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Tampa woman runs Gasparilla Half Marathon after suffering stroke

When Lauren Barnathan was 30-years-old she suffered a stroke. "The whole time I was in complete denial," Lauren says. "As we were lying down in bed, I went to go turn over or I guess I was trying to turn over. But at the time, unbeknownst to me, the left side of my body was completely unable to be used."

Lauren's husband Adam recalls her moving in a strange way.

"I turned over to check on her and immediately, my eyes focused on her symptoms," he said. "She had a facial droop, she had no use of the left side of her body and she had slurred speech. I knew immediately it was a stroke."

Adam, who was engaged to Lauren at the time, is actually a resident physician in emergency medicine. He called 911.

"It is terrifying to me, what could have happened if I had gone to sleep or if she had gone to sleep because we see it all the time in the hospital," Adam said.

Lauren spent five days recovering in the hospital.

"The doctors were asking me to move my left arm," recalled Lauren. "And I just remember staring at it and I just was thinking, ‘If I can get my elbow up, the rest of my arm will follow.' That did not happen. I just stared at it."

They celebrated their love with a wedding in June. Then, one year after her stroke, Lauren and Adam ran the Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon together."It was a goal that I set for myself," said Lauren. "I walked past the Tampa Convention Center on the Riverwalk while I was recovering from my stroke, saw people signing up the year before, and said, ‘I am going to do that next year.' And we went and ran it. Adam ran it with me. He was slightly faster than I was but I still finished."

"I would like it on the record that I finished first only so I could see her cross the finish line," said Adam with a laugh. "Not because I was cocompetitive in any way. When she crossed the finish line, I may have cried a little bit. It was really incredible."

The race marked the first time either of them ad run a half marathon and the couple is thankful Luren has made a full phusical recovery and are more focused on running since that race.

(06/18/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gabrielle Shirley
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

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Aliphine Tuliamuk won the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic by nearly two minutes and always find ways to give back to others

Aliphine Tuliamuk has an enviable social conscience that extends well beyond road races.

That benevolence was on display in Sunday’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic.

After winning the women’s half-marathon in 1:12:29, nearly two minutes ahead of her closest female competitor, Tuliamuk had a medal placed around her neck.

It did not stay there for long.

Tuliamuk, 29, handed the medal to a young girl as an inspirational keepsake.

“It’s all about giving back,” Tuliamuk said.

The Kenyan native was on the receiving end of such kindness 18 years ago. She qualified for her first competitive 10,000-meter race but did not have any shoes.

Tegla Loroupe, the first African to win the New York City Marathon, took care of the problem by handing Tuliamuk a new pair of running sneakers.

The footwear allowed Tuliamuk, who has 32 siblings, to become a distance running specialist. She became so good that she was offered a scholarship to Iowa State. College offered a way out from the difficulties Tuliamuk faced in her village in western Kenya, a place with no roads and few vehicles.

After attending Iowa State for two years (2010-11), Tuliamuk transferred to Wichita State. She was a nine-time All-American in cross country and track and field. Tuliamuk also got her bachelor’s degree in public health, becoming the first from her village to graduate from college.

The ultimate goal for Tuliamuk is to be a nurse to help out back home. She has put that profession on hold to pursue her career as a distance runner.

(02/25/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

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St. Petersburg’s Betty Ashley is 97, and just finished her eighth straight Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K

She did it again. Big, bad Betty Ashley of St. Petersburg won her age group in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K on Saturday. She won in a walk.

True, big, bad Betty is roughly 5 feet tall, with silver hair, almonds for eyes and a laugh that melts your heart. She looks as if she fell off a charm bracelet.

And it is just as true that Betty is also the only one in her age group, as she has been for the past eight years. Betty is 97.

Meet the champ.

“Age really is just a number,” she said.

If you want to know what Gasparilla is about, walk with Betty, who is listed as Gasparilla’s “most mature participant.” She’ll bring you to the finish line and teach you something along the way.

She was born in 1921. Her first presidential vote, in 1944, was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Betty had eight children, but has outlived three of them. Every time she comes to Gasparilla, it feels like her own private party.

“All these people,” Betty said. “All shapes and sizes. It’s exciting. So many people, and they come from all over.”

Saturday, that included three of Betty’s children and 10 members of her family, some of whom came from as far away as Alaska to compete in the 5K with her.

And it most definitely includes Betty’s friend, Jim Oakley, whom she describes as her “Man-ager.” They’re sort of an item, have been for 10 years. They love bookstores, coffee shops, travel and ballroom dancing. Frankly, Betty is a bit of a cradle robber. Jim is only 74.

“The first time I met her was at exercise class,” Jim said. “She’s the best hugger in the world. We go to dance at the senior center and everyone lines up to hug her. Just look at her. She’s cute.”

