The Inaugural A1A Marathon is slated for November 12, 2005, and this is one first-year event that seems destined for greatness. It's also a terrific opportunity to become part of this event before it becomes a staple on the national calendar. How cool would it have been to say you did the first Boston, New York or Chicago? Well now's your shot at doing the first A1A Marathon.
What's A1A anyway?
For those unfamiliar, A1A is heavily associated with Florida beach culture and is known for its lush subtropical scenery and ocean vistas. History buffs may want to know that the term stands for Atlantic "1" Alternate.
And this is quite aptly named as the highway directly fronts the Atlantic Ocean for many miles, literally just blocks inland from the beachfront.
A1A is also the title of an album by singer Jimmy Buffett, and is referenced in numerous pop songs, including Vanilla Ice's early '90s hit "Ice Ice Baby." A1A has also been the popular backbone of Florida Spring Break, serving as "the strip" in Ft. Lauderdale during the crazy days of spring break in the '60s, '70s and early '80s.
Though spring breakers have mostly migrated north to Daytona Beach, the strip has recently undergone a multi-billion dollar renovation of first-class condos, restaurants, nightlife, and pristine sidewalks and beaches.
Warm weather, white sandy beaches
Ft. Lauderdale wants to be on the national running calendar and they're rolling out the red carpet to let runners know Florida, especially the A1A strip around Ft. Lauderdale, is an outstanding vacation destination in November.
Average temperature range for November in Ft. Lauderdale is 67 to 79 F and for those wanting a fast, flat course, look no further. The marathon starts on the scenic 17th street causeway bridge, passing over yachts and ocean liners, and then meanders its way along beaches and intracoastal waterways for the entire marathon.
"We did a poll about four or five years ago asking runners where they like to run and most of them wanted to run alongside the ocean," explains executive director Steve Tebon. "Well, I think we're giving them what they want as there will be water next to them for over for 95 percent of the 26.2 miles.
"There are also a couple of nooks where you're almost running on sand," continues Tebon. "They'll turn around in Pompano Beach and wind their way back through Birch State Park, with views of the intracoastal. Then they finish directly on the beach, with the last two miles looking directly next to the ocean on pavement."
How many marathons do you know that not only finish right alongside gorgeous, white sandy beaches, but strongly encourage you to jump in the ocean to cool off right after finishing?
If you're from Boston, and tired of running the Boston Marathon every year, you may want to take advantage of a double bonus this year. Run the marathon Saturday and then stay the night to watch the Patriots take on the Dolphins the next day at Dolphin Stadium, which is only 20 minutes from the Ft. Lauderdale strip.
Rich Williams, founder of the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, is convinced this will be a major marathon one day and has joined forces as a consultant to race organizers.
A run and much more ...
A "Starting Line Hotels" concept will showcases seven hotels that you can walk out your door and be on the starting line of the A1A Marathon. Each hotel is also offering special discounts to runners. Log on to www.a1amarathon.com for specific details.
In addition to music, food and festivities, there will be electricity and excitement in the air as 850AM radio station will have traffic helicopters over the course, delivering live reports to listeners.
You'll also find Zephyrhills Cool Zones at every other mile. Zephyrhills, the exclusive drinking water of the A1A Marathon, hopes to bring in a blast of coolness by supplying natural spring water at every aid station. Zephyrhills will also create a signature water stop that promises to inspire runners while cooling their minds and bodies.
First 4,000 runners ensure themselves a spot in this inaugural marathon, which also features a half marathon for those not up to the full 26.2-mile gig. The half marathon turns around at the halfway point and starts at 6:30 am, same time as the full marathon.
Every runner will receive a commemorative T-shirt, custom artistic-designed finishers' medal and will enjoy live music on the course and afterwards. Plus, with a name like A1A, you never know who might show up, as a certain guy named Buffet, who's partial to the A1A name, makes his home not too far from the course.
Half marathon will set you back $35, while the full runs $65. The event is chip-timed and will feature Rob Powers, announcer for the San Francisco Marathon and ESPN Outdoor Games.
For complete details, visit www.a1amarathon.com or call 561-241-3801.