The countdown for the Jan. 27 Miami Marathon and Half Marathon begins Sunday with the Allstate Life Insurance Fort Lauderdale 13.1 Marathon, relay and 5K races.
A record field of more than 3,000 runners, many training for the ING Miami Marathon, is expected for the 13.1 Marathon Series opener, which features a new course and title sponsor. Relay and corporate divisions have been added for the first time in the five-year history of the race.
“We are really excited about the amount of runners, the South Florida running community is really booming,” said race director Javier Sanchez of Plantation. “We’re excited about all the new elements of the race and our new title sponsor. We see it as a great kick-off event for the marathon.”
The Fort Lauderdale race is the first of five races in the series that also has stops in Los Angeles (Jan. 13), Miami (March 9), New York (March 23) and Chicago (June 8).
The new course begins just south of Broward Boulevard on SW First Avenue and runs through downtown Fort Lauderdale including the Henry Kinney Tunnel. The course then heads east along East Las Olas Boulevard until the beach at Atlantic Boulevard The course continues north along A1A with a turnaround just north of Oakland Park Boulevard. The course continues south to the finish line at South Beach Park, where a large post-race concert and party will be held.
“The new course allows us to take advantage of the scenery along Las Olas and the Riverfront area,” Sanchez said. “It also allows for growth in the event and gives runners an opportunity to feel more spread out.”
Along the course, there will be entertainment stations featuring live bands, disc jockeys and cheerleaders similar to the Palm Beaches and A1A Marathons.
“The course is beautiful and weather is going to be perfect. Everyone is excited about this race,” said Renee Grant, owner of Runner’s Depot, where packet pickup was held.
Dave Shula, avid runner, triathlete and member of Runner’s Depot Racing Team, hosted a fun training run and prerace party Thursday at the new Shula Burger at Fort Lauderdale’s Quay Plaza.
Last year’s winners Jordan Desilets of Pinckney, Md., and Angela Cobb of Indialantic are expected to return to defend their titles. Both broke the course records in the 2012 race.
This year’s winners will receive $1,000, and second- and third-place runners will get $500 and $250, respectively.
• Notes: U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment, organizers of the Dec. 2 Palm Beaches Marathon and ING Miami Marathon, is donating $20 to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts for each participant who registers before Nov. 30. Proceeds from each entry will be split between American Red Cross for Hurricane Aid and charity of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s choice.