Mark your calendar for Bay-to-Gulf SUP Race

Fort Myers, Fla., March 18, 2011 – Stand-Up Paddleboarders, fitness enthusiasts and watersport lovers can mark their calendar for Lee County Parks & Recreation’s first-ever SUP race, set for May 1 at Bunche Beach Preserve in south Fort Myers.

The Bay-to-Gulf SUP Race will bring together Southwest Florida’s burgeoning SUP population and will show others from around the Sunshine State and Southeast the pristine paddling on the Great Calusa Blueway in Lee County, according to race organizer Vicki Little of Lee County Parks & Recreation.

Stand Up Paddleboarding is an activity for all ages, from athletic 20-somethings to baby boomers looking to stay physically fit. SUP is the fastest growing segment of the watersport industry worldwide. “It’s taken Florida by storm and we’re happy to be able to showcase this sport right here in Lee County,” Little said.

Sponsors and participating outfitters for the inaugural event include Ace Performer, Florida Paddlesports, Gulf To Bay, Paddleboard SW FL, Planet Fitness, SWFL Stand Up, True Blue Water Sports, Xtreme Life Sports, YOLO Board Adventures, YOLO Watersports and more. The partnering hotel for the event is LaQuinta Inn, 20091 Summerlin Road, Fort Myers. The partnering campground is San Carlos RV Resort, 18701 San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers Beach.

The race event features a 1-mile recreational race and a 3.5-mile competitive race. Check the race entry form for divisions and age brackets. Entry is $20 in advance or $30 race day. Visit www.leeparks.org to register or call (239) 533-7440. Race questions can be directed to (239) 533-7444 or (239) 229-0649. People who do not have their own SUP boards can rent them. For a list of local outfitters, visit www.calusablueway.com/articles/outfitters.

Even non-racers will find something to do at the Bay-to-Gulf. Outfitters and sponsors plan to offer free demonstrations for those who want to try SUP. Attendees also can explore Bunche Beach Preserve, which features more than 700 acres of habitat and wildlife. The preserve is located at 18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers. Bunche Beach provides access to the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile marked paddling route that meanders behind the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Details and maps are available at www.calusablueway.com.

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