Anyone getting ready to run the Miami Marathon needs to read this post! As someone who lived in Miami for years and raced there, plus paced visiting friends through the marathon it’s what I wish I’d known back then!
Hopefully these few key pieces to help make life easier! Once you start to realize how long it takes to train for a marathon, I hope you’ve started looking at the right plan!
And then you started thinking…should my training be any different for a flat marathon? Yes.
Is there anything different about the Miami Marathon Course that I should prepare for? Yes. While this might be a flat, beautiful course, the weather has the potential to keep it from being fast.
I’m so glad you’re thinking ahead and hope these tips will help you have a great race whether it’s your first or you’re out for a Personal Record. Let’s chat about some key Miami marathon tips!
Miami Marathon Tips
With any race, I have a few standard recommendations for our athletes:
- Try not to walk around a ton before the race.
- Have your pre-race dinner and morning of meal with you or planned out, so you know it’s food you tolerate.
- Don’t get sucked in to driving the course :) you should have been training for whatever the elevation looks like and that’s all you can control. Plus in Miami, traffic is SLOW and it will make the course seem so long.
- Overall this is a really well organized event, so you should be in good hands on race day!
- Be prepared to hang around post race because this one has a great atmosphere in a beautiful place!
#1 Train for the Flats
One thing that many runners over look is how running a race that’s so flat can actually be harder. You’ll be using the same muscles throughout the race. If you’ve been training on rolling hills, you may find that things start to ache or fatigue.
While you will hit a few bridges, these are not like the large NYC marathon bridges. Most are still just a very small incline over waterways where small boats move.
This route is even flatter than the Chicago marathon with about 185 feet of gain and 182 feet of loss.
Your biggest hill will be in mile 15 and 16 as you go out over the Rickenbacker causeway. This was one of my favorite places to run for hill repeats, so it is a workout, but will be a nice change for your legs and it’s beautiful over the water, so just soak it in.
#2 Stay Near the Start
The Miami marathon starts in Downtown, so not out on famed South Beach. It’s more expensive to stay in this area, but trust me it’s not a place you want to find parking on race morning.
Check out the People Mover. It’s a free above ground automated rail system that loops around the entire downtown area and can help give you a wider range of places to stay. It’s going to be busy on race morning, but is a great way to get to the start without a ton of walking.
- You don’t need to worry about traffic or parking with roads closed
- A nearby hotel means it’s really easy to walk to the start as a warm up
- You can your use your hotel bathroom again more last minute and avoid any potential bad weather a bit longer
- If you can’t stay near the start, checkout the shuttles provided by the race!
Don’t be afraid to ask friends to split a room with you! Then you’ve got someone to share all the nerves with.
Don’t forget, you absolutely must eat on race morning! Checkout my guide for what to eat before a marathon >>
I know it’s hot, but your body needs the fuel.
#3 Marathon Expo
This is one of the expos that still does a great job. They really want to make the weekend an experience for you, so you’ll get the famed runner wall with your name and a number of other great things, alongside the vendors.
Just remember your job is to NOT BE ON YOUR FEET ALL DAY!!
The Expo is held out on Miami Beach, so it is not near the race start.
Convention Center: 1901 Convention Center Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139
- Try to go early if you can to avoid long traffic delays getting across the bridge to the beach
- You’ll find a lot of great food for meals on Miami Beach
- Remember if you’re going to the beach, sit down, bring hydration and sunscreen (race day is the goal!)
#4 Plan for Race Morning
For a big race it has a pretty easy race start. You won’t need to deal with security lines or need to be there excessively early.
Bag check will be only for the clear bags from the Expo and is about 3 blocks from the actual start line. Read your race packet well.
- EARLY Start designed to beat the heat
- You need to be at your corral 15 minutes before your start time.
- They are checking bibs as you enter the corral, so get there well before.
- 6 AM is the first corral to kick off
- 7AM is the cutoff for anyone to start, so if you’re running late, too bad.
