ST. PETERSBURG — The second running of the Skyway 10K race nearly sold out when 7,500 tickets were sold within the first 20 minutes of registration on Thursday.
Last year's inaugural 6.2-mile race across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge sold out within 5 days. The 8,000 tickets for the March 3, 2019 race went on sale at 1 p.m., and eager registrants soon crushed the previous record.
The race, which costs $80 for general admission, donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Armed Forces Families Foundation, said organizers.
A few of the 500 VIP tickets, which cost $300 each, were still available as of 2:30 p.m. But race spokesman James Judge expected those VIP tickets will also soon be gone.
"We were anticipating it was going to sell out in a matter of hours," Judge said. "It actually sold out in a matter of minutes."
The inaugural Skyway 10K on March 4 saw 7,000 runners reach the top of the Skyway and raise $560,000 for the foundation. For the 2019 race, organizers added 1,000 tickets and say they're on track to raise more than $700,000 for the non-profit, which supports service members and their families.
Judge, who was deployed to Iraq with the Coast Guard and worked in Afghanistan for the Department of Defense, said he could personally attest to the benefits organizations such as the Armed Forces Family Foundation provide for members of the military and their families.
It's not just the charitable cause and patriotic feel that have elicited so much enthusiasm for the race, Judge said.
Runners also want to soak up the the beauty of running across Tampa Bay to reach one of the most scenic vistas in the region: The top of the Skyway is about 200 feet above mean sea level. It's a view most don't get to see unless they get stuck in traffic at the top of the bridge, or break down up there.
"The fact that it's over an iconic bridge that spans three counties … there is a lot of beauty involved in that," Judge said.
Funds raised from the first race helped open the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch in Pinellas Park over Labor Day weekend, organizers said. The foundation has previously contributed to playgrounds at MacDill Air Force Base, technology upgrades at military schools and a service dog training facility for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Organizers said they might open the race to even more people next year, but that's decision that has to be made in conjunction with Pinellas and Manatee County governments.
Contact Caitlin Johnston at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.