This family of locals want to show the world that St. Petersburg is a runner’s paradise.
For Ryan and Keith Jordan, exercise is a family pastime. Ryan runs three to five miles daily usually around town with his wife, Paula. Keith plays a lot of tennis, but still manages to run 25 miles a week or so. Keith’s wife Claire says she is more of a walker than a runner, and enjoys daily walks with the family dog, a Rottweiler named Edelman.
Though they are not native to St. Petersburg; each of them fell in love with the city and decided to move. Ryan came first, in 2000. He met Paula then — they were both getting their MBAs at University of Tampa. Keith and Claire, migrating from Austin, TX, followed suit a few years later, after visiting their brother’s new hometown.
“I love the soul of the city,” said Keith. “Not only is it beautiful, it has incredible culture, food, makers. It’s also really walkable (and runnable!), which is fantastic.”
Running together along the waterfront of Tampa Bay inspired an idea in Ryan and Keith. St. Petersburg was an ideal city for runners, and the perfect canvas for a world-class, premiere runner’s event.
The St. Pete Run Fest was born.
An event that leaves its competition in the dust
St. Pete Run Fest, which will take place November 18-19, is more than a typical 5k or half-marathon event. It is a two-day celebration of all things local: musicians, art, food and craft beer. There are also running tracks for everyone–from the half-marathon for seasoned runners to the fun and spirited Kid’s Walk.
This unique, immersive experience in local culture is by design. Claire wanted to embrace all of the things she loved about St. Petersburg in the festival. “St. Pete is so unique, and lends itself to such a varied run course – urban/business, parks, residential, and waterfront. Plus, seeing the residents here, always outside enjoying the weather, inspired me to create an outdoor event for both residents and visitors,” she said.
Ryan and Keith also envisioned an event that offered more than just a finish line. “The festival provides an opportunity to showcase more of the great aspects of St Pete,” said Ryan. “The races are part of the experience but the real reason people are running here is because of the city. This is a destination city and we built the festival to engage with our community, artists, makers and local organizations.”
Going the distance for a worthy cause
There is also a social impact to St. Pete Run Fest. When runners sign up for the Sunshine City 5k, every mile they run results in a $1 donation to the St Petersburg Free Clinic. Runners may also make an additional donation online when they register for either the Sunshine City 5K or the St Pete Half Marathon.
“We have many causes we are raising money and awareness for including the St Pete Free Clinic and Gold Together (pediatric cancer research),” said Ryan.
Keith added, “Charity is a big mission for the event.”
St. Pete Threads “a natural fit” for the Run Fest
All of the Jordans say they owned a few St. Pete Threads t-shirts before they reached out to see about designing a St. Pete Run Fest shirt. Ryan said of the partnership, “I love the shirts and reached out to Joe Hamilton to see if he would be interested in working with St Pete Run Fest.
St. Pete Threads and Big Sea Design are incredible local organizations that make a real difference in our community. It was a natural fit.”
“When we met with them,” said Claire, “we just clicked as far as vision, creativity, and our hopes for the Run Fest.”
Keith agreed. “It’s been great working with them. We all have the same vision and goals for St. Pete, it seems!”
Inaugural event is just the beginning
The Jordans have big plans for the St. Pete Run Fest. “Our vision is to build a world recognized event that draws thousands of visitors to our beautiful city and raises millions of dollars for local charities,” said Ryan. “We see no reason why this event cannot be the biggest sporting event in Tampa Bay.”
Keith echoed that sentiment. “I believe we can create the best running event in the world here in St. Pete. The civic pride here is so impressive and our resources are incredible!”
The St. Pete Run Fest is a festival of running and wellness, and also a celebration of the authentic, unique character of the city. The Jordans believe the festival is an invitation for more people–local and visitors–to fall in love with the city like they did.
Claire summed it up this way, “My hope is that the Run Fest becomes a world-class event that draws people from all over the country and the world to our very special ‘bubble’ known as St. Pete. I want to involve everyone in the city, so that they feel pride and ownership in the event – whether they are a vendor, sponsor, volunteer or participant.”