The Casual Runner

Running the USA: Tampa, Florida

Running the USA: Tampa, Florida

My husband and I lived in Tampa, FL, for a couple of years back before we became runners.  While we did take the dog for an occasional walk on one of the several pedestrian paths in the area or go for a long bike ride, we did not really explore much of the area on foot.

In the past year I have been back to Tampa twice: once for work and once for play.  On each trip I made sure to stay in different areas so I could explore new running paths.  While I am not a huge fan of heat and humidity (hence why we no longer live there), Tampa really does offer some great running paths with beautiful scenery.

Bayshore Boulevard

In May 2015, after a trip to Walt Disney World to run the final Expedition Everest race, we drove over to Tampa to spend a few days eating at some of our favorite restaurants and catching up with friends before flying out to Disneyland for the Pixie Dust Challenge.  Since the main goal of this trip was to eat and drink ourselves into food coma at Bern’s Steakhouse, we picked a hotel right across the street from the restaurant—the Epicurean Hotel.  The other great benefit of this hotel was that it put us just a few blocks away from Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard, which claims to be the world’s longest sidewalk and provides an awesome pedestrian and bike path along the east side of the South Tampa peninsula.

Our plan for the morning was to walk from the hotel to breakfast at Datz Deli (another of our favorite restaurants) along Bayshore before cutting back over to MacDill Ave.  Since we woke up a little later than originally planned, we took a more direct route to the restaurant on some side roads through a residential neighborhood.  One problem with many of the older neighborhoods in South Tampa is that they don’t all have consistent sidewalks.  If you are ever visiting and plan to run through one, be sure to check the condition and availability of sidewalks.  Otherwise you might find yourself walking on narrow streets trying to dodge traffic like we did.

After a wonderful and filling breakfast, we were a little too stuffed to do anything more than slowly stroll back to the hotel.  But this gave us a perfect opportunity to appreciate the scenery along Bayshore.  We crossed over to the wide and nicely paved path that runs for miles along the bay.  On this day we shared the path with several other runners, bikers, and rollerbladers.  It happened to be a sunny day with perfect blue skies that reflected nicely off the water.  Since there are no intersections to cross once you get on the path, you really can just go continuously for miles without interruption.  My favorite thing to look for along this stretch is the dolphins that sometimes play along the shoreline, although we didn’t see any on this day.

I highly recommend Bayshore if you’re in Tampa looking for a sunrise run.  There’s not a lot of shade so it’s best to get an early start, especially in the summer when the sun can feel relentless beating down on your head and shoulders.  Bayshore Boulevard runs all the way down to MacDill Air Force Base, and if you have base access you can continue to follow the path.  But as you get close to the base the sidewalk becomes a little let user friendly for a few blocks and you’ll want to proceed carefully to avoid traffic.

Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail

In May 2016, a colleague and I traveled down to Tampa for a few days of meetings for work.  She wasn’t very familiar with Tampa so she left it to me to decide on our hotel.  We had long days of meetings planned each day, so I looked for something that would feel relaxing at night.  And since I knew I’d have at least one morning with enough time to get a run in before the meetings started, I wanted some place with easy access to a running path.  I decided on the Sailport Waterfront Suites, located just off the Courtney Campbell Causeway (the main road that crosses the water from Tampa to Clearwater) and directly on the edge of the bay.

A pedestrian trail runs the entire length of the Causeway, giving runners miles and miles of road for a long run.  If you have to drive there, it’s easy to park at Ben Davis Beach.  But my hotel was within walking distance so all I had to do was carefully walk up the sidewalk-less road for about a quarter mile until I reached the trail.  (Mike would be happy to know that on the way from my hotel I walked against traffic!  But on the way back to the hotel there wasn’t enough room on the opposite side, soooo…)

We’d had a pretty major storm the night before and it was still raining just a little when I left my hotel that morning.  But since the Florida humidity causes me to sweat immediately upon leaving an air conditioned environment, did it really matter if I was drenched from rain or sweat?

Once I got on the path it took me about half a mile to pass by the bit of land and get over the water.  Although you are right next to a busy highway with cars whizzing by, on your other side is the shoreline.  There are a few sandy beaches but much of the shore is rocky and it’s fun to watch the little lizards and tiny crabs scuttle around looking for food.  I wish I’d had enough time to do a really long run but I didn’t have time for much more than about 5 miles.

The Causeway is on the wrong side of Tampa for good views of the sunrise, so if you’re looking for a colorful sky on the water save this path for a sunset run.  Also, there isn’t much shade on this path so either wear your sunscreen or try to avoid the hottest part of the day.  Due to the uninterrupted length of this path, it is especially good if you’re training for distances longer than a half marathon.

Looking for more fun adventures in Tampa? We have you covered! Check out our great articles:
Visit the Florida Aquarium
DIVE the Florida Aquarium
Swim with Manatees in Crystal River
Scuba Diving in Rainbow River
Crystal River Hotel Review
St. Pete Beach Classic: Marathon Challenge & Beach Run
St. Pete Beach Classic: 10k & 5k
St. Pete Beach Classic: Half Marathon

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!