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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 3 months ago

Racing series coming to Horizon West

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The Holiday Run Series will encourage healthy habits through fun races for the whole family.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

Runners, on your mark: A new racing series is coming to Horizon West.

Summerport resident Sarah Ratzlaff is organizing a new racing series for the area called the Holiday Run Series. Ratzlaff started the series because she felt the area needed a family-oriented event in which families can be active together.

“Running (in a 5K), specifically, brings families together in a different way,” Ratzlaff said. “You can be active and participate. You can dress up. I support a running series in Houston that’s holiday-themed events, and I thought, ‘We need this here.’ I’m a mom, and in this area, I’m always looking for things to do. Honestly, I can’t find a lot of healthy activities that I can get my kids engaged in.”

The series comprises five separate races. The first will be a Halloween-themed 5K fun run called the “Spooky Sprint,” which will take place in October. The second will include 5K and 12K races in December and has been dubbed the “12Ks of Christmas.” In honor of Valentine’s Day, the third, called “For the Love of Chocolate 5K,” will take place in February. The fourth will be held in March and has been named the “Lucky Charm 5K” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The last will be a night run over the summer called the “Summer Solstice 5K.”

Sarah Ratzlaff spent about 13 years organizing runDisney events before she started her own business organizing races.

The first race will take place at Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves, and the rest will take place in Hamlin. Orlando Health is the presenting sponsor for all the races, Ratzlaff said.

“It’s all very family oriented,” Ratzlaff said. “All of these races are based on that. They encourage the entire family to get out. There are always kids’ races tied to it.”

Each running event also will include other family-friendly activities such as face painting and live entertainment. Costumes are encouraged at all the races.

“We’ll be bringing out entertainment and engagements based on the holidays,” she said.

Ratzlaff has been organizing races for the past 15 years, starting with an internship at Walt Disney World to organize the runDisney events. That turned into a job, and she continued organizing the runDisney events for 13 years. She left Disney and started her own business organizing racing events around the state and the country. She started the Florida Running Company a couple of months ago to launch the Holiday Run Series.

“I hope that it helps our community here become as healthy and as active as they can be,” Ratzlaff said. “I also hope it shows kids at a young age how fun it can be to get out and run.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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