By Alisha McDarris
TREASURE COAST -- Until now, the Treasure Coast has never been home to a full-length marathon and Frank Fender, race director for the Marathon of the Treasure Coast, couldn't be happier about the new event.
Many 5k's have been hosted locally, even a half-marathon, but never one offering all 26.2 miles and area runners are elated.
"We thought it was high time we had our own full-distance marathon in our neighborhood," Mr. Fender said.
Torrey Pines Race for Research organized the area 5k and half marathon for three years. Two years ago Marathon of the Treasure Coast took over and this year added to the lineup a full-length marathon and marathon relay where teams of two to four runners complete legs of the race.
Mr. Fender said he wanted to expand the list of available races to benefit runners and showcase all the beauty the Treasure Coast has to offer. With a route that begins and ends at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach and tours downtown Stuart, Sewall's Point and Hutchinson Island, runners will certainly get an eyeful of the local landscape.
The event benefits local nonprofits, too. The Florida Oceanographic Society is a beneficiary of the philanthropic race.
This year the races are also tying in with Stuart's centennial celebration and the BBQ & Blues Festival taking place at the park the same weekend. Mr. Fender hopes it encourages more athletes to participate.
"We hope this will become a signature event in the community," Mr. Fender said.
Because the race coincides with the festival, registered runners get a discount on passes for the weekend so they can "enjoy some relaxation after the race and listen to some good music," Mr. Fender said.
Runners can grab a weekend pass for the festivities for $10 as opposed to the same price for a day pass available to everyone else. A family pass is also available to them for $20. Competitors will also have access to the runner expo full of vendors with relevant products and info organized by Stuart's Fleet Feet Sports.
"I'm excited about it," Mr. Fender said. "I think it's going to be phenomenal."
The 5k takes place on Saturday, March 1 and the half and full-length marathons are scheduled for Sunday, March 2.
Prices for registration vary from $40 for the 5k to $119 for the full marathon and runners can register for any of the events online at www.treasurecoastmarathon.com or at Fleet Feet Sports in Stuart.