Run, Don’t Walk, into the New Year in JAX

New Year, new…you? With all the anticipation of hope for a better year than the previous, the well intentioned, yet daunting, resolutions to improve [fill-in-the-blank], often fizzle out within weeks of the clock striking midnight to Jan. 1. A recent survey from DiscoverHappyHabits.com found that less than half of people making resolutions were still successful after six months.

The survey also found that the most popular New Year’s resolutions among Americans were exercising more and losing weight. If that sounds familiar, look no further than JAX’s many spring running events to be your guiding star.

Develop a lasting relationship with your fitness resolution – grab a like-minded pal, choose an event and a training program, and make getting a new PR your goal. These JAX races will push you to be in the best shape of your life, with plenty of fun attached:

DONNA Marathon Weekend, Jacksonville and Jacksonville’s Beaches (Feb. 4-6) – This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Boston Marathon qualifier that is the country’s only marathon dedicated to breast cancer research, awareness and care. As one of CNN Travel’s “Seven Marathons Worth the Trip,” this event is the brainchild of three-time breast cancer survivor, Donna Deegan, founder of The DONNA Foundation. The weekend is built on Donna’s “love over fear” mentality and that outpouring of love can be felt by the cheering crowds lined up along the marathon route, giving the course the moniker of a 26.2-mile tailgate party. If the marathon is too overwhelming, the weekend also includes a half marathon, relay, 15K, 10K and 5K, plus a health and wellness expo.

Spartan Race, Jacksonville (Feb. 26-27) – Do you have what it takes to be “unbreakable?” This event is sure to test the spirit. It is more than running; it features endurance obstacles like tire flips, barbed wire crawls, spear throws, multi-rigs and more. Held at WW Motocross Park, a professional motocross course including rough terrain, dirt hills and water features (ahem, expect to get muddy), this military-style event offers one of the fastest courses on the Spartan Trail Circuit.

Gate

Gate River Run, Jacksonville, (March 5) – Meandering through downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding historic districts, this race has the distinction of being the country’s largest 15K and the USA National 15K Championship. Annually, 20,000 runners from all over the country traverse over St. Johns River bridges along the asphalt track with a dozen bands and spectators happy to give runners encouragement via cheers, clever signage or in liquid form from water to cocktails.

This race is also known for the “Green Monster,” a.k.a. the Hart Bridge, which rises 141 feet above the river and spans more than 3,800 feet, but it is worth the strain (and pain!) to make it to the post-race celebration complete with live music, beer, an awards ceremony and tales of how you mastered the green beast’s 6 percent incline of over half a mile.

Night Nation Run, Jacksonville (April 2) – Is it a run? Is it a party? Who can tell? We only know this inaugural experience in JAX is a part of the world’s first running music festival where participants are expected to “run, walk, skip, dance and glow.” Music permeates the entire TIAA Bank Field (home of the Jacksonville Jaguars) as glow-necklace-clad participants travel through a 5K course filled with light shows, bubble zones and selfie stations, followed by a Main Stage DJ party. So let loose…you’ve earned it!

Need to get your new running feet “wet?” Try one of any number of 5Ks – only 3.1 miles, including those at cool locations or with costumes:

  • Totally Awesome 80s Race, Ponte Vedra (Feb. 12) – a vintage-inspired race with A LOT of neon, including complimentary neon sunglasses, that will blast you to the past with 80s music and a post-race Rubik’s Cube Competition.
  • 5K/8K Superhero Run, Orange Park (Feb. 12) – grab a cape (or fatigues or a lab coat) to honor your favorite superhero with two lengths of runs along the St. Johns River.
  • Seamark MudRun, Green Cove Springs (April 9) – the messy, er, nature-filled race through woods, fields and lakes benefits Seamark Ranch, a Christian children’s home dedicated to improving the lives of children without homes.
  • Race to the Taste, St. Augustine (April 24) – part of the Taste of St. Augustine, this rock-and-roll-themed 5K starts out at The Amp, an outdoor music amphitheater, and cuts through Anastasia State Park.

This year, resolve to keep your fitness resolutions and start now! They do say that it only takes three weeks to form a habit, right? And there is no time like the beginning of a year to turn over a new leaf.

We’ll check back in when you catch your breath.

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