The annual Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is one of the most scenic races in the US, offering runners from around the world a race with breathtaking views, ocean breeze and that unique Miami flavor. The race takes runners from the American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat, in Downtown Miami across the Mac Arthur Causeway to Miami Beach and along Ocean Drive. The run continues to Coconut Grove via the Venetian Causeway and, for the runners of the full marathon, also through Little Havana. To cross the finish line runners then return Downtown Miami via Biscayne Boulevard, where the marathon after-party is just getting started. We are in Miami after all!
This past Sunday, January 25th, over 20,000 runners gathered at 5 am in the unusually chilly Miami morning to get ready for the 6.15 am start. This year’s event was blessed with perfect running conditions with the race starting in 52 degrees and low humidity.
I was amongst the runners registered for the Half Marathon, ready to run 13.1 miles through the city I love and call home. It is an incredible feeling to run early in the morning and see the sunrise above the Atlantic Ocean while taking in the fresh air. I felt so full of life, healthy, happy and thankful for being in such a beautiful place. The buzz and energy of the runners is also quite an experience that I cannot even compare to anything else.
Over the course of 13.1 or 26.2 miles respectively, I admit that the feelings of the early morning wear off and change a little. As your legs get tired and your body starts to ache what keeps you going is adrenaline, will power and your competitive streak. The cheering crowd is such an encouragement and, to me, one of the most enjoyable experiences of running a marathon. A marathon brings out the good in people, whether runners pushing themselves to new accomplishments or the people cheering on the side of the road, many making extra efforts to provide not just support to the runners by sharing encouraging words but many handing out additional water or even preparing snacks. Every “Keep it up, you are doing great!” infuses your feet with new energy and makes you try even harder so thanks to the DJs, bands, dancers, kids banging on pots, friends and family of runners and unsuspecting tourists caught in the middle.
The best part of the race though is the moment when you cross the finish line and receive your medal. Just before exhaustion and pain really kicks in, there is a moment of euphoria and relief and pride in your accomplishment. The Miami medals are of course, a true tribute to the city with sunset, ocean, palm trees and a dose of bling. Every year a different Miami artist gets to deign the band of the medal to incorporate the artistic and creative side of Miami and create something extra special.
Participating runner has been declared “Miami Famous,” as the tagline for the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon goes, and I am happy to say I also became “Miami Famous” and completed my run, beating my 2013 and 2014 times. Trust me though, what I did pales in comparison to the elite runners who compete to win.
The 2015 Marathon winners were Luis Carlos Rivero Gonzalez of Guatemala with 2:20:47, followed by runner-up Benazzouz Slimani of Morocco with 2:22:45. The women’s race was really close as only two seconds separated the first and second place. Victorious was Alemnesh Eshetu Habtemikael of Ethiopia, who won with a time of 2:39:31 over Maria Peralta of Argentina.The 2015 Half Marathon best were Mariano Mastromarini of Argentina with 1:05:24 and Soranyi Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic with 1:19:12.
Congratulations! I, for my part, will continue to run a few times a week and keep it up so I will be ready again for the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon in 2016.