On your mark, get set, go … and with those words the 11th annual FishHawk Ranch Road Race was off and running. About 750 men, women and kids from all over the Tampa bay area attended the 2008 race raising a total of $ 12,800 for local schools.
“There is a lot of pride and community spirit behind the race,” says Steve Dunn, race director and founder of the FishHawk Road Runners Club (a running club based in FishHawk Ranch). “The race is our community’s event. It starts and finishes right here in the heart of our community, Park Square. Many of the runners who participate call FishHawk Ranch home.”
Now a signature event for FishHawk Ranch, the race started off with humble beginnings. In 1997, the goal behind the race was to bring people out to the see the growing residential community and at the same time to raise funds for local charities. Dawn Turner, event organizer recalls, "Back then, FishHawk Ranch was a quarter of the size that it is today, but runners still enjoyed the natural environment that FishHawk Ranch had to offer. Also, the number of runners in the first few races totaled about 200 - 300. However, we knew that the event would gather momentum and it is amazing to see what it has become today."
Preparation for the Road Race starts months in advance; finding sponsors, determining the course and planning the breakfast and after party. Three different races happen during the day; a Fun Run for kids, a 5K race and a 10K race.
The event is a true community event organized in partnership between the community developer Newland Communities who take the lead on sponsorship and logistics, and the FishHawk Ranch Road Runners Club who manage the race portion. The Road Runners Club oversees such things as course mapping, water stops, and overseeing chip timing (a small lightweight chip that uniquely identifies each racer as they cross strategically placed electronic mats). Road Runner Club members also run in the race, sprinting on roads, paved paths and mulched trails around the community. In 2008, of the Club’s 165 members, 49 ran in the race and received many top awards.
Steve Dunn started the FishHawk Road Runners Club not long after he moved to the community from Virginia in 2003. A life-long runner, Steve remembers, “I first tried to start up a running club at FishHawk in 2004. Unfortunately, we had four hurricanes that year, which put a damper on club attendance, so I gave up for awhile. Then in 2005, I tried again and the Club really took off.” Club members now meet three times a week to run on the communities’ 25-miles of trails, train on hills and even practice on the track at the local high school.
FishHawk Ranch resident resident LeeAnn Koontz trains regularly and in 2008 participated in the race for the third year in a row. She said, “The Road Race is a great event to get the family together. This year my 8-year-old son Zachary was the youngest participant in the 10K race finishing with a time of 58:31 minutes beating me and many other adults!” LeeAnn added, “Zachary says he likes to run because it helps him keep in good physical shape for all the other sports he participates in. Our family motto is: a family that runs together stays together, and so we really look forward to the Road Race every year.”
And LeeAnn isn’t alone in her family’s fondness for the Road Race. “People"