The St Pete Run Fest brought races back to Saint Pete. It has been a while since we’ve had half marathons here in Saint Pete, so I was excited to have an opportunity to run through this beautiful city.
Packet pick-up was easy. They held it at the Mahaffey Theater and it coincided with the Saturday Market, which allowed runners to do a little bit of shopping from local vendors. Some races have vendors at packet pickup, but there weren’t any vendors at the St Pete Run Fest packet pickup and I think it is because the Saturday Market was going on. I didn’t wait very long to be helped as they had multiple volunteers helping out with each distance. Relay runners get a timing bracelet to wear on your leg that you will pass on to your partner at the exchange point.
Parking in downtown Saint Pete is plentiful. There is both paid and free street parking as well as the Mahaffey parking garage (which is closest to the start) for $10.
Parking for relay participants, while they tried to make it as seamless as possible, was not necessarily the best. Runner 2 was supposed to drop Runner 1 off at the start line and make their way straight to Ferg’s to park. Well, my partner wanted to see me off and so when she tried to get to Ferg’s, the street was already blocked off and she couldn’t park at Ferg’s so she had to find street parking. After I exchanged with her at the relay exchange point, I was directed to drive to the Albert Whitted Airport and use my parking pass to park in volunteer parking. Well, I never quite found volunteer parking and so I went to the Mahaffey parking lot, showed them my pass and they were kind enough to let me park. There weren’t really signs for volunteer parking and so I didn’t know where to go. Relays that I have done in the past have had a bus that shuttles the runners to and from the exchange point. I think that would be a fabulous addition to this race so that runners aren’t worrying about exchanging cars, rushing to get to the parking place, and whether or not they’ll be able to see their running partner off.
I ran the first half of the race and the course was nice. I was hoping that we wouldn’t run over the brick streets that I ran over for The Getaway 5K and we didn’t. We weaved in and out of the streets of Saint Pete (lots of twists and turns), but the best part was being able to run through Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play) and around the outfield. We got a blast of air conditioning and I was able to make a restroom pit stop. There was also a DJ playing music on your way out of the field. I also ran past a marching band playing music, which was very cool.
There are tons of murals in downtown Saint Pete, which I think is part of the city’s charm and I do wish that we were able to run past some of the awesome murals during this race.
The exchange point was right outside of Ferg’s and I was able to get my medal and swag, grab the car keys and drive to the finish line to meet my partner. She says that her half of the race was beautiful but ridiculously hot (my half of the race was hot as well). There isn’t much shade on the course and while there was a 7 am start, I could have done with an even earlier start on this day. The problem with Florida is that the weather is so unpredictable- you don’t know if you’ll have breeze, humidity, heat- it is a toss-up.
The post-race party (expo) was amazing. Not only did you get a Tervis tumbler upon completion of the race, but you also got a towel, smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Outback/Carraba’s/Bonefish were present, I mean- they thought of it all! I was very impressed with the after party and the swag. The medal had a spinning pelican’s foot and was a nice size.
After the race, I did not receive an email telling me where to find race photos, so I had to go to the website and look under their FAQ section to grab the link for race photos. I did, though, get a postcard from the race directors wishing me happy holidays, which I thought was a very nice touch.
Overall, it was a great race that I would consider doing again.