By Lisa Unger
The Atlantic coast is a wonderful place to spend a romantic weekend at any time of the year, but the fall is perhaps the best. The days are warm and the evenings are cool with a sea breeze that rejuvenates the senses. Situated along a short stretch of A1A are the quiet, but tourist-friendly, towns of Ormond Beach and Ormond by the Sea. These coastal towns have plenty of entertainment options including awesome restaurants, shopping galore, and of course, the beach. But being runners, we went for the race.
The Daytona Beach Track Club did a great job of staging the 29th annual Tomoka 4-Miler on September 22. The weather was almost perfect–a little bit humid, but not too warm. The start time was just after the day’s spectacular sunrise, which painted beautiful and vibrant colors in the sky and were visible to those who did their warm up on the beach. The course was a flat, out and back loop on a coastal community road. The first and last miles were reminiscent of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Area, while the second and third miles wound past quaint homes with lush gardens. This year the course was altered because of construction on the Knox Bridge, which crosses the Halifax River, but it is anticipated to revert to its original route next year. The change may have been a detriment to local regulars who indicated it was more challenging than the original course, but the out-of-towners were undaunted. The Daytona Beach Track Club had plenty of volunteers to ensure an enjoyable race with no noticeable glitches. There were post race refreshments available for the nearly 200 participants, and a scenic park in which to enjoy them while the results were quickly tabulated.
Tim Unger, the over all race winner, ran the 4 miles in a course record of 22:46, which was almost a minute faster than Dennis Craig, the local favorite who placed second. I worked hard to maintain (almost) 8 minute miles and completed the course in 32:20 for second place in my age group. Another Tallahassee finisher was Noah Cabiac, who ran the course in 28:44 for second place in the male 20-24 age group.
The next morning Tim and I enjoyed another pretty sunrise and then set off for our respective post race recovery runs. We both ran to the same point, but choose different routes. Tim ran on the beach making a loop from Ormond Beach to the public beach access of Ormond by the Sea and back, passing by several other vacationers who were combing the beach for shells and marveling at the lovely ocean vistas. Meanwhile, I followed the sidewalk that paralleled A1A from our hotel to the same beach access point and back. Throughout my run I enjoyed pleasant greetings from other joggers as well as motorist and bikers who waved as they traveled on the coastal highway. Although we followed different routes, we both came back with similar stories of how nice it is to run in such a pedestrian friendly area.
After a quality run, it is rewarding to spend some introspective time on the beach and refreshing to play in the ocean . So we rounded out our weekend with a visit to Ormond Beach and it seemed that the time to head back to Tallahassee came much to quickly.