A Note of Thanks!
A NOTE OF THANKS!
Susan Harmeling, Race Director
On Saturday morning, February 25, more than 12,000 runners and walkers participated in either the 2006 Bank of America Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K or 5K. The 15K/5K participants and spectators enjoyed perfect weather, a cool breeze, 1,500+ volunteers and entertainment too. From beginning to end, a great day was had by all who participated.
On Sunday morning however, the weather and day were not quite as perfect. At approximately 4:30 a.m., a strong line of thunderstorms and lightning rumbled through South Tampa. For approximately one hour and for the safety of the Race Operations Crew, all Race Day preparations stopped.
The severe weather led to a delay in preparing the Bank of America Marathon & Half Marathon courses. There were additional concerns with regard to the readiness of the 22-Aid Stations and their volunteers.
Consequently, the Start of the Bank of America Marathon & Half Marathon was delayed by thirty-minutes. To complicate matters, because of the rain, there were power challenges at the Start and most Pre-Race Announcements were not heard. Thus, the runners and walkers waiting at the Start had little, if any warning about the delay.
At 6:34 a.m., the 6th Running of the Bank of America Marathon & Half Marathon was off. As the Lead Vehicle headed for Davis Islands and the first eight miles of the course, we truly had no idea what we would find. Our biggest concern was that due to the weather, the course might not be properly set up or secured.
Additionally, we were worried that many of the 22-Aid Stations would have very few volunteers. As we approached the first Aid Station, not only were all of the Aid Station Volunteers there, but the Aid Station was prepared perfectly and ready to go.
As we drove the remaining 25-miles, it was the same. All 22-Aid Station Volunteer Groups were in place and working diligently to prepare for the runners and walkers. The cheerleaders and entertainers were exactly where they were supposed to be cheering and playing their hearts out. They were all dripping wet&but they had smiles on their hooded faces and were doing their assigned jobs.
At the end of the day and as I reflected, I realized that with the weather that came pounding down at 4:30 a.m., all of us were faced with what for many, would have been an insurmountable situation. Once the decision was made to go on with the marathon and half marathon, all involved stepped up and more than did what was necessary to insure that the event was as perfect as was possible, and that all of the runners and walkers participating had a memorable and successful day.
A special thank you to the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association, City of Tampa, Rooms To Go Aid Station Volunteers, the groups of cheerleaders, entertainers, Krewe members, the South Tampa Neighborhoods and residents and most of all to you&the runners and walkers who hung in there with us despite the delay and weather conditions.
Congratulations to all 2006 Bank of America Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K & 5K and Bank of America Marathon & Half Marathon Finishers!