Latest reviews by This Old Runner ~~

(2017)
"Fun in the Fog at this year's Sarasota Music Half"
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This was the 3rd annual Sarasota Music Half, and it sold out for the third time.

THE WEATHER: 56 degrees at the start, and about 58 at the finish. Last year we had gale force winds. This year there was an incredible amount of fog. Lots of cloud cover. It was good weather for running, but we missed out on the beautiful sunrise this time.

THE COURSE: The race begins at Van Wezel Hall Performing Arts Hall on Sarasota Bay. Runners cross the oh-so-steep Ringling Bridge TWICE. It's a test! The course goes around St. Armand's Circle, past the famous Kissing Statue, along tree-lined streets in historic neighborhoods and through Selby Botanical Gardens.

THE PEOPLE: The city of Sarasota and its residents embrace this race. There are spectators and volunteers EVERYWHERE along the course. A priest from a local church blessed runners with Holy Water. (It was Sunday morning, after all.) Race management for this event is top notch.

AID STATIONS: Aid Stations were well stocked with water and Gatorade. The signage was bright and easy to see. Glukos chews and gel around mile 8. There was a Girl Scout Cookie station with a generous selection of cookies. The Beer Station at mile 12.5 offered light and dark beer.

THE MUSIC: I haven't even mentioned the bands yet! There was live music to encourage, and boost your pace on every mile of this course. I saw a few spectators playing random music on their own instruments. Kudos to the guy riding his bike with the sound system — he came along at the right time for me.

POST RACE: After 13.1 miles there is a delicious after party with a buffet breakfast, beer, more live music and awards. You could sign up for next year at the post race party for the race weekend price of $49. That price was gone at midnight Sunday.

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(2017)
"Beautiful Scenery on this 10 Mile Beach and Trail Run"
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Foul weather cancelled the race in January 2016, so it was rescheduled for December 3. I really enjoyed this race, and am so glad it was rescheduled so I could put it on my calendar.

​It was probably the hardest race I've run for two reasons: a sore knee and that soft, deep sand on Caladesi Island. ​But the views made it worthwhile!

The 10 Miler was a beach and trail run. The out and back course began at Pier 60, then headed north on Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island. Runners ran the trails on Caladesi then returned along the beach to Pier 60. The 5K course was an out and back run on the beach. There were over 200 runners this year.

Pickup was available on race morning at the pavilion next to Pier 60. No expo.

There were 6 stops — 3 stations that were passed twice on the course. Friendly, kind volunteers at all the aid stations.

Parking is convenient, but expensive, in the Pier 60 public parking lot. I spent $15. I gave my parking pass to someone when I left so they could use the leftover time.

There are very nice restrooms adjacent to the parking lot. There was a public restroom on the beach, and another on the trail. No port-o-lets.

The post race food was breakfast served in the pavilion. There was plenty of cold water, bananas, pancakes, sausage, etc.

Weather Report: It was 59º at start.
-> Mostly sunny.
-> Strong headwinds for 4 miles.
-> Temp was 69º at the finish.

Cost: 10 mile was $40. 5K was $25. All runners received a short sleeve tech shirt, and a beautiful handmade finisher medal.

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(2016)
"This Trail Race Includes Climbing an Observation Tower!"
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2015 REVIEW: Gorgeous 70º weather for the 9 am start time. The number of runners allowed to race is limited because it all takes place on nature trails inside Weedon Island Preserve. The preserve is beautiful — you run on true nature trails, so you have to watch your step a lot, but it's worth it. Part of the course is on the boardwalk, which is easier to navigate.

Fun and friendly volunteers give directions throughout the race. The last half mile is on the boardwalk, and in full sun. Just when you think you're almost done, you have to climb a 3-story observation tower, ring the bell, then bring it on home. It was hilarious! Beautiful views from the bell tower, and throughout the entire race.

Results were recorded by looking at the digital display when you finished, and writing it down on a paper record.

No medals, but that's okay. All the proceeds go to the Weedon Island Preserve — a real treasure on Tampa Bay.

Runners received short sleeve tech shirts. There was a potluck-style post race party next to the finish line. Food was donated by local restaurants. Tasted great. Everyone was encouraged to visit a local brewery later in the day and cash in their free beer ticket.

Volunteers took tons of photos on race day. The photos were available on the Friends of Weedon Island Facebook page. Free downloads for everyone.

If you want to try a trail race, this is a good starter course. Don't forget your bug spray before the race for maximum comfort.

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(2016)
"Humidity + Humanity = Great Race"
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Scenic 10k race along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The humidity was 90%, but the humanity was just as strong — the race honored Ovarian Cancer Survivors and raised money for research. It was touching to see survivors participate in the 5k and 1 miler events.

Race management did a terrific job of providing COLD water at aid stations. Great volunteers and city police kept runners safe along the route. Beautiful views of the yacht basin, multiple museums and waterfront parks and charming neighborhoods.

Nice tech race shirt, goodie bag and post race festivities. Start and finish at waterfront park next to a small airport. Free parking. Fresh fruit, bagels, granola, soft drinks, water and sports drinks available post race. Very nice experience despite the high temps and humidity.

Good training race to try before half marathon season starts.

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(2016)
"St Pete Beach Classic Half Marathon"
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I LOVE THIS RACE. 2016 was the second time I ran the half. The SPB Classic weekend is filled with running activities. Headquarters for all the races and expo is The Sirata Beach Resort in St Pete Beach, FL.

Races include a 3.8 m Beach Fun Run, a 5K, a 10K and a Half Marathon. Extra medals can be earned if you run a 5K/10K Duo, or the Individual Marathon Challenge (all four races for 26.2 miles). Health and Fitness Expo is on Friday and Saturday. There is a Beach bonfire and concert on Saturday night.

The half marathon course takes you on a tour of St. Pete Beach and more. You'll run along Pass-A-Grille's beach and fishing pier, Vina Del Mar, through charming residential back alleys, and many beach resorts on Gulf Boulevard. It's a novel perspective of this busy beach area.

There were 5 pacers from a local running store for 1:45 to 2:30 finishing times. Race shirt is a long sleeve tech shirt — one of my favorites. Aid stations every 1.5 miles — water and Gatorade. Post race party is right on the beach with a nice assortment of food, including rice and beans. Heineken beer in cans. Everything you need is at the start/finish line: lockers, port-o-lets, massage, food, beverages, beach, Gulf of Mexico, etc.

Weather can be tricky in mid-January, so take that into consideration. We had very strong winds and some rain during 2016.

The other tricky thing is parking in a beach town. Pay close attention to directions your receive from race management to avoid being towed while you're running the race.

The SPB Classic Weekend takes place the weekend before the MLK Jr holiday, making it an opportune time for a long weekend getaway in Florida.

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