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CLEARWATER -- Want an expert weather opinion? Forget the television meteorologists.
Talk to a marathon director in the days leading up to the race.
Ten days ago, with the first extended forecast, Gulf Beaches Marathon director Chris Lauber began studying print, television and Internet reports. He knew the average high temperature this time of year (71 degrees), and now he knows what this morning's event will have in terms of temperature.
It's above average. And that's not good.
For the 7 a.m. start, temperatures will be warm, in the mid 60s. As the sun rises and the runners get well into their 26.2-mile trek, temperatures will climb into the mid 70s.
"Beautiful for everyone, unless you're a marathon runner," Lauber said.
Today will make it consecutive Gulf Beaches Marathons in warm conditions. Last year's event, in January, was unseasonably warm.
The stigma of being a "warm marathon" is the last thing Gulf Beaches needs, despite the event's solid strides in its fourth year. Entries are on pace with last year's 1,593 in the marathon and 10K despite the date change and competition that included last month's 10th anniversary Disney Marathon and the inaugural Miami Tropical Marathon on Feb. 2.
"We haven't gone backward," Lauber said. "Considering we're still searching for that elusive major sponsor, we're doing well."
But he would love to be below average -- temperature-wise.
WHEN/WHERE: 7 a.m. today; looped course starts and finishes in Clearwater's Coachman Park near Drew and Cleveland streets. Most of the first half of the course heads south on Gulf Boulevard, and most of the second half goes north on the Pinellas Trail.
AWARDS: No prize money. All finishers receive medals. Age-group and overall awards will be presented.
TO ENTER: Register from 5:30-6:45 a.m. today at the Harborview Center, adjacent to Coachman Park.
COST: $75 for individuals and $95 for relays. There is a 10K for $30 starting in Largo's Taylor Park.
ROAD CLOSINGS: Clearwater Memorial Causeway, westbound traffic from 6:45-7:20 a.m.; Clearwater Beach roundabout, all traffic from 7-7:30 a.m.; Gulfview Boulevard, all southbound lanes to Clearwater Pass Bridge 7-8 a.m.; Clearwater Pass Bridge to Sand Key Park 7-8 a.m.; Gulf Boulevard from Sand Key Park to Belleair Causeway, southbound lanes, 7-9 a.m.; Gulf Boulevard from Belleair Causeway to Walsingham Road, southbound lanes, 7:15-9:45 a.m.; Gulf Boulevard from Walsingham Road to Park Boulevard Bridge, southbound lanes, 7:30-10:30 a.m.; Park Boulevard from bridge to Ridge Road, eastbound traffic, 8-11 a.m. (inside eastbound lane will remain open); Drew Street westbound from Myrtle Avenue to waterfront 8:30 a.m.-2:05 p.m.; Drew Street from Osceola Avenue to Cleveland Street remains closed to all traffic. Bridges -- Belleair Causeway Bridge, Walsingham Bridge and Park Boulevard Bridge open to westbound traffic, but vehicles must travel north after the bridges. Eastbound traffic from Gulf Boulevard open throughout the race.