Fit Bits: Gasparilla Distance Classic Recap

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

This past Sunday, I completed my very first half marathon at the Gasparilla Distance Classic.

For the non-running inclined people out there, a half marathon is 13.1 miles, and the half marathon at the Gasparilla Distance Classsic – one of four races offered over a two-day span – takes runners around Davis Islands and up and down Bayshore Boulevard. The races, including the half, draw thousands of runners from across the country each year, from professionals to everyday runners like myself.

Since this was my first half, I didn’t have any big expectations; the main reason I was running was that I, along with my friends Sarah and Macy, had decided to make the half marathon our CAS project for school. It was nice lining up at a starting line where I wasn’t nervous about my time.

Sarah, Macy and I after finishing the half.

Overall, I’d say the race course itself was decently interesting. The first five miles were around Davis Islands, and they were the most entertaining parts of the course, especially since the sun started to set as we made our way around the loop.

The next eight miles were a straight down-and-back on Bayshore, which, as someone who runs on Bayshore nearly every day during the summer, got old quickly. There’s not really any change in scenery running down the same road, and the low tide of the bay didn’t help matters.

To Gasparilla’s credit, however, there was much effort put into making the race an enjoyable experience – stations with Gatorade and water every mile or so, mile markers with clocks and posters along the way with a few pretty funny quotes (which were slightly questionable, so I won’t write them here).

For a race that started at 6 a.m., there were a surprising number of spectators offering encouragement and high-fives, as well as a few random musicians to give me a break from whatever song I was mentally playing in my head.

Our pirate-themed medals.

Of course, crossing the finish line was a relief, helped by the fact all finishers got a pretty nice medal (shown above).

After finishing and crossing the Platt Street Bridge into downtown, we walked to the finisher’s area, where sponsors offered free food from Suji Juice to Dole Fruit (whose Instagram Sarah and I were featured on) to the Columbia Restaurant. Yes, I was eating black beans and rice at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday. It was free, after all.

Overall, I’d count the Gasparilla Half Marathon as a success, despite the slight soreness running 13.1 miles in 2:06:32 left behind. While I’m not sure I’d go for the same half again, with its long and at times monotonous course, the Gasparilla races are, as always, well-run and an overall pleasant experience. Next race, though, I think I’m going to go for an obstacle course 5K or a color run. With the half complete, it’s time to pick a new challenge.