For runners, January means one thing: the Key West Half Marathon and 5K in the southernmost city. The 17th annual race is set for Sunday, January 18th, and is fast becoming a much desired destination for those wanting to run off the winter blahs in a balmy, subtropical climate.

“We look forward to seeing our returning runners, who always say how great it is to get away for a run this time of year,” said Barbara Wright, event founder and organizer. “And for newcomers, they can either be challenged with the Half Marathon or go for a shorter 5K, or even walk in either race. Something for everyone’s level, and probably one of the reasons this race was voted ‘one of the best winter marathons in the USA’.”

Key West offers many reasons to fly straight in, take the ferry from Ft. Myers, or land in Miami and take a liesurely drive down the Keys for a weekend getaway. It has a colorful history — including pirates and plunderers, writers, artists, explorers, military, sailors, and fishermen — plus beautiful resorts, shopping, cultural activities, and water sports.

Following Key West’s long history of being a melting pot, this highly respected race will welcome 101 participants this year from countries beyond the U.S. — from Europe to the Caribbean and South America.

The fast, flat 13.1-mile Half Marathon course offers gorgeous scenery through Old Town, including many notable landmarks, and then winds around the Atlantic for a beautiful view of the blue water. It begins at 7 a.m., and the 5K starts at 7:30 a.m. Race packets can be picked up at registration, open from 1-7 p.m. on Saturday at the foot of Margaret Street in the Historic Seaport. Also not to be missed on Saturday: acclaimed former Olympic runner Keith Brantly is offering a training run for all. There will also be a great fitness expo and pre-race ziti, marinara and meatball dinner from 4-8 p.m. outside of Half Shell Raw Bar. Tickets are $8.00 and can be purchased on site.

On Sunday after the race, the post-party at the start/finish line (corner of Caroline and Margaret streets) promises to be as entertaining as ever, with the Keys’ own Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 band providing live islandy music, plus there will be food, beer, and a raffle. Then, the awards ceremony will present honors to the top three placers in five-year age groups from nine to 75, plus Overall, Master and Military winners. Everyone who finishes will receive a finisher medal, and entrants will receive a gender-specific tech shirt (guaranteed for pre-registrants and while supplies last for those signing up on Saturday).

The Half Marathon starts at 7 a.m. Both races offer discounts to returning runners, those in the military, and local residents. Part of the race proceeds benefits the Florida Keys Community College youth swim program, Key West Sunrise Rotary Club, Zonta of Key West, and Womankind.

Palm trees…sand…warm winds…beautiful scenery…. Many wonderful reasons to set those training goals, escape winter and come to an ideal location for a Half Marathon and 5K!

To register or for more information: or call Barbara Wright, race founder/organizer at (305) 240-0727.

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