Even though St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States (it was established in 1565 by Spanish settlers), the St. Augustine Half Marathon is only four years old. Suzette Rodriguez, Athlete Services and Social Media Manager, says that the race has quickly become very popular: "The Columbia St. Augustine Half Marathon has been successful since its inauguration in 2011.
The purpose of the Columbia St. Augustine Half Marathon Family Weekend is to bring families together through health & fitness regardless of their age or fitness level. Each year we see a range of runners who come to meet their goal of completing the 13.1 miles, as well as those running groups who motivate each other to stay fit by signing up for a short distance race together."
The Half Marathon is run on the second weekend in November each year, and the event actually include four races - a 5k, 10k, a Kid's Race and the Half Marathon. The City and community actively support the Half Marathon, says Rodriguez: "The City of St. Augustine fully supports the Half Marathon Family Weekend each year. The police, the city managers, the park officials, and the residents of the community all help make this event a success by contributing to the production and safety of the race. I believe it is a great idea for a community to gather and encourage fitness right at the doorsteps of all its residents, it also assists in helping the city earn revenue from tourism."
Each race participant gets an athlete tech shirt, a large medal, and delicious post race food provided by Columbia Restaurants. Runners also get to attend the awards ceremony and the fun post race party. The course of the race takes them through amazing views of the nation's oldest city. Rodriguez adds that "The event was extremely successful this year as the runners were thrilled with the course, completing the race & crossing the finish line, and throughout the awards ceremony & post race party."
Local businesses also get involved with sponsorships and have an active presence at the races. Rodriguez says that "We are grateful for all of our local sponsors. The Columbia Restaurant always helps us make this event a success by offering their delicious food to all our athletes after the race. First Place Sports Running store, Beaver Toyota of St. Augustine, Project Autism of St. Johns County, and the St. Johns County Tourism Department all assist in making this event a reality."
She believes that it is very important for the community and City to support a healthy lifestyle: "There is no better support than that which comes from the city itself. By promoting a healthy active lifestyle, the Columbia St. Augustine Half Marathon motivates a community to get healthy and fit and it encourages someone to spend time working on a goal that is positive and enriching. Cultivating a race within ones community also attracts visitors from all over the country, which aids in bringing in the revenues of tourism."