Some Things to Consider Before You Sign Up for a Winter Race in the South

I recently heard an ad for a marathon and half marathon in Miami in February. They said something about how great it would be to run in beautiful Miami in February to get a break from winter weather and I started thinking about that. I’ve run several half marathons in the winter months including Kiawah Island Half Marathon (South Carolina) in December, Naples Daily News Half Marathon (Florida) in January, Run the Reagan (Georgia) in February, Ole Man River (Louisiana) in December, Dogtown Half Marathon (Utah) in February, and several half marathons in early to mid-March, on the verge of spring but still technically winter.

While I’ll agree that it was definitely nice to have a break from cold weather when I was in Florida, I still had to go back home obviously so it was just a few days of warmer weather. None of the other states were noticeably warmer than my home state of North Carolina, even though Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana are all south of where I live so one might expect it to be warmer (I did). I remember it being chilly and rainy in Louisiana and Georgia and very windy and cool in South Carolina. When I finished all three of those races, I was ready to just go back to my hotel room to take a hot shower and warm up. That being said, Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon is a great race and I still recommend it.

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I was so happy to see the finish line at Run the Reagan in Georgia!

So does that just leave Florida if you want to run a marathon or half marathon in the winter and have a greater chance of warm, sunny weather? First off remember, Florida is a big state and the weather varies considerably from the northern part to the southern part. I was in Naples, in the southern part of the state and the weather was nice enough that we still went to the beach in January. If we would have been in say, Jacksonville, it’s not nearly as warm there as it is in Naples in January but still may be warmer than where you live. Besides southern Florida, you would also have warm weather in the winter in southern Texas, southern California, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Arizona. All of that being said, if you live in a state in the northeast or another state where it snows a lot and is bitter cold during the winter, it would seem considerably warmer if you ran a race in a state like North Carolina or Georgia. It’s all relative.

However, that’s not necessarily as great as it sounds, especially if you live in a far northern state. Let’s say you live in Michigan and it starts snowing in October, like it normally does there, and by November you’ve acclimated to the cold weather. If you were training for a marathon in Florida in January or February but lived in Michigan, that would mean you would have to run through some pretty rough weather, only to show up in sunny southern Florida, where it may be upwards of 75 degrees for the high on race day. You would not be anywhere near acclimated to that kind of temperature and it would probably feel like you were running in an inferno.

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It was fun getting to hang out at the beach with this little cutie after the race in Naples, Florida in January

There are also the holidays to consider. If you’re running a half marathon or marathon in February, that means you need to get your training runs in for the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. I’ve done that and it’s not something that was easy to do. Everyone is already busy around the holidays, with the extra shopping, gift wrapping, parties, putting up decorations, extra cooking and/or baking, visiting family members, and all of the other extra things that happen that time of year. When you have to run for 12 miles on Saturday, you’re probably not going to feel like driving 4 hours to see Grandma after that, plus you’ll likely have to figure out where to run and how to squeeze in  another run while you’re at Grandma’s house for the weekend.

It’s not all bad, though. It is pretty nice to get a break from cold, dreary winter weather, even if it is just for a few days or a bit more if you’re lucky enough to spend some time there after the race. Sure, you do have to go back home to crappy weather, but you may appreciate the warm weather a bit more while you’re there and have maybe a bit more fun because of it. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to when you’re outside training in the cold, drab winter weather. If you live somewhere that you just love cold weather and snow, you probably wouldn’t enjoy a “break” from the cold weather and all of this would be lost upon you, so I don’t recommend a winter race for you in one of the states I mentioned in the winter.

I think as long as you come prepared and know what you’re getting into before you sign up for a winter race somewhere that it will be considerably warmer than where you live, it will be fine. In fact, it could turn out to be something you absolutely love and end up doing it year after year. My theory is always, “You’ll never know until you try!”

Have you run a race in a southern state in the winter? If so, what was your experience like? Do you want to run a winter race in a southern state?

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Happy running!

Donna

 

 

Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

7 thoughts on “Some Things to Consider Before You Sign Up for a Winter Race in the South”

  1. I have, indeed, run some southern halfs in Winter. But I live in upstate NY — which means it’s often (but not always) a vast difference.

    Las Vegas (Dec) — actually colder there than it was at home.
    Austin (Feb) — perfect weather.
    FL (Dec) — perfect weather.
    NOLA (March) — godawful humidity, even my FL & MS friends were dying.
    Savannah (Feb) — cool until race day, but it was the large blood blister that killed that race.

    Most of these races actually went quite well. Austin, FL & NOLA were PRs. Truly don’t know how I pulled it off in NOLA, it was a huge shock! So was FL for that fact, but the weather was at least my friend there.

    For me the key is to put the vacation portion first, so I can somewhat acclimate. Didn’t really happen in FL or Austin, but did in NOLA & Savannah. Sometimes just getting there is rough (like leaving in a blizzard for Savannah).

    I do like going somewhere warm in Winter, but don’t do it often. The training through Winter can be really tough. I find that overdressing for some of my runs, even though one of my coaches didn’t recommend it, has served me well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Randomly today (or probably because of Insta), I was thinking about running Punta Cana’s marathon in Apr. 2021. Then I though it’s hot as hell in the DR during Feb., I probably would not want to run a full marathon in 80+ degree weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have run marathons in Jacksonville (December I think) and Miami (late January). Weather was good for both, but the Miami Marathon started while it was still dark out to avoid having the runners run in the hottest part of the day. We were running in yoiur home state a few weeks ago and it was COLD and windy with snow flurries! Almost as bad as PA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was smart to start the race in Miami early before it got too hot. Depending on where you are in NC, the weather varies greatly. Since you mentioned snow, I’m guessing you were in the mountains because we haven’t seen even a hint of snow where I am. It does get cold with quite a bit of snow in the mountains in the winter but it’s not so bad in the middle and eastern part of the state.

      Like

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