Outdoors

Competing in the Miami Marathon? Prepare for cool temperatures and possible rain

Luis Carlos Rivero Gonzalez and Benazzouz Slimani, shown two days before the 2016 Miami Marathon, have each won the full marathon in the past and will be competing again on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 — Slimani in the 26.2-miler and Gonzalez in the half marathon.
Luis Carlos Rivero Gonzalez and Benazzouz Slimani, shown two days before the 2016 Miami Marathon, have each won the full marathon in the past and will be competing again on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 — Slimani in the 26.2-miler and Gonzalez in the half marathon. wmichot@miamiherald.com

The encouraging news for about 23,000 competing Sunday in the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is that the temperatures should be relatively cool — at least by South Florida standards.

The not-so encouraging news is that you might want to bring a change of clothes in case you end up sopping wet and some anti-chafing products to prevent blisters.

Although not as chilly as last year’s coldest Miami Marathon in history, when temperatures were in the mid-40s, weather forecasts are calling for a 60-degree, 6 a.m. start that will likely dip a few degrees and could bring rain anytime after 7 a.m.

Of course, that could all change in an instant, as South Floridians know.

“I’m obviously welcoming the cooler temperatures,’’ race director Frankie Ruiz said. “Our local runners know that every time they step out of their houses it could happen.

“For the out-of-towners, have a good, dry set of clothes to check in with gear-check so you can stick around in case it does rain.”

 
 

As former Miami Marathoner and major supporter Sally Heyman, a Miami-Dade County commissioner since 2002, said Friday: “At least you know there won’t be snow.’’

The event — 26.2 miles for the full marathon and 13.1 miles for the half — begins in darkness on Biscayne Boulevard in front of the AmericanAirlines Arena and traverses some of the most scenic spots in Miami and Miami Beach before returning on Biscayne near Bayfront Park.

As of Friday afternoon, with people still registering at the health and fitness expo at Marlins Park, at least 6,500 had entered the marathon distance.

The weekend running festival also includes the Tropical 5K in Miami Beach at 7 a.m. Saturday, but that has already sold out with 2,500 participants.

This year, marathon organizers opted not to pay for elite runners to come to the race, choosing to raise the prize purse a bit and have those runners pay for their hotels and entries. The winning men and women will earn $4,500 in the marathon and $1,500 in the half, with the second and third-place finishers and chair racers also awarded prize money.

“We have some decent times submitted,’’ Ruiz said. “We’re seeing if they can create a race for themselves without us curating that elite field.’’

Turns out that a couple of old-time successful elites have returned regardless, including defending champion Benazzouz Slimani, 41, who won last year by nearly 17 minutes in 2 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds. He also won in 2009, finished second in 2011 and 2015 and third in 2012.

“I love Miami,’’ Slimani, a native Moroccan who lives in Italy, said after winning last year. “Beautiful city, good people. I am very, very happy to be here.’’

 
 

Also returning is two-time Miami Marathon winner Luis Carlos Rivero Gonzalez, 29, a Guatemalan criminal attorney who led the 2015 and 2013 marathon fields, placed third in ’14 and finished fourth in the half marathon (1:06:48) last year.

Gonzalez will compete in the half again, going against a field that includes top South Florida runner Ethan Clary of Miami, who has run a 5K best of 14:18 and a half marathon as fast as 1:07:31.

Miami Half Marathon 2016 women’s champ Santa Ines Melchor Surquillo, 30, of Peru is also back. She set an event record in 1:13:52.

As usual, the race will be full of international runners, with dozens of countries represented, including Colombia, which leads all others with just over 1,000 registered.

Ruiz urged competitors “to be careful on the bridges with the grading.’’

“We’ll put out an advisory for people with disabilities,’’ he said, “especially when it comes to turns. Just like when you’re driving, you adjust your speed and the way you turn and how you plant. It all happens to a runner regardless of the conditions — whether it’s windy or rainy or cold. That’s the beauty of our race. It’s held outside.’’

The bridges include the Second Avenue Bridge, the Brickell Avenue Bridge and two drawbridges on the Venetian.

More than 200 medical personnel, including nurses, physicians and athletic trainers, will volunteer at the event, where 23 aid stations will be set up throughout the course. Baptist Health, led by Dr. Frank Sanchez, will provide the medical services and run the giant medical tent at the finish line.

If you go

Miami Marathon and Half Marathon: 6 a.m. Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Boulevard.

Registration: Marathon —$170 at health and fitness expo; Half Marathon—$150.

Health & Fitness Expo: Free and open to the public, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Marlins Park, 501 Marlins Way, Miami.

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