The Islamorada Coast Guard, Baptist churches, running clubs and other fitness enthusiasts are to test their endurance by running the All-American Road that crosses over 23 bridges as it stretches from Key Largo to Key West.The 4th annual KEYS100 “ultra” road race begins Saturday, May 14, in Key Largo and ends in Key West. It is a non-stop ultramarathon running event that includes three distinct races — individual competitions of 100 miles and 50 miles, and a 100-mile six-runner team relay, said Bob Becker, race director and creator of the KEYS100. Both 100-mile events begin at 6 a.m. in Key Largo, while the 50-miler starts at 10 a.m. in Marathon.
All three races end at Smathers Beach in Key West. The 100-mile competitors have 32 hours to complete the race, while 50-milers have 16 hours. “Two-thirds of the race is run on bike trails, service roads, sidewalks and pedestrian bridges,” said Becker. “The balance is run on the road shoulder, facing traffic. No roads or lanes are closed in the Keys during the race, and no disruption of traffic is expected,” continued Becker.
Registered for 2011 to date are runners from 33 states and from Canada, Spain, the Philippines and Jamaica. Ultramarathon notables Brian Krogmann, Jonathon Savage, Lisa Smith-Batchen, Monica Scholz, Claude Hicks and Joe Ninke have competed in past KEYS100 races. In the inaugural race in 2008, a total of 131 runners participated in the KEYS100. In 2009, that number grew to 310. Last year, 530 people competed. Bob Becker says he expects close to 700 competitors for the 2011 races. “With support crew, family and friends, the race will bring nearly 1,000 people to the Keys. Many will spend at least one night in Key Largo or Marathon before the race begins, then head for Key West where many enjoy a day or more of R&R before heading home.”
The race also raises money to fight prostate cancer. Three charities, including “The Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys,” “Holy Cross Hospital” of Fort Lauderdale and “The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center” at Georgetown will receive funds in 2011. Proceeds are used for free prostate cancer screenings, educational outreach, direct support of families impacted by the disease and research to find a cure.
Spectators interested in checking-out the excitement along the route and especially at the finish line on the sidewalk at Smathers Beach are welcome. Runners will be reaching the finish from roughly 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, throughout the night until 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, and the larger the crowd to cheer their huge accomplishment, the better.
Becker says there are still racing slots available for a few last-minute individual or team entries. Most questions will be answered, and registration should be completed online. Go to: www.keys100.com to check out the runners’ names and hometowns, or send e-mail to [email protected], or call 954-439-2800.