New Prize Purse At Gasparilla Half

The pot is $30,000 spread across the top-five Americans.

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Organizers of the Gasparilla Distance Classic announced today that they have introduced a new American Development prize purse for next year’s Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon. The race, which will be held on February 23 in Tampa, Fla., as part of the Publix Super Markets Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Weekend, will be hosting its first elite field since 1998.

“For 37 years, the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association and Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Weekend events have remained true to its roots, the sport of running and the thousands of runners and walkers that have crossed one of the race weekend finish lines,” said longtime race director Susan Harmeling in a statement. “After 17 years of being away from the elite athlete side of the sport, we feel that the timing couldn’t be more perfect for American athlete development.”

In total, a prize purse of $30,000 will now be awarded to the top five American male and female finishers of the half-marathon, a move that organizers hope aids in the development of elite American distance runners. The winner of next year’s race will take home $8,000.

“Running well on Tampa’s flat and fast half-marathon course in February could give American runners the emotional and financial boost needed to keep their dream alive,” added Harmeling.

In 2013, 4,747 athletes finished the Publix Gasparilla Half-Marathon led by men’s winner Jonathan Mott in 1:09:50 and women’s champion Terri Rejimbal in 1:23:35.

The race’s decision to institute an America prize purse comes just over three months after Competitor Group Inc., organizers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon series, eliminated its elite athlete support program. Since that announcement was made on August 31, a number of races in the United States have increased or instituted new prize money formats, hoping to help further develop distance running in the United States. Among the race organizations to do so was Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., which formed the American Development Program; that program will offer $160,000 at four events throughout the year.

In the past, the highlight of Publix Super Markets Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Weekend has been the 15-kilometer race, not the Half-Marathon. Among those who have won men’s titles at the 15K are Phillimon Hanneck and Bill Rodgers. Norway’s Grete Waitz captured six wins between 1980 and 1987, while former New York City Marathon champions Ingrid Kristiansen, Liz McColgan, and Tegla Loroupe have all claimed the top spot.

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