Escape to Miami Triathlon

Escape to Miami Triathlon

Sep 22, 2019
7:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Free

By Harvey Fialkov | Aug 20, 2019

It may be named Picnic Island but when race organizers drop off the more than 1,750 triathletes on a deserted island off Biscayne Bay, they know that the next three hours of swimming, biking and running in the annual Escape to Miami Triathlon will be anything but a picnic.

Just before dawn on September 22, amateur and professional triathletes ranging from their teens to 70-somethings will flock from approximately 26 countries to Miami to test their endurance and spirit over a 1,500-meter swim across beautiful Biscayne Bay to plush Margaret Pace Park where they transition to a 40K (24.8 mile) bicycle course.

Cheered on by hundreds of spectators, the cyclists then bike over eight bridges and the Julia Tuttle Causeway on their way to Miami Beach to start their 10K (6.2 miles) trek over the MacArthur Causeway to Star Island and back again to the finish line at Pace Park.

“There’s no other race in the country in which participants are dropped off at a deserted island in the heart of Biscayne Bay before sunrise and have to swim back to Miami just to start a triathlon that is held on one of the most challenging courses in all of Florida, running and biking over bridges while battling sweltering heat, humidity and wind,’’ says Frankie Ruiz, founder of the 15-year race and chief running officer of Life Time, owner of the event.

“That’s why we call Pace Picnic Park, Escape Island.’’

Fire-dancers and drummers will perform on the island to provide the racers with a Survivor TV show-like ambience.

Ruiz, 40, a lifelong triathlete and longtime cross-country coach at Belen Jesuit High School in Miami, said there’s no admission for spectators and parking is readily accessible at the Hilton Miami Downtown or at the many parking meters surrounding the park.

He recommends that anyone attending use the Metro Mover and get off at Omni Station, three short blocks from Pace Park.

Spectators can enjoy a myriad of restaurants within walking distance of Edgewater and the race’s most spectacular viewing points.

One can never know what famous athlete or celebrity will be zipping by them as a few years ago, Academy Award-winner Matt Damon was testing his Jason Bourne-fit body on the racing course.

Ruiz added that in conjunction with the race, the popular, informative Escape to Miami Expo will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pace Park. It will feature food and drink vendors, DJ-led entertainment and dozens of endurance sports industry exhibitors showcasing state-of-the-art running, biking and swim gear as well as the latest in nutrition and supplement products.

Anyone can register until the week before the race. For more information as to cost, age divisions and skill-level divisions just go to the event’s website. The entry fee will also include a runner bag, swim cap, number bib and Escape to Miami Triathlon T-shirt.

Every competitor will receive a finisher’s medal while gold, silver and bronze medals will be handed out to the winners, second- and third-place finishers respectively.

In addition to the main event, at 8 a.m. Saturday, there is an individual Sprint/Classic or International race, starting with a .25-mile swim along the Biscayne shoreline, followed by a 13-mile bike race and a 3.1-mile run.

There is also a Special Compass-sponsored challenge event for athletes with disabilities category in which para-athletes can use wheelchairs during the run portion and be shadowed by their able-bodied Power Buddies so that the para-athletes can experience the thrill of crossing the finish line.

Former Cuban national triathlete Yunior Rosete will return to defend his title (2:06.56) and bid for his fourth Escape to Miami Triathlon gold medal. “Since the first time I entered this race I thought it was spectacular,’’ says Rosete, 34, of Aventura. “It’s beautiful and different. Swimming into Miami from an island offers a different perspective of a race.’’ Rosete, a local legend among the South Florida endurance athlete community, loves that his wife, Zarina Gomez and son, Luca, 3, come to cheer him on. “I’ve done this non-stop my whole life,’’ says Rosete. “It’s my passion.’’

Last year’s women gold medalist, Meagan Bradley (2:23:09), a former Florida State swimmer, said this race is her favorite event of the year. “Before the race starts, on the boat ride while hanging out on the island, there’s a unique combination of nerves, excitement and energy from my fellow athlete’s support that is unmatched.

“What really sets this race apart from the others is the swim back to Miami as the sun is rising over the city’s skyline and then biking and running across bridges battling the heat and wind while smelling the salt air all ending in the post-race party truly makes this triathlon unique.’’

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