Thursday, 01 January 2009 13:36

Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic Clearwater Florida 5K - 10K Run Featured

Written by  Angela LeMay
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20th Annual Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic Clearwater Florida. Photo by Nick Anderson The 20th Annual “Say No to Drugs” Holiday Classic 5K - 10K Run

Clearwater Florida, December 20, 2008 - Once again, a team of over 200 volunteers ranging from local business executives to children of the community worked together to orchestrate what has become one of the premier races in the Tampa Bay area. Top runners in prior years have included six-time World Ironman Triathlon Champion Mark Allen, Canadian Olympian Peter Maher, American Olympian Ronnie Holassie, Swiss Olympian Dan Otz as well as local Clearwater stars Mary Level-Menton and Judy Mercon-Maguire.

This year Heather Gollnick, 5-time Ironman champion and past national and world champion at national and world duathlon level, placed 4th overall.

The 20th Annual Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic drew 940 runners. “Last year we had 805, which was our previous highest ever year. What makes this [statistic] even more spectacular is that, this year, we were up by 140 runners with 3 other races taking place the same morning in Tampa, St. Pete and Tarpon Springs – with one of them sponsored by ESPN! Last year we were the only race on that day, so [this year] we’re especially pleased…” Race Director Chris Alexander proudly remarked.

Say No to Drugs Race Directors Sue Minkoff and Chris Alexander with Sgt. Breest of the Clearwater Police. Photo by Brad KuglerVolunteers work year round under the direction of the Dianetics Athletic Association and the Clearwater Community Volunteers, contributing with their individual abilities and resources for the purpose of hosting a stellar race and the vital anti-drug message.

Over 700 copies of the “Answers to Drugs” booklets were given out at the race.

“Our goal is to spread the positive message “Say No to Drugs” to as many people as possible. It is especially important to us for this message to get to the younger generation - as they are the future - and
we don’t want our future on drugs. Race proceeds are given each year to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, West Florida Y Runner’s Club, Drug Free Marshals and other local charities including the Narconon
Drug Rehab Program.” – The Say No To Drugs Team

This event is truly a community effort. When asked to give an example of the kind of community support the Say No to Drugs Team received, Chris Alexander told us, “The race Co-Director Sue Minkoff worked closely with the Clearwater Police Department, riding the route twice with Lt. Steffens of the Beach Division, who is also the Commander of the Clearwater Police SWAT Team. The Lieutenant took it upon himself to drive the course twice on his own and on race day he personally led the “lead” police car. He said, he didn’t want to leave anything to chance and that our runners’ safety comes first. Sue told him, that his actions define the word ‘Responsibility.’” A full list of contributors and sponsors of this event can be found online at

Eva and Tawny making pancakes at the Say No to Drugs Finish Line. Photo by Brad KuglerThe 5k/10k run commenced in Downtown Clearwater, just in front of Stein Mart, at 8am sharp, with a massive army of dedicated runners from around the world, proceeding over the bridge, winding through Clearwater Beach and ending at beautiful Pier 60. After the race, the runners were bussed back for the famous fresh pancake award breakfast at the Harborview Center, prepared and hosted by the amazing Kitty and Bob Magness family.

Several times at other races and on race day, runners came up to Co-Directors Chris Alexander and Sue Minkoff and exclaimed, “This is absolutely the best race in town!” When asked “why?” one veteran runner replied, “because you have the best course, everyone who volunteers is so efficient—they do what they do very willingly and very quickly. No one else has a breakfast like you do. You guys make it a lot of fun!”

- Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper

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