It was 20 degrees at 5 am on a Sunday morning in downtown Miami as we left the comfort of our hotel and ventured out into the darkness joining a growing swarm of people heading to the start line of the ING Miami Marathon. It was eerily quiet despite there being so many people and it felt like a scene out of "The Walking Dead", well except everyone had a bit of pop in their step and a smile on their face.
So what brought us from little 'ol PEI down to Miami? Well my wife (Teresa) and I started running a couple of years ago and we enjoy travelling so we thought why not combine both and take on a half marathon and enjoy a few days in the sun at the same time. After a bit of searching, checking flights and hotels we settled on Miami, figuring it wouldn't be a bad spot to settle into for 5 or 6 days.
We arrived in Miami on Wednesday evening a few days before the race on Sunday planning to do a bit of shopping and hanging out at the beach before the run. We decided to stay downtown at the JW Marriott Marquis since it was only a few blocks from the start/finish line The marathon was running a free shuttle every 20 minutes from the starting area over to Miami Beach all day Friday and Saturday, so being right on the beach wasn't a priority.
The Florida Panthers were playing a home game against the Ottawa Senators Thursday night so we decided to rent a car for the day and drive up the coast about half an hour to Ft. Lauderdale to do a bit of shopping, spend the afternoon at the beach and go to the game that evening. On game day we were able to get 2 tickets 6 rows from the glass for $40 each, try doing that in most NHL cities.
After a couple of beach days it was time to run. Due to the potential of very warm temperatures the run starts at 6:15 am. We decided to run the race together since there were so many people and plus we thought it would be neat to run the course together. The amount of people at the start line was a bit overwhelming, it took us over 15 minutes just to get to the start line from our assigned corral and then we were off. With most races we run it is normally a bit congested at the starting point but the crowd soon thins out but not this race, we were bobbing and weaving around people throughout the whole course. It made it a bit more challenging but a really neat experience at the same time. Teresa had wanted to finish the run in under 2 hrs, we crossed the finish line in 1:57:20.
It was a great course, very flat and easy to run. There was a large water/Gatorade station roughly every couple of kilometres which was great especially coming on the end. The number of people lining the course cheering us on was phenomenal, there were thousands of supporters lining the streets shouting and encouraging the runners. The views were spectacular, we got to see cruise ships coming into port, run along Miami Beach and see some beautiful homes and buildings along the route. All of the sites made the experience that much more enjoyable.
If you are thinking about a mid winter (warm) run I highly suggest considering south Florida. It was very well organized, there were no issues on race day, the course was very well marked and there were over 1000 volunteers helping out on the course and the free shuttle to Miami Beach was a nice added bonus.
Jason Spezza taking the faceoff
Just outside our hotel at 5 am on race day
Start line 30,000 getting ready to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles
It wasn't raining, the water stations were so huge that this was the typical scene after each one
Still lots of people coming to the finish as we were heading back to the hotel
Lots of international participation in this race, at least 2 Canadians, probably lots more