With the sky still dark, temperatures in the low 70s and strong breezes welcoming more than 20,000 runners and walkers ready to greet the day, the Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon took off at about 6 a.m. Sunday in front of AmericanAirlines Arena.
The marathon winner: Hillary Too, 38, of Kenya, in 2 hours 23 minutes 2 seconds. The runner-up: Teklu Deneke, 38, of Ethiopia, in 2:23:39.
The women’s marathon winner, Lyubov Denisova, 46, a Russian living in Gainesville, obliterated her competitors by crossing the finish in 2:40:53. The runner-up, Lindsey Scherf of High Falls, N.Y., finished more than a mile behind in 2:48:34.
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Thousands of spectators gathered along Biscayne Boulevard and the steps of the arena, holding signs for their favorite entrants and hoisting their cellphones to take pictures and video of the start.
“This is a world-class marathon with people from all over the world running,” said Bob Barnard, whose Greater Fort Lauderdale Road Runners Club had 50 people participating and about 30 volunteers manning the start and finish.
“This is great. No rain, 73 degrees. It’s perfect for us Floridians.”
The good news: Conditions were dry as runners packed the street and headed north toward the MacArthur Causeway. When they reached the top, lit-up cruise ships created an enticing backdrop.
The bad news: Steady, heavy winds almost the entire race made it tough going for the competitors.
Winning the 13.1-mile half marathon was Julius Koskei, 36, of Kenya, in 1 hour 5 minutes 47 seconds.
The half-marathon runner-up: Senbeto Geneti of Ethiopia, finishing in 1:07:43.
Winning the half marathon in the women’s division was Firegenet Mandefiro, 24, of Ethiopia, in 1:16:34.
The women’s half-marathon runner-up: Santa Ines Melchor, 31, of Peru, in 1:16:45,
The dignitaries included Latin multi-platinum, award-winning singer and songwriter Prince Royce, 28, who served as the event’s grand marshal and then took off to compete in the half marathon.
The event has drawn participants from more than 70 countries and is proceeding through some of the most scenic and historic neighborhoods of Miami Beach, Coconut Grove and downtown Miami until it reaches the finish near Bayfront Park.