Clubs Rule at the Suncoast Half Marathon

There’s still time to register for the January 2016 event at Lakewood Ranch

clubs-rule-at-the-suncoast“Yes, you can,” says Karen Haynes, the face behind the race, Active Suncoast’s ‘Suncoast Half Marathon’ set for Jan. 24, 2016. “A lot of people look at these events and think you have to be fast, skinny, and Kenyan, a runner. But now that there’s been a proliferation of these events and a lot women, especially over 30-somethings, are finding it’s a great way to be social, be with your friends but also this is an activity that’s going to have long term positive health benefits, whether you run or walk, we want you to be inspired to just get up and do it.”

Active Suncoast Foundation is a not-for-profit whose mission is to “promote, educate and foster active healthy lifestyles and communities.” Epitomizing fitness of body and mind, Karen, who founded the group in 2009, is singularly motivated to help others achieve that level of discipline and devotion to a healthy lifestyle that is driven by activity hence Suncoast’s focus on getting people moving; various marathons and races are the heart of the Active Suncoast Foundation. And the 2016 Suncoast Half Marathon is a highlight.

The half marathon, held in Lakewood Ranch, is described as the ‘best kept secret of the winter.’ A 13.1 mile race that feels big, but is noted for its small-town charm vibe, runners can expect a truly beautiful USA Track & Field-certified course though the manicured boulevards of Lakewood Ranch. And featuring a post-race celebration featuring live music, craft beer and delicious food, the marathon is expected to draw not only hundreds of runners, but hundreds of cheering spectators and fans.

The awards include Overall, Master, Grand Master, Senior Grand Master and Veteran Grand Master as well as six-deep group awards for age groups 14 and under, then in five-year increments age 80 and older.

New this year are local running club awards for the first local running or tri-club male and female finishers in each category and age group. Karen explains: “We have always had great support from the running clubs in Sarasota and Bradenton.” The Lakewood Ranch Running Club has hosted the half marathon since its inception, it is part of the Zoomers and Bradenton runners’ club race series and the event was recently sanctioned by the Manasota Track Club. Karen says that in appreciation of all of the local clubs who are running and doing the vents from clubs in Sarasota and Manatee counties, this year there will be Local Club Runner Award Categories: “Besides all of the regular age group awards and category awards, we will recognize from each category and age group, male and female, the top local club runner …for example, it could be the first overall female maybe she is in local club and she wins first overall. But if she’s not in a local club, the next finisher female who is in a club will be the first overall female club champion and the same will happen for each age group.”

The Active Suncoast Foundation doesn’t just hold race events, says Karen, a US Navy Reserve captain, naval aviator and official for USA Triathlon. The foundation gives back to the community in myriad ways that reflect its mission and, in just the past two or three years, has donated more than $33,000 to different local running clubs, local school and children’s groups and agencies that promote healthy and active lifestyles including providing and serving water for the hundreds of young runners participating in the Kids’ Summer Beach Runs presented by Sarasota County Parks and Recreation and New Balance Sarasota.

“Part of the Active Suncoast Foundation mission is to provide, promote and support an active healthy lifestyle trying to get people off the sofa, and certainly that includes youth. Being a part of helping in a program like kids running on the beach is great,” Karen says. “If the kids are participating, sometimes that will help bring parents into a more active lifestyle, too.”

Active Suncoast Foundation has also supported various Sarasota and Bradenton races, runs and triathlons with water stations and has presented health and wellness fairs.

“We try and do a lot to promote our mission,” Karen says. “Getting off the couch!”

For more information about the Suncoast Half Marathon visit the website at