Gasparilla Distance Classic: The 15K and 5K

A little over a week ago, I was in sunny, warm Tampa, FL for the Gasparilla Distance Classic, this weekend I’m back in Ohio dealing with snow and cold. I took some PTO last Friday and flew out of Akron (I always appreciate not having to switch planes!). After getting in, I checked into my hotel and walked over to the convention center to pick up my gear. I was signed up for the 5K, 15K and Half Marathon over the course of the weekend. The catch? Only 1 bib- thankfully I didn’t lose it! The fun thing about Gasparilla, is that you have a variety of challenges- The Ultra (5k and 15K on Saturday, Half Marathon and 8K Sunday), the Amber (15K and 5K Saturday and the Half on Sunday) or the Lime (the 15K and 8K). I was questioning how the whole 1 bib thing would work for 3 races. 3 race shirts and a challenge jacket later, I was walking around the expo picking up some fun Under Armour stuff.

I chilled out the rest of the day, as the 15K and 5K were Saturday morning. I woke up early and walked down to the convention center. I had a change of clothes with me, which was a huge plus. Gasparilla has it right, in that they have indoor bag check. After dropping my stuff off, I hopped in the corral. After the national anthem, we were off. We had a small (ish) overpass hill before turning onto Bayshore Drive. The course was out and back and fairly flat. It was right on the water, which offered a nice breeze on occasion. Plenty of people were out watching and cheering, especially at the water stops. Some points, I had wished that they were closer together. On the way back, we took the lower part of Bayshore Drive. Course markers every mile with times. The finish was in front of the convention center. The finish was fairly easy to deal with, especially the chute. We kept on moving, and got their 15K medal, wet (cold) wash clothes. Some simple food, but I didn’t realize until after where all the good stuff was.

Since I did the Amber challenge, I still had the 5K to go. I headed back inside the convention center and got my bag and changed into some dry clothes. It also gave me a chance to throw my medal with my stuff so I wouldn’t forget it. They did have an area to check your medal if you did both the 5K and 15K. The 5K started at the same spot as the 15K. there were at least 5 waves, one of which was a stroller wave. Best idea ever! The course was a shortened version of the 15K and waves were let out every 15 minutes or so, starting at 915. I started with the first wave because I wanted a shower and mainly wanted to be done. After going out and back and finishing, I picked up my 5K medal and headed to the hotel and showered.

I chilled out most of the day, found some lunch and church. Early to bed it was for a 6 AM 1/2 Marathon start time on Sunday!

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