The ING Miami Marathon® draws runners from all over the world. Twenty-six countries in Europe are represented along with 17 Caribbean islands, 10 countries in Africa and Asia, six Central American countries and every country in South America.
Now a group of soldiers on duty in the Middle East, unable to make it to the start line on Biscayne Blvd., are organizing their own Shadow Race on the desert sands of Al Udied Air Force Base in Qatar, a sovereign Arab state bordered by Saudi Arabia to the South.
Thirty-two runners from SOCCENT FWD (Special Operations Command Central-Forward) and one British Chaplain will run in their own ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon that will begin at 6 A.M. Miami time on January 27th just as the 25,000 runners are gathering at the start line in Downtown Miami. Due to the time change, that will be 10 p.m. on January 26th at the base in Qatar.
"As soon as our race is over in Miami, we will be sending these American heroes their 2013 shirts and medals," said David Scott, race director for the ING Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon. "It is incredible what they are doing serving our country overseas and even more amazing that they will 'run' with our 25,000 plus runners. We can't wait to see their times posted alongside ours."
The Shadow race on the other side of the world will be more than your typical run around an Air Force base. ING Miami Marathon event organizers have sent a package of t-shirts, promotional items, medals and racing bibs to the base for each of the runners.
The course will begin at the base flag poles and is set up to accommodate marathon and half marathon runners. The three runners doing the full marathon complete 10 laps of the course, half marathon runners complete five. The finish line is on the track on the base. There are runner medical support stations and water points staggered along the course, just as there will be for the ING Miami Marathon on the streets of Miami and Miami Beach.
The only thing missing from the Shadow Race will be all of the noise and fanfare that will be sweet music to the runner's ears as they cross the finish line on Biscayne Blvd.
"We will just be taking some pictures really fast," said Daniel Yablonski, the officer organizing the Shadow Race. "Everybody still has to work that day and will be pressed for time. That is why only three of us are doing the full marathon and the rest the half."