More than 300 participants registered for Tampa Electric's inaugural FCTC Run for Manatees 5K on Saturday, April 9.
Getting up early on a chilly Saturday morning is one thing; but getting up early to exercise is another – and it takes a whole lot of dedication. Take it from more than 300 runners who showed up at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC) in Apollo Beach last Saturday. They ran for a reason. That reason? Manatees.
On April 9, Tampa Electric hosted its first ever FCTC Run for Manatees 5K to support seagrass restoration initiatives at Tampa Bay Watch. Seagrass is a manatee’s favorite dish, which means all 317 athletes put their best foot forward to keep our Manatee Viewing Center (MVC) mammals well-fed and happy.
Runners of all ages earned a beautiful finisher medal after crossing the finish line.
When the bullhorn sounded at 8 o’clock, the sold-out crowd started their morning journey through the nature trails at the FCTC and MVC. Whether they came alone or with their loved ones, each supporter crossed the finish line with a sense of pride and earned a beautiful finisher medal.
“The day was picture-perfect to help raise awareness and funding to support the manatees,” said Tampa Electric Environmental Administrative Supervisor Tracy Mortellaro. “Many runners have frequented the Manatee Viewing Center and considered the race to be a unique opportunity to experience all the FCTC campus has to offer. It was a truly spectacular start to the weekend.”
With a virtual option, registered runners could complete their 3.1 miles anywhere to support the cause. “The run was special,” wrote Dawn Walker after she participated “across the pond” in England. “I have visited in the past, and FCTC holds a special place in my heart for their fantastic work to conserve wildlife in Florida, especially manatees, who shelter at their sites in the colder months. Having seen their work first-hand several times, it was lovely to be a part of the run. Hopefully, I'll get to visit the campus again sometime soon."
Some extra speedy supporters walked away with awards, presented to first place finishers in various age groups. And everyone got to enjoy a hearty Chick-fil-A® breakfast, before exploring the FCTC, MVC and new Clean Energy Center before it closes for the season Friday, April 15.
First place finishers in various age groups received special prizes during the post-race award ceremony.
Thank you to all our sponsors, volunteers, team members and participants for bettering themselves while supporting our beloved manatees and TECO’s conservation efforts. Next year, we hope to see you back out at Apollo Beach for another successful event!