Gasparilla is such a huge deal here in the Tampa Bay and so I was pumped to do the 8K race in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. My half marathon training called for 5 miles this weekend, so this was perfect and fell right in line with what I needed to do.
Packet Pickup wasn’t the highlight of my experience. Getting to the expo just to get my bib was difficult as there was heavy traffic and a lot of confusion (for me) regarding where to park. I registered in store so to have to go to the expo hall and pay parking just to get my bib seemed kind of ridiculous to me. I wish that race directors offered packet pickup in other places besides the convention center- like local sports stores. That would have made my life easier- not everyone wants to go to the expo and fight the crowds.
I will say, though, that it was cool to see the banner they had setup with the names of every runner that registered. Finding my name was tricky (because so many people were trying to do the same), but exciting once I found it!
Parking in downtown Tampa is a nightmare on race day.The half marathon and the 8K both take place on the same day, so there are tons of spectators and people participating in the race who need to park. Traffic is everywhere, the Tampa PD are high angst so they’re shouting at people and herding you like cattle… it’s not pretty.
The location was awesome. The race is an out and back on Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa. On one side, runners get to see the beautiful homes on Bayshore and on the other side is the water, which makes for an extremely scenic route! It started at 9 am, which, depending on the weather could make for a very HOT Florida morning… and on this day, it was blazing! So, I was definitely warm during the run and the heat greatly affected my ability to keep my pace.
Speaking of the heat, they had plenty of hydration stations throughout the route and they even had a water sprinkler at one part during the run- so that was a nice way to cool off. There was music strategically placed throughout the course, a pirate mime and people with great signs.
After the race, runners were supposed to be able to get a free Mich Ultra- yay, right?! No. I do wish that you didn’t have to go to a tent to get the post-race goodies. I think they could have very well set that up in the holding area after the race was done- in the same spot that they gave out water and gatorade there could’ve been bananas, etc. The line to get to the tent was so long that I just skipped it. After running 5 miles in the heat, I didn’t feel like standing on line for 30-40 minutes for a free beer and a banana- it just wasn’t worth it to me.
Great race, great scenery, amazing medals- hated the hassle of getting my bib in Tampa traffic and hated the line for the post-race beer, goodies, etc.
I’d definitely do it again, though, because the pros outweighed the cons.
Distance: 4.97 miles
Finish Time: 01:06:23