running the speedway at the daytona beach half marathon

Last year, the boys and I tried something new: the Lap the Track 5K at the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. We had such a great time that I got it in my head to go back for the half marathon.

When my friend J registered, I told Mr PugRunner how much I wanted to join her and he registered me as one of my Christmas gifts. Yay!

Daytona is just under an hour from the house, so it wasn’t an awful drive, although I did have to get up super early to be able to get my packet and check things into into gear check before the 7:30 AM start time.

I was just so happy to be out there with J: my only goal was to tag along and have fun. She is coming back into running, so it was all about the experience and a strong finish.

Arriving at 6:40ish, I got a great parking spot, and was able to easily get my packet, women’s technical shirt and a gear check bag. I was done with the details in minutes and was able to hit the restroom.

The biggest obstacle to the day was the weather: I had been training in 40s and 50s, but race day promised to get up into the high 70s with loads of humidity and sun (which was fine because earlier forecasts called for thunderstorms and rain). Good times. I was thrilled that J and I could wear our matching outfits without extra layers, but it was going to be tough on the body.

We lined up and listened to the final announcements and instructions. The race was supposed to do a small stretch on Daytona Beach, but because the tide was high, we would have to follow an alternate route, for safety. While I had wanted to see the ocean, I appreciated not having to run on soft sand.

After the National Anthem, a NASCAR pace car took its lap and then we were off. The first few miles were run around the actual Daytona International Speedway. It’s a really cool feeling to be out there on the track.

Right off the bat, the air quality was horrendous. It was tough, but I didn’t mind because I was so busy taking in the sights of a new-to-me course, and enjoying time catching up with J. Due to our hectic schedules, we don’t get to see much of each other.

We left the track and headed out on to the main road. This is technically an open course, but there were police officers at every intersection, holding and turning drivers. Not one got remotely close to any of the runners, which was nice and greatly appreciated.

After another few miles, we turned into some back neighborhoods. The benefit here was some tree cover from the sun, which was starting to pound pretty relentlessly. On a positive note, there was water and Gatorade every 1.5 miles or so, and each station was fully stocked and manned along the way. I loved how the later runners received just as much consideration as the earlier ones and we never worried about not being able to get proper hydration on course.

I got a little turned around in my head, but before long we passed the relay hand off, and then we found ourselves at the foot of the intercoastal bridge. It was a big one, but over we went, for a stretch alongside the beach, and then it was time to really start heading back.

The second time over the bridge was tough. It was steep and the wind was really blowing hard. We had to exert a lot of energy to get over the peak, and even the downhill portion was tough with the headwind. The view was stunning, though.

Once we conquered the bridge, it was time to finish up this race. Whoo hoo!

It was a straight shot back to the racetrack. By this point, the 5K was underway, so we had to merge in with those runners to get back to the track for our grand finale!

Mr PugRunner and little man had arrived and were waiting for us! It was so nice to see them. I was hoping to have them sign up for the 5K, but with the predicted thunderstorms (that never materialized), we agreed to have them pass. They said that next time, they were totally in, rain or shine.

With huge smiles on our faces, we crossed the finish line!

We collected our swag (huge medals and beautiful beach towels), and grabbed water and ice cold towels.

Between its amazing volunteers and attention to detail, this race really was top notch.

Of course, the photos at the track are the most fun. Runners are free to wander around and take full advantage of all the speedway’s cool photos opps.

By this point of the day, I was starving. There was free beer for runners, but the line was long, so we said our goodbyes to J, grabbed my bag from gear check and headed to one of the nearby restaurants for lunch.

It was a good day. I loved the event, and was even more thrilled to learn that BB Action Photo was providing free race photos to participants. Score! The whole family will be back for more next year!

What’s your favorite swag to receive when you finish a race?
Are free photos common where you live?



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23 Responses to running the speedway at the daytona beach half marathon

  1. Wendy says:

    This looks like so much fun! I wouldn’t have minded running on Daytona Beach because the sand is pretty hard, right? I remember cars driving on it back in the day. I don’t know if they still do that. Love your outfits and the medals are very cool.

    Wendy recently posted…Book Review: Gratitude in MotionMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      That’s exactly right! The beach is included because it was part of the original track!

      I don’t mind a short ways on packed sand, but with the wrong tide, I was really glad they made adjustments. Soft sand is awful.

      It’s a great race, and everything was 100% on point.

  2. Chelsea says:

    What a fun race!! I’ve been to Daytona before and loved it!! Such a neat place!!

    • runswithpugs says:

      It’s a nice little beach town. We’ve done races, camping on the infield during speedweek, and general vacations there. I wouldn’t plan to drive around it during the Daytona 500 or Bike Week, but other than that, I do like it as a little weekend side trip.

  3. Rachel says:

    What a cool race! Your outfit is totally adorbs, too.
    Rachel recently posted…Spring Fitness Goals of 2018My Profile

  4. what a fun place for a race! Looks like a blast. You always have the biggest smile while running
    Deborah Brooks recently posted…Why Runners Should Embrace YogaMy Profile

  5. This looks fun! We used to have a similar race at a nearby Nascar speedway…I couldn’t believe how steep the track was banked! We started with a loop around the track, a few miles out around the grounds, then back for a final lap on the track.
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Shall We Train? My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Right? You have to take a running start to get to the top of the fence on the speedway. You can see how far we’re leaning back in our medal shot on the checkered line. It was crazy!

  6. Kimberly G says:

    Great job! This looks like such an awesome and fun race. I love races that have unique locations and race courses.
    Kimberly G recently posted…My Spring Fitness GoalsMy Profile

  7. Alicia says:

    Hey Jenn, looks like it was a fun race and you enjoyed a lot! I love what you do as always and I take inspiration from your blog too. You look so smile all the time.
    Alicia recently posted…Best Copper Cookware Set Reviews for 2018: Top Models RecommendedMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I’m out there doing what I love – that’s why I smile so much. It’s hard to have too many complaints when you are getting to do the thing you enjoy with the people you love spending time with!

  8. Darlene says:

    Oh another race to add to my bucket list. Love your outfit.

  9. What an incredible course to run! I don’t think that I would ever get tired of taking post race pictures on the speedway. And your matching outfits are adorable! I’m glad that the weather cooperated so that you were still able to wear them.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…What I’m Looking Forward to About Princess Half Marathon WeekendMy Profile

  10. Jessica says:

    The (only) local half marathon here does free photos and I think that’s so awesome!! There are a few smaller, shorter races and I’ve been known to swipe some of those pictures from Facebook, haha.
    Jessica recently posted…Last Week’s Workouts: Energy City Half Marathon Training Week 7My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Free photos are such a great sponsorship point, too! I will always try to support the photographers, but some of the photo prices are pretty high. I have one I need to purchase from marathonfoto, and it’s going to hurt, but it was such a wonderful photo.

  11. Esther says:

    Y’all are too cute! Love the outfits and your recap! What a fun race to have in Daytona!
    My fav race swag was a pair of scrubs! Yay for comfort!

  12. This looks so fun, despite the tough conditions. Congrats on having a great race! Love the outfits!
    I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a race with free photos. But compared to horse show photos, running ones are pretty inexpensive so I don’t mind buying one or two.
    Stacie Seidman recently posted…Thursday’s ThreadsMy Profile

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