After 247 runners competed last year on a gorgeous Gasparilla Island race day during the 10th annual 5K Fun Run, it's possible more than 300 could show up this Sunday for the 11th annual 5K Boca Grande Fun and Run Walk.
That would beat the 2004 record of 301 runners.
Joe Wier of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department said last year's field was the biggest since 2004 and the second-largest all-time.
Race organizer Bob Green
Veteran runner Guy Scheiwiller of Switzerland crossed the finish line first in 17 minutes and 20 seconds followed 30 seconds later by 15-year-old Nick Tieu of Englewood.
Bethany Heslam of North Port won the overall woman's title for the second year in a time of 19:49.6, which was 20 seconds faster than her 2010 time. Another repeat champ was Josephine Nicolosi of Port Charlotte. The 66-year-old posted a 27:58.4 on a 9:01 mile pace to claim the female 65-69 title for the second year in a row.
Organizer Bob Green said runners can register at the Boca Grande Community Center or an hour before the race starts at 7:30 a.m. in front of the center.
What: 11th annual 5K Boca Grande Fun and Run Walk
When: 7:30 a.m. Sunday
Why: Benefits Boca Grande Community Center programs
Where: Begins at Boca Grande Community Center
Cost: Registration costs $20 for 19-older and $15 to 18-under. Day of race registration costs $25 for all ages from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.
""Last year we had 103 runner and walkers to pre-register and had a total of 247 participants cross the finish line," Green said. "As of today, we have 185 pre-registered with a few more days before the cut-off. It appears the weather is going to be good and we might just have a record turnout (our record is 301 participants)."
The grand prize, valued at $1,500, is a two-person, two-night stay, including meals and golf, at the historic Gasparilla Inn and Club.
The run circles island hot spots including views of Charlotte Harbor, Gasparilla Inn & Club and palm-lined Gilchrist Avenue before closing on Banyan Street.
Refreshments will be available after the race at the Community Center. Awards will be given to the first-, second- and third-place male and female winners in each age division: 9-under, 10-14, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-plus and wheelchair. Special awards will be given for the male and female overall winner, master, grandmaster and senior grandmaster winners.
Shirts will be given to the first 225 paid participants but are not guaranteed to those who register on race day. Proceeds support youth programs at the Boca Grande Community Center.
Registration costs $20 for 19 and older and $15 to 18 and under. Day of race registration costs $25 for all ages from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Complete post-race results are posted online at bocagrandetalk.com and will be printed along with pages of race day photos in the Gasparilla Gazette.