I was looking for a great girl’s weekend runcation where the best friend and I could catch up and run at the same time. The Daytona Beach Half was on my list of “someday runs” (yes, I have such a list) and what was great was that they offer a relay option. My best friend has never run a half, nor is she sure she ever wants to and I knew that my knee couldn’t quite handle one. So the relay was perfect for us!
This year was the inaugural year for the speedway challenge, which is the option to run both the half marathon and then lap the track with the 5K. Never one to turn down a challenge, I knew I wanted to do this as well. It would be a great time for us to walk, talk, and catch up.
Packet pickup was available the day before the race and the morning of at the speedway. I went the day before just to scope out the area, get a beat on what the parking situation was like, and let’s face it– waking up extra, extra early on race day to get my packet is really not my thing.
Parking was free and plentiful. They actually had runners pull up on the grass right outside of the speedway, so that was perfect. We were just steps away from the start line.
The potties at the start line were plentiful, but you needed to use your observant eye to find them. Right next to where we parked, there was one restroom and the line was very long. Upon asking an employee, we found out that there were a multitude (I’m talking 5+) other restrooms scattered throughout, so I was able to walk around and find a restroom with no line.
The start line was right on the track and again steps away from parking. What was great about this was that they had a car loop the track to start us off and as someone who is not very NASCAR-savvy, it was very cool to see (and hear) a race car in person.
We were told that the course covers “the speedway, to the beach, and back.” Since I participated in a relay, I only ran half of the course and my best friend was able to do the second half. I think she might agree that she got the short end of the stick because as we learned, the second half involved running over a bridge twice. Oops.
The first half of the course started on the track and then mostly ran through neighborhoods, nothing truly exciting to see there. The second half once crossing the bridge went on the beach for a bit, then circled back to the track.
Here is the elevation map from the first half:
I think it is safe to say that the course is not flat.
There were a good number of aid stations with both water and gatorade to drink along the course. The volunteers were great and very cheerful and supportive! Just past the 10K mark there was gatorade, water, fuel (in gel form) and potties for runners.
I believe I saw photographers in two or three spots along the route. Photos were made available two days after the event. The local newspaper was there and also shared some candids from the race, which was cool.
Upon crossing the finish line, half marathon runners received their medal, water, a Daytona race towel, and a freezing cold washcloth to cool off with. They also had a time table available to receive a slip with your official time right away.
The post-race party included free eggs, sausage, cheese potatoes (which were SO DELICIOUS), bananas, and oranges. Runners also got free beer, but the line was too long for me so I just headed back to my hotel.
There were lots of race cars out and about available for photos. There weren’t very many vendors, though. I believe I saw two tents pitched with vendors there.
It was overcast this year, which was perfect because I can’t imagine how much more difficult the race would have been had the sun been out pounding down on us.
For the 3.1 “Lap the Track,” runners and walkers lapped the 2-mile track, exited the speedway for a short time outside before returning to the track for the finish. This portion of the course was pretty flat and if I had run it, I imagine that it would be a fast run.
Goodies for the speedway challenge included a jacket and a medal. All in all, speedway challenge runners would have received: 3 medals, 1 race towel, 2 race shirts, and a race jacket.
This was my first time participating in any type of race challenge. I am glad that I chose to walk the 5K portion because my feet and calves were singing to me after my half of the half and we got some great best friend bonding time since we don’t get to see each other often.
The atmosphere of this race was so wonderful and I would definitely consider doing it again.