By: Angela Caraway-Carlton
What you need to know about the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.
With an interesting course showcasing Miami’s dramatic beauty and vibrant culture, the Miami Marathon easily sets the pace as one of the world’s most unique races. Miami leads the pack when it comes to offering a one-of-a-kind marathon with a tropical vibe during the winter. The annual Miami Marathon boasts a flat course, scenic views and a taste of what Miami is all about.
Taste of Miami
Running a marathon may sound daunting, but when you’re racing through a stunning city like Miami, going the distance doesn’t seem so bad. Every winter, runners from all over the world lace up their sneakers to compete in the Miami Marathon (26.2 miles) and Half Marathon (13.1 miles). Since its inception in February 2003, the international race has become one of the fastest-growing annual marathons and is the second largest in Florida.
"Much like Miami, the race is diverse, with runners visiting from all over the world. From the music on the course to the sights, the race offers a taste of what Miami is all about," says Frankie Ruiz, Miami Marathon co-founder.
The race, which is usually held at the end of January, draws more than 25,000 runners from all 50 states and 80 countries, who want to test their endurance, beat their previous best and take home a unique shiny medal.
The marathon is also very popular because it’s a qualifier for the prestigious Boston Marathon. "Since it’s usually in January, it’s basically the kickoff to marathon season and a good way to train for other big marathons like Boston and New York later in the year," says Ricky Arriola, a Miami triathlete who has participated in both the Miami full and half marathons for more than 14 years.
The race is a USTAF-certified, single loop course and provides an impressive look at life in Miami. Runners in the full and half marathons both start at AmericanAirlines Arena, the home of the Miami HEAT.
The route follows the same scenic course for the first 12.8 miles, until half marathoners peel off to race towards the finish line at Bayfront Park in Downtown.
Runners participating in the full marathon will continue through downtown, local neighborhoods such as Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove, and also finish at Bayfront Park with a festive post-event celebration.
Marathon with a View
Running a marathon in Miami has many benefits, including all of the picturesque sights. Participants in both races will be able to soak up views of Miami’s shimmering, turquoise water and South Beach’s Art Deco style.
While the course is relatively flat, there are several bridges along the course such as the MacArthur Causeway, which is the gateway between downtown and South Beach. The bridge offers striking Miami skyline views and an aerial view of Biscayne Bay.
"When you run over the MacArthur Causeway, with the water and the views, you remember what you love about Miami," says Matthew Pinzur, an executive at Jackson Health System in Miami, who has participated in the half marathon numerous times. "You also get to see the cruise ships at PortMiami, with passengers waving to you from the ships. It’s a unique experience."
Those participating in the full marathon will also experience a different feel in some of Miami’s grand communities like the lush and tropical Coconut Groveneighborhood, and the bustling Brickell neighborhood, which is full of towering business buildings and condominiums.
Marathon Groups and Pace
The marathon starts at 6 a.m. and the start line corral system allows for a smooth race kickoff for participants of varying levels. Based on the estimated finish time provided, runners are assigned a corresponding corral, with other participants of similar running pace.
"The idea is that you’re never behind someone who is slower than you," adds Ruiz. "Digitally-timed bib chips make sure a runner’s time is based on when they start, no matter where they are in the pack."
He also explains that the half marathon is a "walker-friendly" race with the route open for three and a half hours, and the finish line open for four hours. The full marathon route is open for six hours, and the finish line open for seven hours.
Age groups are based on five-year increments and awards go to the top three runners in each age group. The best part? Everyone who finishes the race gets a glitzy, unique medal that changes each and every year.
Multiple water stations are scattered throughout the 26.2 mile course, and more than 2,000 volunteers work the water stations and help out on the course. In case of a health emergency, there are Baptist Health nurses ready to assist runners at aid stations along the route.
Runners can expect lively music and excited fans scattered along the course. More than 50,000 spectators line the streets to applaud and encourage participants to keep up the pace.
Insider Tip: Mile 10, which is in Miami’s arts and entertainment district, usually has the largest number of fans.
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