Five Points of Life Race Weekend
When: Feb. 15-16
Where: All events begin on the University of Florida campus in front of the UF Cultural Plaza.
What: Road races for runners of all abilities to benefit the Five Points of Life Foundation, which helps raise awareness of the five ways to save lives through donation. On Feb. 15, the organization will hold the 5Points 5K and the Five Points of Life Kids Marathon along with a Fitness Expo. On Feb. 16, runners have the choice of the Five Points of Life Marathon, Half Marathon or Relay. The second-day route also offers the unique opportunity for runners to run through Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and “conquer the Swamp.”
For information or to register: www.fivepointsoflife.com
For many runners in Gainesville, the route to the starting line of the Five Points of Life Race Weekend begins with the personal trainers who guide them through their preparation and training.
The Five Points of Life Race Weekend, held on Feb.15-16, is Gainesville’s largest running event that attracts both world-class athletes looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon and beginners running for fun, all with the simple goal of surviving to the finish line.
“We encourage people every year to try it out. It’s right in our own backyard; you can sleep in your own bed,” said Chris “Boris” Marhefka, owner of Body by Boris.
He explained that running a full- or half-marathon is on the bucket list for a lot of runners.
“It’s a measurable accomplishment,” Marhefka said. “When you say you’ve done a half marathon, everybody knows what it is.”
And having that race date on the calendar firmly sets the goal.
“It’s all black and white; it’s all numbers; you have a training plan; this is what you do,” Marhefka said.
At Axis Training Studio, owner and founder Jake Thompson said he’s seen race participation grow over the past five years, and many of those coming to his business are trying to make the jump from a 5K or 10K up to a half-marathon.
“Slow progression,” is his advice, he said, with the additional goal of building up in steps over a long period of time.
He sees the local race weekend as a motivator for many runners.
“The excitement gets pretty big; it’s our premiere race for Gainesville,” Thompson said.
It’s also a race Thompson and his staff participate in as a team. They join the marathon relay competition, where a team of five divides the 26.2-mile distance into four 5-mile legs and an anchor who heads 6.2 miles to the finish.
“That builds camaraderie among the staff,” Thompson said.
Chris Thorndike, a programmer and coach at CrossFit Gainesville, said he steers many newer runners toward the relay.
“There’s the fun of training together, and you have a shared goal,” Thorndike said. “It heightens the excitement and your training intensity, and everybody comes out a better athlete.”
Thorndike said veteran runners head to the gym looking to supplement their running with strength training. He says a balance of strength and aerobic training can mean a faster per-mile time and a stronger kick while also helping to prevent injuries.
Marhefka reminds his trainees at Body by Boris that the variety of race distances over the weekend means more people can participate. Those trying it for the first time, he adds, are frequently surprised by what they find.
“Being in that environment is very motivating,” Marhefka said. “I think people discover it’s more supportive than they really thought.”