Places to go running in the Tampa Bay area

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Hit the pavement in Tampa! (Or is it sand? Maybe grass?)

Tampa is a great place to run. It has scenic parks, gorgeous beaches, bustling neighborhoods, and specialty parks and tracks. What could possibly be better than the infinite possibilities offered to runners in Tampa? Why, a group of like-minded runners to run with, of course! Below is a fantastic list of great places to run in Tampa Bay, including:  dog parks, running trails, beaches and tracks. Also, readers will find a tantalizing list of groups which would be glad to accept any old chap into their ranks.

Places to Run:

For you nature-lovers, a few well-known, massive trails:

1. Upper Tampa Bay Trail – Located in northwest Hillsborough County, this trail runs along the west shore of Channel A from a trailhead off Memorial Highway/Montaque Street, past Waters Avenue, Linebaugh, and then north to Gunn Highway, Ehrich Road and ends at Peterson Road Park.  Activities abound, the UTBT is a great trail to run, and offers an amazing view of nature. Additionally, if one were to decide to get extra crafty, they could venture an extra seven or eight miles, (petty distance, if you ask me) conjoining their current trail with that of the Suncoast Trail.

2. Suncoast Trail – Parallel the Suncoast Parkway, this trail begins in northern Hillsborough and continues north, through Pasco and Hernando counties, and traverses a number of environments. Eventually connecting with the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, along with the Pinellas Trail, this trail offers a great deal of gorgeous scenery and

smooth running.

3. Pinellas Trail — Created along an abandoned railroad corridor, the Pinellas Trail offers a luscious, natural outlet for exercise, be it jogging, running, biking, hiking, or skating. An unfathomably long trail, the Pinellas Trail begins near U.S. 19, in Tarpon Springs, and ends in Central Avenue, in St. Petersburg.

For you dog-lovers, a few well-kept, attractive dog areas:

1. Logan Gate Dog Park – One of Hillsborough County’s newest dog parks, and located in the Citrus Park/Carrollwood area, this park features 5 acres with a 6 foot chain link fence. Home to many friendly and furry exercise fans, you and your dog should have no problem making new friends. You can burn calories with or without your dog, with or without a leash.

2. West Park Dog Park – Hillsborough County’s oldest dark park, located in the western part of the county near Tampa International Airport, this park, too, has 5 acres with a 6 foot chain link fence. Located near a playground, this park is great for any fitness advocate with a family of their own.

3. Apollo Beach – At 6767 Surfside Boulevard, Hillsborough, this park offers a great atmosphere for both you and your dog, but advises for leashing.  With calm waters, the beach allows for a great swimming workout for your dog (and for you, if you so fancy).

And, finally, a perfect interlude: for you ocean-lovers, some great beaches:

1. Clearwater Beach – First and foremost on this list has to be Clearwater Beach; with its wonderful waters and convenient proximity to fun shops, this beach offers a little for everyone. Also near the area is Pier 60, a pier that offers good local music, magic shows, local artisans and a shop, all right on the water’s edge. On the pier, one has the opportunity to shop from many a vendor, and to try their hand at fishing. Of course, we cannot forget the nation-famous Frenchy’s, a seafood restaurant which has absolutely fantastic beach food.

2. Sand Key County Park – The tranquil neighbor of Clearwater Beach, Sand key County Park features snowy, soft sand, perfect for running or jogging. Dogs are allowed at the beach, as long as the owner cleans up after them. The water temperature is usually perfect, too, allowing anyone to have fun, no matter what they came to do.

3. Siesta Beach – Sometimes called the “whitest and finest sand in the world,” Siesta Beach features some ball fields, a fitness trail, playground equipment, tennis and volleyball courts, and concessions. The soft sand allows for very comfortable running, and Siesta is one of the most stunningly beautiful beaches in Florida. Located in Sarasota, this beach is a comfortable drive for anyone looking to have a great workout without breaking the bank.

Running Groups:

1. Tampa Bay Runners – Welcoming runners of any speed, distance and age, the Tampa Bay Runners has been the area’s top running club for 25 years. With Monthly Membership Meetings, Monthly Social Events, and two scheduled runs each week, the group has quite the organized agenda!  This club is for those who “like to socialize with likeminded health conscious people who enjoy running or participate in races.” http://www.tampabayrunners.com/

2. Fishhawk Road Runners Club – Offering something for everyone, this is a diverse group of runners, numbering over 160 members, who likes to get together and run. Meeting three days a week, Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, this group also likes to focus on camaraderie, teamwork, and, most importantly, fun. http://fishhawkrunning.com/default.aspx

3. Four Green Fields Running Club – This “Bunch of Drinkers with a Running Problem” is for those who do not fit in to the above two groups. The group invites anyone to come out every Tuesday and enjoy a 5K run, with your favorite pint o’ brew waiting for you at the finish line. At 205 Platt Street on Tuesdays, one can expect to see a bunch of drinkers right around 6 P.M., which is when these drunkards start running. A big ol’ group of friendly runners, this group is an option for anyone who enjoys the occasional brewski and the repeated loss of breath. http://www.fourgreenfields.com/run/runningclub.htm

There you have it: a transient compilation of fun places to run in the Tampa Bay area, and some cool groups posted for your consideration. Naturally, there are tons of other locations; do some research yourself to find out what works best for you. This article is actually the first in a series of many about running, in which I will give you, the readers, insight into some proper stretches, running footwear, running attire, and much, much more. Thank you for your time, and I will be sure to come back around sometime soon.

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