DISCLAIMER: I received my entry into the Key West Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!"
This race was a perfect example for anyone that only trains outdoors when the weather is perfect. I always tell people to train no matter what the weather is like, unless of course it's dangerous. You think of Key West and picture it being sunny, little to no clouds, a slight breeze from the ocean, and some heat and humidity. Not this time! There was a nasty storm headed our way and there were constant wind gusts of around 31 mph the entire race.
The overcast and wind made the race cooler for me personally, though I know the humidity was still high and surely bothered runners from out of state. The course was fun. Other than the long out and back along the coast for a few miles, a lot of the race winds through the streets and heart of Key West. Seeing people out on their balconies and front patios watching on, or seated outside at a restaurant having breakfast is a nice pick me up if you enjoy random shouts of encouragement. You mostly run on the road with some spots being on the sidewalk but it's very flat and fast. Because of the strong winds, the waves were crashing into the sea wall and filling the streets so there were a couple of large puddles formed in areas but they were avoidable.
One unique difference with this race due to Covid concerns and precautions was having to carry your own hydration bottle or option of your choice. There were aid stations as usual but they were filling up your bottles or giving you the option to do so yourself. Knowing my experience with running that distance without hydration, I chose to run empty handed. To my surprise, there were two stations along the way that did have tiny cups of water and Gatorade that you could take if you felt it was safe to do so. I chose to as I trusted the volunteers who looked to be taking the cleanliness seriously.
The start/finish line was very organized. The finish chute was fun as other runners and spectators were cheering everyone on. Again, because of safety reasons, post race food/drink items were limited in options but thankfully not quantity. I was able to grab a couple of different flavored muffins and I skipped the hydration they had in the coolers since I had something of my own in my cooler close by. Although I didn't try any, it looked like they had 2-3 different beer options for those that wanted a beer. The live band playing island themed music/songs was fun as everyone hung out. The medal was very nice, including the ribbon and the shirt is definitely my favorite race shirt design of any race I've done. My only wish is that you could choose short sleeve or long sleeve because I definitely would have taken a long sleeve one. For this race, short sleeve were for men and long sleeve were for women.
I saw my teammate Krista out on the course and hung out afterwards to cheer her on as she finished. I also ran into a friend that moved to Key West a couple of years ago and was also running this race, so it was nice to see some familiar faces. As always, the Key West vibe is fun, exciting and inviting. Before, during, and after the race feels like a non stop party. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone considering running a half marathon. They also have a 5K option if you'd like to run something shorter. The only negative I had about the overall experience, and it's actually not a knock on the race itself, but it's the photo options. I know it's rare to get free race photos but I was a bit disappointed when I seen the cost and package options for the photos. This was as expensive as the race photos for my New York Marathon. So, keep this in mind if you're one that likes to purchase your race photos.