Category Archives: Race of the Week

Race of the Week: Shark Bite Challenge

By Pete Williams

It’s not often you find a race for $20 that offers an hour-long event, a dry-fit shirt, post-race food and entry to one of America’s finest beaches, which is waiving the usual $8 parking fee.

That’s all part of the package for the Shark Bite Challenge, formerly the Caladesi Kayak Challenge, which includes two days (April 16-17) of paddle races. If you can paddle it, you’re pretty much in. Not surprisingly, a large stand-up paddleboard (SUP) contingent is expected for Sunday. There’s even free beer involved during the pre-event welcome and early registration at the Dunedin Brewery from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 15.

The race is organized by Karen Mirlenbrink, owner of the Dunedin Pilates Studio and an accomplished paddler who recently put us through a Pilates routine on The Fitness Buff Show (see video below).

Name of Race: Shark Bite Challenge

Location: Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin

History: The Shark Bite Challenge is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Island Parks, a non-profit, citizen support organization that supports the efforts of Caladesi and Honeymoon Island State Parks.

Format: Two-day event kicks off Saturday, April 16 with a nine-mile, 6-man outrigger canoe race. The following day, there’s a 4-mile and an 8-mile kayak, canoe, surfski, OC1, SUP, and prone paddleboard race.

Schwag: The Shark Bite Challenge works in conjunction with the Island Earth Days festival. With registration, all racers receive a dry-fit t-shirt, lunch, and VIP seating at the festival – guaranteed to first 75 registrants. Mention the Shark Bite Challenge upon entering the park and your $8 parking fee will be waived.

Signature Feature: Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island are consistently rated among America’s most beautiful beaches.

Projected Turnout: 100-plus

Post-race: Lunch, VIP seating at the festival

Cost: A bargain at $20 per day or $30 for both days. (One shirt only)

Sign-Up: Via

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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Filed under Fitness Buff Show Videos, Race of the Week, Races, SUP

Race of the Week: Valencia 5K

By Pete Williams

Orlando, April 9, 6 p.m.

We’re changing the format of our Race of the Week, recognizing that it makes more sense to preview a race that’s the following week instead of one just a few days away. This way, athletes have plenty of time to register and adjust calendars accordingly. We’re also going to focus only on events that are not sold out and accept race-day registration.

This week’s focus is on the sixth-annual Valencia 5K, which takes place at the west campus of Valencia Community College in Orlando on Saturday, April 9 at 6 p.m. College-themed runs are becoming increasingly popular and the organizers of this race, recognizing that early starts don’t coincide with the sleep schedules of most college students, have moved this year’s event to an evening start time.

Name of Race: Valencia 5K

Location: Valencia Community College (West Campus) 1800 South Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL 32811

History: This is a sixth-annual event and the first in an evening timeslot, which no doubt will be more attractive to Valencia college students, who make up a large chunk of the field. Event proceeds go to Valencia CC scholarship funds.

Format: Single-loop course through Valencia’s west campus. Also a free run for kids 10 and under immediately following the 5K.

Schwag: Commemorative T-shirts guaranteed to pre-registered runners.

Signature Feature: Students race in their own division for awards.

Projected Turnout: 300-plus

Post-race: Refreshments, along with arts and crafts for kids.

Cost: $22 through April 3; $27 April 4-8; $30 day of race. Various discounts for Valencia students, alumni, and other school affiliated.

Sign-Up: Online via official site

Interesting twist: With the Muddy Buddy event at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports moving this from Mother’s Day weekend to April 9 (7:15 a.m. start) and the Valencia 5K moving to an evening time, athletes can enjoy a challenging day-night double-header in Orlando.

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Race of the Week: Friends of the Wekiva River at Kings Landing Canoe, Kayak and SUP Race

By Pete Williams

Only advanced racers like her need apply

Anyone who has attempted the Friends of the Wekiva River at Kings Landing Canoe and Kayak Race in the past knows it’s a challenging 8.5-mile, downstream event.

For this year’s event, which takes place Saturday, March 26 at 8:30 a.m. in Apopka, stand-up paddleboarding has been added to the mix. But it might not be an event for novice SUP enthusiasts says David Rose of Paddleboard Orlando, one of the sponsors of the event. “It’s a long course and a test of will,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of places to just pull ashore.”

