Thousands lace up for Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic downtown Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Before the sun came up on Saturday morning, thousands of people were already lacing up their running shoes, ready to pound the pavement in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, the first of four races this weekend.

Some even dressed up for the festivities, donning some interesting running wear.

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“It’s a pirate-themed race, isn’t it? The hook might a problem after a few miles, but I guess we will find out,” said runner Tracy Fleming, who showed up in pirate attire.

The one thing all these runners were thankful for?

Tampa’s mild weather.

The warm temperatures were a nice break for one Canadian runner News Channel 8 caught up with, who travelled to Florida just to race this weekend.

“The weather’s great. My wife ran in -31 degrees less than seven days ago, so this is nice and toasty for us right now,” said runner Derek Wilson.

Running isn’t just a good way to get in shape, but a great way to give back to the Tampa Bay community.

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The more than 30,000 participants in this year’s Gasparilla Distance Classic will help raise funds for charitable youth organizations and running programs in the area.

Since 1978, more than 600,000 have participated in the Gasparilla Distance Classic.

RELATED: Road closures, travel advisories for this weekend’s Gasparilla Distance Classic

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