#5 Prepare for Temperatures to Rise and the Sun to Come Out
As noted, the temperature is going to rise throughout the race. The result of this combined with your hard effort is an increase in HR, which makes everything feel tougher. So it becomes really important to stay on top of:
- Sipping water and electrolytes frequently
- Continue taking in fuel even if your stomach doesn’t want it because you’re hot
- Grab any ice that’s available
SUN REMINDER – It’s going to feel increasingly warm as the sun comes out, so take advantage of any chance to drop water on your head. A hat to keep the sun off your face and wearing sunglasses are really going to be helpful. Squinting tells your brain you are doing something hard, we want to avoid that.
#6 Miami Marathon Course Strategy
This isn’t a hard course in that it’s largely flat, but it is a course that’s going to require to you to put in the mental work to nail it. One of the great things you’ll find is there are water stations constantly throughout the entire course. You can carry a hydration pack, but you will have plenty of access along the way.
At mile one you will get one of your hills which is the Macaurther Causeway taking you from downtown out to Miami Beach. It’s not super steep by any stretch and your legs are still super fresh, so just moderate your effort. You’ll be getting some great water views here.
It’s very crowded to start.
Try not to waste a ton of energy weaving around people, just settle in and remember you’re in this for the long haul. You don’t want to run 26.8 miles because you couldn’t just chill in the starting miles.
Here you’ll be running the streets of Famous South Beach. Soak in the cool architecture, but don’t expect much in terms of cheering. Though the bars are open until 5AM, so it’s possible you’ll have some late night revelers out to boost your spirits.
I won’t lie…the course still feels pretty crowded at this point too.
This was one of my favorite places to run. You’ll go over a few very small bridges here, but mostly it’s just stunning water views and probably right about sunrise.
Not the most scenic part of the course, you’ll be right in the main part of downtown. It can be a little grimy.
This is also where the half marathon will break off and suddenly the course is going to feel wide open. And from here on spectators tend to be in groups or the great random person outside with a chair and possibly a hose!
It’s a great idea to make sure you take in some fuel right now! It will be the added carb boost you need for the hill.
This is your second big hill of the day at Rickenbacker causeway. You’ll run out and back over this bridge where I spent a lot of time doing hill repeats!
It is a little steeper, so again remember that the goal on the uphill is to maintain your effort, not your pace. On the downhill you will make that time back up and not have wasted a bunch of energy.
Miles 18 – 24
This part of the course tends to be pretty quiet, but I love this area. It’s beautiful and you will still have tons of aid stations. It’s going to be the point where you have to get in your head to remember why you love running and why you chose to come to a beautiful (but hot) destination for this race.
It’s almost a straight shot from here to the finish. Luckily you can’t see that finish line, so it’s not taunting you, but you know that it’s coming and the crowds really pick back up. They are going to provide you with fresh energy and excitement to get to that last little bit.
You’ll go up a small bridge, then come zooming down the back side to make one final turn!
Thanks to a mat when you turn the corner, the announcer is going to know that you are coming and be prepared to cheer your name. The crowds are lining the streets and if you’re anything like me it’s a tear jerker moment!
Like I said, the post race party and food is one of the best I’ve seen at any race. So have your gear check to clean up and then soak up all that you’ve just accomplished.
#7 Miami Marathon Weather is General HOT AND HUMID
I know this seems like a no brainer, but I can’t tell you the number of friends who came to race excited to escape winter and then wilted. If you’ve been training in 30 degree temps and race morning is 70 degrees with 90% humidity, trust me it’s going to feel very tough.
You may need to adjust your pace goals for the temperature.
Checkout this detailed article on running in the heat and humidity for other tips that will help >>
You absolutely MUST stay on top of hydration and you have to keep getting down the fuel even if you don’t feel like taking it in.
Miami Marathon FAQS
A few of your common questions as well!
Do You Have to Qualify for the Chicago Marathon?
No. It’s initially a registration process of first come first serve.
They then do a wait list lottery closer to the date of the race (in October this year)
Lifetime Fitness members will get early access to register.
How Big is The Miami Marathon?
The numbers I’ve seen from their own website to others vary greatly, but at least 20,000 runners. I would say up to 25,000 runners. Which is why the course can feel crowded.
Personal note: In 2010, I had the honor of pacing my late friend Thomas Taulbee through 17 miles of his race. I will forever cherish this blurry photo as a reminder of our time together. May you be running pain free now, my friend.
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