Local Race Director Prospers: Florida Road Races’ Community Ties Grow with Upcoming Halloween Halfathon

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In light of several recent race cancellations, Florida Road Races founder and veteran race director, Chris Lauber, showcases strong ties to the community with the approaching Halloween Halfathon. Lauber’s company maintains that the race is a critical step in tying together the local company’s mission in the community supporting of individual athletes and local non-profits.

I feel that [our participation growth] was due to Chris’s assistance – he has an established relationship with runners in the area and his races have been very successful.

While the cancellation of several Tampa Bay races staged by large out-of-state race companies has resulted in many disappointed and displaced athletes, the withdrawal of national companies with no ties to the Tampa Bay community has opened the door for local race directors to salvage the effort each athlete has put into training by staging events that celebrate the coastal community.

Chris Lauber, longtime race organizer and founder of Florida Road Races, is one director whose contests are continuing to thrive even more in a market saturated with national organizations with vast resources. Lauber, whose company boasts staging four out of nine upcoming half marathons in Pinellas County, says that despite at least one of the cancelled events being shelved due to low registration numbers, Florida Road Races’ registration numbers are soaring: the upcoming 6th Annual Florida Halloween Half & 5K is up 47% YTD – over 1,500 athletes are currently registered for the race which will be held on Sunday, October 26 at Fort De Soto Park.

The Halloween Halfathon course begins with a loop for the first 5K before an out-and-back 10 mile tour of Ft. De Soto Park. The course is run entirely in the park on paved trails and access roads, presenting participants with a flat, fast course path with no bridges, overpasses, or discernible inclines. Drawing upon his years of experience as a race organizer, Lauber maintains that he understands the amount of work runners put into training which is all for naught when a race is abruptly cancelled.

“For most athletes, running a half marathon requires months of very specific training with the intent to ‘peak’ on race day. When the targeted race is no longer available, athletes are left scrambling for another option, and we are providing an alternative,” said Lauber.

Lauber began his career by organizing Jet Ski races in 1979. Over the next two decades, Lauber honed his skills as an event producer, earning recognition in the Jet Ski Hall of Fame. His races were also featured on ESPN. His subsequent journey into planning and organizing road races in 2000 was a natural segue, and he attributes the jump to his lifelong love of all athletics—as a teenager, he ran cross-country, in addition to earning all-county and all-state honors in soccer.

Florida Road Races’ unique approach of combining running events and community initiatives is designed as part of a bigger effort to assist local non-profits in reaching their goals and maintaining steadfast growth and public awareness. Florida Road Races has helped the One Step Closer to the Cure 5K/10K /1Mile Run/Walk held by the Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation, which grew by more than 50% in 2014, according to founding Chairwoman, Claudette Carlan.

“I feel that [our participation growth] was due to Chris’s assistance – he has an established relationship with runners in the area and his races have been very successful,” said Carlan. “He is very passionate about what he does and his postings make an impact on participants. We worked really well with him and felt he was a great asset to our event.”

Lauber also directed the recent Sunrise Run in downtown St. Petersburg for event founder Karen Vander Ploeg - it saw a 30% increase in participation since the race was last held in 2011. Previously, Lauber created, and for 3 years, directed the Partners For Life Police Appreciation Run at the request of Lorraine Yaslowitz, whose husband Jeff was one of three St. Petersburg police officers killed in the line of duty in 2011.

When questioned about the longevity of Florida Road Races’ Halloween Halfathon & 5K, Lauber credits the race’s success to growing public interest in half marathons among athletes. According to Running USA’s Annual Report, 2013 was a record year, with more than 2,100 half marathons run across the country, generating 1,960,000 finishers, and with a breakdown of 39% men and 61% women (2).

For athletes participating in the Halloween Halfathon & 5K, costumes are encouraged, but not mandatory. All finishers in both the halfathon and the 5K Race earn unique, Halloween Starfish gold medals. In both the Halfathon and the 5k Race, awards are up for grabs for M/F Open, Masters (40+) and Grand Masters (50+), three deep; age group awards offered three deep in 5 year increments. Lauber will don a costume and hand out awards to overall and age group winners.

In addition to the Halloween Halfathon, Florida Road Races has planned several upcoming events, including:

  • 13th Annual Holiday Halfathon & 5K, Ft. De Soto Park on December 14, 2014;
  • 16th Annual Clearwater Distance Classic: 50K Ultramarathon, Marathon, Halfathon, 5-Miler, 5K Walkathon on January 18, 2015:
  • 6th Annual Florida Beaches Halfathon & 5K, Ft. De Soto Park on March 22, 2015.

Florida Road Races is best known for its dedication to providing a personal touch for its well-organized races with reasonable entry fees, and no unexpected add-on charges. The race management company is also in contact with several local marathon training groups to offer their members discounts for all their upcoming races this season.

For more information about Florida Road Races, the Halloween Halfathon, and the rest of their upcoming races, visit http://www.floridaroadraces.com.

About Florida Road Races:

Founded in Clearwater, Florida, in 2000, Florida Road Races is a family-owned race management company that creates, plans, markets and executes road races in Tampa Bay. Led by founder Chris Lauber, the company’s mission is not just to promote a healthy, active lifestyle, but to also generate a positive economic impact for Tampa Bay’s tourism industry and showcase the coastal lifestyle, while raising funds for worthy non-profits. For more information, visit http://www.floridaroadraces.com.

1. Pransky,, Noah. “St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon Scrapped.” N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/09/12/st-pete-womens-half-marathon-canceled-and-refunds-offered/15510801/.

2. “Running USA’s Annual Marathon Report.” N.p., 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=332.

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