We just missed the greatest race that (almost) nobody in the SUP race community knew about

with permission, photo credit Alan Rodriguez Photography, Photo credit: AlanRphoto.com

I got an interesting message from our friend Danny Smith at Paddling Paradise who just got back from the SUP & RUN 5K in Sarasota, FL. He raved about how much fun it was, how stoked people were, how it raised money for Operation Second Chance.

What was so awesome? What was their secret sauce?

No secret. Just made what they thought would be an enjoyable event for a great cause. And it worked. They’ve been at it for 5 years, building each year on a good model. The new racers dig it. New format. Accessible and inclusive, yet still a challenge. Lots of people.

The race cost $41.50 with the processing fee and that was for either the 5K Run, 5K Paddle or both the 5K Run & 5K Paddle. That’s right. They didn’t just double the entry fee if you did both.

They had 1000 total participants, 200 paddlers total with 170 of those doing the SUP N RUN combination.

The event benefitted Operation Second Chance (OSC)

OSC Mission Statement: We are patriotic citizens committed to serving our wounded, injured and ill combat veterans. We support Veterans and their families while they recover in military hospitals, by building relationships and identifying and supporting immediate needs and interests. We are dedicated to promoting public awareness of the many sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.

They cut off registration when they had 1000

According to Danny, the race cut registrations to 1000 participants with 2 weeks out. He felt they had the perfect venue, that it was very well organized with a flat run and a flat sup course that attracted tons of beginners. Of the 170 paddlers, 50 were on rental boards.

The race broke down age groups and SUP/Run and SUP&RUN divisions 6 deep, but didn’t break the SUP race into the usual 10,000 crafts divisions. There was just SUP. “There was also a lot of talk about Club racing in one design,” Danny added, “because a lot of these people were sailors as well.” It sounds like a real vote of confidence for a single division or a level playing field with either 14 and under or a One Design model.

Danny has been around the SUP scene for years and knows many of the usual paddle suspects but said he knew maybe 10 people, adding “It also shows we really need to reach outside our normal groups.”

How many races like this are safely off the radar? Flourishing in the stoke that comes from being around a group of people who are discovering SUP for the first time? For which the sport is new and exciting without a hint of so much of the negativity surrounding some of the larger, more established races? It sounds like these people wanted to run and paddle and have fun and whatever that meant, on whatever craft they allowed, meant a great time to a vast majority of the participants.

SUP and Run 5K
Photo from Danny Smith, Paddling Paradise


It sounds like they have a great thing there, free to build on what works for them and away from the high race fee, high vendor fee model that has been crashing and burning. Danny continued, “to me it was just an amazing thing that there weren’t Brands there no shops it was a fresh site.”

I’ll tell you one person who knew about it and seemed to flourish, our own Dylan Geiger, taking 1st in his age group. (Nice work buddy!)

“Yes it’s exactly what we need. the crazy thing, it’s been happening you just didn’t know about it that race is grown every year for the Last 5 Years” —Danny

I have to look into the race more, especially this first 100 idea that didn’t seem to have a fee. I’ll find out more and update the post. Dylan or anyone who attended, please log in and comment on this post.

See full results for the SUP and RUN 5K here

Thanks Danny for the heads up. We love stuff like this. And if you have an event that’s blown you mind, made you think differently, or brought stoke where there was a stoke hole, let us know about it.

—The Mullet

PS: Remember, if you aren’t getting coverage, it’s not because you’re being shunned. It’s because we have limited resources and are doing what we can to survive and eventually thrive as a site, as a community. Keep letting us know what’s going on and we’ll do our best to create and share your stories. Thanks for your support.

Also, visit the SUP & RUN 5K Facebook Page


  1. Yeah, as local – Florida local anyway – paddlers have heard about this, chatter from attendees match your article. People love it. I’ll put it on my list next year! PS: There’s something to learn about community, promotion, and participation from every event. This is a great race with a great community!

  2. Thank you for this. The first 100 had the same fee as the normal signup. They just cut it off to the first 100 and it filled up right away.
    This was really amazing and to all of those the attended congratulations on being part of a wonderful event. To the race director Felicia Cox, her husband and all the volunteers. Thank you very much.

