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Sunday, Oct 22, 2017
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Runner Brooke Castelamare has 'miles to go'

PORT RICHEY - The U.S. Postal Service carriers have an unofficial motto: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The same could also be said for Brooke Castelamare, who runs 7-10 miles each day, seven days a week. Two mornings a week, she can be found running with The Striders Club near Starkey Park. The other five days, just before sunset, she treks the same distance near her home along Ridge and Little Roads. Castelamare, 22, grew up in sports. Her father is John Castelamare, head football coach at Academy at the Lakes and her mother is Heidi Michaels, athletic director at Anclote High, who coached high school volleyball for more than two decades. Brooke was The Pasco Tribune's Volleyball Player of the Year while playing for River Ridge in 2007. Her older sister, Brittany, was a four-year varsity setter on USF's volleyball team and recently was named to USF's volleyball staff as director of operations.
At first, she ran only to relieve stress. "In high school, we were exercising almost every day at volleyball practice, but I always needed some time alone to think and pray," she said. Although she is a successful runner, with dozens of awards, she was not always fond of the sport. At 13, she entered her first competitive race on St. Pete Beach. "I was so tired and miserable, I cried the entire time," she said. "I vowed never to run again." Like most successful athletes, her time away did not last long. She returned to distance running and began entering 10K and half-marathon (13.1 mile) races. In November of 2011, she captured first place in the prestigious Women's Health Mini-Marathon. Her winning time was 1:40:00. "I get goose bumps when people are cheering you in a race," she said. "I feel that nothing can stop me." Unlike most competitive runners, Castelamare prefers to lead the pack the entire race. During a race, she motivates herself by repeating the words, "miles to go." As a reminder, she had the words tattooed on the top of her foot. Last month, she graduated from Florida State University with a degree in dietetics. "It's important to keep a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise, especially for children," she said. "It bothered me that my friends at FSU were addicted to fast food and sugary snacks. Most people don't realize the sugar and calories in soda pop. A can of pop has as many calories as a cheeseburger and every 3,500 calories consumed is an added pound of body weight." Despite the rainfall this week, she ran nearly 10 miles every evening, returning home soaking wet. Through it all, she has the smile of achievement. "Success, in sports or in life, comes from pushing yourself and having the right mindset," she said. When asked how much longer she can continue, she lowers her sock and slowly reads the words, "miles to go." There is so much ahead of her.

If you would like to nominate an outstanding local athlete to be featured in an upcoming In the Community article, contact Cliff Gill at reportercliffgill@yahoo.com or (727) 860-4903.

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