How the Edison Festival of Light 5K Works

The annual Edison Festival of Light 5K in Florida has become a popular destination for runners.
The annual Edison Festival of Light 5K in Florida has become a popular destination for runners.
Michael Blann/Allsport Concepts/Getty Images

When you think about Thomas Edison, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't running. But the annual Edison Festival of Light, held in his honor in his holiday hometown of Fort Myers, Fla., holds a 5K race as a key part of the festivities.

In the mid-1880s, Edison, who was living in New Jersey at the time, built a winter home in Fort Myers after visiting there [source: Edison Festival]. The famed inventor lived and worked there during the cold months until his death in 1931. He was well-known in the community throughout his stay, and in 1938, his popularity led to the establishment of the Edison Pageant of Light, which included a ball, parade and concert in celebration of his life and work. But by 1988, the pageant was too big for volunteers to handle and became a nonprofit organization known as the Edison Festival of Light [source: Solomon].

Nowadays, the February festival boasts beautiful weather and features a number of activities, including a science and engineering fair, inventors fair, crafts, a float and a number of races -- the biggest being the Edison Festival of Light 5K, a 3.1-mile race around the city of Fort Myers. The race offers a slew of awards and is open to a wide range of age entrants. As of 2010, after 32 yearly races, the event has become a popular destination for runners from around the country. The race has seen its fair share of records: A World Masters and a Women's American running record have both been set on the course [source: Florida Running and Triathlon].

The registration price fluctuates depending on when you sign up. For most people, it varies between $20 and $35, with early registrants getting the discounted price and those who have special memberships getting a reduction as well. Because it's a nonprofit organization, the entry fees go toward the prizes as well as back into the festival itself. Entrants may register in person at the Edison Festival of Light offices or online.

If you're an out-of-towner interested in running the race, you're likely wondering what it will be like once you get down to Fort Myers. In the next section, we'll take a look at the route, atmosphere and terrain of the race.