Seventh grader runs Miami Half Marathon; UM coach shaves five minutes off time

On Sunday, January 29, 2017 thousands of runners make their way westbound on the Venetian Causeway under cold and wet conditions during the Miami Marathon.
On Sunday, January 29, 2017 thousands of runners make their way westbound on the Venetian Causeway under cold and wet conditions during the Miami Marathon. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Miami seventh grader Mariana Alvarado, 12, spent the past two years running the final 1.2 miles of the Miami Marathon in a Miami-Dade program called “Kids Run Miami.’’

On Sunday, Alvarado, an honor-roll student at Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center, got brave and lined up with the men and women at the starting line to attempt her first Miami Half Marathon – 13.1 miles with more than 20,000 runners.

She finished in 2 hours 19 minutes 27 seconds.

Then, Mariana made sure she went back to run the final 1.2 miles again with her classmates, among thousands of children in Miami-Dade Schools who, since 2006, have taken part in the Kids Run Miami.

The program encompasses a 15-week training program at each respective school, with children running a minimum of 25 miles over those weeks. The final 1.2 mile finale is a program graduation of sorts, and Sunday, even Miami-Dade Schools superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho ran.

“I was proud of myself,’’ Alvarado said. “That’s what I wanted to do for a long time and I was training hard for it. I was tired after the half marathon fand didn’t think I could finish the Kids Run, but when I started doing it, my legs stopped hurting.

“I couldn’t believe it, because I ran more than 14 miles.’’

Mariana not only was double proud, she earned two medals.

“The half-marathon medal was bigger and it was in the shape of the number 15. It was fun getting both, but next year I want to do the half faster.’’


University of Miami football defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, 42, ran his first Miami Half Marathon Sunday in 1:44:33.

His wife, Stephanie, ran the half in 1:53:25.

Diaz grew up in Miami and is the son of former Miami mayor Manny Diaz Sr., who served the city from 2001 to 2009 and helped create the Miami Marathon.

He told the Miami Herald before the race that his goal was to run better than 1:49:49, the result he got when he ran in his only other half marathon a few years ago. He beat that by more than five minutes.

Tom Symonds, who works with Diaz as UM’s assistant athletic director for communications, finished his first marathon in 3:41:49.

▪ Next year’s Miami Marathon is set for Jan. 28, and registration has already begun: Monday through Feb. 5 is $85 for the full and $75 for the half marathon. The fees go up to $100 and $85 from Feb. 6-April 12. The Tropical 5K is $35 through April 12.

▪ Joseph Volfman, a 17-year-old from Springfield, N.J., with cerebral palsy, hand-cycled the full marathon Sunday using a custom designed racer. The teen got his first adaptive cycle five years ago from Olivia’s Friendship Cycle Program, started by an 11-year-old girl for children with special needs. Sunday’s race was his first long-distance event. He finished in 4:55:22.

▪ A team representing “The Blue Card,’’ a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing ongoing, direct financial aid and support to struggling Holocaust survivors in the United States, competed Sunday – two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Miami resident Rachel Adler Schapiro, who studied under the late Elie Wiesel at Boston University, ran in the half marathon and finished in 1:56:30.

▪ Dennis Marsella, 65, of Fort Lauderdale – better known as the Coatman – finished the marathon Sunday in 5:00:34. Marsella has now run wearing a coat in every marathon held in Miami since 1981 (some years there weren’t marathons), including the Orange Bowl Marathon and the Metro-Dade Miami Marathon. He also wears black wing-tip shoes, a fedora hat and carries a waiter’s tray with two goblets attached.

▪ Richard Brodsky is alive and well and still running strong, so strong that he qualified Sunday for the Boston Marathon in a personal best 4:08:08. Brodsky, 64, from Long Island, New York, overcame brain cancer in 2002 and has been HIV-positive since 1997. In 2012, the Herald ran a story about Brodsky’s inspiring recovery and entry into the Miami race with his wife, Jodi, who grew up in Miami Beach. He has since run 10 faster marathons, including his fastest race last July in Nova Scotia in 3:53:30 – and annually sponsors a World AIDS Marathon in Kisumu, Kenya.

Jodi finished in 3:58:39.

“I still believe that people, even those living with HIV and cancer, can reverse their aging process…by leading an upbeat, healthy lifestyle,’’ Brodsky said.