Weekend full of running, music kicks off on Feb. 1
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- Next month, runners, walkers and hand-cyclists will take to the streets while music fills the air.
Hosted by Smooth Running, a business that produces various endurance events throughout East Central Florida, the 5th Annual Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend will be held Saturday, Feb. 2 and Sunday, Feb. 3, with a health expo kicking off the weekend on Friday, Feb. 1. In addition to a full marathon, the weekend will include a half marathon, a half-marathon relay, a 5K, an 8K, a hand-cycle marathon and a free Dunkin' Dash Fun Run on Saturday, which welcomes children of all ages to participate in a 50-yard and 100-yard dash.
The route for Sunday's half and full marathons will run along U.S. 1 and N. Riverside Drive, leading runners across both the Melbourne and Eau Gallie causeways. The 5K and 8K runs will consist of routes within the same roadways on Saturday. No matter the distance, each course will feature music to guide runners along the way, said Mitch Varnes, principal of Smooth Running.
"We will have six acts on the course Saturday during the 5K and 8K runs, and more than 20 acts on Sunday for the half and full marathons," he said. "There will be a special surprise for runners and motorists on the top of each causeway."
The distances of the courses for both the full and half marathons have been certified for accuracy by USA Track and Field, and the Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, according to the event's website, www.themelbournemarathon.com.
Although competitive runners will be vying for $17,200 in cash prizes during the races, the event is also a walker and headphones-friendly event suitable for beginners. The time limit for the marathon is seven hours.
Mr. Varnes said about 1,500 people have signed up for the event, and he expects more than 3,000 will sign up for all races in total. The event attracts runners from outside of Florida, as more than 27 percent of runners travel from out of the state, he said. About 60 percent of those from Florida come from outside Brevard County, boosting tourism for the weekend.
Currently, the race has registered participants from 40 states and 14 countries.
"We will fill hotels in the Melbourne and beaches areas, and restaurants will see a good influx of runners, too," Mr. Varnes said. "It is really an excellent opportunity to showcase our area and all that it offers."
The following registration fees apply until Jan. 30 and increase on the day of the event: the 5K signup fee is $30, the 8K is $40, the half-marathon relay is $55 per person, the half marathon is $95, the marathon is $110 and the hand-cycle marathon is $110.
For more information, or to register, visit www.themelbournemarathon.com.