What You Need to Know
Packet Pickup: Runners had four choices for packet pick up at Fit2Run stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg the week before the race. No expo. Packet pickup available on race morning starting at 5:30 a.m.
Race Course: The 15k and 5k races were run inside the park on out-and-back courses. The course was paved trails, roadway and parking lot surfaces. No running in the sand.
It's was a flat course with lots of natural Florida habitat views. The course was USTAF certified, so no strollers, dogs or bikes were allowed.
Walkers were welcome. No early start for walkers. Course support was based on 18 minute pace.
The course started in the parking lot, then followed the paved trails out and back. Runners see most of the park. Views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, too.
Aid Stations: Yes. Five stations for the 15K. One for the 5K. Water and Gatorade at every stop. Volunteers were fun. They were cheerful and encouraged the runners.
Parking: Easy and free. Follow instructions received prior to the race. Arrive early for the best spot, but no worries as there was plenty of parking.
Park Entry Fee: The Race Directors PREPAY the entry fee to the park. ($5 value). Do NOT stop to pay at the toll booth at the park entrance. It will cause a traffic jam. Usually, someone is in the booth to wave you through. If you're super early, just know that your entry fee is already paid.
Cost: Depends on when you register.
Full refunds when you register early. This is a nice feature you don't see often. Check the Florida Road Races website for details.
SWAG (Stuff we all get): Nice bright blue sleeveless tank tech race shirt, GoMacro bar and a couple of samples were in goodie bags. Race Bib had the timing chip attached. Discount coupon on back of bib. Personalized bibs were available for early registrars. Post race party with lots of cold beverages and food.
Odd Surprise: There was a costumed character around mile 8 (I think) — looked like it may have been R2D2.
Post Race Festivities: Due to the washed out shelters, the food, drinks, vendor booths and stage were closer together, but all went well.
There was shade, cold beer, water, sports drink, soda, chocolate milk, pasta and pastries. There were picnic tables under the shelter and folding chairs in the open area near the awards stage.
Photos: Yes. FREE race photos by Game Face Media online a few days after the race. I noticed 3 or 4 photographers on the course. Runners receive an email with a link for free downloads.
Awards: All finishers earned a large medal that looks like a fort. Male and Female awards given 3 deep for Overall, Masters, and Grand Masters. Age Group awards given three deep in 5 year increments.
Timing Chip: Yes. The chip is on race bib.
Weather Report: It was 78º at 7:00 am.
-> Cloudy skies were appreciated during the most of race.
-> Slight breezes near water.
-> Temps were mid to high 80s during the race. Humidity was around 75%.
Extras: Fort DeSoto Park is such a great place for running, fishing, camping, cycling walking, swimming and hanging on the beach.
After the race, runners can lounge on the beach, fish, swim, walk, or tour the historic fort. There are picnic shelters, playgrounds, bike and kayak rentals, a bait shop, gift store and fishing pier.