Singer Island Half-Marathon

Bright House Field, home of the Clearwater Threshers and one of my favourite places.
Bright House Field, home of the Clearwater Threshers and one of my favourite places.

A trip to the US requires me to combine the original purpose of the trip with either a half-marathon, attendance at a baseball game, or both. During April’s trip I went to see the Clearwater Threshers and Palm Beach Cardinals play home games in the Florida State League, and I had a great view for two hours of a storm that wasn’t going to arrive, was maybe going to arrive, and then did arrive and relieve itself all over the home of the Daytona Tortugas.

Sandwiched in the middle was the Singer Island Half Marathon: the third running of an event on a little spit of land named after the sewing machine magnate. I figured it would be similar to the Ocean City (NJ) Half in that whilst not entirely along beachfront, would feature it heavily.

The event write-up is nigh-on irresistible:

IMG_0003“This course takes you along the entire stretch of Singer Island, including up and over the Blue Hero Bridge with views of Peanut Island and the Port of Palm Beach. Also included on the course are the incredible and beautiful natural landscape views provided as you run through John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.

The course continues with a 2nd trip over the Blue Heron Bridge and a quick loop through the quaint town of Palm Beach Shores before finishing at the newly renovated City of Riviera Beach Beachfront

If you haven’t seen the new beachfront yet, you MUST! This is certainly going to become one of the premier destination events in South Florida, as there is no more scenic half-marathon course anywhere!”

A few things worth clearing up there:
– The views as you go back and forth (twice) across the Blue Hero Bridge are awesome, and it’s a great feature to have near the start and finish.

Who needs race supporters when you can get cheered along by all these nondescript hotels.
Who needs race supporters when you can get cheered along by all these nondescript hotels.

– There are several minutes of view across nondescript swampish area at the north end of the island…and that’s it.
– There is nothing quaint anywhere near Palm Beach. Modern, newly renovated, clean…yes. Quaint? Hahaha.
– If you want to see the beachfront, that’s great…but you won’t see it from anywhere on the course. The finish line is I don’t know how far back from the beachfront because I couldn’t see the beach. It was within a hundred metres…probably…but invisible from the finish area.
– There are countless more scenic half-marathons all over the States and elsewhere. I’ve only run a handful of Half-M’s: Cayman Islands, Ocean City (NJ), Rumspringa (PN), Canterbury (England) and one Full (Disney). ALL of them were more picturesque than this event, in my opinion.

The view from the bridge near the start and finish is the one good section of the race.

Those aren’t the only reasons that it will certainly not “become one of the premier destination events in South Florida”. The other problems are:
– It starts too late. It’s Florida, people. 7am in April equates to a 8:45-9:15 finish time for people in my range of ability, and it was over 90 degrees for the second half of my race and plenty humid. No fun in that.
– Lack of water. There wasn’t enough, and the supplies they had were in a single garbage bin.
– Lack of water. No, I wasn’t kidding.
– The medal. The size of a small plate it is the same medal as given to the 10K runners, which makes it a joke, and there’s very little design – it’s mainly just massive lettering.
– Lack of spectators. Two-thirds of the course is running past the inland-side of hotels – non-residential, nondescript areas. And even in the residential areas there were only a handful of folks, so there was really no atmosphere.
– Photographers. There was ONE potential GREAT shot of runners (excluding the finish line), and that would be taking pictures across us on the bridge with a backdrop of the port and town. They missed that.
– Queues for packet pickup in an overstocked running shop with barely enough room to breathe.

That location and that write-up will bring plenty of first-timers like me. I would imagine they’ll struggle to bring people back.

On the other hand, if you want an event with no atmosphere, having the first medal you seriously think about throwing in the garbage, an uncomfortably hot run and where you may or may not get much water at the end but which is in a trendy area of Florida, then this is the one for you.

Oh yes, and I ran my worst-ever time of 2:07-ish which should have really bothered me but didn’t – I was just glad to get it over with.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Marjolein M Reynolds says:

    Wow Paul, you really did not like that. You never know, someone important enough might take notice.


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