Gasparilla Distance Classic 2013 – Best and Worst

Gasparilla Expo Gasparilla Logo

For the first time ever, we registered for the Michelob Ultra Challenge of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. That’s four events over two days, for a total of 30.1 miles.


  • 15K (9.3 miles)
  • 5K (3.1 miles)


  • Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
  • 5K + 3K (4.97 miles)

What were we thinking? Not sure.

In 2011, the 5K + 3K was our first Gasparilla event and our longest race distance at the time. Last year, we bumped up the Gasparilla distance to 15K, which was shortly after we completed the Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon. This year, we decided to go all out with the Michelob Ultra Challenge, despite running the Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon two weeks prior and running the 10 mile Flatwoods Ramble last weekend.

Race Start

I have to admit, we had some qualms with this year’s event. A race that happens once each year should run seamlessly. This year, it most definitely did not.

The Worst

  • After completing the 15K on Saturday, we had a long walk before hydration became available.
  • Also on Saturday, we had to walk all the way back to the convention center and around the building just to get a banana, then double-back to reach the 5K Start line.
  • Making us wait 2 1/2 hours to pick up the top 10% age group 5K finishers coffee mug was embarrassing. If it takes that long to calculate, tell us before the race that you’ll ship the mugs.
  • No water was available at the post-race party on Saturday (on a day that city water was contaminated).
  • The course maps online were unclear as to where the water positions were, which made it difficult for us to time out our energy intake.
  • We were told we could drop off our 15K and Half Marathon finisher’s metals before the 5K and 8K, respectively, but we never saw the drop-off location.
  • Ice towels ran out after both the 5K on Saturday and the 8K on Sunday.
  • Sunday’s Half Marathon Start line port-a-potty setup (there weren’t many).
  • Lack of real food (like Columbia’s) after Saturday’s races.
  • You ran out of 8K and Select 55 Challenge metals on Sunday.
  • The start line and first 1+ miles of each race were too backed up. Switch to corral starts next year like the Rock n Roll St Pete Half Marathon to avoid so much congestion.

Additional Suggestions
-Allow Challenge runners a quick path back to the start line for the each race.
-Offer priority post-race food lines for Challengers.

The Best

Gasparilla Jacket

  • Allowing Challengers to begin races at the front of the Start line to give us ample time to return to the Start line for the subsequent race was appreciated.
  • Saturday’s 15K Start line port-a-potty setup was efficient.
  • Loved the Half Marathon and Challenger metals, as well as the jacket.
  • Friendly staff (race staff, medical, etc.)
  • Best cheer station: Florida Blue Kid’s Running Program
  • Runner up cheer station: Running for Brews

All-in-all, we had a blast and it was extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to challenge ourselves to 30.1 miles over two days! Race recap coming soon.

Did you run the Gasparilla Distance Classic 2013? Which event? What were your favorite and least favorite moments?

Bud Light Guy

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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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  • Bshesol

    Isn’t it about time that the two of you got your feet re-treaded?…..Come on out here and snow shoe for some real exercise….Uncle B

    • I’m sure it’s great exercise, but Colorado is much too cold right now!! I’m a wimp – I’ll stick with Florida sports. 🙂

  • Jeff

    Don’t short change yourself. It’s 30.47 miles, not 30.1 🙂 As a 3 time ultra challenger this year was not as efficient as the past two years. Hopefully they tweak it some. the heat didn’t help.

    • Gosh, that’s what I meant to write, Jeff – thanks for the extra mileage! 🙂 Three Ultras? That’s awesome! The humidity was rough, but I wish the sun hadn’t come out during the 8K!

      • Jef

        Agree 100%! That sun made that last 2.5 miles a challenge. You know its bad when you start debating about jumping in the bay to cool off.

  • Sara S,

    I did the 5k and the half and both were very congested I agree.  Most bigger races do the corral startsand I’d love to see my hometown race add that next year.  I did not get why there was a 45min gap between the 2 5k waves, did not like the food placement and lack of water at the 5k finish nor the long walk to the medals (which they were just giving to anyone with a hand in the air).  The Florida Blue kids were fantastic again this year and of course the medal outdid last years awesome bling!

    One last comment and not at all on the race, but the 8k participants who were lined up early as half marathoners were in the chute to the finisih line – they were just standing there watching, n ot cheering, clapping or anything.  Seriously couldnt’ understand not cheering on your fellow runners as they gave it one last kick to finish 13.1 miles!

    • Sara, I completely agree with you about the 8k participants not cheering on the half marathoners. We did the 8K two years ago and had a blast cheering on the half marathon peeps as they were finishing. I actually really appreciated that the race setup allowed us to watch that. It was disappointing to finish the half with no enthusiasm from the 8k-ers, but the Florida Blue kids and the cool medal made up for it. 🙂

  • I did the Mich Ultra Challenge for the first time this year, and enjoyed. My big gripe was that the medal drop off (I did find it) was in a terrible location. It was behind the grandstand near the finish line. So, after finishing, you had to double back to drop your medal, and then go right back up the bridge again to get to anything else – food in between races, or the 5k and 8k starts. Awful location. Congratulations on the completion!

    • Wow, that’s definitely not a logical location. Thanks and congrats on your completion, as well! 🙂

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