By Gary Nager

Since it opened to traffic on Feb. 27 — after Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn cut the ribbon in a ceremony sponsored by the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce — the new New Tampa Gateway Bridge (see page 8) has been helping reduce travel times for those who have been trying to avoid the still-problematic traffic on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.

And, just last weekend, the bridge also was home to the first-ever five-kilometer (5K, which equals 3.1 miles) road race (and 1-mile Fun Run) in New Tampa that included the area’s only major hill — the bridge itself!

The second annual Lizard Tail 5K (so named because last year’s inaugural race to benefit the Lawton Chiles Elementary PTA was run along nearby Lizard’s Tail Dr. in Tampa Palms) attracted nearly 400 runners to the race’s staging area at the Tampa Palms Professional Center off Commerce Park Blvd. on March 23, the day before the 20th annual “Taste of New TampaTM” (see below for more info).

Race organizer and Chiles PTA member Tory Howat was happy with the turnout, the new race course and all of the health-oriented vendors — from chiropractors to bike shops and more — who were on-hand for the event. And, the race itself was a challenge for New Tampa residents, many of whom never had a legitimate hill to train on in our area before. “The bridge was a tough hill, especially on the way back,” said one high-finishing female runner. “It’s only the second time I’ve ever even been running on the bridge!”

Although all of the results weren’t final at our press time, here are the winners reported on race day of the second annual Lizard Tail 5K.

Overall winner – Justin Page, 17:40.

Overall women’s winner – D.J. Edwards, 21:15

Men’s Master (age 40+) winner – Jay Chancellor

Women’s Master (age 40+) winner – Giliane Rifai

First Boy finisher under age 18 – Drew Hileman, age 9

First Girl finisher under age 18 – Julie Zhang, age 12

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