Monthly Archives: May 2011

Nation’s Largest Beer Run?

By Pete Williams

Postrace at The Oldsmar Tap House

When Fred Rzymek and Tony Falso staged the inaugural “Oldsmar Tap House 5K” in 2009, they figured they’d draw 300 runners to the bar just west of Tampa for a Friday night run.

Instead, more than 700 athletes pre-registered. Another 500 showed up an hour before the race. By the time the first kegs were tapped, a crowd of 2,000 athletes and spectators had gathered.

Last year, the race grew to 1,400 runners. This year, more than 1,500 are expected.

Apparently the way to deal with a recession in the endurance world is to offer free beer – but not just any beer.

“Everyone has Michelob Ultra after an event,” says Rzymek, a longtime race director in the Tampa Bay area who is staging the third-annual Oldsmar Tap House 5K on June 10 at 7 p.m. “Being able to enjoy a number of craft beers no doubt helps.”

This year, Sierra Nevada is the official beer sponsor, providing 25 kegs. That will get things started, with the Oldsmar Tap House providing other craft beers as the night goes on.

As usual, the street in front of The Tap House will be shut down to traffic, creating a block party. There will be a live band and runners receive towels in addition to T-shirts. The first 50 male and first 50 female finishers will receive a lanyard and one-liter plastic “das boot” to fill with beer (up from the 18-ounce versions distributed the last two years). The boot allows access to an express beer line all evening.

Rzymek also will distribute 100 pairs of Boston Bill sunglasses, probably through a random drawing of sorts.

Falso opened the Oldsmar Tap House in an upscale but largely vacant office-and-condo district in February 2008, not long before the economy crashed. The brew pub features dozens of microbrews and an old-time pub atmosphere. Some patrons take on the challenge of drinking a 60-ounce beer from one of the Tap House’s signature glass boots.

When the pub opened, a running group was leaving for Wednesday twilight runs along the Oldsmar waterfront from a nearby bike store, meeting at the Tap House afterward for beer. When the bike shop closed the group, now known as the Oldsmar Run Club, began departing from the brew pub parking lot. The Wednesday night Tap House run continues to be one of the best-attended in the Tampa Bay area.

As for the race, Rzymek says he already has more than 1,000 runners pre-registered. There is early packet pick-up and sign-up at the Oldsmar Tap House on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 from 4 to 8 p.m. Online registration is open until the evening of June 8.

“You get the shirt and towel, and maybe win a boot,” says Falso, the Tap House owner. “Heck, some people drink enough free beer to cover their race entry fee.”


Filed under Race of the Week, Races, Running

Race of the Week: Spring into Summer 5K

By Pete Williams

Running at Al Lopez Park

Lynn Gray is a one-woman running conglomerate in the Tampa Bay area. An accomplished age-group runner of all distances, she’s mentored countless runners through her Take the First Step Club. She’s also an author, triathlete, featured trainer in The St. Petersburg Times, and part of the team behind the upcoming Spring into Summer 5K.

The race, which takes place at Tampa’s Al Lopez Park on Saturday, June 4 at 8 a.m., is known for it’s many raffle prizes and large turnout, especially among women. It’s a popular first-time 5K, though many return year after year to do a fast course with a great post-race party.

We spoke with Gray about running and the race this week on The Fitness Buff Show.

Name of Race: Spring into Summer 5K

History: Eighth-annual event

Format: One loop course through shady Al Lopez Park, located near Raymond James Stadium and Jesuit High School in Tampa. Also a one-mile Kids Fun Run.

Amenities: T-shirts, post-race food, raffles, 3-deep age-group awards

Signature Features: Numerous raffle prizes, including donations from multiple Tampa Bay area running stores. “A lot of people are going to go home with something,” Gray says.

Projected Turnout: 350-plus

Cost: $25 for 5K; $10 for Kids Fun Run

Sign-Up: Via or download a printable copy HERE

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Race of the Week, Races, Running

The Madeira Beach Tri-Paddle

By Pete Williams

Crossing the finish line at the GCSUPC

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. – With apologies – sort of – to Hawaii, SoCal, and Boulder, Florida is now the capital of the endurance sports world.

Just consider this past weekend. A 1.25-mile stretch of Madeira Beach in Pinellas County was home to the 26th annual Madeira Beach triathlon and the second-annual Gulf Coast Stand-Up Paddle Board Championship.

The St. Pete Mad Dogs did their usual terrific job hosting a two-day party. A little more than a mile to the south, Brody Welte put on what already is being called the biggest stand-up paddle board event outside of the Battle of the Paddle on the West Coast.

More than 200 paddlers, including some of the nation’s best, competed in a variety of events during the two-day Gulf Coast Stand-Up Paddle Board Championship. The event definitely had a big-time, West Coast feel to it between the SUP sponsors set up on the beach, hula girls, and band.

In what has to be a first, it was possible to do a triathlon early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday and hustle down to the GCSUPC to do one of Welte’s events, which got underway after 10 a.m. My son Luke and I did a tagteam, with Luke competing in the Madeira Beach Mini Triathlon on Saturday morning. We hustled down to the Barefoot Beach Resort, where my board was waiting, and I jumped in the four-mile open race with 10 minutes to spare.

