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Gasparilla Distance Classic in the books; planning begins for next year

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TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – On Sunday morning, thousands of runners turned out for Day 2 of the Gasparilla Distance Classic, capping off the weekend with the half marathon and 8K races.

We are told around 28,000 total runners competed over the weekend. But now, the work begins for next year’s race weekend and race director Susan Harmeling tells 8 On Your Side it takes a whole year to plan and execute it.

“The planning with our partners, with the city, the police and fire departments, then you factor in the runners and taking care of them. There is a lot that goes into this weekend,” said Race Director, Susan Harmeling.

She said they work every year to enhance the runner experience and make it better than the year before.

“It’s not just a running event, we have characters, pirates with beads, and bands are located every mile playing music. We have all of these things that are engaging with the runners,” added Harmeling.

And it’s this hard work that is noticed by the runners and keeps them coming back year after year.

“It’s an annual event for me. I’ve done it about 4 or 5 years in a row. It’s just a well-run race and I couldn’t be happier about it,” said runner Jason McFarland.

The 2021 Gasparilla Distance Classic is set to be held February 20-21.

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