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New race kicks off parade

The first Main Street Mile road race is scheduled to be held just minutes before the annual Chasco Fiesta parade March 22.

Which begs the question: Why a 1-mile road race?

"I had been thinking about it for a while," Gulf girls track coach Dean Lofton said. "I know they do it up in New York, with the (Pontiac) Fifth Avenue Mile. I just wanted to have a road race which would also be a pretty good fund-raiser for us and Mitchell High, where we could just do something different."

The scheduled start is 12:30 p.m. on Grand Boulevard in front of Schwettman Education Center. It will end at the circle around Orange Lake.

The race, a fund-raiser for Gulf and Mitchell, takes place along the parade rout about 15 minutes before the street needs to be clear for the parade, which means local runners will have a pretty good audience when the race starts.

"They are getting to run in front of all those people and it's usually quite a lot," Lofton said. "There's thousands of people who have lined the streets in anticipation of the parade itself.

"I think a lot of people have responded very positively to it. I think it's going to be very fun. You don't see a mile road race very often in Florida."

Organizers expect about 100 runners to participate. Registration is $10 on or before March 20, and $13 afterwards. T-shirts are guaranteed for those who register before March 20. Refreshments will be served to runners with official race numbers only.

Medals will be awarded to the top three men and women in eight age divisions from age 10 to 60-and-over. Trophies will be given to the top runners in the open and masters divisions.

Entrants should be able to complete a mile within 15 minutes. The awards ceremony will be held at 1:30 on the main stage in Sims Park.

Checks should be made payable to the Gulf High Booster Club. For information, contact Lofton at school at (727) 774-3341, at home at (727) 845-5327 or by e-mail at

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