The 16th Annual Key West Half Marathon and 5K – Running in Florida's Beautiful Keys, January 19, 2014
It is one of the best winter Half Marathons in the USA and has a 5K to add to fun options. You will find no better race venue for a wonderful winter get-away on Sunday, January 19, 2014! Get ready for a gorgeous half marathon on one of the most fascinating islands anywhere. "Close to perfect, far from normal", is more than a slogan - it is a way of life. Enjoy the run, the sun, and the fun.
Posted Monday, 30 December, 2013
The countdown to the 16th annual Key West Half Marathon and 5K has begun! The event offers two races so everyone has an option to run or walk. This exciting, respected and famous race in Key West features many intriguing sights along the streets and the water, and will highlight many notable locations that make Key West, the southernmost city in the continental USA, a contender for best winter get away. The event is presented by the Half Shell Raw Bar located on the harbor in Key West.
Key West is much more than a resort, having a history and culture unique to the United States—a magnet for writers, artists, presidents, innovators, athletes and nature lovers of all kinds. It has grown into a center for business and commerce with a lot to see and do, including cultural activities, shopping, dining, and ecotourism. Previous inhabitants, of course, have included Native Americans, Spanish explorers, British and US military operations, pirates, salvage operators, fisherman and builders.
And it is beautiful! There are lush tropical plants and trees with year round flowers and blooms, and Key West’s weather is nearly always perfect. The color of the waters alone inspires awe, whether viewed from above, below, or from the beach.
Key West is easy to get to by way of the Overseas Highway (Route One), the ferries out of Fort Myers, or flights into Key West International Airport. Getting there is part of the fun. Key West is one of 882 islands that make up the Florida Keys, and you will see most of them as you head down to Key West from the mainland—every mile an adventure. Key West is closer to Havana than to Miami, adding to the charm and the fascination.
Half Marathon Expo, Meals and Mixers
Be sure to check out the schedule of activities for race week, including the opportunity for discounts on activities and rentals for runners and guests from Wednesday, January 15 through Monday, January 20. Things kick off on Wednesday with a special happy hour for runners and friends at the Turtle Kraals Restaurant and Bar from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., during which time there will be volunteer information, assignments and safety meetings in an adjacent location.
There will be a runners’ mixer and special happy hour on both Thursday the 16th and Friday the 17th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Island Dogs and Rum Barrel Restaurant respectively. AND each night there will be special menus and pricing for runners’ dinners at various host properties around Old Town.
The Expo and Number Pickup and Guest Speaker, Keith Brantly
The Race Expo will be held at the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center, 33 East Quay Road near the harbor on Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m., and numbers and shirts can be picked up during Expo hours. Shirts this year are gender specific, a point very important to women runners, of course. During the Saturday evening session the special guest speaker will be Olympian and All-American running star Keith Brantly. And Mrs. Brantly could tell you a thing or two about racing: Kim Pawelek Brantly won the 2013 Key West Half Marathon in 1:23:00 (Adriano Bastos won the men's race in 1:13:24).
Brantly ran the 1996 Olympic Marathon, participated in Olympic Trials five times, was on 12 different USA National Teams and was an eight time national champion. Now 51 and a coach and motivational speaker, he was a three-time NCAA All American and Florida native. He showed great range and flexibility in a long pro career with distances ranging from the 1500 meters to the marathon. Personal bests include a 3:58 mile, 13:36 5K, 28:02 10K, and 2:12:07 marathon.
Awesome Course, with Changes
Hundreds of volunteers will support the runners as they make their way from the Old Town near the harbor with its many docks and piers along the north end of the island. This area—start and finish--has many shops and restaurants lining the harbor.
There are changes to the course for 2014 because of construction and they will not use the traditional loop course with the last miles along the north shore—North Roosevelt Boulevard is not available. The start will be on Trumbo Road, a few hundred meters east of the traditional start and just south of the Naval Reservation. The initial miles (and the last ones) include a tour of famous Mallory Square where spectators line up nightly to watch gorgeous sunsets. (You can view a beautiful sunset at Mallory Square on Saturday night and see an equally beautiful sunrise in the early miles of the race as you speed along Atlantic Avenue and South Roosevelt Boulevard, immediately along the south shore waters and Straits of Florida.)
The course winds through Old Town on famous streets, including Whitehead (parallel to and adjacent to Duval Street), passing the Earnest Hemingway House and Museum and the iconic lighthouse across the street. The course hugs the shoreline for many miles, out and back, as runners pass beaches, the airport, the famous Martello Towers (1800’s military installations attached to Fort Zachary Taylor), gardens and resort hotels.
The turnaround is on the campus of the VA/Navy Hospital and the reverse course is as fascinating as the outbound portion. The finish is within a few hundred meters of the start and close to the Half Shell Raw Bar and Turtle Kraals, two of the sponsors. Start and finish are also close to the ferry terminal for those coming by sea.
“One Human Family”
Key West is only 150 miles south of Miami, but has a totally different charm and appeal going back to the 1800’s. Many of the structures have definite Bahamian influences—many settlers came from the Bahamas—and some were built by shipwrights, not traditional carpenters and builders. There are influences from many places, giving rise to the motto, “One Human Family”.
And the historic city streets and lovely neighborhoods of Key West provide a terrific place to run in winter. On January 19th the average high temperature is 77, and average low 63; compare that with Boston, for example, which averages 40 and 27 degrees respectively. There is much more sun in Florida in winter, of course because of the latitude—the sunshine state. Boats will ply the waters along the course, and many activities beckon for the entire weekend, including planned runner mixers on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and a post race series of parties, finishing with a farewell party on Monday, January 20th.
Race Director Barbara Wright, President of BW Promotions, is renowned for providing runners with quality, exceptionally well organized race experiences, and features other events as well. The only caveat is that, because of the small roads in several areas, they can only accept 2,000 applicants for Key West Half Marathon. And they will sell out, so don’t delay.
Please visit the race website for information on travel and accommodations, registration, course descriptions and maps, bib pickup (Friday, Saturday and race day), gear check, traffic, shopping, volunteering, photos, results, sponsors, contacts, the schedules and more. Set a PR with this ultra flat course with likely ideal conditions. Check the race website for more information and details on the course: www.keywesthalfmarathon.com
Post Race Celebration and Gems of the Region
Celebrate your triumphant finish with the awards ceremony (9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. just outside the Half Shell Raw Bar), followed by delicious, post race meal. There will be live entertainment, endless beer and Key Lime Pie on a Stick--provided by the Key Lime Pie Company of Key West who just set the record for the world's largest Key Lime Pie. A special post race brunch menu will be available at the Westin Key and the Hyatt Key West. Replace those carbs and satisfy that thirst before heading off to enjoy the post race parties at Charlie Mac’s, the Rum Barrel, or Island Dogs—or all three—before soaking up more of what Key West and the Keys have to offer.
Wear that custom finisher’s medal proudly as you visit shops and restaurants; it has a uniquely Keys design and colors. The Awards ceremony from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 is only the beginning.
Lastly, on Monday the 20th there will be a Farewell Party from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Turtle Kraals Restaurant. It will be a Special Awards Mixer; Awards Presented to Running Organizations and Volunteers, Meet Organizers, Vendors & Fellow Runners, there will be Raffles Given out!
Take advantage of online registration now. Be a part of the excitement and participate in the Key West Half Marathon in Florida’s most intriguing town. Begin your planning for this January Florida running adventure that is sure to be a memorable experience for years to come. Please visit the race website http://www.keywesthalfmarathon.com and be a part of one of the best there is.