197 Speedo-clad runners raise $30,500 in Ybor

By : Steve Blanchard
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More runners than ever participated in the 2012 Santa Speedo Run Dec. 9, which relocated to the streets of Ybor this year. With costumes ranging from simple red Speedos and Santa hats to elaborate garland-trimmed costumes on four female runners, the holidays felt as if they were in full swing near Centennial Park.

See photos from the Santa Speedo Run!

“The new location was excellent,” said Jay Aller, Resource Development Manager with ASAP and the run’s organizer. “It helped bring more visibility to ASAP and our Brighter Seasons for Children program. The runners I heard from loved being there.”

The third annual run relocated from Gulfport, where it was held the previous two years, in an effort to solve parking issues and shine a brighter light on the fundraiser. For several residents of Ybor, the run was a welcome edition to the Ybor City holiday festivities.

“How can you go wrong with all of these half-naked men?” asked Carmine Hooper, who stumbled across the run by accident on Sunday. “There are some beautiful bodies out here working hard for a great cause!”

Hooper caught the tail end of the run and said the enthusiasm behind some of the outfits made it a memorable event and hopefully a new tradition.

“Next year I want to be here for the beginning of the run,” Hooper said. “And I’ll be sure to have my camera.”

Cameras – professional and amateur – were working hard to cover the event, and several news outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times and Fox 13, were on hand to capture the run.

The 197 runners made the 3rd Annual Santa Speedo Run the largest to date, surpassing last year’s 130 participants. During its first year in 2010, only three dozen or so runners took on the one-mile course.

With a higher profile location and growing interest, Aller is confident the run will continue to grow.

“I did hear a lot of people ask how we cna work it to run down 7th Avenue,” Aller said. “I agree this event needs to be even more public. Maybe in a few years, with growth, we’ll be able to get the city to agree to close 7th. It’s on a very rare occasion that they do that.”

The money raised from the Santa Speedo Run goes to help children in families affected by HIV/AIDS to enjoy the holiday.

“No parent should be forced to decided between spending money on HIV medication or Christmas presents,” Aller said.

Several sponsors and a large team of volunteers made the run go smoothly, and Aller was quick to offer thanks for the coordinated effort.

“They did a fantastic job and really came together at the last minute,” Aller said. “With not being able to start advertising this event until Oct. 23, it really came together great.”

The run is expected to return in 2013, although it’s too soon to share exact details. Aller is hopeful it will return to Ybor city. “I know Ybor loved having us,” Aller said. “It worked very well into their December holiday and Santa-themed events.”

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