Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gasparilla Half Marathon
Tampa, Florida
Sunday, February 26, 2017

I race walked the Gasparilla Half Marathon in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, February 26, 2017.  It was a nice day for the event as the skies were mostly clear, the temperature varied from 56 to 64 degrees, and the wind was 5-10 mph.  The course was flat on city streets that were completely closed tom traffic.  The first five miles circled through Davis Island and the last eight miles went out and back along Tampa Bay.  Traffic was controlled by numerous police officers.  Water/Gatorade stations were located every mile and had plenty of efficient enthusiastic volunteers taking care of the needs of the 6500 entrants in the half marathon.  The Gasparilla Distance Classic is a two day event that had approximately 32000 entries in the 5K, 8K, 15K, Half Marathon and kid’s races which are all schedule at different times with enough time in between starts that many participants did multiple races, even all four main races.  I have done this event 10 times in its 40 years of existence – 6 full marathons (no longer part of the event) and 4 half marathons.  It has always been a very well organized event that is fun to do.
In addition to completing the half marathon, I had the opportunity at the Saturday Exposition to talk with Mark Johnson who is the President of the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association for about 15 minutes and meet 4 famous running celebrities.  My friend, Bart Yasso from Runner’s World was at the Exposition signing autographs and announcing at the start and finish line of the Half Marathon.  Bill Rodgers who won the Boston Marathon 4 times was at the Exposition signing autographs and ran the 15K on Saturday.  Joanie Benoit Samuelson who is most noted as the first woman to win the Marathon Olympic Gold medal which occurred in Los Angeles in 1984 and won the Boston Marathon twice was at the Exposition signing autographs and ran the 15K, 5K and Half Marathon.  Meb Keflezichi who won both the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon and medaled in the Olympics was at the Exposition signing autographs and ran the Half Marathon.  I also met Meb’s brother, Howie, who is not a runner.  I enjoyed myself tremendously.

The Exposition

Celebrity Autographs and Photos

Bart Yasso and Gerda Kalb

Bill Rodgers

Joanie Benoit Samuelson

Meb Keflezichi

Gerda Kalb  Meb Keflezichi  Chester "Southernmost Walker" Kalb

Howie Keflezichi

Before the Half Marathon

After Half Marathon


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