“She is a very special lady,” said Susan, Betty’s oldest child, who is 70. She competed in the 5K, as did her sister Thelma and brother Carl. They’re all getting up there.

(02/25/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

more...
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Becky Dunkel earns her second Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K crown

The last time she triumphantly crossed the finish line of the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, Becky Dunkel went out fast on a mild morning and won by more than two minutes.

That was three years, a few nagging injuries and one milestone birthday ago.

“I took a lot of time off last year, but it was a good mental break and physical break,” said Dunkel, a newlywed who won the 2016 race as Becky Howarth.

“I started back training in September, and I’ve just been really careful doing all the rehab exercises and feeling really good.”

Her comeback culminated on a toasty Tampa morning when temperatures had reached 69 degrees by the 6:40 start time. Maintaining a pace just below six minutes, Dunkel, 30, earned her second Gasparilla crown, finishing in 55 minutes, 48.67 seconds.

As a Tampa resident, Dunkel, an actuary, earned the $2,000 first-place prize. Kristen Tenaglia, a 34-year-old veteran local racer from Seminole, finished second (57:13.88).

Her time was 62 seconds slower than her triumphant 2016 effort.

The featured event, the Half Marathon is tomorrow Feb 24.

(02/23/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

more...
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Judy Williams credits Gasparilla Distance Classic for saving her life

Running is a major part of Judy Williams life. She moved to Florida in 1989 and has run in almost every Gasparilla Distance Classic race since.

In 2015, she and her then 16-year-old daughter trained to run all four Gasparilla races, a total of 30-plus miles in two days.

"That year I consider and credit Gasparilla for saving my life," said Williams.

During the course of the weekend, Williams admits that she did not drink enough water to properly rehydrate after all those miles.

"So that night, I would up in the hospital because I kept throwing up. I was dehydrated and could not stop throwing up no matter how much IV they were giving me," she recalls.

In the hospital, the doctors performed a CT scan of her stomach, and that is when they found a cyst. That cyst turned out to be stage 2 ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is often called the "silent killer" because it does not have many symptoms until the later stages. Oftentimes when it's too late. Without that CT scan, Williams' cancer may have continued to grow.

"I had lost my husband about a year and a half earlier, so my daughters were facing the fact that they might lose their second parent. It was just extraordinary that they found my cancer at stage 2," Williams said.

Following the diagnosis, Williams had an operation to remove the cancer and spent 18 weeks in chemotherapy. The following year in 2016, after the treatments, she and her daughter laced back up their shoes to run all four Gasparilla Distance Classic races again.

"It was extremely emotional the year after I had the chemo and operation," she recalls.

This year, Williams' daughter will come home from college to run the races again. They will line up for the 15K race Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. It is a new challenge from the Gasparilla Distance Classic called "Michelob Ultra Pure Gold Challenge."

(01/24/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

more...
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Sara Hall sets course record at Gasparilla half as she gets ready for Boston

Stephanie Bruce returned Sunday to defend her title at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon. She ran a blistering pace, shaving 50 seconds off her time from last year to finish well under the course record. Still, it was not enough to maintain the record or her title. Running by her side throughout the race was Sara Hall, a veteran distance runner. Hall surged ahead in the last 200 meters to win in one hour, 12 minutes, finishing one second ahead of Bruce. Hall used the Gasparilla half-marathon as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon on April 16. She has run in a series of races, from half-marathons to marathons, all while logging 120 miles a week. The volume of miles is part of the preparation, mentally and physically. "Part of the marathon buildup is you're running on tired legs," Hall said. "You have to always convince yourself there's more there. In a marathon, the first half tires you out and then you have to tell yourself there's another gear there." (02/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic Half is part of the Professional Road Series

When 30,000+ runners head down Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa for the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic on Feb. 24 and 25, they’ll be joined by some of America’s best runners like Stephanie Bruce from Flagstaff, Arizona. Bruce won the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon last year and she’s coming back this year to defend that title. This half marathon is now part of the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) series. It joins four other American road races: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile, Lila Bloomsday Run 12K, Boilermaker 15K, and the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler. This series of races is meant to showcase competition, but it also focuses on a clean sport. (02/14/2018) ⚡AMP
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After 40 years, George McConnell bows out of Gasparilla race

After a four-decade marathon of sorts, one of the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic's most revered competitors has turned in his racing bib. George McConnell, an 87-year-old retired postal worker who has participated in all 40 previous PGDC races, has chosen not to compete this year. Susan Harmeling, executive director of the event, made the announcement Thursday at the Gasparilla's annual "Kick-Off Luncheon." This year 27,500 people had registered for at least one of the races. (02/02/2018) ⚡AMP
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