Greek hospitality for race #1!

Tarpon Springs, FL made the ceremonial first race a very special day. The course went from Faklis Department Store to the Sponge Docks. Twenty minutes before race time Fox News Show “Good Day” ran a LIVE feed to the start of the race. So I had a 4 minute interview with Good Day anchor, Ray Collins.

Vasile Faklis who put the whole event together said a few words, Father Michael blessed the proceedings, and Mayor Beverly Billiris inaugurated the event. The race was filmed by Bayou Productions. The film crew at Bayou Productions used a “clown car,” an electric, cool golf cart that goes 30mph down the road, to shoot the race. We had a police car leading the race and a policeman on a Segway following the racers. 

Running with me in the event was a few of Tarpon Springs finest young athletes: my race pacer was Anthony Velardocchia, a former Tarpon Springs high school cross country and track athlete who is now the assistant coach and will be attending Hellenic College in Brookline, MA in the fall.  We were graced by two beautiful runners, Marianna Karavokiros and Kailand Cosgrove. Marianna is a Tarpon Springs high school student who is a member of the Greek Junior National Track and Field Team. Kailand is also a Tarpon Springs  high school student who is a member of Team USA Triathlon team and is ranked #1 in the world in her age group (14-18) by USA Triathlon Association.


I followed Anthony down to the Sponge Docks and finished in 4:42. During the closing ceremonies, Tarpon Springs showered us with Greek gifts as we all received unique “Art In Granite” plaques to commemorate the mile event and Mayor Beverly Billiris donned each runner’s head with a traditional olive wreath.

I wanted to thank everyone involved with the event. It was truly a spectacular beginning to our summer journey. I could not have chosen a better place than Tarpon Springs to host the event and make us feel part of their close knit community.

I finished the day with a book signing at Faklis Department Store, lunch at the Greek Pizza Kitchen, and a boat tour of Tarpon Springs. Well, it’s 1 down and 19 more to go…see you all in Austin!

Posted in - My Daily Journal 2008.

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