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Summer series gets under way Saturday

For the fifth year running, the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department will kick off its Beat the Heat road race series Saturday at E.L. Bing Park.

The event will include a 5K run, with participants grouped in 11 male and female divisions ranging from ages 14 and under to 60 and over, and a one-mile run that will divide male and females runners in age divisions of 8 and under, 9-11, 12-13, 14-15, and 16 and over.

Saturday's competition is the first of three Beat the Heat events. The other two are scheduled for July 24 and Aug. 14.

Starting times are 7:30 a.m. for the 5K and 8:15 a.m. for the one-miler.

The cost for each 5K race is $5; T-shirts are $2 extra. There's no charge for the one-mile run.

The Aug. 14 race will include a pancake breakfast afterwards.

Runners can register the day of each race from 6:30-7:15 a.m. or pick up an application at most county recreation centers, said parks and recreation area supervisor Joe Raguckas, the series organizer. Make personal checks payable to "The Challenge," he said.

The races will be on out-and-back courses marked with traffic cones starting from the park, which is located on North Taylor Road at the northeast corner of State Road 579 and Interstate 4 in east Hillsborough County.

"The course is rolling terrain, all on asphalt with some shade," Raguckas said. "It's a nice run, especially that early in the morning."

Overall male and female winners in each 5K race will receive a trophy; the first three finishers in each 5K age division also will be awarded trophies.

For the one-milers, trophies will go to the overall male and female winners in each race, as well as to first-place finishers in each age division. Second- and third-place division finishers will receive ribbons, Raguckas said.

A trophy also will go to the overall male and female winners for the series. Raguckas said he will average race times to determine series winners.

Beat the Heat, the only race series sponsored by the county, is attractive because of its affordability and the fact that lots of runners go home with trophies, Raguckas said.

"We have a relaxed atmosphere at these races," he said. "There's a lot of good camaraderie out there."

Call Raguckas at 975-2160 for details.