Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Things that Make Me Go Hmmm....

One of the weirdest things about living in Southwest Florida is the fact that we don't host a major marathon in the winter.  Naples hosts one of the nation's best half marathons in January but so far a good marathon hasn't taken root here. 

A half-assed effort was made a couple of years ago to hold a marathon in Cape Coral.  The race was organized by rank amatuers, the kind that my running buddy Steve Riley and I loathe.  It was understaffed, poorly marked, with few water stations and a lot of loops.  It died a quick, deserved death after 2 years.

Now I see that plans are in the works for a marathon on Fort Myers Beach.  The website for the race next November says it's in conjunction with the Lee County Sports Authority.  I go hmmm.  It's obvious this race isn't about racing or even running, it's about making a quick buck.  I say that because if you hold a marathon on Fort Myers Beach, then you can be 90 percent sure they plan to have the runners traverse the bridge.  I can't say it with 100 percent certainty because the race website doesn't even have a course map up yet.

This is why I go hmmm.  Fort Myers is pancake flat.  There are plenty of great locations to run an interesting marathon without going over any of the bridges in or around Lee County.  Yet the organizers have picked Fort Myers Beach, I'm sure hoping for a ton of sponsorship from businesses located there.  Fort Myers Beach is the wrong place for a race like this, unless they plan to run a couple of loops up and down the island which seems doubtful.  

Besides the issue of running up and over a major bridge, probably a couple of times, you've got the issue of wind and humidity incumbent with running on or near the island that this town sits on.  If I'm with the Lee County Sports Authority, I can think of a half dozen spots in Lee County that would offer better running with NO bridges.  Add in 10K worth of prize money and you could attract some fairly decent runners.  But this has all the earmarks of a wry attempt to attract folks that I like to call hobby joggers.  And that's not a slam against hobby joggers since I certainly fall into that category.  My days of being a competitive racer are long gone.  

As for the sports marketing firm behind the race, they already stage a marathon in Newport, Rhode Island.  I went to Marathon Guide to read some reviews on that race and it looks like a mixed bag regarding their skills for on putting on a race, but not horrible.  It will certainly be a better race than the catastrophe staged in Cape Coral.  I hope I'm wrong.  I hope they can avoid the bridge!

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