TARPON SPRINGS — Hundreds of athletes of all ages and experience levels will be slapping shoe tread to pavement Saturday morning as part of the city’s popular Beach to Bayou 5K Run/Walk. The race is celebrating its 35th anniversary when the starter’s gun fires at 7:30 a.m. Runners will begin the 5-kilometer loop through Tarpon Springs outside of the Sponge Exchange, on Dodecanese Boulevard, and head as far south as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive before heading back north to the Sponge Docks. Longtime race director Dean Cosgrove estimates that this year’s event should attract about 750 runners. Participation levels have steadily increased over the past five years. “I think the reason we get that is because we offer a really nice product,” he said. “We give away about 200 prizes at the awards ceremony, and not just for people that win.”
The post-race ceremony will be held at the Sponge Docks, featuring food and prizes valued anywhere from $5 to $100. All proceeds from the Beach to Bayou 5K go to the Helen Ellis Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Florida Hospital North Pinellas. As of last Friday afternoon, Cosgrove said the race has attracted over $20,000 in sponsorships alone.