In the lead up to the race, regular emails kept the info in bite-sized pieces so that I wasn't overwhelmed. A nice sidenote- they have free runner tracking. I was able to get my family and friends signed up to receive updates on my progress. I've seen that less often lately (for whatever reason) so I thought I'd point it out.
As is my usual practice for this race, I booked a hotel directly across the street from the Tampa Convention Center, which is where the Expo is held and the race start line borders. It's clear the nearby hotels have gotten used to the race bringing lots of folks to town, so rates have been quite high for race weekend. Regardless, the convenience of being right across the street made it worth it.
The Expo is a great-sized event and features a ton of brands and gear. Even Meb was there signing autographs and taking photos! I will say, my friends and I were running the Half -which is on Sunday morning- came into Tampa on Saturday. The Expo closes at 3pm, which was super early, in our opinion. We would have loved to see it close around 5-7pm instead, just for those coming from out of town.
The Swag was a long sleeve shirt with easily the COOLEST design I've ever had on a race shirt! Instead of just printing a graphic on the front, the shirt itself is designed with the logo down the sleeve! Truly really cool and I really have gotten a big kick out of it! We also received a branded running hat from the Publix booth. It's great quality and already in my rotation of running gear!
Race day was a breeze, with the Half starting at 6:00am. I would love to see this time pushed back even to 5:30am, as it does tend to get HOT as the time goes on right along the bay. The first 5 miles go on Davis Island, with views of the Municipal Airport and Cruise port. A bunch of residents on these streets are always out cheering runners, which is fun! Miles 6-13 are on the famous Bayshore Blvd, a picturesque place to run! Right on the water, it's a great view of the sunrise as you tackle the last two thirds of the course. It's an out and back for this portion, but it's also fun to see the runners going in the opposite direction as well. The finish line is fun and complete with pictures with pirates and plenty of water, Gatorade, sweet and salty snacks, and a banana. The post race party is just off the finish line with a complimentary Michelob Ultra.
I do also want to point out the medal! It's a really cool themed medal of a skull, and the "mouth" moves. Super classic for Gasparilla, and I love it!
I would wholeheartedly recommend this race for anyone looking for a winter 5k, 8k, 15k or Half Marathon!