December 1 2017
As runners, we think of our feet, back, hamstrings, knees and plenty of other body parts before we get around to thinking about our calves.
Experience the ultimate racecation with your girlfriends on Northeast Florida’s beaches.
Every year in the second weekend of February, over 10,000 runners flock to the beaches of Northeast Florida. It’s not a winter migration, however, it is safe to say many women have taken the journey of a lifetime to get there.
Two time breast cancer survivor Melissa O’Neil describes DONNA Marathon Weekend as “one of the most rewarding experiences she’s ever participated in.” For O’Neil and many runners, DONNA Marathon Weekend is more than just running a race. “It represents hope, love, strength and getting us closer to a cure. On every stretch of this race you feel the love, not just of the runners around you but from the people of Jacksonville.”
This empowering girl’s getaway is more than a weekend of well-earned rest and relaxation; DONNA Marathon Weekend is about runners coming together from all over the world to celebrate women who are living with—or in remission from—breast cancer. The very pink 26-mile beach block party is one of hope, unity and celebration (with a mimosa).
“As I come up over the causeway and I see the Mayo Clinic, I think of my journey, my husband & kids, my family and all my survivor sisters and brothers; and I know what I am running for. I get such an emotional rush, that really can’t even be explained with words, knowing that I can put my heart and soul into an event for those who we are remembering, and for those who are still on or in the midst of the journey. I know I am still here because of research. I know what I am running for. I run for a cure and I am running toward life,” says O’Neil.
The 11th annual DONNA Marathon Weekend is set for February 9-11, 2018 when participants will experience a world-class race. Featuring a 5K, 10K, relay, half marathon, marathon, ultramarathon and event challenges, there is truly a way for every woman (and man) to be a part of what Women’s Running readers call their favorite charity race, in part because of its scenic views and an outpouring of crowd support. Whether you are in the crowd or out on course, you and your girlfriends can all experience the inspiring weekend together on Florida’s Historic Coast.
“We all have today; nobody knows if they have another day,” stresses Donna Deegan, a three-time survivor of breast cancer and founder of The DONNA Foundation. “We’re going to do as much as we can for each other and other people while we’re here living. We want to focus on getting up and living each day. When people come to our race, they see that.”
When you’re not on the flat, fast Boston-qualifying marathon course, you can be shopping, dining and relaxing—all ingredients for the perfect girl’s weekend getaway. Because the course covers four beautiful beach communities, you aren’t limited to just Jacksonville. Less than 45 minutes from the starting line in Ponte Vedra Beach is the town of St. Augustine, which is the nation’s oldest city. There you can shop in classic boutiques along the brick-lined streets, sip on craft cocktails or wine along the bayfront or even take a guided food tour to further connect with the heritage of the city.
If you and your girlfriends prefer to stick closer to the start line you will be well taken care of at the host hotel, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. Enjoy the resort’s health-conscious dining offerings pre- and post-race, spend time at one—or all—of the four pools and take advantage of the prime beach access Cabana Beach Club, just a quick complimentary shuttle ride away. And because a girl’s weekend wouldn’t be complete without an extra dose of self-care, take advantage of the serenity of the Sawgrass Spa, with specialty spa packages all weekend that are tailored to runners.
You’ll never be the same after this winter weekend in Florida, and with your participation, neither will breast cancer. DONNA Marathon Weekend isn’t just a place to make once-in-a-lifetime memories with your girlfriends; it’s a place to love together, hope together and run to finish breast cancer. Register today.