KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Runners seeking a picturesque warm-weather challenge this winter can find it Sunday, Jan. 14, during an event acclaimed as one of the United States’ leading winter half-marathons.
Several thousand runners are expected for the Key West Half Marathon & 5k Run in the continental United States’ southernmost island city. Event organizer Barbara Wright encourages interested runners to register soon, since the popular event is fast approaching its 4,600-entrant sell-out capacity.
Now in its 20th year, the race has earned prestigious kudos including being noted as a must-do or “bucket list” half-marathon in both Runner’s World and Competitor magazines. Over the years, Wright said, it has attracted participants from every U.S. state and nearly 30 other countries to compete in the Florida Keys’ subtropical January climate.
The 2018 race expo and packet pickup are planned for 3-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, outside the Half Shell Raw Bar at 231 Margaret St. In addition, a limited packet pickup is set for 5:30-6:30 a.m. on race day.
The half-marathon is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday at the corner of Key West’s Caroline and Grinnell streets and proceed on a flat, fast 13.1-mile course through the island city’s scenic Old Town and Atlantic Ocean shoreline. The associated 5K run is to start at 7:30 a.m.
Plans call for Sunday’s half-marathon to end near the intersection of Caroline and Margaret streets. An awards ceremony and post-race party are scheduled with entertainment by Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band.
Awards await first- through third-place male and female finishers in five-year age groups ranging from 9 and under to 75 and over, as well as the top overall competitors and those in the masters division.
The half-marathon entry fee is $115 per person through Dec. 15 and $120 per person thereafter. The 5k entry fee is $55 per person. Each entrant is to receive a gender-specific long-sleeved fully sublimated race shirt and a unique Key West Lighthouse finisher medal.
A portion of race proceeds benefits Key West Sunrise Rotary Club scholarships and the Florida Keys Community College youth swim program, among other charitable partners.
Event information and registration: keywesthalfmarathon.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY