One of my favorite runs has to be the preseason Beach Run at Daytona Beach.

When I was in college, we had two preseasons each year. At the end of each Summer my cross country team would get together a week or two before classes started. We would go somewhere different every year or two, such as Pelee Island in the middle of Lake Erie, or to camps in the middle of Pennsylvania or in Maine. Before each track season, however, we would always spend our Spring Break (which fell in the middle of Winter) down in Florida. Specifically, we would stay at Camp Winona, which is about 20 minutes west of Daytona.

Preseason is great. You get up early, you run 10 miles, you eat a lot of food and goof off during the day, you run another 5 miles in the afternoon, and then you go out on the town or stay at camp and set up a campfire until the wee hours of the morning.

One of the great things about being down in Florida when we were was that it was usually Bike Week in Daytona. We were far enough away that we did not have to deal with it every day or while we were running, but we could head into town and check out all the hogs and crotch rockets whenever we wanted.

There was one specific run each preseason, however, that broke the day up a bit differently, especially for the preseasons down in Florida. There would be one day where we would do a single run of 15 to 18 miles in the morning, and then not run again until the next day. In Florida, we would accomplish this run by figuring out the earliest time we could hit the beach at low tide and have daylight and make that the day for Beach Run.

Beach Run was accomplished by getting dropped off on Daytona Beach by whoever happened to be injured and couldnÂ’t run the whole thing. One year, unfortunately, that was me. That person (or persons) would then drive down the road for 15 miles, buy a bunch of donuts and bagels and fill up the water jugs, and wait for everybody to show up.

Beach Run was always a lot of fun. You had the folk out sunbathing watching you run by. The sand was so dense with water it was like running on asphalt. The sun reflects off of everything and makes you giddy. And when you finish, you get to jump in the ocean to cool off and then rehydrate yourself after coming back out.

I did a four mile race along Daytona Beach one evening when I was down there, but it was not the same thing. Having the sun come up next to you is a lot different from having it well behind you across the land. It is quite invigorating. I would not want to do an early morning long Beach Run every weekend, but once a year for 3 or 4 years let it keep its charm without pushing its limits.

If you ever down there, I highly recommend giving Daytona Beach at least a few miles.