7th Annual Fit2Run 5K Run

fit2run-5kIf you missed out on some holiday parties, look forward to a grand celebration at the Robinson Preserve, the largest conservation property located in northwestern Bradenton, FL. Fit2Run, The Runner’s Superstore, will produce the 7th Annual Fit2Run Robinson Preserve 5K run, now featuring a highly anticipated 10K course. The familyfriendly race takes place at twilight on Friday, March 27. Winners receive cash awards; a post race party will be held alongside the 120-year-old Valentine House. Enjoy a buffet, beverages, beer, a DJ, a live band, and more.

“This event is known for its colorful shirts that can be seen around town; its beautiful race course, and spectacular postrace party,” says Doug Schiller, Race Director.

The funds generated from the race go toward the continuing management and improvement at Robinson Preserve, and to Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee.

William C. Robinson and son, Parks Robinson, owners of the specialty running retailer, Fit2Run, wanted to host an event benefiting local non-profits. Meals on Wheels PLUS provides numerous programs to help the community, ensuring food for those in need, both young and old. Programs include The Food Bank of Manatee, Grandma’s Goodies, Senior Wheels, Adult Day Services, and Renaissance on 9th, the Senior Enrichment Center, and Turner Ballroom. Charity Navigator named it a four-star charity, and Tampa Bay Business Journal named it 2013 Non-Profit of the Year. The organization hosts the dinner at the Valentine House, and offers their vehicles to shuttle people to and from the race venue and parking at nearby neighborhoods.

Last year, close to 2000 runners and many more spectators participated in the Fit2Run Robinson Preserve Race. In 2013 it was the largest chip-timed 5K in both Manatee and Sarasota counties. “We have had as many as 200 children participate in the kids’ events,” says Justin James, Fit2Run Marketing Events Manager. “We have averaged 40 percent growth each year, over the past six years. That tells us, this is an event our community wants to participate in, and share with their family and friends; to support their own health, and the continued services of these great non-profit organizations.”

Because popularity has increased participation, the race organizers introduced four wave starts, with the first beginning at 6:45 PM. Other waves follow, a minute apart. The children’s races, which start and finish at the same finish line as the 5K and 10K, include 100 meters for 3-4-year-olds; 200 meters for 5-6-year-olds; 400 meters for 7-9-year-olds; and 800 meters for 10-12-year-olds. Any age may participate in the 5K or 10K race. As it is a twilight race, 10K runners will have a time limit. The family event invites walkers, people with strollers and runners with dogs on a leash.

Tampa Bay, Manatee River and Perico Bayou border the preserve, donated by the William C. Robinson family, and for years the property had been used as farmland. The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and Manatee County initially joined forces to create the preserve. William C. Robinson, then President of Robinson Farms, had released a statement, saying about the donated land, “It is because of the foundation and the county’s commitment to the environment that the residents of Manatee County will have a community gem to enjoy and enrich our lives for years and years to come.”

Currently the interior features hiking paths, kayak and canoe waterways, with jumping mullet and hundreds of species of fish and marine life. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the picnic spots, a primitive campground, mangrove forests and a 53- foot tower with a view of Tampa Bay. It is home to threatened and endangered species, such as the American oystercatcher, bald eagle, black skimmer, brown pelican, little blue heron, tricolored heron, reddish egret, white ibis, wood stork, and other marine animals.

“The 10K course will pass by an active bald eagle’s nest,” says James. “They had built it along the 5K route in a dead tree and it didn’t’ last. But now the nest is in a place where our 10K runners will see it.”

James says park rangers, staff and volunteers of the Manatee County Natural Resources department are currently creating the 10K race trail following old Florida Power & Lighting roads, and old nursery roads. The 10K race follows some of the 5K route and additionally runs throughout the entire property, almost to Manatee Avenue, and then loops back. “They will see a lot of untouched preserve that the public has not yet seen before,” says James.

Fit2Run-The Runner’s Superstore, with locations in Florida and Los Angeles, California, offers the most recognized and trusted name-brands in footwear, apparel and accessories for running, fitness, and walking.

For more information about the Robinson Preserve 5K/10K & Children’s Races, please visit Fit2Run.com.