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Nothing routine about this race

By JESSICA MUNDIE
Published May 17, 2007


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Race director Jim Hartnett knew he had a solid field of at least 350 set for Friday's Adventure Run at Picnic Island Park near the Port of Tampa.

Area runners say they welcome these new offroad events, and they have been turning up in record numbers, hoping for a mix of challenge and fun.

The only question was how the recent smoky air would influence the number of Hillsborough and Pinellas county participants, whom Hartnett hoped would come walking up to the cross country course just before sunset.

By 4 p.m., the air quality in south Tampa seemed the best in the area, with blue skies brightening throughout the late afternoon. Hartnett and his volunteers would not be disappointed.

According to area message boards and bloggers, carloads of runners were packing up for the race, coming from as far north as the USF campus. They ranged in ages from 8 to 68, and they all wanted to run in the grass, crawl over obstacles and dog paddle out to the buoy with their friends.

Out came the waterproof shoes and shorts, and the guitars for the sunset post-race gathering at Picnic Island Park.

"Last year my wife Amy and I started coming out to these Picnic Island races for fun, " St. Petersburg's Dan McClenathan said.

A member of St. Pete Forerunners Track Club, along with wife Amy she placed fourth overall females and top master, Dan McClenathan fared well in the unexpected sections, which included scooting on the grass under cargo nets and highstepping inside a grid of truck tires.

"Top triathletes and track teams always mix with the regular folks and families, who want to be healthy and have fun in a race that's different, " said Bill "Boston Bill" Hansbury, who cheered the runners who chose to dolphin out of the water. "We should have more of these and that's why they had 400 people. The more unique the event, the more everyday people will want to try it out. They love the mud. It's like the cyclocross races, without bikes."

Picnic Island Adventure Runs will continue with two more races: Friday nights at 6:45 p.m. on June 15 and July 20. Sunset music, giveaways, race expo, and awards party with food will follow the finish of the 4-mile offroad races.

For more information on the races, including post-race activities and the chance to donate recycled running shoes to local charities, log on to www.tamparaces.com or call Hartnett at (813) 232-5200.

WFLA SALUTE TO LISA FELDT: Longtime top marathoner, Ironman finisher, teacher, wife and mother of two, Lisa Feldt was honored by her West Florida Y Runners Club training partners at a dinner Saturday night.

The dinner was held near the well-known 13-mile running loop that leads dozens of long-distance runners and triathletes through scenic Belleair every Saturday morning.

Mountain biker and kayaker Bobby Feldt said his job relocation soon will take the family from Clearwater to Little Rock, Ark., and they appreciated the WFLA dinner, hosted by Kathleen and Landon Roach of Belleair.

Coaching and mentoring in It Starts in Parks program at Clearwater High, Feldt won many road races throughout the years, including the Pier 60 Beach Races 5K series several seasons ago.

Well-wishers can send a farewell message to Feldt at lisa@thefeldtfamily.com

RUNNERS TO IRONMAN: The full field for Florida Ironman 70.3 on May 20 reflects the number of area runners who have joined the ranks of crosstraining multisport enthusiasts. This weekend's event, which is a half Ironman distance triathlon (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, run 13.1 miles) may earn some locals qualifying slots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in October in Clearwater Beach.

The triathlon begins near Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Among the top Pinellas County runners competing: Diane Berberian, Debbie Farias, Annette Frisch, Bob Moorehead, Mark Parish, Katie Knight-Perry and Clearwater police officers Dan Devol, Tom Falcone and John Pickard.

Devol and Pickard were pioneers in the Community Policing Program in Clearwater, in which officers cruise through the town on their mountain bikes. The program has helped encourage police officers across the country to maintain their fitness as runners and triathletes despite their demanding work schedules.

Accomplished Clydesdale division competitors, Devol and Pickard raced at St. Anthony's Triathlon last month and hope to compete in this fall's 70.3 World Championship.

COMING UP: Tampa's Leto High cross country team will host the Leto Falcon 5K on Sunday at 8 a.m. The start is at Al Lopez Park in Tampa, and proceeds will benefit Leto's cross country team. For information call the Running Center at (813) 908-1960.

E-mail Times correspondent Jessica Mundie at sptimescycling@yahoo.com.

[Last modified May 16, 2007, 22:41:35]


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