TREASURE ISLAND – In an effort to bring in more visitors to the city and, as a result, more money, the city has come a step closer to hosting a 5K race.
The event was talked about in previous Treasure Island City Commission meetings. In a recent meeting, the Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Clearwater, Kevin Dunbar, spoke to the commission about the benefits of hosting a 5K race.
But at the Dec. 18 city commission meeting and workshop, a local resident stepped forward to begin preparations and lay the foundation for a presentation to the city commission of holding a 5K, or 3.1 miles, possibly a year from now.
Pamela McCann spoke before the commission during the meeting portion of the evening and offered to organize a 5K race. McCann herself is a long distance runner and was familiar with others who organize such events.
McCann espoused the benefits of having the race, namely economic. He noted how the race, if held annually, could bring hundreds if not thousands of runners to the island each year which would bring a significant amount of dollars to local businesses.
McCann also explained how the race could have local sponsors to pay for most of the organizational costs of the event. Registration fees could be used for charitable causes or could be donated to a city interest. Since the race is a sport and most runners are interested in outdoor activities, McCann suggested some monies from the race be donated to the city parks and recreation department.
“We have a beautiful downtown and we should show it off,” McCann said. “This could bring the community together. The (funds) could be used for a foundation if the race grows. People like to run for a good cause and won’t mind paying an entry fee.”
McCann used the example of another Pinellas County-based marathon, the Turkey Trot held each Thanksgiving morning in Clearwater as an example of a community-based running event. The race is wildly popular and lures tens of thousands of runners from all over the country including some from overseas.
“The businesses could use the extra (income) the race would bring,” McCann added.
McCann suggested a potential route of the race be held down Gulf Boulevard with the course meandering to the causeway and back. She noted likely only one lane; no more than two lanes of traffic would have to be reserved for the runners.
As to when to hold the race, McCann offered the best times were in the spring or the fall, due to the weather. The spring and fall is also a good time she said in that a race held at those times of the year would lure more tourists.
She also said that holding a race this spring would be too soon as organizers would likely need roughly a year to properly organize the race in terms of acquiring sponsorships, working out the details of the race and to sufficiently promote the event. The race would be held in the morning.
McCann tossed out the idea of holding the race at 8:05 a.m. when the chimes of the clock tower could be used as a sound off to start the event.
To help attract more runners, a 1 mile race and walk would be held in conjunction with the event. McCann explained a mile race and walk is also popular with children and seniors.
“A lot of people like that and so do the kids,” McCann said.
The key to the financial success of the race is sponsorships McCann said. “I would be willing to find sponsors,” McCann said. “The goal is to have the sponsors pay the costs of the race and the entry fees would go toward a project or foundation.”
She explained raffles could be held at the race. “They are popular. There are lots of sponsorship options.”
The biggest need McCann suggested would be volunteers to hand out water and T-shirts to the runners. Local artists could also compete to design T-shirts McCann said.
“The goal would be to have 250-300 runners,” McCann said. “If we could start off with that it would grow fast.”
McCann’s presentation was well-received by the commission.
“I would support it,” Commissioner Ed Gayton said.
City Manager Reid Silverboard noted the city’s role in the race “would be limited” and therefore, costs would be minimal he said. He suggested the city would offer use of the community center. Overtime for police would also be an expense he said as would staff hours.