Saturday morning, under the glow of the starting line, out in front of the Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center on St. Pete Beach, the chatter started early. Just before the countdown for the St. Pete Beach 10K race began, chattering teeth and shaking limbs were in abundance, either from the chilly wind or shaky nerves.
The first group to run on Saturday morning were huddled together and took off precisely ay 7 a.m., led by Mayor Al Johnson in the lead vehicle. The flat terrain that Florida provides is a favorite for runners, helping many to break personal bests.
Over the two-day event, 2,000 runners of all ages, races, shapes and sizes were signed up to participate, with 500 volunteers supporting the show.
“This race can’t happen if it weren’t for the volunteers,” said John Hollenhorst, expo coordinator. “It’s nice to pitch in and help out.”
When runners were asked “Why do you do this?” many different reasons were given: some do it for health, some for bragging rights, some for friends and family.
“We’re here for our son Ryan – he’s training for a 100-miler,” said proud parents Janine and Robert Nolan from Dunedin. “Over the past year he’s gone from 260 pounds to 160 pounds. He’s caught the bug for it.”
Ryan finished in sixth place out 557 runners for Saturday morning’s 10K, with a time of 38:09.
Unlike many races that end as soon as runners cross the finish line, the St. Pete Classic doesn’t stop there. A whole weekend of events was planned for participants to “run on the streets, party on the beach,” as the tagline stated. Saturday evening a concert, featuring Big Brother Band, a party and beach bonfire were held behind Rum Runners.