from here on out is one step closer to Seaside. One step closer to your finisher’s medal. One step closer to that coveted Vera Bradley beach tote and cold drink from Grayton Beer Company. Runners that are still making their way to the turnaround will be on your left as they check the clock for their midpoint times. Throw out some words of encouragement across the street and you’re likely to get some in return that will fuel your trek toward the finish line. Over the final six and a half miles you’ll repeat your steps in reverse and take in anything that you missed on the outward leg: the coastal dune lakes, the state forest, the Gulf of Mexico and its protective dunes, the daylight reflecting off of Western Lake as you cross the final bridge and make your way back through WaterColor and finally into Seaside.

You’ll hear the finish line before you can see it. Music will be playing, spectators will be lining the streets guiding you in and all that makes Seaside such a unique place will come into view. As your tired legs carry you back to where this all started 13.1 miles ago smile for the cameras one last time as you cross the finish line.

Know the Facts & Get Registered to Run.

The Half Marathon starts at 7:00 AM on Sunday, March 1, 2020. The 5K starts at 7:25 AM on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

You must be at least 6 years of age to register and compete in the 5K and at least 14 years of age to register and compete in the half marathon. The half marathon course will be promptly reopened to traffic at 10:10 am (3 hours 10 minutes after the start of the race.) Race timing will be until 10:10 am. There will not be any support for runners or walkers along the race course after 10:10 am and participants will be directed to sidewalk. Dogs, strollers and other vehicles to transport children, baby carriers, bicycles, skates and skateboards are strictly prohibited.

Seaside School Foundation

Author Seaside School Foundation

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