United by Running rocks Tampa

Written by Cathy Carter
Published on Sportstream

The Nova Scotia winds may be keeping a chill in the air, but United by Running is still feeling the glow of theirrecent race weekend in sunny Tampa Bay Florida. Three weekends ago, as the folks at home buckled down for a typical early spring snow storm, Michelle Kempton, Stacy Chesnutt, and Cathy Carter journeyed to the sunny south to participate in the famed Gasparilla Distance Classic. Although each member ofthe trio had a different approach the events, all returned home satisfied themini-break was well spent.

In keeping with her mission to spread thejoy of running, Michelle Kempton was happy to run the 5K as a pacer for her parents, both of whom were running their first race in 30 years. Although the senior Kemptons (both in their early 60s) had each had run a half marathon in the past, the prospect of running a big event gave them a mild case of pre-racejitters. With Michelle’s consistent pacing, however, and her encouragement to push through fatigue, all three Kemptons crossed the line within a second of each other. Michelle’s father, in fact, was so bitten by the racing bug that he immediately signed up to run the 5+3K race with hisdaughter the following day. Although hecertainly felt the effects of the day before, his daughter’s guidance helped him to a successful finish and a 5K PB!

Avid racer Stacy Chesnutt, meanwhile, choseto enter the Michelob Ultra Challenge: a race-within-races for those who entered every running event of the weekend. Needing a new challenge after recentlybreaking three hours in the Houston Marathon, Stacy ran the 15K, 5K, halfmarathon, and 5+3K in a cumulative time faster than any other woman. “I reallywent in to these races with no strategy to think of, other than to finish them all and have a good time,” she said, “but when the second half of each racecame ‘round and I could smell the finish line, my competitive juices just kicked in.” In addition to winning the overall women’s prize, Stacy finished in the top three of her age group in eachrace and was third female overall in the 5+3k.

Experienced runner Cathy Carter approached the race weekend as a good opportunity to add some quality to her training forthe upcoming Boston Marathon. “I can run all day if I run slowly,” says Carter, “but I need to regain my tolerance for speed.” Although the heat prevented Carter from running the times she had hopedfor, she completed the half marathon at slightly faster than her goal marathon pace and finished in the top 10% of her age group in both races.

Although far from home, the United by Running crew were not the only Nova Scotians in town. Fellow haligonian and Marathon Maniac Marie-Claude Gregiore also completed the Ultra Challenge and put in a solid performance in all four races, finishing in the top 10% of herage group in each. Happily, she was able to join the UBR crew for both a preand a post- race feast. We runners like eating just as much as we do running!

All the Halifax gang agreed that the Gasparilla Distance Classic is a well organized, top-quality event. With aquality expo, ample post-race refreshments, an easily accessible bag-check, and plenty of restrooms, the race provides fantastic experience for runners of allages – and they give you plenty of “bling”!

As they prepared for the flight back home,the team took care to put all medals in their carry-on luggage – otherwise they may have been flagged for suspicious amounts of metal! Cathy and Michelle had two medals each, while Stacy had five – one for each race and one for finishing the challenge. Add tothat the coffee mugs that Stacy and Cathy received for finishing in the top 10%of masters women in each of their races, and the race shirts all given for eachrace, it’s no wonder the plane was nearly overweight!!