By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Over 20,000 runners pounded the pavement in the 2019 FitBit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, January 27, 2019. The weather forecast called for wet, rainy conditions, but race participants were instead surprised with an overcast and humid morning.
Starting at the American Airlines Arena, the course is mostly flat and features scenic views of Miami, Miami Beach and the MacArthur Causeway Bridge.
“The best part of the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is the incredible scenery,” said half marathon participant Brian Mora of Cooper City. “From the cruise ships at the start to a stroll down South Beach and the finish at Bayfront Park. You really get to see the best scenes of Miami during your run.”
It was a star-studded event in typical Miami fashion. Francis Suarez, mayor of the city of Miami, completed the half marathon. Five NFL players also ran the half marathon.
Buster Skrine, a cornerback on the New York Jets, along with three teammates ran to raise money for the New York and Atlanta chapters of the Boys and Girls Club of America. Marcus Williams, a defensive back for the Chicago Bears, also participated.
The 22-year-old Ezekiel Kipsang finished first overall. Born in Kenya, Kipsang lives in Ottawa, Canada and won the Miami Marathon in two hours, 16 minutes and 34 seconds. He ran at a staggering mile pace of 5:13.
Forty two-year-old Kate Landau of Tacoma, Washington won the women’s race with a time of two hours, 37 minutes and 45 seconds. Alfredo De Los Santos of Hopewell Junction, New York won first overall in the marathon wheelchair division.
Kipsang and Landau each earned a prize of $4,500 for winning. Landau received an additional $500 to her winnings for placing first in her age group (forty and older).
The Miami Marathon is an all ages event. FitBit Kids Run Miami is a privately-funded program for all middle schools in Miami-Dade County. The goal of the program is to promote a fit, healthy lifestyle and to incorporate running as part of students’ daily physical activity.
Over 1,500 students ran 25 miles over fifteen weeks leading up to the big race. The kids ran their last 1.2 miles on the same course following the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon runners.
Key Biscayne local Andrew Otazo finished the race in dead last. He completed the 26.2 miles in about ten hours while carrying 30 pounds of garbage strapped to his back. He told Runner’s World that he wanted to send a message about ocean pollution and keeping South Florida’s beaches clean.
Originally known as the Orange Bowl Marathon in the 1970s, the Miami Marathon has evolved into a top destination for runners alike. Runners representing 89 different countries came to Miami to participate in the race. 1,248 racers hailed from Colombia, 737 from Mexico and 327 Canadians all ran.
Many runners from the northern states such as Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts traveled south to escape the brutal winter weather. Nearly 1,200 New Yorkers were accounted for in the event.
The 2020 Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is scheduled to take place Sunday, February 9. Early bird registration is already open.