Decorated runners, Olympians to be in Tampa Saturday for Fit Foodie Race event

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Ryan Hall and Bill Rodgers will be in the area Saturday for the Fit Foodie Race Series' inaugural Tampa event.

The Fit Foodie Race Series, held in cities throughout the country, includes a 15K and 5K. Learn more about the race here.

The weekend doesn't start or stop with running. "The Fit Foodie Race is where food meets fitness, and healthy meets delicious! Run, eat, and drink your way through Cotanchobee Park and cross the most delicious finish line ever in an unforgettable day filled with food, fitness and fun," race organizers said.

The post-run festivities will include fitness classes, raffles, food and drink samples, and cooking demonstrations, including from Tampa's Seasons 52 restaurant. "You will also receive a swag bag chock-full of goodies from top health and wellness brands, and for the 21 and older, post race celebratory drinks will also be offered," organizers said. "Proving that a fit and healthy lifestyle can co-exist with a love for great foodie experiences, calories are both burned and earned at the three-day Fit Foodie."

Olympian Hall is the American half marathon record holder. Hall is also the fastest American marathoner on record, with a time he recorded in the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Hall attended the Fit Foodie's Austin race and encouraged Tampa Bay area runners to get involved. "It was really fun. I love the atmosphere. I love the culture of the race," he said. "All good runners, they love food."

Hall said the Fit Foodie is a great event for runners of all ability levels. Seasoned runners can chase personal records, but it's also an opportunity to "sink your teeth into your first face," he said. A runner's first race can be intimidating, but at a Fit Foodie race, everyone is rooting for each other, Hall said.

There's some competition - but it's "like a really friendly competitiveness," he explained. "I'm just out running with everyone else."

The race helps "connect the everyday runner to the people who run at the very highest level of the sport," Hall added.

Hall will be joined by Rodgers, a four-time Boston Marathon and four-time New York City Marathon champion. I "actually get to run alongside him in a race," Hall said of Rodgers.

The feeling is mutual. Rodgers, also an Olympian, looks forward to joining Hall - and Tampa Bay area runners. "This is a chance to kind of meet the runners and walkers in Tampa," he said.

Rodgers believes activity is key to solving health issues in the United States. That's one reason he supports the Fit Foodie - the combination of physical activity and health eating.

It's about "trying to take a look at our lives to encompass healthy, tasty foods and being active, and so that combination I think is what we're talking about for the event in Tampa," Rodgers said.

He said the Fit Foodie and similar events are the "future of being active for Americans."

"I really believe we are meant to move. When we don't move, we know it because we get sick. We get diabetes. We get heart disease," Rodgers added. "Just come out and have no fear."

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