Outdoors

Firefighter runs Miami Half Marathon in full gear

Supporters stand on retainer wall cheering on participants as begin their descent on the MacArthur Causeway heading east towards Miami Beach. Thousands ran, jogged, and walked during the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, January 25, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
Supporters stand on retainer wall cheering on participants as begin their descent on the MacArthur Causeway heading east towards Miami Beach. Thousands ran, jogged, and walked during the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, January 25, 2015 in Miami, Florida. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Elite runners weren’t the only ones competing with a purpose Sunday morning in the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.

Miami Beach firefighter Claudio Navas honored his friend and training partner, Miami firefighter Danny Alvarez, who died last year.

Navas ran the 13.1-mile Miami Half Marathon wearing full firefighter’s gear, with an oxygen tank strapped to his back. He carried the 75 extra pounds the entire distance, finishing in 3:23:33.

“The spectators were cheering me on,” Navas, 34, said. “If [Alvarez] were here, he would have run the race with me.”

DOCTOR DRIBBLE

Miamian Darren Weissman, 32, known as “Doctor Dribble,” bounced his way to the finish of the half marathon in 2:17:34 after bouncing his way to the Tropical 5K finish on Saturday in 30:45.

Weissman dribbles two basketballs the entire race without stopping.

“It went great,” he said. “People kept asking me to do crossovers or dribble between my legs.’’

At water stations, Doctor Dribble “took a knee” and let people pour water in his mouth while he dribbled.

“I almost drowned,” he said. “One girl missed and poured it on my head.

“I don’t care about my time. There was so much positive energy. I’m out there to have fun, inspire others and help my charity.”

HEALTHY HABITS

Miami resident Jose Garcia repeatedly jumped up and down while pumping his fist after clocking 4:06:04. Last November, the 5-9 Garcia weighed 195 pounds. On Sunday he toed the starting line at 145 pounds, which helped him shave 55 minutes off his personal best marathon time.

“I told myself, ‘No drinking, no smoking, no bad diet,’“ Garcia, 59, said, “and it worked.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Finishing his 29th marathon was Miami resident Lance Benson. Benson, who was born without legs, went the distance in 2:58:39 while balancing himself on a skate board and propelling along with special heavy gloves.

▪ Shortly after finishing the 26.2-miler in 3:40:50, Yirianne Kahn, 30, of Peru, bent over and broke down in tears. After a few seconds, she took off running around in circles and then hugged a photographer.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “This is my third marathon, and I ran a personal best. I’m so happy.”

▪  Despite temperatures in the low 50s, Daniel Munger cruised along wearing nothing but a red, white and blue speedo and a wrap-around black bow tie. Taped to his right arm was a red Frisbee he calls his “Captain America shield.”

“I’ve done 20 races like this and it’s comfortable,” said Munger, who finished in 3:13:05. “The crowds love it.”

▪ The crowds also loved the man with the longest marathon completion streak in a coat. Dennis “Coatma” Marsella, 63, of Fort Lauderdale, completed his 28th consecutive marathon in Miami in 4:48:08. He wears a wool coat and carries a waiter’s tray “with drink items on it.”

▪  Sunday’s event included the always-popular Kids Run Miami. As part of a Miami-Dade County Public Schools project, children from 30 middle and elementary schools ran a mile for 25 days.

On Sunday, the field of about 1,000 ran the final marathon mile. Finishing first was Jaime Plasencia, 15, of Allapattah Middle School. Allapattah’s Travea Scott, 14, was the girls’ winner.

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