How to survive Sunday’s windy, warm and possibly rainy Miami Marathon

Runners made their way northbound on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach during wet conditions in the 2017 Miami Marathon. Rain is expected again Sunday, Jan. 28, for the 2018 race.
Runners made their way northbound on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach during wet conditions in the 2017 Miami Marathon. Rain is expected again Sunday, Jan. 28, for the 2018 race. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Get out those makeshift garbage bags-turned-ponchos — just in case.

While you’re at it, bring some anti-chafing lubricant to protect your feet from blisters.

And a dry set of clothes to store at gear check might come in handy.

While the more than 20,000 registered participants in Sunday’s Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon are likely asking the weather gods to keep the skies from opening, the forecast as of Friday morning called for rain that will begin Saturday night, stop for the 6 a.m. start, begin again midmorning and get steadier in the afternoon.

Race director Frankie Ruiz has the real forecast: “There’s 100 percent chance that there will be a run,” Ruiz said. “There’s zero percent chance of snow.”

The marathon will begin in toasty temperatures forecast for the low 70s and rising to the mid-70s by early afternoon, with 80 percent chance of rain by 1 p.m., well after most of the participants have finished and the course begins to be torn down.

For the large contingent of Northeast travelers coming to escape the snow and cold, Sunday’s event will likely be a welcomed, but nonetheless warm and humid, race. South Floridians for the most part are used to it, but anything can happen in a 26.2-mile race.

Wind, predicted to be from the southeast, will likely be the biggest culprit Sunday, as gusts could rise to 25 miles an hour and stay around 17 miles an hour for much of the race. The more than 70 wheelchair racers will have to be extra careful “in rounding some turns and coming off bridges,’’ Ruiz said.

The race, which begins in front of AmericanAirlines Arena and proceeds through Miami Beach, Coconut Grove and downtown Miami to the finish on Biscayne Boulevard at Bayfront Park, includes the MacArthur Causeway (Miles 1-4) for marathoners and half marathoners, and the Rickenbacker Causeway (Miles 23-24) for the full marathoners.

It also, for the first time, will run over the Miami Avenue Bridge instead of the Brickell Avenue Bridge, at about Mile 25½.

“My biggest advice is on the wind factor,’’ said Ruiz, 39, a competitive runner who has led Miami’s Belen Jesuit Prep to eight of its nine state championships in cross country since he began coaching there in 2002. “Wind affects us more than rain. Maybe don’t fight as much in the beginning of the race. It’s something that the marathoners will notice a little bit more than the half marathoners because the race for them spreads out.

“You might want to consider drafting — sharing some of the workload with somebody else and switching off with each other. Also, be mindful that sometimes when we feel wind we think less about hydrating. But your body tends to dehydrate more in crosswind. People think, ‘I’m being cooled down.’ In reality you’re sweating quite a bit, especially with weather in the 70s.”

As usual, there will be 23 aid stations manned by at least two nurses per station and more than 100 medical personnel, including doctors, at the finish line area that includes a huge medical tent. Baptist Health once again will lead the medical charge.

The race, with runners from all 50 states and more than 70 countries — including Colombia’s contingent of more than 1,100 — has drawn another respectable elite field that includes about eight Kenyans. Last year’s winners — American medical student Christopher Zablocki (2:18:15) and Ethiopian women’s leader Marta Ayela (2:40:51) — couldn’t make it back, but there will be plenty of others vying for the $18,000 marathon prize purse ($4,500, $2,000 and $1,000 apiece for the top three men and women) and $7,000 half-marathon purse ($1,500, $800 and $450 apiece for the top three men and women).

Two Americans competing for a piece of the purse are marathoner David Kilgore, 26, and half-marathoner Ethan Clary, 28.

Clary was the Miami Half Marathon runner-up last year in 1:09.58. Kilgore, who also ran the half last year, finished 10th in 1:16:12.

Clary, 28, is moving from Doral to Durham, North Carolina, on Monday night.

Kilgore, 26, who is from Palm Bay, Florida, has been working in Keene, New Hampshire, the past six months and is moving to Miami Beach after the race to join his girlfriend, Molly Metivier, who is also running.

“Miami is a beautiful course and it’s more special this year because wherever I’m living, it kind of means something more,” said Kilgore, a cinematographer who won his third consecutive Space Coast Marathon (2:30:26) on Nov. 26 and is coming off a victory earlier this month in the Bahamas Marathon (2:32:44) in Nassau.

“You run through South Beach, downtown, all the great areas of Miami,” Kilgore said. “I know a lot of people in the community, and being around them to represent my city is always a great feeling.”

Clary also said he especially “enjoys seeing a lot of familiar faces.”

“It looks like it’s going to be quite toasty,” he said of the expected temperatures. “But I’m just going out to enjoy my last race in Miami.”


When/Where: 6 a.m. Sunday in front of AmericanAirlines Arena on Biscayne Boulevard.

Who: More than 20,000 participants, including about 6,000 for the 26.2-mile marathon.

Registration: $170 for marathon and $155 for half marathon, 12 to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Health and Fitness Expo at Mana Wynwood Convention Center, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami, 33127. There is no race day registration.

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