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At the Races

Key West Half Marathon, Key West, Florida

Key West Half Marathon, Key West, FL    January 19, 2014

Craig Van Doren  1:43:53

Runner’s World (Feb. 2014) rates the Key West Half Marathon as one of the top Half’s in The U.S. Key West is a most interesting town and certainly worth a visit. A high school classmate who lives there referred to it as “another country” and “La La Land.”

I arrived on Tuesday following a drive from the mainland to play golf and experience Key West prior to the race. The weather was nice high 60’s/low 70’s but cooler than typical January. Hey shorts and a short sleeve shirt beats what I had been wearing in NJ.

Sunday morning arrived with a slight wind and temp of 58˚ for the 7:00am start which would be close to perfect for a singlet. I arrived about 40 minutes prior to the start and began final prep for the race. After checking my bag I went inside the Half Shell Raw Bar to wait where it was a little warm. I met runners from all over the east coast. The start was on a dead end street and everyone had to cross the starting line to assume their starting spot. It was congested, there were no pace signs and the sidewalk area was crowded with 5k participants who were to start shortly after the half. The course was altered slightly from previous years because of road construction and turned into an out & back layout. I had walk, run or driven all of the pieces of the course so I was comfortable with the scenic route thru Old Town, past Ernest Hemingway’s Home, past the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A. where you are 90 miles from Cuba and along the seawall. The first 1 ½ miles were initially spent weaving around slower runners who were misplaced at the start and then following a winding route thru the seaport area. There were many volunteers keeping the handful of cars out of the runner’s way. Water and Accelerade were available approximately every two miles and I carried enough PowerBar Perform for the first hour. I quickly settled into an 8:00 minute pace which was my target based on a hip issue I had been wrestling with for a few weeks and some excess weight I was carrying from the volume of excellent seafood I had been consuming. Around mile 4 we reached the seawall sidewalk along the southeast side of the island. We would run about 5 ½ miles of the sea level course on the sidewalk to the turn around and then back sharing the 10 foot wide sidewalk with the runners heading in the opposite direction. It was never an issue aside from the street sign I clipped with my right shoulder around mile 8. The final three quarters of a mile had a few more turns and narrower streets to the finish line. I arrived at 1:43:53 which was acceptable.

The post race party had live musical entertainment including a high school classmate, a beer truck, Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, fruit, Danish & bagels. The party was planned to be an all-day affair and suspect it went into the night in true Key West fashion.

Approximately 2,000 runners ran this low key half marathon and over 1,000 in the 5k. There were many members of Florida running and triathlon clubs in attendance. The shirt and medal are pretty wild and in keeping with the Key West theme. I enjoyed my first visit to Key West, the town is interesting, has fantastic restaurants and hopefully I will return in the future to run the Key West Half again.


Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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