Gasparilla Distance Classic by Brian Hunt
The best thing(s) about the race:
• The run along Bayshore Boulevard is iconic. Beautiful homes on one side, the bay waters on the other.
• Lots of on course support, from aid stations to cheer-a-thoners to live music to people in the neighborhood.
• The expo was amazing - first big expo since COVID and it felt like home. Lots of vendors, race announcer Fitz Koehler was speaking on the guest stage, there was a place for our kids to play pickleball. A great welcome to race weekend.
What was less than ideal: For all the scenic parts of the course, it's still very flat and mostly straight. Wish they would go cupless to cut down on the waste.
What I didn't expect: Post race, the after-finish chute is really long. Which is great to give some space to runners to catch their breath, grab some food and hydration. But also a little tricky to find family and reconnect.
Race organization: Amazing all around, the Gasparilla crew goes all out to take care of its runners. From expo to race morning to finish line, never a moment when I didn't feel welcome or cared for as a participant.
Fuel and aid stations: Water and Gatorade, which is fine for a 15K. I think the early aid stations just had water.
Additional info: This is a popular race, and for good reason. I don't think there was 26,500 like in 2019, but there's nothing like running with thousands of other runners. It's worth a trip to Tampa in the winter to race this, plenty of hotels, restaurants and entertainment to make it a race-cation.
Overall grade: 4 stars