Sunday, December 4, 2016 • Fernandina Beach, FL • Course Map
A few hundred runners cross the finish line each year at the December running of Fernadina’s Reindeer Run Half Marathon & 5K, a race organized by the locally based Amelia Island Runners group to benefit both the Nassau County Healthy Start program and the Friends of Fort Clinch.
The race takes runners along the beachfront streets and inside the tree-covered park roads of Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island, the southernmost of the barrier island chain known as the Sea Islands along the coasts of Georgia and Florida.
Known as the “isle of Eight Flags,” Amelia has had a long and tumultuous history that dates back long before the Revolutionary War, and today its heritage is preserved with a 50-block area of historic homes and downtown buildings known as “Old Town,” listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Runners start and finish the out-and-back course for the race in Wolf Park, which lies right on the beach and the waves crashing along the shoreline. From there, the course takes runners in both the half marathon and the 5K first north along Tarpon Avenue, where they head north for about six blocks past the beachfront homes along the seashore.
This is the start of the 5K portion of the race, which runners in both races will follow for about the next three miles until those running the half split off when they reach nearly all the way to Wolf Park again, and those running the 5K head in to the finish line at the beach.
Those running the half will instead turn right and head around Tarpon and into Fort Clinch State Park, which is home to the 19th-century fort that shares its name and served as a garrison for soldiers in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
This stretch of the race marks a refreshing change from the first three miles — which are run out in the open sun next to the dunes along the beach — as it takes runners along tree-covered park roads, filled with live oaks covered in Spanish moss.
The next four miles unfold through the park, though runners won’t get to see the actual Fort Clinch — it lies along the beach at the northern end of Amelia Island. Car traffic is permitted on the park roads through this section of the race, which is a detriment — because the cars have to slow down considerably along the park roads, they’re often idling as runners are passing by or as they’re passing the runners, which kicks up highly unpleasant exhaust fumes for the runners.
Once they reach the mile 7 marker, runners exit the park and head over the North 14th Street bridge, which looks out onto boats and marshes on the water below.
Over the bridge and into the neighborhoods on the other side of it, the race makes a loop around the sandy-street neighborhoods and then back across the bridge, and then a return route back (mostly) along the route runners have just run, all the way back to the finish line at Wolf Park, where water and race medals are waiting for every finisher on the beach.
Race Weather & Climate
Nestled along the coast of the northeast corner of Florida, about 30 miles north of Jacksonville and roughly 130 miles south of Savannah, Ga., Fernandina Beach typically sees December temperatures that average between 48°F and 65°F, while rainfall totals average just over 2.7 inches for the month.
On race day (Dec. 4), the average low is 50°F and the average high is 67°F.
- 2015 Reindeer Run Half Marathon Results
- 2014 Reindeer Run Half Marathon Results
- 2013 Reindeer Run Half Marathon Results
- 2012 Reindeer Run Half Marathon Results
- 2011 Reindeer Run Half Marathon Results
- 7:00 AM – half marathon, 5K
- 10:00 AM – 1-mile kids run
- 10:15 AM – 1/2-mile kids run
- 10:30 AM – 100-yard dash
- $45 – $90 for the half marathon
- $25 – $45 for the 5K
To reserve your spot in the 2016 running of Fernandina Beach’s Reindeer Run Half Marathon or 5K race, register online at Active.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the Reindeer Run Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.