The Greatest Race

I’ve done quite a few races since I began running, but the most meaningful one was the Gasparilla 5K on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

That’s because it was the first one I did with Cherie.1

Cherie and I worked together for a long time at the Tampa Tribune. If there’s one thing you learn as a journalist, it’s that the friends you make in the newsroom are the very best kind of friends.2

In those days, I was overweight. Every year, Cherie would ask if I had any interest in just walking the Gasparilla 5K, and every year I gave the same response: “Let me lose a little weight, and we can do it next year.”

Of course, we never did it. 

Cherie and I both left the newsroom long before the Trib, like many other papers, went belly-up. She went into PR. I went into professional services and then detoured into marketing. We stayed in touch, but you know things aren’t the same when you’re not interacting every day.

In 2017, I started to make a concerted effort to get my weight under control. In 2018, down nearly 80 pounds, I started running. When I saw the announcement about the upcoming Gasparilla 5K in 2019, I called Cherie and proposed we go. She was ecstatic and said yes. I was proud of myself and incredibly excited. 

Here we are in that first race:

Waiting for the race to start.
Showing off our fancy new hardware.

Since then, we’ve done the Gasparilla 5K every year (except in 2021, because it was canceled due to Covid).

In 2020, we froze our butts off because it was 42° when the race began.
In 2022, we met Baby Yoda. Cherie, who is not a Star Wars fan, was not as excited about this as I was.

Two days ago, we were out on Bayshore again for this year’s race. Here are some pictures.

We met Pepperjack the Parrot when we picked up our race packets the day before.
Waiting for the race to start.
Another race in the books, and more medals for our collection. Notice how this year’s race towel (around my shoulders) matches my shirt. As a gay man, I would have been aghast if the colors had clashed. How gauche!

Running the Gasparilla 5K with Cherie is something I look forward to every year. It’s not just a race — it’s a tradition. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Get ready to run, Cherie! 

1 My favorite Cherie story: When we first started working together, we were working on a dual-bylined story and I put her name down as “Cheri” at the top. She said “My name as an E” at the end. I said “are you sure?” She said, “I think I know how to spell my own name.” I was embarrassed at the time, but now it’s pretty darn funny.

2 Conversely, the assholes you meet in the newsroom are the very worst type of assholes.