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Take It Outside Planner: Super Boat races return to Clearwater, monarch butterfly migration

NEED FOR SPEED: Super Boat National Championship and Festival

The world's fastest power boats return to Clearwater Beach for the eighth annual Super Boat National Championship and Festival. There will be parties and fireworks to welcome them, but the reason thousands of people line the beach is to watch these racing machines — some costing more than $1 million and capable of speeds in excess of 150 mph. They have more in common with fighter aircraft, drivers say, than your average weekend pleasure boat. Clearwater is the final event on the super boat racing schedule before the World Championship Races Nov. 7-13 in Key West.

Keep an eye out for eight-time world champion Miss Geico offshore racing team making a return to Clearwater. The 50-foot-long Miss Geico Victory catamaran is made of carbon, Kevlar and S-glass for high performance. It is under the control of driver Marc Granet (a former St. Pete Beach resident) and throttleman Scott Begovich, who have been working together since the team was formed in 2004. The boat sports a pair of 1650 RACE Sterndrive engines producing 3,300 horsepower and top speeds of 200 mph. It weighs more than 13,000 pounds. The competition is fierce in Clearwater because it is the last opportunity for teams to really push their vessels and win a national title based upon points earned. And for many teams, they must win in Clearwater to clinch a title.

Here's the lineup for the weekend

On Friday, the Race Village in Coachman Park opens to the public at noon for up-close race boat viewing. A block party on Cleveland Street starts at 5:30 p.m. with a super boat parade at 6:15 p.m. followed by a block party. Rock-turned-country band Sister Hazel (All for You) will perform Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Shephard's Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, as part of super boat weekend. $12.

On Saturday, the Race Village in Coachman Park opens at 9 a.m. for a seafood festival and meet and greet with the racers and remains open until 10 p.m. On the beach you will see boats testing their runs from noon to 4 p.m., followed by a Sunsets at Pier 60 party. Fireworks light up the sky at 9 p.m.

Sunday is race day. View the boats in the water off Pier 60 beginning at 10 a.m. Boats parade to the milling area at 11:45 a.m. Races start at noon and 2 p.m.

Watching from the shoreline is free, or you can pay $1 to line up at Pier 60 on Friday or Saturday; $25 on Sunday. The Clearwater chamber is selling VIP tickets for $100, $20 for children 16 and younger that get you easy access to Pier 60, free trolley rides and other perks. clearwaterflorida.org/events.

LACE UP: Serious runs and serious causes

This weekend brings some of the toughest races of the year, as well as serious causes using a fun run to raise money.

Fort De Soto 15K and 5K:

This is the second year for this race on recreational trails and access roads in the historic Fort De Soto Park off Tierra Verde. Both the 15K and 5K courses are fast and flat — perfect for setting a personal best time. Registration is $60-$75 for the 15K and $40-$50 for the 5K Racing starts at 7:05 p.m. Sunday at 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. ftdesoto15k.com.

GoRuck Challenge:

Inspired by the elite training of Special Forces soldiers and led by Green Berets, the GoRuck Challenge is a team event. Participants carry rucksacks weighted down with bricks. The challenge is billed as an eight- to 10-hour, 15- to 20-mile guided tour of the city, but the route and distance are unknown to participants. This year is themed "Mogadishu Mile." Headlamps are required. $150-$170. Racers meet at Yuengling Brewing Co., 11111 N 30th St., Tampa for the tough challenge at 9 p.m. Friday. The lighter challenge meets there at 9 p.m. Saturday. goruck.com.

Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure:

This year, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure hits the streets at night for a glow run/walk with distances ranging from 1-mile to 10K. It will benefit breast cancer research, with 75 percent of the money raised staying in the Tampa Bay area. $10-$40. 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Albert Whitted Airport , 540 First St. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-0728. KomenSuncoast.org.

ROAD TRIP: Monarch butterfly migration

If you are in the Tallahassee area in the next month, swing by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, where monarch butterfly migration nears its peak along Florida's Gulf Coast. Every year the wildlife refuge near Tallahassee is perhaps the best place anywhere to see large numbers of monarchs. On a good day, it can be easy to count them in the hundreds or thousands. Monarchs are present between the first of October and the middle of November. Stretching across 70,000 acres in Florida's Big Bend, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge protects one of Florida's longest wild shorelines, more than 43 miles in three counties. $5 cars and motorcycles, $1 bicycles and pedestrians. $15 annual pass. See hfws.gov/refuge/st_marks for directions.

Take It Outside Planner: Super Boat races return to Clearwater, monarch butterfly migration 09/28/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:16am]
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