It was a beautiful weekend and a successful turnout for the inaugural Great Gay 5K, which held races in Sarasota on Saturday and St. Pete Beach on Sunday.

Both weekend events brought together a combined 250 runners and walkers from around the region (100 people in Sarasota and 150 in St. Pete Beach) for two consecutive mornings of food, socializing, health and wellness education, and running.

Great Gay 5K
150 participants gathered on Pass-A-Grille Beach for Sunday’s Great Gay 5K. Image by Rachel Stevenson

Several vendors were in attendance to provide valuable health and wellness resources to participants, including FitLife Foods, Sprouts, Premier Photo BoothCamp Gladiator, Orange Theory Fitness, St. Pete Running Company, and Thorpe Chiropractic.

Runners decked out in rainbow tutus, headbands, and shorts raced along the shorelines of Siesta Key Beach and Pass-A-Grille. Several noted seeing dolphins, pelicans, and other wildlife along the course.

As participants neared the finish line, they cheered in celebration, relief, and exhaustion. Runner Steve Cozzi exclaimed, “I still look pretty!” as he neared the finish line, causing laughs from a group of women cheering along the sidelines.

Great Gay 5K
Racer Chris Rizzo exclaims, “I feel pretty” as he nears the finish line. Image by Rachel Stevenson

Event organizer RJ Huebert shared his reaction to the event’s success. “The first annual Great Gay 5K was a huge success, thanks to our participants, sponsors, family, and friends. The race and LGBTQ+ community really got behind this 5K which promotes health, well-being, and acceptance.”

Corey Peyerk was the winner of the Sarasota race, also taking home the first place win for the men. The women’s winner was unidentified.

Great Gay 5K
St Pete Beach Winner Chris Stansel. Image by Rachel Stevenson

In St Pete Beach, the winners were Chris Stansel and Elizabeth Roesvesre.

Following each race, participants gathered for winner celebrations, announcements, giveaways, and refreshments.

Great Gay 5K
Runners decked out in rainbow paraphernalia celebrated their accomplishments. Image by Rachel Stevenson

ALSO Youth and Metro Health and Wellness will receive 10% of proceeds from the weekend festivities. They were also in attendance with vendor tables; ALSO Youth in Sarasota and Metro Wellness in St Pete.

When asked about future plans, Huebert said, “The plan for 2018 is to bring even more participants and sponsors together.”

Co-organizer Claire Selius added, “We will probably combine the two races into one larger event,” although the location is yet to be determined.

To learn more about the Great Gay 5K, visit their website or Facebook page.

To see other photos from the Great Gay 5K, visit the OUTCOAST Facebook photo album.