Make us your home page
Instagram

Flatlanders Challenge is back, and it's good for Brooksville

Here's a new twist on the once-dead, now apparently revived, almost annual Brooksville tradition, the Flatlanders Challenge road race:

This winter's edition, the 30th, will be Feb. 5, a little more than 32 years after the inaugural race and exactly one day before the Super Bowl.

Brilliant.

This is a bad dude of race, remember, a thug with a blackjack and brass knuckles. Seemingly every one of the main event's 10,000 meters is at least slightly up or down hill. And some of these slopes seem to have been hauled down directly from western North Carolina.

If you do as the race's title demands — challenge yourself — you will have more than earned the right to slump into a recliner, eat chips and slurp down beer the next day. Heck, it would be within your right to mainline it if you wanted.

Of course, you might not want anything other than ibuprofen and ice packs. You may not really be relaxing after the race, but convalescing. Lie still, stare at the screen and let those bones and tendons reknit.

I kid, of course, but Flatlanders really is tough. And for us masochists who used to look forward to it every year like Christmas or even the Super Bowl, it's great to see it return after a two-year absence.

Jay Pingley is in the business of putting on triathlons and running races as the owner of Southern Endurance Sports Services. He won't make any money off Flatlanders, at least this year, but he wants to revive the tradition that his father, Norm, helped establish as a member of the Red Mule Runners.

That group sponsored the race from December 1978, when the first one was staged, until 2007, when, after years of declining attendance and increasing competition from other races, members announced they would pull the plug.

Pingley and other sons and daughters of original Red Mule Runners stepped in to save it, and held it again in 2008, before they, too, gave up on the race.

Pingley planned for a while to revive it in the spring of 2010, but gave up after learning the Red Mule Runners had a race scheduled for the same day. This year, he has checked to make sure the racing calendar is pretty much clear. He even built a website — flatlanderschallenge.com — asking the races' essential question: "Do you have what it takes to take on Florida's toughest 5K/10K?"

And he has tentative permission from the city of Brooksville to hold the race on its streets. Maybe next year, he said, he will get the grant from the county Tourist Development Council that he asked for, unsuccessfully, this year.

And maybe that will allow him to do some marketing, build attendance and rebuild the tradition.

It's not likely this will ever grow into a huge event. Though downtown business owners should see a bump in customers on race day, it probably won't bring in many people for out-of-state, overnight visits.

But too many people know Brooksville as the seat of the county with the area's highest foreclosure and unemployment rates. They might just be aware of the name for its history of racial oppression.

Flatlanders brings other associations: active folks, a wholesome challenge. It's a way to create a new image for the city. Call it building the brand. And what, possibly, could be a better fit for the weekend of the Super Bowl?

Flatlanders Challenge is back, and it's good for Brooksville 12/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 7:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.