All of the funds raised from the race weekend benefit the Seaside Schools Foundation, which supports the operating budget for the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School.

SANTA ROSA BEACH – Nearly 4,000 runners participated in the 18th annual Seaside School Half Marathon and 5K race in Seaside on March 1.


Half Marathon champion Rodney Stoker, 44, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, sprinted his way into first place, finishing the half marathon in 1:14:18.45. The women’s half marathon winner, Kathy Wolski, 54, of Knoxville, Tennessee, finished strong with a time of 1:26:37.70. Blake Thompson, 38, of Huntsville, Alabama, won the 5K race with a time of 17:19.49 and Michele Bravo, 48, of New Orleans, Louisiana, was the women’s 5K winner with a time of 19:52.16.


All of the funds raised from the race weekend benefit the Seaside Schools Foundation, which supports the operating budget for the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School. The Seaside Schools are tuition-free, public charter schools serving students in across Walton County. This year, the race raised more than ever with proceeds totaling more than $600,000.


“Funds raised through race weekend are essential to the operation of our Schools and allow us to thrive in a very special way,” said Teresa Horton, executive director of the Seaside Schools Foundation. “Since the Seaside School’s founding in 1996, we have been providing a challenging, individualized education for thousands of students and support from our annual race weekend events allows that to continue.


“We are excited to celebrate 25 years as one of the oldest and highest performing charter schools in the state of Florida during our 2021 race weekend,” she added.


The charity race weekend kicked off on Feb. 28 with an evening under the stars at the annual race pre-party, Taste of the Race with Chef Emeril Lagasse.


More than 700 party-goers attended the Seaside party and 20 local chefs competed for the top culinary awards. Amici 30A Italian Kitchen in Inlet Beach won the coveted Chef’s Choice Award with the dish of arancini, meatballs and mini cannolis. The People’s Choice Award went to Havana Beach Bar and Grill at The Pearl 30A in Rosemary Beach with their dish of braised beef short ribs.


“Our culinary community came together to make the 2020 Taste of the Race our best one yet,” said Rick Helfand, chairman of the Seaside School Foundation. “The outpouring of donations and selfless participation from our local restaurants, chefs, sponsors and volunteers has a substantial and direct impact on the Seaside Neighborhood School’s culinary program. We definitely have the most delicious event on 30A.”


The 2020 finish line after-party in Seaside featured live music, complimentary beer by Grayton Beer Company, post-race food catered by Bud and Alley’s Restaurant and Great Southern Cafe. This fun atmosphere pulled in thousands of family members and friends of runners to celebrate their achievements.


More than 650 volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure a successful race weekend.


“Everyone from parents, students, faculty, board members and community members pitch in to help make this race weekend a huge success,” said Lindsey Hoppe, Seaside Schools board member and volunteer coordinator for the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K. “We pride ourselves on being the most fun and friendliest race. We could not do it without our amazing volunteers and we appreciate them so much.”


Official race results of all finishing participants are available on the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K website at https://runseasidefl.com/race-results/.


Dates and registration information for the 2021 events will be available soon at runseasidefl.com.