You might not be a runner, but your presence would be greatly appreciated Sunday morning at the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.
About 23,000 runners and walkers will fill the streets of downtown Miami and Miami Beach, and competitors would love nothing more than some encouragement from vocal spectators.
The event, in its 15th year, begins at 6 a.m. in front of the AmericanAirlines Arena on Biscayne Boulevard.
The finish line is on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street, adjacent to Bayfront Park, and will feature live music, food, drinks and bleachers that are open to the public until 1 p.m., when organizers begin to tear down the course.
On-course entertainment provides a much welcomed distraction and overall fun time for the racers, who will have DJs and plenty of varied live music — from the St. Andrews Pipe and Drum Band of Miami to high school drumlines to the Boom Box Band, and much more.
Color guards and plenty of cheerleaders will perform.
For those who want to give runners an extra push when they need it, at least 11 “cheer zones” have been established in Miami Beach, downtown Miami, Coconut Grove and on Brickell.
“The marathon is a foot parade,” said race director Frankie Ruiz, paying tribute to the view of late New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow. “What do people do at parades? They spectate and watch people pass by. The performers are runners and they don’t enjoy performing to an empty crowd.”
The Baptist Community Cheer Zone at Soundscape Park on 17th Street is one, complete with a DJ. Team Nike Cheer Zone is on 17th and Lenox in Miami Beach, and Team Lifeline has cheer zones at the end of the MacArthur Causeway and at Dade Boulevard in Miami Beach.
Among several cheer zones in downtown Miami, there’s one at Northeast 15th Street and Northeast First Avenue supported by Friendship Circle International and one, with a band, supported by Lululemon at Northeast Seventh Street and North Miami Avenue. Others are Go Run Miami Cheer Zone at Northeast First Street and Northeast 16th Avenue and near Macy’s at 22 East Flagler Street.
Others are near Vizcaya (Go Run Miami) in Coconut Grove and at 2600 Brickell (Baptist).
Some of the zones provide water, cheer cards and giveaways to spectators.
“A constant criticism of our event is, ‘Why can’t we be like New York or Boston or Chicago with those great big crowds?’” Ruiz said. “Part of the reason is it starts so early and we’re still a relatively young city when it comes to the support of these events.
“But after 15 years, we’re starting to turn the corner.”
Bryan Huberty won the Tropical 5K for the third year in a row on Saturday morning.
The results were nearly a repeat of 2016, with Huberty (15:46.30) and training partner Dean Frankel (16:11.86) posting personal best times in taking the top two positions. Miami's Lazaro Rashid (16:13.41) finished third.
Guadalupe Merlos won the women's race in 18:51.39 and arrived at the finish line with quite a story to tell.
Merlos woke up early Saturday morning and took a run before her run, completing six miles before lining up on Watson Island for the 7:30 a.m. start of the Tropical 5K.
She was one of three female runners to better the 20-minute mark. Miami Beach resident Margaret Klimek (19:29.05) was the runner-up, beating both her 2016 time and third place finish, while Catherine Poulcallec-Gordon (19:36.33) of New York finished third.