The Great Gay 5K Brings Two New Races to the Tampa Region

Great Gay 5K
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The Great Gay 5K is coming to Sarasota and St Pete Beach on September 23rd and 24th. A new race to the region, the event highlights and supports the LGBT+ community and focuses on health and wellness, plus competition. Whether you are part of the community or simply want to show your support, this race is for you.

OUTCOAST sat down with race founders, RJ Huebert and Claire Selius, to get the scoop on the upcoming race and their involvement in the racing and LGBT communities.

Where are you each from?

RJ: Erie, PA
Claire: Youngstown, OH

If not this area, what brought you to the Gulf Coast?

RJ: I came to Tampa originally for grad school at USF in 2007. I also had family in the area, so it was almost like my second home.

Claire: The snow was getting my whole family down! My sister made the jump to sunny Florida, and the whole family followed.  I attended USF with RJ. That’s where we met and our bromance started.

How did the Great Gay5K come about?

We wanted to create a 5K race that caters to the LGBTQ+ community, and brings some fun and adventure! We really wanted to create a safe space to be who you are and break a sweat at the same time. We have two other established races, The Great Mother’s Day Race and The Great Father’s Day Race, and love the racing community.

Why the LGBT community? What is your personal interest in supporting this community?

RJ: Claire, my best friend, is gay. I’ve always supported her as a person. I always choose love and support over exclusion.

Claire: RJ is the best!  He has always just treated me like a normal friend, which isn’t the case with everyone.  We thought, the times being what they are, it is more important than ever to stand up and be yourself.  It’s not always easy, but it’s nice to know that I will always have support in the community.

What do you each do outside of organizing 5Ks?

RJ : I work in marketing for GTE Financial – truly the best credit union in the country!

Claire: I am the Director of Marketing at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. We help at-risk kids find mentors. I love what I do, and I am a Big Sister mentor to 7-year old Davion.

How will this race differ from the Tampa Bay AIDS Walk/Run?

Our race will be on the beach, which is very unique and fun. I think the AIDS Walk/Run is extremely vital to bring more support to the community. At the end of the day, we are all in the this together. The more events and races like this, the better!

What organizations does this 5K support?

RJ: METRO Health and Wellness in St. Pete and ALSO Youth in Sarasota. Supporting both of these organizations is a privilege. They are out there fighting the good fight every day.

Claire: I wish I knew about organizations like this when I was growing up. Just knowing you’re not alone is a great feeling.

What else is going on that day for entertainment/activities?

We’ll have food, drinks, music, giveaways, and fun for the whole family!

Who are your current sponsors?

Currently, we’re partnered with St. Pete Running Company, New Balance, Thorpe Chiropractic, Sprouts, Sport Clips, Crunch, Fit 941, Fit Life Foods, and OUTCOAST.

Which sponsorship opportunities are still available?

We welcome all inquiries from small to large companies, even the “Mom and Pop” shops! Email RJ at robert.huebert@gmail.com for info.

How many people do you expect? What will feel like a success?

We’re expecting hundreds of runners at both locations. Success will be smiling participants at the end of the 5K, with a sweet finisher medal around their neck, while celebrating with an amazing group of people.

Why are you planning two races instead of one?

We planned two races to bring the fun to two cities! Sometimes, it’s hard for people to travel long distances for a 5K, so we thought, let’s bring it to them!

What is your overall goal?

Our goal is to create a fun, safe space for people to do something active with their friends and family. We want to hold an amazing 5k that people will remember forever! Come out and support the community!

How are you making the race inclusive for all LGBT community members?

Anyone can register for our race! We include and welcome all members of the community. We have been marketing the race all over St. Pete and Sarasota, including LGBTQ+ bars, restaurants, and other establishments. We want everyone to know that you don’t have to be in the LGBTQ+ family to race either. Supporters are also welcome and encouraged.

How do people register to race? 

Participants can register through our website. We are offering 10% off race registrations for the OUTCOAST community with code OUTCOAST10. See race details at greatgay5k.com

Race Details and Information

Sarasota – Siesta Key Beach – Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sign up here!

Siesta Key Beach
948 Beach Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34242

Saint Pete Beach (Pass-A-Grille) – Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sign up here!

Hurley Park
1501 Gulf Way
St. Pete Beach, FL 33701

 *Virtual 5K*
The Virtual 5K is for athletes around the United States who can’t make the Great Gay 5K. You will register and run/walk the 5K in the location of your choice. Virtual participants receive an official bib, dry-fit t-shirt, and medal. Most importantly, you’ll be able to participate in the fun and represent the Great Gay 5K where ever you are!

To learn more, click here.

For more news in Tampa Bay, click here.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She was the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization. She is currently the Publisher of OutCoast.com and Producer of the OutCoast TV YouTube Channel, both of which highlight LGBTQ welcoming destinations in Florida.

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