Tampa Bay may one day host one of the premier running races in America.
Palmetto City Commissioners have approved a proposed half-marathon that would run across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge southbound and into Palmetto. Only Manatee County Commissioners have yet to take up the issue.
Event organizers want to stage a 13.1 mile race that starts in the north rest area along the Skyway and end in Palmetto’s Blackstone Park, where there would be a post-race festival. To do it, the bridge and some roads in Manatee County and the city of Palmetto would have to be closed.
The proposal has the bridge and roads closed from 6 to 9 a.m. each New Year’s Day. Those hours historically have little traffic across the Skyway—as few as a thousand vehicles during the time period.
Race organizers would reimburse the state for lost tolls. It is largely assumed that FDOT would allow closure of the bridge if approval for the race is given by other affected localities.
Officials believe the inaugural running would attract five thousand runners and over time could grow to the size of half-marathons in Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. Hopes are each year’s race would raise $125,000 for charities, including Southeastern Guide Dogs, Easter Seals, Boys and Girls Club, Wounded Warrior Project, and Keep Manatee Beautiful.