North America

Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL

Two words describe the running scene in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area: weather and water. The running culture is upbeat and varied, and there nice options for urban routes taking advantage of Tampa Bay and local beaches. There are good routes along the water in both Tampa and “St. Pete”, as it is called. The best route in downtown Tampa is the Bayshore Linear Park Trail — a scenic 4.5 mile long sidewalk along the waterfront. A little further from downtown, accessible by car, there are some pleasant parks for running, enjoying Florida’s flora and fauna.

In St. Pete, the three best options are wonderful routes near downtown, such as the North Bay trail out to Snell Isle, runs along the beach, and south to Desoto Island. It’s about 10 miles from downtown St. Pete to the beach.

Tampa weather is great — sunny nearly every day. But be aware of summer heat and near daily thunderstorms.

  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

It’s Florida. Temperatures are warm to hot and quite from mid-May to mid-October with frequent thunderstorms. But it is sunny nearly every day. The Tampa area has a reputation of being the lightning capital of the U.S. It receives an average of 26.1 inches of rain from June to September but only 18.6 inches during the remaining eight months of the year. In the winter, average day temperatures range from the low to mid 70s °F during the day but there are occasional cold snaps in the winter with temps in the 40s-50s.tampa-climate

Ideally, try to stay downtown, where there is a large selection of hotels with good access to the Riverwalk and Bayshore trails. Tampa is spread-out, so some of the other running routes are located outside the downtown core. The airport hotels offer some access to some park trails such as Al Lopez Park.

For St. Petersburg, the two hotel clusters are downtown, with access to all sorts of runs including the North Bay trail; and in the beach area, with access to beach side trails and the jaunt down to DeSoto island. It’s about 10 miles from downtown St. Pete to the beach.

Stay/Route Maps: Tampa below, St. Petersburg below thattampa-hotels-map st-pete-hotels

Stores

Running Center. Great local running specialty store established in 1999. One location north of Tampa downtown. The store prides itself on it’s skillful gait analysis and customer service. Has collected over 1000 pairs of reusable running shoes for the homeless in the area.

Feet First. Another great running specialty store with over 30 years’ heritage. Good selection of shoes, apparel and gear, knowledgeable staff. Located just a few blocks from the Bayshore Linear Park Trail in Tampa. Additional location in St. Petersburg, slightly north of downtown.

Fit2Run. 2006 established family-owned running specialty chain with 16 retail outlets in Florida. Tampa store located near International Airport and features a fitness bar for healthy nutrition. St. Petersburg location is right downtown near the trails. Offers video-taped gait analysis, good selection of products and weekly group runs.

New Balance. Two locations in Tampa, one near the International Airport and the other ~10 north from downtown.

Community

Run Tampa. Running club for people of all speeds, founded by a veteran running coach in 2008. Arranges several group runs each week in various places and offers coaching services, too. Individual memberships are $25 per year.

Tampa Bay Runners. 30 year old social running club arranges events and weekly group runs. On Wednesdays, group runs in Carroll wood at the Walgreen’s (Dale Mabry/Fletcher) at 7pm and on Thursdays, group run at Temple Terrace Elementary School at 7pm (124 Flotto Ave). Arranges the annual Strawberry Classic to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Individual memberships are $15 per year.

St. Pete Road Runners (SPRR). A several hundred member running club started in 2006 when five area women wanted set up a club for individuals of all ages and abilities. Group runs seven days a week in various locations, see list here. Annual memberships are $20 for individuals and $5 for students.

Four Green Fields Running Club. A slogan “A Bunch of Drinkers with a Running Problem” tells it all about a bit lighter approach that this club has to running. 5k group runs from Four Green Field patio (205 W. Platt Street) every Tuesday at 6pm. Cold pints afterwards for hydration, obviously. One-time $5 fee to join the club.

Gasparilla Distance Classic, named after Gasparilla Pirate Festival, is the largest running event in the area with over 30,000 participants. It is run on Bayshore Boulevard in late February or early March each year and it features various distances from 5K to a half marathon.

Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot. Takes place on Thanksgiving Day and features 1K, 5K and 10K. Proceeds from the event help support many local charities. Great way to prepare for turkey eating overload. Gobble gobble.

Best Damn Race. Running series created for runners by runners. Runners of levels welcome, features 5K, 10K and half marathon.

St. Pete Beach Classic. Claims to be “the only race that lets you relax before, between, and after your races”. Taking place in St. Petersburg in January and features 5K, 10K and half marathon, plus a Beach Fun Run.