Where else in the country can you do that?

Leave a comment

Filed under Races, SUP, Triathlon

Race of the Week: Streak the Cove 5K

By Pete Williams

Going Streaking

We’ve been promoting this event for some time, of course, but this production of Enterprise Media, LLC, is finally here.

The Streak the Cove 5K, a clothing-optional run held at the Cypress Cove nudist resort in Kissimmee, will take place on Sunday, May 22 at 8:30 a.m. Inspired by the success of last October’s Caliente Bare Dare 5K, the Streak the Cove will be a two-lap course through the shady neighborhoods of Cypress Cove, which opened its doors for nudists in 1964.

Back then, “The Cove” was nestled on a two-lane road among cow pastures and orange groves. These days, there’s a Lowe’s home improvement store across the street, part of a bustling Orlando suburb. The Cove, meanwhile, has upgraded its facilities over the years and now has a sprawling pool complex and 80-plus hotel rooms to go with its beautiful lakeside setting.

Name of Race: Streak the Cove 5K

History: The Cypress Cove Resort staged a 5K race last year with little advance preparation and fanfare. This year, Enterprise Media LLC, organizer of the successful Caliente Bare Dare 5K has taken over race management.

Format: Two-loop course through the shady neighborhoods of Cypress Cove. Race ends at the resort’s sprawling pool complex.

Amenities: Fitted T-shirts for female runners, sharp ash gray shirts for the guys. Commemorative mini-bottles of wine to the top 20 male and top 20 female finishers. The FitNiche running store will be on hand with its mobile shoe store trailer. Mix1 all-natural recovery drinks available at the finish line. Goody bags before the race and post-race refreshment poolside, along with deejay and raffle drawings.

Signature Features: Um, it’s a clothing-optional race.

Projected Turnout: 150

Cost: $30 via online registration which closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Thursday, May 19. Raceday registration available for $32.

Sign-Up: Via IMAthlete



Leave a comment

Filed under Race of the Week, Races, Running

Martin Dugard’s ‘To be a Runner’

By Pete Williams

Martin Dugard's latest

Martin Dugard is best known for immersing himself into cultures to produce best-selling books such as Into Africa and The Last Voyage of Columbus, collaborating with Mark Burnett on Survivor-related books, and chronicling his own adventures in top magazines.

But he’s also one of the most prolific endurance sports journalists in the industry, having written the book Chasing Lance and countless magazine articles that have appeared in Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire.

Somehow he finds the time to coach high school cross country in Southern California. In his terrific new book To Be a Runner, Dugard, who turns 50 in June, weaves a lifetime of running experiences into interesting life lessons

We spoke with Dugard on The Fitness Buff Show. You can listen to that interview here or read an edited transcript below.

Q: You write about running “in the tempo zone” as a broader metaphor for life. What do you mean by that?

A: We’re going to have struggles; it goes with the territory. The trick is how you deal with it. Put yourself in the moment and no matter what you do keep everything smooth and level and not let your fears and anxiety overcome you and not burning the candles at both ends. It’s finding that place, that smooth place where you find that balance and that piece of mind and, yeah, that tempo. When you run, when you’re in a really good run where you find that rhythm and groove it just carries you and if you can find that same thing in daily life it’s just an amazing feeling.

Q: You live by the motto of “keep pushing always” and never accepting mediocrity. What’s your philosophy behind that?

A: We live in this world of people getting trophies just for showing up, just for breathing essentially, so we’ve become a culture of that accepts mediocrity, that accepts the status quo. At some point we kind of hold people at arm’s length who dare to push their limits every day but I think that’s what running is all about. When you run, just putting your shoes on and getting out the door, you’re making a choice to be a better version of yourself. And that decision is not just with running but with writing or parenting or coaching. If we push ourselves day by day to be better we change not only ourselves but the world around us.

Q: How does running help you overcome writer’s block?

A: This morning when I was writing I was in a funk. I couldn’t find the right words and everything I wrote seemed boring. I don’t know what happens but when I put my shoes on and head for the trailhead a half mile from my house, within five minutes the words started forming in my head. Something takes place when you step outside yourself where you don’t think so much but let things talk back to you. I just finished a screenplay. It wasn’t just narrative, it was actual characters and I’d go run and these characters talked to me to the point where they became real people. So when I began to write their dialogue I got back to the office and knew what to write. Running helps us organize our thoughts, our decision making process and frees us up to think and to write with a lot more clarity.

Q: You live around some beautiful trails with some dangerous wildlife. Any close calls?

A: I’ve had more close calls than I realize. I know mountain lions are out there. I never run on trails at dusk or dawn, which is prime feeding time. I’ll hear the snakes moving in the dry grass or I’ll see the paw prints and wonder if that’s a dog, coyote or mountain lion. I’ve seen them in the distance, seen bobcats. But I wouldn’t run as much if I couldn’t run on trails and that’s one of the tradeoffs. You have to suspend fears and keep your eyes and ears open, but there’s nothing like trail running. It changes your world view and just your entire day when you’re out there.