    • Thanks for sharing this great race! I’ve done it the last several years and it usually fell on the same day as the Florida Cup which kept the usual SUP crowd away. This year it was on its own weekend but we still only got a few more of the SUP race crowd. I’ve been saying every year that this is where SUP racing can grow and am always so surprised at how un-tapped a resource it is by the SUP racing community. You have a thousand already competitive and athletic people exposed to SUP racing, what more could you want?

      And it’s such a fun challenge because there are some really fast runners who aren’t as fast on a board. So they end up with huge head starts heading into the 5K sup race portion and you have to chase down as many as you can before reaching the finish. Every year they get a little better on SUP so it pushes those of us that are primarily paddlers to get better on the running portion. And you have to decide how much energy you’re going to conserve for the SUP portion. I love it!

  3. Sounds like the perfect crowd for paddling. Conflicting dates has been an issue that hopefully, we’ll help resolve next year and in years to come. I love the biathlon idea. We’ve had one in Wrightsville Beach for years, except this past year, and it’s been a ton of fun.

  4. This was my first year at this race, and it blew me away! Everything was punctual (take notes race directors), but it was still able to maintain that relaxed and comfortable environment that people look for at races. The fact that it balanced the run and paddle distances was amazing too! Like Matt said, it gave fair opportunities to both groups, so runners could get their lead during the run, and the paddlers could try and catch them in the paddle. I would totally recommend this race to everyone no matter their paddling or running ability because it provides both the mental and physical challenges that a lot of people look for in competing.

  5. I’m a Sarasota local and have done this race the past 4 years. I always tell people about it. I don’t know why but so many paddlers just don’t want to run and I tell them, they don’t have too! But it’s still difficult to get the paddling community to participate. Maybe it’s the fact it starts promptly at 8am. Many SUP races start after 9am and they are usually delayed, which is brutally hot. I love how this race is done by 11am… awards, food, everything! It supports a great cause and to see some of these folks paddle, with no legs and have huge smiles on their faces, it’s amazing and will make you so happy to be a part of it. The community at this race is everything. I had two friends sign up who had hardly paddled before and now they are hooked! They even placed in their age groups, which made them even more stoked to keep paddling in the future. This is how we will get the sup community to grow! They had a lot of age groups and went 5-6 people deep with awards. Also, the first 100 club is for anyone who wants to get a lot of awesome gear. I did it one year and got a really cute rain slicker and visor, plus you get a bag of goodies and the race shirt! It pays to sign up early. Most paddlers wait until the last minute but with this race you can’t do that, so be aware! Each year it gets better and better with organization, even as the participant number grows! It’s awesome! And I will add it’s super difficult to run as hard as you can and jump on your board right after. It’s a crazy feeling to stop your legs and then, paddle as hard as you can. It’s a nice change up to the usual long SUP race.

  6. The Race Director-Felicia Cox, the SUP & RUN (www.supandrun.com) Race Committee, the Sarasota Athletic Association (http://www.sarasotaathleticassociation.com) put on this race to have FUN and give back to a great cause, Operation Second Chance. What a great organization that benefits from the SUP & RUN proceeds. Felicia Cox, puts her heart and soul into this race and without a doubt, because of her efforts, this race is an amazing success. Without a doubt, it is one of the best, most fun races of the year in Sarasota. I have heard so many comments from participants and paddlers alike. And it’s a race that draws participants from all over Florida. It’s a huge race– 1000 participants— It is amazing to me that many SUP participants never herd of it. A big majority of participants come from the Manasota Track Club (www.Manastoatrackclub.org) where the 5K portion is in the MTC Racing Series.

    The 100 Club (first 100 registrants) sells out a year in advance… this year SOLD OUT in 9 minutes. That just shows the love of this great and fun event to get people to sign up a year early, just to get in when most races are having difficulty attracting participants to their event. Otherwise its Race day registration.

    Look for 2020 SUP & RUN to be another great and fun event. I am already signed up!

John Beausanghttp://www.paddlemonster.com
Writer, Small Business Owner Father, Husband, Paddler, Surfer Sixers & Eagles Fan Proudly Independent Publisher, @distressdmullet Co-Founder @Paddlemonster



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