The month of October here at Hokeyblog generally means two things: my annual presentation of Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs and a review of the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon held every year in the heart of South Beach. And why not? Miami is such a strange, bizarre, “beautiful to look at but with a definitely creepy undertone” place to visit, that it practically lends itself to a Halloween celebration that merges the fit and beautiful with the macabre and bizarre.
Plus it’s a super fun run, right? So much so, that 2015 marks the third year in a row I’ve run it. Granted, my first time running it in 2013 didn’t go as fun as planned, but there were extenuating circumstances that morning: unavoidable and last-minute road closures by the city, plus setting out at a pace/interval that was probably unsustainable for a half, made for a bit of a personal disappointment. However when I returned to the race in 2014 I had an absolute blast of a time. The weather was perfect, I ran for fun rather than to set out at a competitive pace, and Running Buddy Kristi ended up PR’ing anyhow. I couldn’t wait to do it again.
So on the morning of October 24th, 2015, we returned to participate in the race yet again. The race itself practically begs you to do it in costume, and Kristi and I were willing to engage in the spirit of the event. As you’ll recall, last year we ran as Robin and Batgirl:
This year we decided to eschew the superheroes and draw inspiration from fairy tales. But with a twist, of course. I give you Big Red Running Hood and the Li’l Bad Wolf:
Yes yes, we went a little last-minute with the costume ideas, but it worked! I think! (plus I can re-use the hooded cape at Wine and Dine in two weeks, and that’s all I’m saying about that for now…)
Anyway, I’m not going to get too detailed with the race review, as everything was almost exactly as it was a year ago. The Start Line was at Parrot Jungle Island right off the MacArthur Causeway. Boots dropped Kristi and I right at the entrance and parked over by the Finish Area in the South Pointe area. Moments later we bumped into my buddy Jackie, a Mickey Miler teammate who managed to NOT sleep through her alarm this year and made it to the race. Huzzah!After chatting for a bit (and agreeing to meet at the Finish Line to share some beers) we went to use the restrooms inside the parking area (MUCH better than the Porto units, thank you) and returned to the Start Line by 6:10 to take a bunch of pics with our Friends In Training buddies. Marcela, Don, Millie, Janice, and Nurit were in full superhero attire, various Spider-Men and Batgirls and Wonder Women. I almost missed my Robin outfit. Almost.
It was a windy, cool (Miami cool, which meant low 70s and reasonable humidity), and generally agreeable morning in Miami. Not quite as cool as it was last year, but definitely far from being a hot, humid, muggy mess. Everything felt great… especially as it started raining a few minutes before race start. It was a mostly gentle rain, but a steady one, which means taking care of foot placement in the opening miles. The early minutes of rain bring out the oil in the asphalt, whereas the later minutes wash it all away. So we had to take care of not slipping, falling, and/or face-planting… which I saw one particular runner do not even a tenth of a mile into the race. THAT looked particular painful. Owch.
Anyway, after a prerecorded national anthem the race began precisely at 6:30 AM. Like clockwork we crossed the Start Line, hit our Garmins, and we were off.
Let’s take a look at our race course, courtesy of Google Maps and my trusty Garmin 920xt:
In the exact same course as last year, the race took us 3 miles eastward on the MacArthur Causeway, then on a path adjacent to Alton Road heading south, curving around South Pointe park (past the Finish Line, which at Mile 4 seems almost like teasing), and northbound on Ocean Drive as we enter the heart of South Beach, right on the wide sidewalk with views of the beach and the sun rising over the Atlantic. Miles 7 through 10 are almost entirely on a narrow wooden boardwalk as we reach the turnaround portion of the race past mile 9. Then we return southbound on the same path, curving up and around South Pointe amphitheater before finally hitting the same Finish Line we passed at Mile 4.
The rain let up somewhere between Miles 3 and 4 for us, but I didn’t mind it at all. My cape and hood actually helped keep me warm and dry for a while! Since we were running for fun, the pressures to really run hard and fierce were out the window. It was a bit slippery out there anyhow, so there would have been no point to gun it. We just took it slow and easy, and enjoyed the race for what it was. The percentage of runners in costume was really high; certainly the highest I remember in the three years running the race. There were about two dozen nubile young women running in rather skimpy “Where’s Waldo” attire. Since my wife might be reading this… I assure you, that was quite horrible to look at. Honest. Really. *gulp*
Meanwhile, it was still dark and spooky out: We said hit to our buddy Jeanne at the turn onto the southbound Alton sidewalk, where we had more than a few puddles to navigate over and around. No matter. The rain had stopped, the weather was still cool, and the breeze was blowing nicely. While the sidewalk remained a little slippery, it wasn’t hazardous in any way, and this was, for all intents and purposes, just a 13.1 mile training run for us. So around South Pointe we went, curving around the park and finally heading northbound on Ocean Drive.
Boots was stationed at a Starbucks just before 5th St, and captured these awesome action snapshots:The rest of the race was pretty much as it was every year: beautiful scenery, attractive people, insane views over the ocean (the rain ceased and the skies cleared to an awesome blue somewhere between Miles 4 and 5), a crowded out-and-back on the Miami Beach Boardwalk, and plenty of cyclists and pedestrians who either forgot that there was a race this morning or perhaps didn’t care. Thankfully they weren’t that obnoxious this year. Let’s just say your humble narrator didn’t get into a verbal altercation with a d-nozzle cyclist who made a habit of nearly colliding with every runner imaginable like he did last year. A fun part of our run was taking stock of our fellow runners in costume. I saw a Superman family out there, a Flash family, plenty of Batmans, Batgirls, Robins, a host of Captain Americas, even a dude in full Iron Man attire. Disney was well represented as well, with a Cruella DaVille who did NOT like me singing her theme song as she passed, plus Pocahontas and Dalmatian pair, and pirates, pirates, pirates! .
Anyway, the rest of the race was great fun and an easygoing time. Other than that final incline around Mile 12.5 as you climb the hilly area around the Amphitheater, we finished the rest of the race at an easy pace. Boots was waiting near the Finish Line, snapping pics:
Here’s our official (and free!) finish line pic:
And check out this amazing piece of bling, featuring Universal’s greatest movie monster of all time. OF ALL TIME!!
Our final time was around 2:28 which, since we weren’t running for time or pace at all, was around where I thought we would finish. Felt pretty good for a training run. Kristi and I grabbed some cookies and met Boots by her Finish Line spot and cracked open a few celebratory cold ones: Funky Buddha Floridians and Shock Top Pumpkin Ales. We were waiting for Jackie and her friend to finish, which they did in great style. Jackie managed to PR — congrats JC! — even with a fresh tattoo on her calf. Righteous! They joined us later where we all posed heroically with our beers. Because beers! We eschewed the Finish Party at Nikki Beach and elected to grab some grub over at the 84 Diner in Davie. But not before one more celebratory beer was to be had in the parking lot. Because we’re classy that way! So all in all, the 2015 Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon was another irresistibly fun and totally enjoyable way to kick off the South Florida running season. I’ll run this race every year I can, because without the pressure of a PR-OR-DIE mentality and with the fun of running in costume and with friends, it’s almost impossible to have a crummy time. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. We don’t judge here. Here’s the video: