Find out why two Olympians head to Florida every February.
Every year during the second weekend of February, you’ll find Olympians Joan Benoit Samuelson and Jeff Galloway in Northeast Florida. The gold medalist and the 10-mile road race record holder are far from alone in their annual getaway; they are joined by over 10,000 runners from all 50 states and 20 countries for a world-class race experience to finish breast cancer.
The DONNA Marathon Weekend—with its 11th annual event taking place February 9-11—features a 5K, 10K, relay, half marathon, marathon, ultramarathon and event challenges along the Florida coast. The flat-and-fast Boston-qualifying course—paired with race day temperatures in the mid-50s—draws runners back year after year for a 26-mile beach block party with scenic views and an outpouring of crowd support.
“It’s an uplifting event that energizes people regardless of their health status,” says Joan Benoit Samuelson. “The camaraderie exhibited by the participants is palpable. The inspiring stories that are shared during race weekend should be bottled and shared with breast cancer patients. We are all in this together to finish breast cancer.”
When you’re not meeting Samuelson and Galloway at the race expo or racing through the four beautiful beach communities that comprise the course, you can be basking in the mild winter weather that makes Florida an ideal relaxing outdoor paradise. Spend your afternoon walking along the miles of pristine beaches while searching the coastline for signs of the calving Northern Right Whales. Set your alarm for an early tee time and play on one of the dozens of Championship golf courses, capped off by a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Explore the history of the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, by visiting more than 60 historic sites and attractions. Don’t forget your final pre-race shake out run, that can be done on scenic byways that are a favorite training ground for local athletes.
Runners who follow the Galloway run-walk-run method are in for a special treat, as the DONNA Marathon Weekend offers official Galloway pacers powered by Momentum Transportation USA for both the marathon and half marathon. Whether you are trying to qualify for your first—or 10th—Boston Marathon or will be crossing the finish line of your first half marathon, you’ll get support from both pacers and huge crowds that line the streets to cheer on runners from start to finish.
“I love the way the course weaves through a series of interesting beach communities with numerous views of the beach,” says Jeff Galloway. “The weekend activities are all upbeat and fun… beginners are supported with run-walk-run pace groups and experienced runners have a fast course to improve time.”
Founded in 2008 by three-time breast cancer survivor Donna Deegan, what started as a marathon has grown into a world-class racing experience by runners, for runners. The DONNA Marathon Weekend is all about supporting, celebrating and empowering women from all over the world who are living with—or are in remission from—breast cancer. Once you are a part of the community—whether you are a first-timer or an Olympian—you are forever a part of the history of the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. Register today.