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Led by husband-wife team, Chris and Rya Lauber, Florida Road Races is a family-owned and operated race management company that organizes running events in the Tampa Bay area. Founded in 1979 to promote Jet Ski racing, our mission is to offer the most “runner-friendly” races with the belief that treating athletes fairly will keep them coming back, ultimately growing our races.
Starting with our first Jet Ski race in 1979, and just 9 local racers competing on our company-owned Jet Ski, we were pioneers helping to grow that sport over our 120+ Jet Ski race promotion career. We peaked in the early 90’s with 275 racers, national-level sponsorship from Anheuser-Busch (5 years), ESPN coverage (5 championship races), and more than $1,100,000 awarded in prize money. Chris’ 20-year career resulted in him being inducted into the International Jet Ski Hall of Fame in 2011.
We transitioned to road races on January 23, 2000 with the creation of our Gulf Beaches Marathon (later the Clearwater Distance Classic), adding the Holiday Halfathon in December 2002, our Halloween Halfathon in 2009, our Florida Beach Halfathon in 2010, and our Ft. De Soto 15K in 2015, which we renamed the Shamrock Halfathon in 2017. Our most recent addition (in 2019) is the St. Petersburg Distance Classic. With multiple events for each race, we changed all our races to include "Distance Classic."
Starting with nothing more than a blank piece of paper more than 20 years ago, a vision, and tons of hard work, we now host 5 races per season, all in Pinellas County, with a current average of about 1,000 finishers. For the last two seasons, athletes arrived from all corners of Florida, 45 states and 15 countries.
We remain the only race directors to create a full marathon in Pinellas County, starting with the Gulf Beaches Marathon in 2000, which evolved into the Clearwater Marathon, and the St. Petersburg Marathon in 2019.
Our simple mission is to challenge athletes to achieve goals they once thought impossible, such as completing their first 5K, setting a personal record, or finishing a half marathon or marathon.
Our goal is to provide affordable, well-organized road races that offer the highest level of customer service and satisfaction.
We currently do that by offering athletes:
• risk-free registration, with our fair refund policy (most races state “No Refunds”)
• the opportunity to switch your events at no extra charge
• an entry fee assistance program for athletes facing financial challenges
• safe, scenic, certified courses that are accurately measured and marked
• computerized timing using disposable bibs and transmitters for the athlete’s convenience
• high-quality amenities including gender-specific, tech shirts
• unique running starfish medals
• event-specific, personalized runner bibs, including emergency contacts
• post-race celebrations featuring ice cold beer, hot homemade pasta, fruits, pastries, soft-drinks, live entertainment, and awards presentation.
• FREE parking for our 3 races at Ft. De Soto Park
• FREE shuttle busses at our Holiday Distance Classic
We live by the motto “People over Profits” with the belief that it’s the ethical, morally-correct way to build long term relationships with our athletes.
CHARITABLE AND COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
Florida Road Races gives back to the community in various ways. Our Entry-Fee Assistance Program allows financially-challenged athletes to run in our races for free. Through our Running Starfish Foundation (a 501c3 organization recognized by the IRS), we donate to local charities, churches, schools and track teams who volunteer at our races. Most important, we have provided our time and experience by directing races for non-profit organizations to help them achieve their fundraising goals, including:
• The Police Appreciation Run (after our city lost 3 officers in the line of duty in one month)
• The Tampa Bay for Boston Run (after the Boston Marathon bombing)
• The Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation's "One Step Closer to the Cure"
• The Sunrise Run for local Christian groups