Location: Kings Landing, Apopka, Fla.

History: This event goes back several years but with the growth and popularity of stand-up paddleboarding, this is the first year where SUP has been offered.

Format: Timed event, paddlers draw for start positions and leave on one-minute intervals. Organizers provide a free shuttle back to Kings Landing. Divisions include men’s race, men’s recreational, and women’s recreational. Awards to top three finishers in each class.

Schwag: T-shirt and raffle ticket to win a kayak.

Signature Feature: The Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run are one of the few remaining near-pristine river systems in Central Florida

Cost: $30 race day

Race Website: Click HERE

Comment: “This is more of an advanced course, but that’s what makes it interesting,” – David Rose, Paddleboard Orlando

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Race of the Week: Yolo Board Winter Race Series No.4

By Pete Williams

Chuck Patterson (right) is one of the top athletes in stand-up paddle boarding

Brody Welte figures there were just 20 people in the entire Tampa Bay area participating in stand-up paddling when he moved to St. Petersburg from Hawaii just two years ago.

On Saturday, the owner of Stand Up Fitness likely will have at least three times that many people in the fourth race in his Yolo Board Winter Race Series. The sport of “SUP” is exploding nationally and perhaps nowhere more than in Florida because of the Sunshine State’s year-round warm weather and flat, calm water.

The sport embraces newcomers. It’s not unusual for someone to take a lesson and enter a race the following day. Though some “veterans” of the sport (who took it up way back in 2007 or ’08) will navigate the course quickly, most will finish at a more leisurely pace. I entered a race in October after just two brief stints and will be out there Saturday.

Location: Clearwater Community Sailing Center1001 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater

History: This is the fourth and final race of the Yolo Board Winter Race Series. The second race also took place at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center in January. The event’s organizer, Brody Welte of Stand Up Fitness Inc., also is the organizer of the second-annual Gulf Coast Stand Up Paddleboard Championship (May 21-22) in Madeira Beach, which is quickly emerging as one of the top SUP events on the East Coast.

Format: Paddlers compete in four categories: 12’6 and under stock board, 12’6 race board, 14′ race board and unlimited board. There’s a single four-mile race with paddlers entering the water in two waves: race boards and stock boards. For paddlers who have been competing in the four-event series, this race will determine the winners. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with a mandatory paddlers meeting at 10:30. Race begins at 11 a.m.

Schwag: Green T-shirts in honor of St. Patrick’s Day week. Similar design to the popular styles for the previous three races.

Signature Feature: Bow-tie course layout is technical, but not too challenging for less experienced paddlers.

Post-Race: Barbecue included with entry fee; $5 for guests

Cost: $35 pre-registration, $40 race-day


Comment: “We’ve had a strong turnout all winter even with it being a little chilly, but with the beautiful March weather we should have ideal conditions and a great turnout.” – Brody Welte, race director

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Race of the Week: Pasco Challenge

By Pete Williams

March 12 - 8 a.m.

Each week we’re going to feature a race coming up in Florida in the next two weeks. This week, it’s the 2011 Pasco Challenge, which will take place on Saturday, March 12 at Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey. We’ll be there filming the latest video.

Name of Race: Pasco Challenge

Location: Starkey Wilderness Park, New Port Richey, Florida

History: Race has a long history, and has been organized by the Alzheimer’s Family Organization for the last decade. The event raises funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Format: There’s a 5K, 10K, and half marathon, all USA Track and Field certified;  a non-competitive 1 mile run/walk and bike tours of 25K, 50K and 100K. Start times are between 8 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. Race-day registration begins at 6  a.m. and there’s also registration from 3 to 5:30 Friday afternoon at Starkey Park.

Schwag: T-shirts (guaranteed to those who pre-registered by Feb. 14), and finisher’s medal for all half-marathon entrants.

Signature Feature: Run on asphalt through the beautiful 8,000-acre park, which features 27 miles of hiking trails and 6.7 miles of asphalt trails that connects to the Suncoast Trail.

Projected Turnout: 500-plus

Post-Race: Catered by IHOP.

Cost: $30 for 5K/10K, $40 for half marathon. Kids 16 and under $15 except for half marathon.

Sign-Up: or

Comment: “We had 37-degree temperatures at the start of the race last year, so we’re expecting much bigger turnout this time around” – race director  Dominick DePetrillo

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