Where do I begin? I gotta say folks, I didn’t think I’d see this kind of excitement outside of a tough mudder. I’m going to separate this review into two parts. This part will focus on just how it was setup and how it went, generally speaking.
Ok, so we got there early. Very early. We probably got there at 430am. There were runners there but they were also just setting up the start line too. Most people seemed to start getting there closer to 5:00am. There is a lot of room to just sit there on the steps in front of the American Airlines Arena while you wait, and you can use the bathrooms in there instead of using the porta potties. If you want to check bags, you have to walk a half a mile away and then come back. And they offer Gatorade to everyone waiting around for the start.
They make an announcement at 5:30am for all runners to get to your corrals. There are no guards policing who goes into which corral so my race buddy came with me into my corral. It seemed a lot of people were doing this. Then you wait for 45 minutes (race starts at 6:15), standing up, until they shoot off what looked like 4 flares (this maybe was supposed to be a firework) and the race starts. … and then you wait some more for your corral to be the one running. By this time the sun is definitely rising and you start to get worried about just how hot this race is going to be now that you wasted an hour just standing there. From the pictures I have seen of previous races, it seems we started this one later than usual.
The first mile is up a bridge heading over to Miami Beach. It wasn’t bad and it was a great view to start off the morning. You see all the cruise ships on your right, which my race buddy liked but I, opting out of using headsets the first half of the race, didn’t find as interesting as the people around us. Understanding Spanish is half the fun my friends. Everyone was speaking Spanish. But swearing was going on in every language. I definitely heard curses in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. There was a particularly violent “F— You B—-!!” thrown in English before Mile 2. That’s when I knew this race would be different.
The water stations – oh. my. god. My race buddy and I conferred after the race and both of us said that these were the most violent water stations either of us had ever encountered. People were throwing elbows, pushing, shoving, and it was general chaos. The water tables were short and they often couldn’t fill the cups to supply the demand. It was hot and humid and I know I was hitting up water way more than I usually do during a race or even a regular long run at home. And because they weren’t filling the cups more than a drop, I was having to grab at least 3 cups each time. Then everyone would throw the cups at their feet and there was this pile of cups that you had to wade through each stop. Again, I’ve run several halfs in my time and I’ve never seen it like this. And forget about it when they start serving oranges for the marathoners. Those peels were everywhere and they were slippery like banana peels. I spent more time at these water stations than I ever have, just because of the chaos and congestion. Just seeing a water station made me get into fight or flight mode. It was that bad.
By the time you hit South Beach, you’re feeling the heat. People came down from their hotels to sip coffee and watch the runners. It was the prettiest part of the race I’d say. Then you start weaving through posh neighborhoods where all you see are Range Rovers and sailboats. This area had a few bridges and some of those bridges had grates. If you’re afraid of walking/running on grates, you could use the sidewalks. At one point, it seemed as if runners were jumping on the grates to make it bouncy and I was thrown in the air like I was running on a trampoline. The grates have “teeth” so there was good traction at least.
Towards the end, the runners started calming down a bit. Oh, but before that, there was some asshole who rode his frickin BIKE through the runners on a bridge! The runners being ME. Well, mainly he rode into the guys in front of me who hit his bike and set him off. The guy on the bike started to yell at them/us for hitting HIM! He was riding a bike right through a marathon! Vertically! Not across! The route was packed! He was hitting people left and right! Unbelievable. Besides that, you had your general weirdness you’d see on course, like this one woman running in a thong. Or at least that’s what her extremely short shorts on her rather large bottom became. And trust me, she was aware of it. I, personally, don’t want to watch a huge sweaty bum in my face for miles and miles, but to each his own. Soon two guys jumped in front of me to get a better view, thus saving my eyes for the remainder of that portion of race.
Ok, that’s it for Part I….. on to Part II….