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Reach of Miami Marathon and Half Marathon growing as another sellout appears likely

The Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon participant medals are shown.
The Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon participant medals are shown. Courtesy of Miami Marathon

For the 1,469 runners whose necks went unadorned last year after completing the 13.1-mile portion of the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, fear not.

The medals for Sunday’s event are not only accounted for, they’re pretty snazzy — works of art, actually. And while you’re checking out the specially designed ribbons by famed artist Romero Brito, and the spinning, gem-stone adorned palm tree inside each medal, you’d be prudent to register pronto.

As it has the past few years, the event will likely reach its combined limit of 25,000.

“I get excited by the same thing every year: the sheer number of visitors colliding with the sheer mass of local runners,” Miami Marathon chief running officer Frankie Ruiz said. “We’ve been registering at a good clip lately, somewhere near the 300- to 400-person-a-day rate.

“Registration is still open, but it might not be for long.”

Marathon officials will close registration at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, and possibly reopen it during the weekend expo if there are available spots. The race begins at 6:15 a.m. in front of the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Sunday’s field will include runners from all 50 states and 80 countries, with more than 600 entrants apiece from Colombia and Mexico, as well as hundreds more from Costa Rica, Canada, Brazil Guatemala, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

Each runner will wear a bib that shows the flag of his or her country.

“The passion of this event has grown beyond the borders,” said race director Javier Sanchez, who traveled with Ruiz in July to the Media Maraton de Bogata in Colombia to forge relationships with race officials, who will man a booth at the Miami Marathon expo. “We were so incredibly welcomed, and this year you’ll see some of their staff members run our race.”

The weekend events, owned and produced for the second year by Life Time Fitness Inc., include 2012 Miss Colombia Lucia Aldana and her actor husband Pedro Pallaresin on Saturday in the ancillary 5K.

Elite marathon runners will arrive from countries such as Ethiopia, Argentina, Italy, South Africa and Guatemala. As of Sunday, 2014 marathon champions Samuel Kipkosgei Malakwen of Kenya (2:19:46) and Mariska Kramer Postma of the Netherlands (2:49:28) were not entered.

Prize money remains the same: $2,000 for the men’s and women’s winners, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place, with men’s and women’s masters’ winners and push-rim and hand-crank wheelchair winners earn $500 apiece.

Half marathon winners in each category earn half those amounts.

For the first time since 2009, the race course will be slightly altered because of construction issues. The half marathon “will stay entirely the same,” Ruiz said, but Mile 13 of the full marathon will utilize the Southwest Second Avenue drawbridge over the Miami River instead of the Miami Avenue Bridge that is normally used. The bridge used this year won’t have grating, which should prove gentler on runners’ feet.

That change means marathoners now get to run about 500 meters on the east end of Calle Ocho. The other change is in Coconut Grove, where marathoners will shift one block south for about 500 meters. In addition to traversing through residential areas of Coconut Grove, marathoners will pass through much of the Coconut Grove business district.

“The integrity of the race course has not changed,” Ruiz said, noting that the start and finish and vast majority of the route — including the McArthur Causeway, Ocean Drive, Venetian Causeway, Flagler Street, Bayshore Drive and Brickell Avenue remain part of the course.

As for those half-marathon medals that ran out before all the runners had finished, Sanchez and Ruiz assured there are plenty to go around Sunday.

“We’ve triple checked all our lists, from the vendor to our receiving process to the distribution process at the race site, and I’m 150 percent sure everything is going to be fine,” Ruiz said. “Medals are ready at our warehouse and we’ve counted everything.

“I will personally make sure I’m putting the ribbon around the last finisher’s neck.”

Miami Marathon and Half Marathon weekend

Who: 25,000 combined runners.

When/where: 6:15 a.m. start (6:05 for wheelchair) Sunday; AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd.

Late Registration: $175 marathon; $150 half. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday but will reopen at expo if there are enough spaces left.

Health and Fitness Expo: Noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Noteworthy: The Tropical 5K in Miami Beach is 7:30 a.m. Saturday with Watson Island start and Nikki Beach finish (1 Washington Ave.). Cost is $40 through Wednesday and $45 afterward through race day. To register and for more information, go to www.themiamimarathon.com.