Q: What do you attribute the latest running boom to?

A: Whenever there are hard times economically running spikes and I don’t know why that is but I know running has changed. When I became a runner it was more competition driven, more people running sub 3-hour marathons that today. You see a lot of people who just like the feeling of doing a half marathon at their pace. They may walk some but they’ll see their friends and have a great day. It’s not about competition, but attempting something that’s beyond your ability and that’s where running is going.

Q: Is running an easier sell to kids today?

A: Cross-country runners are still kind of geeky but with the success of my girls team and the boys to a lesser extent, we’ve had more kids come out and just try it. They learn all of these great things that come from running, the idea of perseverance and putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll finish the goal. When I competed in high school, the girls were treated like girls, definitely considered the weaker sex. Now I coach the girls team the same way as boys, just as hard and demanding. The girls step up and I think mentally they’re tougher and they allow themselves to compete and be a little bit of a badass and change their definition of what it means to be a runner.

Q: How do get people past the notion of running as “long, slow distance?”

A: It’s really a misnomer. When Arthur Lydiard coined LSD he meant long, steady distance and that’s a difference. Even now I have runners say that since they worked hard yesterday today they’re going to just jog four miles. No, let’s go a little deeper, 85 percent instead of down to 75 percent. A couple friends of mine, women, have asked me to draw up marathon programs. They’re non-runners or at least first-time marathon runners and I asked them to do speed work. Not four 100s in 60 seconds but simple vvo2 stuff – 200 on, 100 off – and the great thing is it informs your form and that translates into your next run even if it’s a longer run. At first they don’t think they can do it and feel uncomfortable on the track. But once you introduce them to speed as opposed to volume they push themselves and get more competitive.

Q: Do you find that’s the ‘aha’ moment for many runners?

A: I totally find that. There are days I don’t get that run in the morning and I only have 25 minutes later and I need to do something. If I do something as simple as a 200 at 2-mile pace followed by a 100 jog with the same work to rest ratio within six or seven laps I’m drenched with sweat. Within 20 minutes, I’ve had a great workout, my endorphin levels are off the chart, I feel great and in that short period of time I have gotten a little more efficient.

Q: How is running a metaphor for overcoming obstacles?

A: It’s funny. When I wrote this book I didn’t set out to write it this way. I had some thoughts about running and as I wrote these essays these themes came through and I realized what a profound change running has made in my life. I road bike and mountain bike but you’re at the mercy of a machine if you get a flat. If you run, you’re in charge. It’s just you and there’s something fortifying about that. Those themes came forward and I wanted to spread the word.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Running

Orlando Sentinel Previews ‘Streak the Cove 5K’

By Pete Williams

Streaking the Cove

The Streak the Cove 5K, the clothing-optional run produced by Enterprise Media, LLC on Sunday, May 22 at the Cypress Cove nudist resort, continues to receive a slew of publicity.

In addition to last month’s coverage by Runner’s World online, Mike Bianchi of sports radio 740 AM “The Game” in Orlando interviewed us last week. Our YouTube promo video has received more than 12,000 hits. And now The Orlando Sentinel’s endurance sports blogger Wesley Alden has chimed in with a preview.

Ms. Alden is intrigued by the race.

“After more than a year of races, I’m so close to finding the perfect shirt, shorts, sports bra and underwear combination that won’t cause chafing during long runs,” she writes. “Now I realize that the minimalist approach may have been the answer all along: no clothes = no chafing.”

You can register for the event HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Races, Running

Race of the Week: Florida International Triathlon

By Pete Williams

Heading into the water for the FIT

It’s tough to think of a more beautiful triathlon location than Siesta Key Beach, the barrier island off the coast of Sarasota. Between the Gulf swim, bike course that passes some stunning high-end real estate and a run on packed sand, it’s one of the state’s more popular tri destinations.

On Saturday, May 14, Siesta Key hosts the seventh-annual Florida International Triathlon. Hosted by the Sarasota Storm Tri Club, it features sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, along with a duathlon. We spoke with Jackie Miller, a USAT-certified coach and one of the race organizers, on The Fitness Buff Show last week. You can listen to that interview HERE.

Name of Race: Florida International Triathlon

History: The race began in 2005 as the Sharks Classic but was renamed in 2010. The Sarasota Storm Tri Club is not to be confused with the Sarasota YMCA Sharks, the powerhouse youth swim club that puts on a triathlon in Siesta Key in October.

Format: Sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons, as well as a duathlon. The sprint is a longer event as sprint tris go with a half-mile swim, 13-mile bike and 5K run. The duathlon consists of a 1-mile run, 13-mile bike, and 5K run.

Amenities: T-shirts, postrace awards and food, expo on Friday from noon to 7 p.m.

Signature Features: Beautiful half-mile swim in generally calm water, run on packed sand beach

Projected Turnout: 750 for the three events combined

Cost: $85 for sprint triathlon or duathlon through May 10; $125 for international triathlon through May 10

Sign-Up: Via

Leave a comment

Filed under Race of the Week, Races, Triathlon