With a paved course that's largely fast and flat and a mild-weather winter climate in which to run, the all-new Palm Coast Half Marathon & 5K Run/Walk ought to offer runners the perfect chance to mark a personal record time when the race makes its inaugural running here along the Florida coast in the winter of 2011.
Known for its plentiful beaches, golf courses and year-round opportunities for outdoor recreation in the sun -- like much of the rest of the state -- Palm Coast lies in northern Florida's Flagler County, which is less visited than many of the state's more well-known beaches (like Daytona Beach) and offers a more "untouched" experience, local tourism officials say.
The race will offer runners a chance to see some of the area's golf courses and beachfront areas up close, as the out-and-back course for the event takes runners past the wide, green fairways of the Palm Harbor Golf Club as well as the Club at Hammock Beach, a luxury family resort with a multi-level water park and signature golf courses designed by PGA legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
One of a series of half marathon race events in smaller and medium-sized towns and cities across the country throughout the year staged by the USRA Half Marathon series -- which also hosts events in cities from Bentonville, Ark., to Dalton, Ga., to Council Bluffs, Iowa -- the race starts and finishes in a residential neighborhood just off the Palm Harbor Parkway, along the neighborhood street Fords Way.
From there, the course takes runners eastward along Forest Hills Drive and then southward along Florida Park Drive, which runners follow for roughly the next mile and a half until they meet up with the Palm Coast Parkway. Here, runners turn left and head toward the ocean, passing the golf course on their left as the highway meanders its way toward the Hammock Beach resort.
The course crosses over the causeway and then takes the field into the resort along Hammock Dunes Parkway, which runners follow north for about two miles all the way to the turn on 16th Road, where runners then turn left and head west for a brief stretch before turning left again on North Ocean Shore Boulevard. Here, runners then head south along the road until they meet up again with the Palm Coast Parkway, where they follow the pathway back onto the parkway and head back in along the route they ran earlier to the race finish line.
As with most events in the USRA Half Marathon series, runners looking to take part in this race should expect a smaller event without lots of spectators, but also a chance to mark an excellent time as the race features paved surfaces throughout and only very gradual changes in elevation throughout most of the route.
Weather & Climate
Nestled along northern Florida's Atlantic coastline, just over 60 miles south of Jacksonville and roughly 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, the city of Palm Coast typically experiences mild to occasionally warm conditions in the early winter season, and generally drier weather in the winter than in the summer, when rainfall is usually much heavier. In January, the city's average monthly temperatures range between 68°F and 46°F -- much like on the day of the race (Jan. 23), when the average high is also 68°F and the average low is 46°F -- while precipitation totals average just over 3.3 inches for the month.
To reserve your spot in the winter 2011 running of Florida's Palm Coast Half Marathon or 5K Run/Walk, register online at Active.com
Half Marathon Course Map
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