• Juan J. Arrieta

An unforgettable experience in Miami

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Miami Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro by going to https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro. Find more race reviews like this one at www.bibrave.com.

There were several reasons why last summer I decided to sign up and run the Miami Half Marathon. It was partly due to wanting to expand my horizons by running races I have not done before, as well as due to the attraction for Miami as a fun, vibrant city with very mild, enjoyable winters. However, the biggest reason was that I have a lot of family who lives there, including a few cousins who had completed this race in recent years and who were eager for us to be able to run it together in 2019.

Right away, on the first day of the Expo (Friday), I knew this was the right decision. Getting to the Expo from where we were staying in the Brickell area of Miami was easy and convenient. We walked a couple of blocks to the Metromover station, a free, elevated light rail service that operates seven days a weeks in the Downtown and Brickell area. We used the Metromover to connect us to the Miami Trolley, also free, which then put us literally across the street from the Race Expo being held at the Mana Wynwood Convention Center. After arriving and meeting fellow BibRave Pro Lisa, I went through the VIP packet pickup process and was helped right away by the Expo staff. They promptly corrected an issue with my original bib and corral assignment, and allowed me to exchange my t-shirt size from large to medium given that the large turned out to be too big.

I then went on to enjoy what I feel has been the best Expo I've ever attended. There was a large variety of vendors, carrying a big variety of colorful and interesting styles of merchandise. There were also many booths from representatives of races from all over Latin America, such as Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

On top of that, there were plenty of other fun aspects we experienced, such as a giant floor map of the course for marathon and half marathon routes, and a group of samba/carnival dancers and drummers who made their way throughout the Expo floor in full carnival style in the middle of the afternoon.

After having a blast at the Expo, we moved on to walk the surrounding streets in the Wynwood area. There are plenty of free art galleries and museums, food trucks, restaurants, and entertainment for all.

On race morning, we took a short Uber ride to meet one of my cousins who rented an Airbnb which was conveniently located only about a mile from the start line and corrals in front of the American Airlines Arena at the corner of Biscayne Blvd. and 8th Street. In our group of 4, we each had been assigned to different corrals, so we decided to simply slide to the furthest one back to be able to start and run together. We were at the corral a little bit longer than the expected release time for it due to a delay from the City of Miami police giving the race director the clearance to start the race. But with the great company and fun atmosphere all around us, the time flew by and we were all joking and happy once we started moving and crossed the start.

Within the first mile, the course went onto the MacArthur Causeway and began to cross the beautiful Biscayne Bay, so literally from the beginning, the race was extremely enjoyable with awesome views and plenty of space and room to run on despite there being over 20,000 runners combined between the full and half marathon races.

Not once did I feel that that there were too many runners around me or found it difficult to hit the pace and stride that I wanted to be in. Before long we had crossed Biscayne Bay and entered into South Beach, with streets lined with colorful buildings and tall palm trees everywhere. The course was very well-marked and supported from beginning to end. There were plenty of hydration stations, port-a-potties, and medical tents throughout, always full of eager and friendly volunteers cheering us on.

Although the weather was not optimal for racing as it was humid and in the upper 60s (68 or so) at the start, I welcomed those conditions, as my goal for this race was to just run with my cousins, enjoy the scenery of the course, and not worry about pace or time. There was also enough of a cool breeze/wind to truly make things quite comfortable and enjoyable for me all the way to the finish line.

The great majority of the course was flat and fast. There were a number of slight inclines with the bridges crossing Biscayne Bay going to and coming back from Miami Beach, but truly nothing to worry about at all. Along the way there were a number of bands playing music and plenty of people cheering runners on, in particular over the last couple of miles.

Even though the finish line chute had a lot of volunteers handing out water and the gorgeous medals, we experienced a back-up of runners in front of us after we had finished and were in the chute and on our way to the food and stretching area. Our group reached out to the race administration about this issue and they indicated that we apparently finished at a moment in which there were inadvertently a more volunteers at the full marathon finisher’s chute than at the half marathon’s side, and that created a logjam on our side. Obviously this can be frustrating when you have just finished running a half marathon, but now that the race organizers are aware of this occurrence, I'm sure they'll plan accordingly and make the necessary adjustments next year.

Once we had gotten through the food and stretching area, we were treated to the largest post-race party I've ever seen, led by the 13th Army Band, playing awesome salsa music to the delight of the big crowds of finishers, friends, and family.

Within 24-48 hours, not only were the official results posted in the Athlinks website (and emailed by race management), but also amazing, FREE (yes, free!), high-resolution race photos included alongside them and ready to download---talk about huge value for your money!

In summary, I absolutely loved this race. It is truly an enjoyable event from beginning to end, so much so that I have already decided to return in 2020 and experience it all over again.

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