Gasparilla Countdown – Pirates and People

Countdown to the Gasparilla 5+3K – less than 20 hours. I am getting considerably more nervous as the hours pass. Not only will this race be testing the limits of my ability to run the required distance, but I’m worried about the parking and the people. This is a huge event (more than 25,000 total participants) and thousands will be racing in the 8K with me and Eric.

During my 6-month running career, I have participated in two 5K trail runs (BarefootFunRun and Flatwoods Ramble) and one 5K Warrior Dash mud run. Both 5K trail races had less than 300 total participants. While the Warrior Dash had over 11,000 participants throughout 2 days (over 5000 on Sunday), there were only about 600 racers per heat. Although I was intimidated at the time, I didn’t feel like I was running with 600 people. The group thinned out rather quickly once we crossed the Start line.

Gasparilla is huge. We volunteered yesterday at the 8 On Your Side Health and Fitness Expo at the Tampa Convention Center, assisting race registrants with finding their race bib numbers. The Convention Center parking garage was already full when we arrived around 10:30 AM and the actual races hadn’t even begun yet, so I can’t imagine how packed it must be today. Both today and tomorrow, they are closing several roads to allow for the race courses, so add road closures to the existing frustrations of navigating one-way streets, looking for available parking garages, traffic, and tons of people.

Michele Gasparilla ExpoOnce we do find parking, we will have to find the Start line and secure a spot among the thousands of other racers. We don’t want to begin too far in the back of the pack or we’ll risk having to walk for a portion of the race. We don’t want to begin too far in front or we’ll be pummeled by the fast runners. I guess I would rather be pummeled than have to walk after crossing the Start line…

This leads to my next concern – actually finishing the race running (rather than walking). I have run 5 miles, but it’s not a comfortable distance for me at this point. I want to earn myself a respectable race time, which means I can’t go out too fast and exhaust myself too early, but I can’t dilly-dally along at a pace slower than my jogging speed.

Eric Gasparilla ExpoI’m probably unnecessarily worrying myself. Everything will be fine…right?

Eric’s bib number is 27311 and mine is 27312, in case you want to check up on us tomorrow. Tampa Bay Online (TBO) is providing coverage of the race and the Gasparilla Distance Classic is supporting numerous charities, so check them out, as well.

Wish us luck!


Originally posted on February 26, 2011 on

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Author: Michele

Co-Founder of 615media. Married to Eric. Strong attachment to coffee. Occasional blogger. Social media and marketing consultant. Website designer and manager. Recent masters grad. Toddler mom.

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