One of my favorite Five Star NTP races happens in February. It’s the Surf & Sun 5k. It’s held every February at West Bank Park on Lake Lanier. Before doing this race for the first time in 2015, I had never been to West Bank Park & I’ve lived in Forsyth County for 18 years!
It has become one of my favorites because of the beauty of the surrounding area and, believe it or not, the time of year—Winter!
1st, the surrounding area. West Bank Park is located on Lake Sidney Lanier, which is a beautiful 38,000 lake bordering Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett, Hall & Lumpkin counties in north Georgia. West Bank Park is in Forsyth County just north of Buford Dam. It’s an Army Corp of Engineers park which has a beach, fishing dock, picnic areas, playgrounds, trails and restrooms (very important!) The park is kept clean & nice & is a great place to go, especially in the summer months (thus, reason #2 I like this race).
The Surf & Sun 5k course is entirely within the park giving participants beautiful views of Lake Lanier and the surrounding wooded areas. My favorite part is watching the sun come up over the lake. Because I’m not a speed demon, I always take the time to snap some pictures of the sunrise & of the calm winter lake.
2nd, Winter. Because this park is so nice & offers much to folks in the warmer months, it’s very popular, aka, crowded in Summer. Having this race in February all but ensures we runners have it to ourselves. I’ve done this race 3 years in a row & 2 of those 3, it was freezing. I mean in the 20’s-30’s freezing. No one but us crazy runners are at the lake on a freezing Saturday morning in February!
The temperature and the early morning start time gives us a rare opportunity to see the lake empty of people and the water still. Even while running, it’s a very peaceful experience.
In general, I prefer races in winter. It takes more effort to get up on a cold morning. Figuring out how to dress so you don’t freeze before and burn up during, can definitely be a challenge. But there are other benefits, like less people = lower field = better odds to place = Bling for slower runners (of course!) Also on that list of benefits is enjoying nature during a quieter time, in it’s stillness & appreciating how fortunate we are to be in it.