The very first race I ever ran was a Fourth of July race in Daytona Beach just after sunrise. Although I love the beach and simply hearing the sound of the ocean waves breaking, it was the thrill of crossing the finish line that got me hooked on running road (sometimes beach) races. Since then, I have run several marathons, half-marathons and numerous 15k, 10k and 5k races. The rush of adrenaline when I see the finish line in view, the sense of accomplishment when I finish a race, and the power that comes with knowing the strength in my body propelled me to the end, are what keep me running races throughout the years. Here’s a guide to this summer’s road races available in Jacksonville, Fla.
Freedom 8K Run/Walk
Monday, May 28 – 7:55 a.m.
Clay County Courthouse
Green Cove Springs, FL
The second annual running of the Freedom 8K is a certified race with the USA Track and Field. It offers a Kids Warrior Trot Freedom Mile, a stroller division, a wheelchair division, a post-race celebration, and an awards ceremony. The post-race celebration starts at 8:30 a.m., and the awards ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. The Kids Warrior Trot is open to children 11 and under, and the cost is $5. The cost for the other race divisions is $35 until May 24, and will go up to $40 after that. Race-day registration cost will be $45. All proceeds from this race assist veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Packet pick-up locations vary, so visit the Freedom 8K race registration site to register or for more information.
Jacksonville Memorial Day 5K
Monday, May 28 – 8 a.m.
1st Place Sports (registration and race start)
2186 Park Ave.
Orange Park, FL
This Memorial Day marks the 27th annual running of the Jacksonville Memorial Day 5K. Race registration as well as race start both take place at 1st Place Sports of Orange Park. This is a USA Track and Field certified race. The cost to run is $15 for Striders, AIR, and Military until May 27, and $20 for all others. On race day, the cost is a flat $25 for all runners. The cost for children ages 13 and under is only $15. For more information or to register for this race, visit: http://www.active.com/running/orange-park-fl/memorial-day-5k-2012.
Never Quit 5K
Saturday, June 9 – 7:30 a.m.
11 1st Street N. (in front of Quality Suites Oceanfront)
The Never Quit 5K is more than just a 5K race. It is a day full of events, kicking off with the entrance of the U.S. Army parachute team, the Golden Knights! The Never Quit foundation offers a 5K run/walk ($60), the Trident Challenge ($75 individual/$60 per team member for team entry), a Warrior Challenge ($0), Battle for the Beach ($15), and surf lessons ($50). All female finishers of the 5K run/walk will receive a sterling silver nautilus shell pendant with a 4mm pearl and wheat chain. All male finishers of the run/walk will receive a $70 pair of custom Trifosi “SLIP” carbon fiber sport-optics sunglasses with case. The 5K is a USA Track and Field certified race. A huge post-events celebration will kick off at 6 p.m. For more information, visit the event website at: www.neverquitnever.com.
Run for Pies 5K
Saturday, June 16 – 7 p.m.
2 Independence Drive
This is not your ordinary race…this is “Jacksonville’s Block Party 5K!” This event offers free beer and free pizza, a live band, a pie-eating contest, and the best part for runners-NO bridges! Men who finish under 16:15 and women who finish under 19:00 will receive a free pair of shoes. The cost is $15 for those under the age of 13 and over the age of 65, and $22 for all other participants. To register, visit: Run for Pies registration.
Amelia Island Independence Day 5K
Wednesday, July 4 – 8 a.m.
Vida Fitness @ Omni Amelia Island Plantation
6800 1st Coast Highway
The fourth annual running of the Amelia Island Independence Day 5K offers free T-shirts to all participants and a course that winds through the beautiful, tree-canopied Amelia Island Plantation. The cost is $20 for adults before June 20 ($25 after 6/20), and $10 for kids 12 and under until June 20 ($15 after). Registration closes July 3 at noon. Click here to pre-register for this event.
Summer Beach Run 5 Mile
Saturday, Aug. 25 – 6:30 p.m.
Jacksonville Beach Seawalk
What better way to close out the summer than to run along the beaches of Jacksonville as the temperatures start to cool the sand for the evening? For registration information, visit: www.roadraceplace.com.