St. Pete Run Fest, the City of St. Petersburg’s official running event, is set to return to Albert Whitted Park Nov. 10-12. Co-founder Ryan Jordan says the organization anticipates 6,000 runners to register, a slight uptick from last year and the busiest year since Run Fest’s inception. Jordan attributes the immense growth of the event, which initially attracted 3,500 runners for its inaugural race in 2017, to organizers’ efforts to make it an inclusive and positive experience for all.
“We live here and we love the city, so we show it off,” Jordan said. “We’re building this for the community, from within the community. I think that has been a huge differentiator in terms of the experience and why it’s grown every year.”
The favorite race for runners is the 13.1-mile half marathon that travels Central Avenue and along the waterfront on Bay Shore Drive. The half marathon attracts about 2,500 runners alone and brings in the most runners from outside of the Tampa Bay area.
“25% of our participants are from over 100 miles away that run in that race, so it’s great for locals, but it’s also a great economic opportunity,” said Jordan. “We get a lot of folks staying in hotels, eating at our restaurants and coming to our awesome city.”
The three-day event at Albert Whitted Park is centered around a Half Marathon, 10K and 5K races, and two kid’s runs, all of which benefit St. Petersburg Free Clinic through the race’s “Miles for Meals” initiative, which donates money for each mile run to provide meals for those in need in the community. New this year is a half-mile dog walk, with proceeds going to Pet Pal Animal Shelter.
The weekend-long event also features live musical acts, food and drinks from area restaurants and breweries, and 50+ local vendors and artisans. Here’s the schedule.
“We’ve added the Body Electric Village this year, which is a new stage where we’re going to have local artists and musicians,” said Jordan. “We’ve got a break dancing troupe, a sword-swallowing group, all kinds of local entertainers and musicians. We also have artists from the Warehouse Arts District displaying their art this year, which is a nice new addition. So it’s so much more than just buying some sneakers and some socks. It’s really a representation of St. Pete.”
Runners can still register for the various races, and Run Fest is looking for more volunteers to help fill the approximately 400 roles needed to make the weekend-long event run smoothly. Learn more and register at stpeterunfest.org.