Tampa Bay may be known for its laidback lifestyle and beach vibes, but it’s certainly no stranger to an awesome selection of races throughout the year that draws in people from all over the world who want to run in the beautiful sunshine state! With stunning water views, palm tree-lined streets, and a variety of different distances and locations, from downtown to the top beaches in the world just across the bay, there’s truly a race out there for everyone!
Let’s also not forget that this is Florida, so that means you’re guaranteed to have a super fun crowd and typically one heck of an after-party! Looking to escape the city for a trial run? Yes – despite the focus on downtown and beaches – we do have some pretty sweet trail options also! And of course, if you don’t have time or you’re looking to really just learn and explore the city, then come check out one of our Tampa running tours.
MAIN TAMPA BAY RUNNING RACES
Date: 25 & 26 February 2023
If you are coming to Tampa Bay to run one race (or maybe all four), the Gasparilla Distance Classic is 100% the one to go for. Kicking off right downtown by gorgeous Bayshore Boulevard, this event gives you two days of running options from a 5k and 15k on Saturday to a half marathon and 8k on Sunday.
If you’re not familiar with the whole concept of Gasparilla and the legend of Jose Gaspar (a pirate who invades the city every year in late January) then you may be surprised to see runners in a variety of pirate accessories all the way to full out pirate attire from head to toe (I can’t imagine running in that many layers of clothing or carrying a fake sword for 13.1 miles, but they do it every year)! This race also benefits youth groups throughout the Tampa Bay area such as the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa.
All four races run along Bayshore Boulevard, with Tampa Bay views on one side and some of the most gorgeous homes in the city on the other. If you go for the half, you’ll also get to run along the beautiful Davis Islands to get you started. With over 20,000 participants over the two-day event, this is one you don’t want to wait to sign up for! You can even jump in for 3 or all 4 races and earn an awesome challenge jacket (yes, there will be a pirate on it). And after all of your hard work you can grab some of the best Spanish food in the area from the Columbia Restaurant, as you take the Riverwalk down to the main afterparty.
So, after reading all of that, “AARGH YOU READY TO RUN GASPARILLA”?
Date: 12 March 2023
One of the newest races on the block, just across the Bay, just finished its second year at a participation rate of over 8,000. That race is called the Skyway 10k and it’s definitely one to put on your must-run bucket list. Standing at 430 feet tall, the Skyway Bridge gives runners the opportunity of a lifetime to take in these stunning views of downtown St. Pete and the gulf coast that you won’t find anywhere else.
Before 2018, only one other time in history, a race (4, to be exact) was held on this bridge and that was in 1987 – the year it reopened after its collapse just 7 years earlier. You can take in views of the remaining old bridge (now the longest fishing pier in the world) while watching the fisherman below to distract yourself from the challenging but rewarding climb to the top. Add in live music, great eats, and of course some post-race adult beverages at the finish and you’re off to one awesome way to start your day!
Date: 10 – 12 November 2023
Even newer than the Skyway 10k is St. Pete Run Fest, which celebrated its inaugural race weekend just this past November! With Gasparilla in Tampa and the St. Pete Beach Classic, downtown St Pete was in need of a major race and thankfully we now have an entire weekend of options and challenges, ranging from a half marathon (I personally ran this and it was a quick reminder of how beautiful and perfect for running St.Pete truly is) down to a Saturday run for kids.
Beyond the beautiful course which starts off at the famous Dali Museum downtown along the water and weaves in and out of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, the half marathon course actually runs right through the Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium! Add in a basically ‘free tour’ of many of the amazing murals scattered throughout the city and a killer afterparty with 3 Daughters Brewing and plenty of music and good eats, and this race becomes an absolute must-do.
Smaller and Club Tampa Races
Looking for something a little quainter and more local? You’re in luck! Tampa Bay has plenty of local running races that really give you that hometown feels while providing an awesome course, a great after-party, and a super-fun group to spend it with. Check them out below.
Date: 18 June 2023
Start Time: 7:00 pm
Benefitting the Moffitt Cancer Center and drawing nearly 1,000 runners/joggers/walkers last November, Richard’s Run for Life is a fantastic 5k through Ybor City! This flat/fast course is perfect for everyone from runners going for their next P.R. to walkers and newer runners seeking a fun/local race with a great post-race celebration, for a great cause. If you’ve been to The Columbia Restaurant (the largest Spanish restaurant in the world and the oldest still in existence in Florida), you’ve likely heard the Gonzmart family name. In addition to founding this race along with a Father’s Day run along the Riverwalk, this family name and some of the best food in the city go hand in hand. If the post-run food alone isn’t enough to entice you, you’re truly missing out if you miss this event!
Start Time: Various
5km run around downtown Tampa and the Riverwalk, passing by many of Tampa’s most popular sights and ending with a craft beer at one of Tampa’s best breweries!
Date: 31 March 2023
If you’re like me, you can never get enough of Ybor City, so let’s head over to Centennial Park and Roar Through Ybor for Sight! This annual 5k and 1-mile fun run have been steadily growing in participation every year, but it doesn’t lose that local feel that Ybor City brings. Benefiting the Lions Eye Institute which supports patients in need of organ, eye, and tissue transplantation therapy, this is truly a great race for a great cause, located in an awesome, historical part of the city (yes, I’m biased to Ybor). The post-race entertainment, local food, and libations are the perfect way to kick off or wind down your night in the heart of Ybor City!
Start Time: 7:30 am
You don’t have to be a Lightning hockey fan to have an awesome time at the Bolt Run, but if you are one then you need to put this one on your list. This race draws over 2,000 runners and benefits the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and the March of Dimes. While most races in Tampa stick to beautiful Bayshore Boulevard, this one gives runners a chance to run in downtown Tampa while ending in Amalie Arena. Yes, you read that right -your finish line and after-party are in the Lightning hockey stadium, so sign up and experience this one at least once!
Date: January 14, 2023
Ultra races are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Tampa but rest assured we have our fair share, and the Long Haul 100 is definitely a great one to check out. It’s no surprise that they aren’t located downtown, but a 30-minute car ride takes you to endless trail options, and with 2019 being its inaugural year, this is a great race to highlight. Picture nature and wildlife at its best, combined with top-notch aid and food stations (as a pacer, I didn’t turn down the countless bacon offers) and an all-around great group of runners, crew-members, and volunteers, and that is the Long Haul 100. This is definitely a great way to escape the city and a great course for both seasoned ultra-runners and first-timers.
So now that you’ve had your fill of race options throughout the Tampa Bay area, I’m certain that you’ll find the right one the next time you’re in sunny Tampa Bay. For more info, check out my complete guide to running in Tampa. And if you’re short on time, looking for a warm-up and a little sightseeing, or simply here during the summer (when racing isn’t so popular in beautiful, but also hot Florida), then I invite you to check out a running tour with Go! Running Tours Tampa. I hope to see you out there and happy running!!
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