This was an overall fun race right along the bay! A flat and fast course as you watch the sunrise -- this was a great experience.
The expo was fairly large with a lot of the usual booths and I found it pretty easy to park, get in, get what I needed, cruise around the exhibitors, and get out. Instructions about where to park, how much to expect to pay, how to navigate to the expo hall, etc. could have been more clear, but nothing too terrible.
Race morning was similarly confusing, with vague instructions on parking and how to then navigate to the start line. Though not publicized other than a blurb in the pre-race booklet, I utilized the gear check inside the convention center. I found my way to the corrals area, which was extrememly confusing. The announcer actually was giving instructions of where each color bib should line up by giving street names, but as an out-of-towner, I struggled to understand where the correct place to be was. The announcer, at one point, apologized and said he had actually been giving out the wrong locations for lining up, adding to my confusion and frustration. I quickly figured it out by seeking out folks who had the same color bib as I did, but I was dissatisfied with this process overall.
The race starts on Davis Island and is rather neat! It begins with a brick road that was in pretty good condition. The route then continues around the island past some beautiful homes and in the view of some of the docked cruise ships in port. The race then heads back toward the bay where the rest of course is run. It is a beautiful view and as you go along, the sun rises to your left. It being so close to the water meant that when the sun came up, there was no shade to provide relief from the heat. I admit that I got a little bored of this since it was out-and-back for mile 5 through Finish.
The finish line finally came and I was so excited to see it! It had begun to really get warm. I received a bottle of water, an ice cold rag (heaven) and one of the sweetest medals I've ever received. There were no race goodies or food to be found. I know a plate of food was supposed to be somewhere in addition to beer, but I never was able to find it? If it was in a different location, there was no signage or information pointing runners in that direction. I gave up looking after a short while.
My last note is that while the festival Gasparilla is held in January, this race is held about three weeks later. Other than a brief photo oppurnunity with a busty pirate, there was no Gasparilla theming to this race.
Aside from my few greiveances, none of these would stop me from running this race again. This was its 41st anniversary and it definitely draws a loyal crowd of runners who come back year after year. I will still recommend this race to those looking for a fun and fast springtime race.