Good thing, small package (General Comments)|
A Runner from Washington State (1/23/01)
In a last ditch effort to post a Boston qualifying time for 2001 I searched for an appropriate race. Florida seemed to make the most sense in January and the anticipation of a fast course led me to this place.
I had a good feeling about this marathon the moment I arrived in Tampa. The escalator to baggage claim passed under a bold electronic message board welcoming all FLORIDA GULF BEACHES MARATHON participants. I felt this message was directed specifically at me. A nice touch.
It seemed to me that about 99 percent of this course is flat, checkerboard flat. The other 1 percent consists of 4 bridges and three tricky footed pedestrian walkways on the Pinellas Trail. None of these are very steep or very long, just about right. Each mile is clearly marked with easy to spot mileage postings. This course had two mild U-turns around a flat parking lot loop and one short, tight turned doubleback as you entered the Pinellas Trail. The trail itself offers an outstanding running surface away from the distraction of oncoming and cross cutting traffic. The trail may seem desolate to some, but I found it to be a place that allows concentration on the task at hand. All of this makes for a course that mere mortals like myself can really let rip on.
My only concerns going into this race were the potential for hot and humid conditions or high winds with its proximity to the gulf. The good news is that temperatures this year were more suited for running than spectating. The bad news is that it seemed, or maybe it was just an illusion, that the stiff gulf breeze appeared to be in my face whichever way the course turned.
I have run the majors and numerous smaller marathons. This marathon encompasses all that is good about what smaller, well organized races have to offer.
I would definitely recommend this marathon for both first timers, and under the right conditions, those in the hunt for a PR. I know that I will be remembering and quietly thanking this sweet course on my spring trip to Boston.