One of Tampa Bay’s Oldest Races Expecting 3,000 Runners for Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic 5K, 10K Event

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Race directors Chris Alexander and Sue Minkoff and their team prepare for the 27th annual event, and aim to continue the fight against drugs.

It is especially important to us that we get the message ‘say no to drugs’ to the younger generation, as they are our future and we want to encourage positive outlets.

The 27th Annual Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic 5K, 10K, 1 mile event is back and taking applicants. For the past 26 years, this race has raised awareness and funds to educate everyone in the Tampa Bay area— but most importantly, the children of Tampa Bay—on the importance of not using drugs, and providing a more natural approach to relief through athletics. Race director Chris Alexander anticipates that 3,000 runners will attend the race and event this year, which will be held at Coachman Park in Clearwater on Saturday, December 19.

During the event, all participants receive drug awareness and educational information on the “Say No to Drugs” message. The message is for everyone, but the Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic team gives more attention to children with the aim of preventing them from using drugs at all.

“It is especially important to us that we get the message ‘say no to drugs’ to the younger generation, as they are our future and we want to encourage positive outlets,” says Alexander.

For the past 10 years, drug use has been on a decline among middle school and high school students in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. In 2004, the percentage of these kids using any kind of illicit drugs or alcohol was an average of 62.5% in both counties. In 2008, that number dropped to an average of 58.25% in the same areas. Then again in 2014, that number declined even more to an average of 49.6% in both counties.(1,2)

These statistics indicate that programs and events such as the Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic are important in helping to educate and influence kids to stay away from drug use and instead focus their attention on other interests, such as sports, as well as their education.

Alexander has always promoted this idea, saying, “Taking the natural approach of releasing your endorphins with a run is highly beneficial, and is a much better alternative to trying to solve problems with drugs, which doesn’t work.”

For the past 26 years, this event has worked to spread this message to all who attend. Past attendants include people and athletes from the Tampa Bay area and the rest of the country, as well as elite athletes from all over the world, including Olympic and Ironman competitors.

The event has three different races: a 5K and 10K USA Track and Field certified course, as well as a separate 1-mile kids’ race. All 5K and 10K finishers will receive a special medal, and the first three in each age group to finish will receive an additional medal. The times for each runner are tracked with timing chips in the running bib on each participant, giving the most accurate results.

Afterwards, there will be a free pancake breakfast for all who participated and their family and friends. There will also be a raffle drawing that will take place while the race results are being determined. The prizes for the raffle include athletic apparel, gift certificates and other fun prizes.

The Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Entry fees and donations fund the costs of the event itself, with the goal of the organization being to raise funds in excess of event and race costs, which will then be donated to local children’s and anti-drug charities.

For more information on the cause, registration and the event in general, please visit the website at http://saynotodrugs.com.

1.    “2014 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey—Hillsborough County Data Tables.” 2014 Florida Department of Children and Families. Web. 5 October 2015.

2.    “2014 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey—Pinellas County Data Tables.” 2014 Florida Department of Children and Families. Web. 5 October 2015.

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