LUTZ – When you think of manatees, you don't think fleet of foot. However, the Run for the Manatees 5K race on Feb. 15 hopes to change that.
This will be the third annual manatee run with proceeds going to benefit area public schools as well as manatee research and conservation efforts. Many of the proceeds will help Lake Magdalene Elementary School in Carrollwood. The race is run by the Lake Magdalene Dads Club in partnership with the Lowry Park Zoo.
Mike Faraguna is coordinating the run, which uses chips to help provide accurate times. There will also be a one-mile fun run/walk for all ages.
Faraguna said that, while there is no separate race for children, they are invited to join in on the run/walk, and that there is a chance of expanding to a kids race next year.
“We've discussed getting the kids involved,” Faraguna said. “They can still participate even if they are just able to run 100 yards. It's a great time for everyone and we have plenty to keep the kids occupied.”
The race will take place at Lake Park in Lutz. It will be run around the lake on a hard packed dirt road. More than 500 runners showed up in each of the first two races and Faraguna said he hopes for more this year. The race has netted more than $10,000 over the past two years.
While Lake Magdalene Elementary is the biggest benefactor among the schools, Faraguna said he hopes more schools get involved.
“We are trying to open it up to more schools,” Faraguna said. “We want to open it up to private schools also. Anything we can do to promote the race is a great situation for everyone.”
The run isn't the only thing going on at Lake Park that day. There will be prizes, awards, and raffles to go with a post-race party with a bounce house and free food being supplied by some of the area's most popular restaurants.
Race day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 5K race at 8 a.m. and the one-mile race at 9 a.m.
For more information on the Run for the Manatees Run, call (813) 936-8700.