Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Rock 'n' roll propels runners in St. Petersburg, even on a chilly morning

ST. PETERSBURG — By mile 6, Liza Geist was running out of juice.

Awake well before the 7:30 a.m. Sunday race start time, and whipped by frigid wind chill, the 29-year-old Apollo Beach woman was still less than halfway to the finish line. Then she heard music.

"Every time there was a band, it gave a little more energy," she said. "It made the miles go a little faster."

Geist was among 7,006 runners who finished St. Petersburg's first Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon from Tropicana Field to North Shore Park before an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 spectators.

Held several times a year around the country, this road race has a twist — live bands jamming at every mile and a finish-line festival with a major headliner.

Dan Cruz, spokesman for Competitor Group that organizes the rock 'n' roll races, called St. Petersburg an ideal location.

"We brought the race, but the city of St. Petersburg really delivered the experience. It was a gorgeous day and the city shined with a scenic downtown and a gorgeous waterfront," he said. "Our organization is ecstatic and looking forward to coming back bigger and better next year."

Cruz said Sunday's half-marathon drew folks from 49 states and 12 countries.

Among them was Greg Hudgins of Columbus, Miss., who loved gazing out over the Pier and seeing spectators with signs who cheered things like "way to rock!" The 33-year-old, running in his second rock 'n' roll race, was expecting warmer vacation weather, but said "colder is always better" when running.

"The course was awesome. It was prettier than I had expected. It was perfect to me," he said. "All the fan support and music is just motivation."

Band genres along the 13.1-mile course ranged from blues to rock 'n' roll covers to country.

That provided a pleasant surprise for northeast St. Petersburg resident Polly Findeison, who strolled over with her dachshunds, Ernie and Teddy, to snap a photo of her daughter-in-law, Heidi Valdes, at mile 11.

"Pretty awesome," said Findeison as she paused to watch an act, Shane Meade and the Sound, rock out. "It kind of almost makes you want to run."

Spectators cheered and danced as chart-topping rapper Flo Rida gave an hour-long concert at the end of the race. He briefly invited fans to dance on stage and threw items, including roses during a love song, and several articles of clothing into the crowd.

At one point, Flo Rida, by now wearing a white tank top after taking off his shirt and tossing it to fans, quipped about the cooler than usual weather, saying "It's not even cold out here no more. St. Pete, Tampa, make some noise because you're hot!"

Around noon, the last runner crossed the finish line. Many runners walked back to their cars, but at least some stopped inside restaurants along the route.

Employees at a few of the businesses said road closings meant disruptions for regulars, but that race participants had stopped in earlier in the morning.

But Max Hayajn, owner of Central Deli and Milano's Pizza on Central Avenue, estimates he lost business based on calls from customers who didn't realize road blocks had been removed by the time he opened at 10 a.m.

Hayajn said he hopes race organizers communicate better with merchants next year.

"I support events like this," he said, adding that he and others could have opened earlier and maybe offered discounts or passed out free water or food.

"We're part of the road and the city," Hayajn said. "It would've attracted more people on the side of the road, having a good time, shopping and watching."

If Spring Hill couple Ann, who ran Sunday, and Chuck Boldt are an indication, his idea might work. The Boldts said they typically visit St. Petersburg only for the Rays. Their overnight hotel stay gave them a chance to see the city, Chuck, 61, said, turning to his wife and adding: "I found two antiques stores. If they're open today, we're going."

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Ohio mom killed in street-racing crash ‘made mark in this world,’ says uncle she was visiting

Ohio mom killed in street-racing crash ‘made mark in this world,’ says uncle she was visiting

TAMPA — Before Jessica Raubenolt and her 21-month-old daughter were fatally struck by a speeding black Mustang on Wednesday, the gray skies had turned blue so she took the baby out in the stroller. Her husband David had just completed his flight cert...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Flashing beacons, lower speed limit are in the works on Tampa’s deadly Bayshore

Flashing beacons, lower speed limit are in the works on Tampa’s deadly Bayshore

TAMPA — Work is underway to improve pedestrian safety on Bayshore Boulevard, the signature Tampa roadway popular among walkers, joggers and bicyclists where a mother was struck and killed by a car Wednesday while pushing her 21-month-old daughter acr...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Rashay Hudson operates a tutoring business in Wesley Chapel, and NaDorian Hudson has played basketball his entire life, including in college and the ABA. Now, the husband and wife duo are combining their areas of expertise with a new program for kids...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Their job was to guard our nuclear missiles. Their crime was buying, selling and using LSD

Their job was to guard our nuclear missiles. Their crime was buying, selling and using LSD

WASHINGTON — One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, "I absolutely just loved altering my mind." Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in Ame...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

TAMPA — Ever since he was a little boy, Chris Davenport loved to build things with Legos and erector sets. As he grew older, he spent time working with his dad, a carpenter, and then took welding classes in high school. While in college studying engi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner, having already established several locations across Florida, including St. Petersburg, now brings its large portion-sized comfort food options across the bay.The local diner is slated to open Tuesday (May 29) at 4011 W Kennedy Blvd and w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Organic eatery closes doors to Davis Island site for more space

Organic eatery closes doors to Davis Island site for more space

Tasty Roots says goodbye to its current Davis Island location on Saturday (May 26) as it closes to prepare for the opening of a new location in the heart of South Tampa at 3415 W Bay to Bay Blvd.For the last three years, locals have flocked to Tasty ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

For two guys who said they didn't make much of matching up, they sure dueled like they did in Boston's 4-1 victory that was decided after they left.Chris Archer, the Rays current top starter, worked six impressive innings, allowing one run and four h...
Updated: 2 hours ago