Since the late 1970s the Gasparilla Distance Classic running event has been held in honor of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The festival and parade are held first. Later in the month of February this running event takes over parts of South Tampa, Davis Island and downtown Tampa for an entire weekend. The main race that is held on the last day has been the 26.2 mile marathon.
In 2010 saw the end of full marathon due to the City of Tampa’s budget cuts and layoffs. For 2011 there will be the Half Marathon held on Sunday, February 27. All other races will be on Saturday, February 26. Find out more information on all the other races, such as the 15K and 5K, for the Gasparilla Distance Classic.
What is the Gasparilla Distance Classic?
It is a USATF, USA Track and Field, certified course that’s been a Boston Marathon qualifier when there was the full marathon race. For the first time this year a Half Marathon race will take its place, which is 13.1 miles. The course will still be the same as it was for the marathon. There are other races that go on for this running event. These are the 5K, 15K, 15K wheelchair, 5K walks and stroller rolls and the 5+3K.
A new addition to the 2011 Gasparilla Distance Classic is the 8K or the 3+5K, which is nearly 5 miles. It will be held on the same day as the Half Marathon. In February 1978 saw the first race of this perennial running event. Its purpose was to raise money for local charitable organizations and running programs. Now it is a significant racing event amongst marathon and other long distant runners from all over the world. The original mission of the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association is still carried out with raising money for Tampa Bay charities.
Important Registration Information
The Half Marathon race starts promptly at 6 a.m. on Sunday, February 27 at the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and Verne Street near the Tampa Convention Center. Also on Sunday is the 3+5K which begins at 9 a.m. at the very same location. The very latest you can register for these races are on Friday, February 25 and Saturday, February 26 with a registration fee of $85.
For the 3+5K race participants the race weekend late registration fee is $35. The expo closes on February 26 at 5 p.m. for the Sunday race registrations. However, for the 5K and 15K participants you can register on the day of the race starting at 6 a.m. on Saturday, February 26. All of the Saturday races will begin and end at the same downtown Tampa location neat the Convention Center.
Course Outline for the Races
Initially the Half Marathon course starts off at the Platt Street Bridge winding on to Bayshore Boulevard by taking a detour on to Davis Island. This leads the run to Seddon Channel till it gets back to the unbroken sidewalk of Bayshore Boulevard. Runners will have a complete view of the Hillsborough Bay in both directions. Along Bayshore are numerous historic houses, plantation homes and massive condominiums.
Participants are expected to average a pace of 16 minutes per mile or better. The roadways will be closed for six hours and re-open at 12 p.m. No rain is predicted in the forecast for the entire race day weekend. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-high 70s. In the recent past weather conditions had not been ideal for the Gasparilla Distance Classic, but this one for 2011 is sure to have prefect weather.
Gasparilla Distance Classic, Tampa Bay Run
USA Track & Field, USATF.org
Gasparilla Distance Classic – race results, information and statistics, Race 360.com
Gasparilla Distance Classic, Wikipedia
Florida – Gasparilla Distance Classic, Half Marathons.net