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Runners crowd downtown for the annual St. Pete Pier Run

Ashley Morales

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1,551 runners registered for the 2023 St. Pete Pier Run. All photos provided.

More than 1,500 people laced up their running shoes and hit the St. Pete Pier Tuesday for the 3rd Annual St. Pete Pier Run.

The event started in 2021 as a way to help kick off the grand opening of the “new” Pier.  

This year’s race on July 4 included a “4 on the Fourth” four-mile Pier Run and a 2×4 Challenge, covering eight miles over the Pier and down Bayshore and North Shore Drives. Race organizers say 1,551 runners registered for the event, and 250 ran in both waves, resulting in 1801 total registrants across the two waves.

The event brings runners from all over Florida, the U.S., and even a few international athletes. This year, 15 percent of them came from more than 100 miles away to participate in the race. Event organizers say runners booked 339 local hotel rooms, creating a boost for local businesses.

“I think the iconic nature of the Pier, the incredible City of St. Pete, and the beautiful course make this race experience so unique. We really wanted to showcase that,” said Pier Run co-founder Ryan Jordan. “It’s just amazing how many people were involved in making the event successful. It’s hard to put into words the amount of community support.”

The post-run festivities included a pie eating contest, costume contest, live music, local food and craft beer. The event was also a fundraiser for St. Pete Youth Farm, a local nonprofit providing access to nutritious food and encouraging leadership, entrepreneurship and career readiness in South St. Pete. St. Pete Run Fest plans to donate about $10,000 of event proceeds to help St. Pete Youth Farm build a community oven.

“We love the idea that St. Pete Run Fest wanted to partner to make this happen,” said Carla Bristol, Collaboration Manager at St. Pete Youth Farm. “We are still in the planning stages, but we’re getting estimates for a large, custom-built community oven that will allow people to drop off their meals so we can cook for them. I personally know how expensive electricity is right now, so we want to be creative in our approach to serving the community.”

Live Music at the 3rd Annual St. Pete Pier Run.

29-year-old Stan Linton was the first to cross the finish line in the four-mile Pier Run. Linton, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant, lives in Memphis, Tennessee and is vacationing with his family this week in St. Pete.

“It was great to get a good workout while I’m here,” said Linton. “It was kind of extra motivation for me to get out of bed and get a good run in.”

Linton ran cross country in college and has been to the Olympic trials. He typically runs marathons, so the 4-mile course wasn’t a big challenge, but the Florida heat certainly was.

“It was already 80 degrees at 8 a.m.,” said Linton. “All of the other races I’ve done in the past few months have been 50 degrees. Once it gets hotter, it gets exponentially harder. I think a lot of the runners went too fast the first mile, and then the heat got to them.”

Linton has been to the Tampa Bay area for cross country competitions in the past, but Tuesday was his first time running the St. Pete Pier Run. He says running the scenic course was a great way to kick off the 4th, but his favorite part was the hundreds of people who headed to the waterfront to watch.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Stan Linton was first to cross the finish line at the 3rd annual St. Pete Pier Run.

“The course is lined by so many volunteers, people cheering for you, spraying you with hoses and handing out water. It’s like what you would see at the Boston Marathon, with people all along the course, cheering you on,” said Linton. “It’s really cool. That and the views are great.”

19-year-old Hailey Howard, who ran cross country at Calvary Christian in Clearwater and graduated in 2022, was the first female 4-Miler finisher. St. Pete resident Wesley King took first place in the 2×4 Challenge. You can view race results and photos from the event online.

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