Miami Half Marathon was costumed and unique

12/30/2011 - 17:35

By DIANE LYONS/Founder and Coach/ShamRockers USA

I had watched the Miami Halloween Half Marathon from afar for the last few years. It seemed to offer a very unique course where the runner has the ability to run along the beach on the Atlantic Boardwalk. However, since autumn in Florida offers a heavy race calendar, I could never fit it into my schedule. This time, I made it.

As founder and coach of ShamRockersUSA, Inc., a very unique Teen Running and International Travel Club where kids aged 10 to 18 can learn to run half marathons around the world, teaching them the joys of long distance running is the greatest job on the planet! I have personally run over 50 races ~ local, national and international ~ and always keep an eye out for the details of each race. I am happy to offer my thoughts to the hard-working, usually under-appreciated, yet very important in the lives of runners -- race directors! Way to go, Matt Lorraine and team!

The race began across from the cruise ship docks in Miami -- on the Jungle Gardens Island. I loved the ease of the entry to the Start Line Parking Lot. The garage was open and well lit, with plenty of room for all because the race team also offered you a choice to park at the finish line and be shuttled in, halving the number of cars right off the bat. The start line was small but fun, accommodating the almost 1300 runners with plenty of room to stretch, warm up, tend to personal issues, and enjoy the music with encouraging family members and friends standing with you. As well, they offered Race Day Pick-Up, which is important to those of us who drive in the night before.

The race began promptly at 7 a.m As a costumed race, I can attest that well over 60% of the participants adorned some type of zany garb! With prizes for best costume, I must admit I applied my zombie make-up with more than the usual zeal.

The course was truly enjoyable from the start, staying right along the water for the majority of the run. Water stations with very vocal, happy volunteers cheered us on at every mile, offering water and PowerAid. Although not necessary for the distance, it would have been a treat for runners to have access to gel. Adding music on the course would also be good, which could come from the residential districts. Clocks to guage your race pace would help. Mile signs were cute, though somewhat difficult to see.

Entering the Boardwalk just before Mile 7 was a highlight of the course for me. Having run the streets of Miami just on the other side of the sea oats for years, it was nice to see the ocean dancing over the mangroves and sand dunes. The shaded, fragrant boardwalk comprised the majority of the course and offered a cushioned surface for the run. The wooden surface of the deck can be a bit slippery but in no way detracted from the run.

Plenty of cycling help on the course, watching the runners for safety, and the road patrols were very accommodating. The quantity of residents along the course was not as much as in other races but those that were out were of good cheer. The Grande Finale was in the return loop back to the Finish Line, where we ran past lighthouses, the open ocean and a riprap lined coastal inlet that had us completing our journey in style right to the Finish Line.

Once the race was over, runners were immediately able to check their times in an electronics tent, receive a finishers medal (truly awesome and very creative), a selection of cold drinks, enjoy a massage on one of about a dozen tables from Onsite Medical and feast on fresh tacos or chocolate chip cookies! Plus, a soft drink, both regular and diet, was such a nice change from all the water and sports drinks found on the course.

It was here that I thought the race and experience had concluded, that is until the gent on the microphone gave directions to a place called Nikki’s Patio – WOW! Literally an endless gourmet fare on which the runners, family members and volunteers could dine under the shade of dozens of sea grape and orchid trees while seated on overstuffed chaise lounges and sun beds. There was seating for hundreds to enjoy the party and at least three large food stations offered items such as various pastas and salads to oysters on the half shell. The scenery was enough to feast your eyes but the restaurant made sure your body was sated as well.

With the number of races Floridians are blessed to have offered, and even those escaping the cold of the north for a well-deserved weekend in the sun, everyone must be selective in their race choices, but this is one to place on your calendar.

(Diane can be emailed at

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