KEY WEST - The only record broken this year was the number of 100-mile runners who did not finish the 8th annual KEYS 100 Ultramarathon due to extreme heat and humidity, according to race director Bob Becker.
Regardless, the race was still a huge success as the number of runners increased by more than 200, Becker said early Sunday morning at Higgs Beach, just over 24 hours after the start on Saturday morning.
But it’s the extreme conditions the over 1,200 runners faced over the weekend that make ultramarathon so popular.
It’s a safe bet the numbers will multiply next year.
“It’s going well, it’s our second hottest year. What it translates to is a very low finishing rate for our 100-mile runners,” Becker said around 7 a.m. on Sunday. “The 50K, 50-mile and team relay races are all done, but there are still a lot of individual 100-milers on the course. There will be a lot of people struggling to come in. We’ve had a number of people that were carted off by ambulance or IV’s.”
Brazilian Vanderley Pereira finished first overall with a time of 16:17. Grant Maughan of Australia, who was second in 2014, was second on Saturday with a time of 16:52:56.3.
The course record is safe another year. The 100-mile course record was set in 2012 by Mike Morton with a time of 13:42:52.
In the 50-mile run, Chris Van Smith clocked a 7:51:45.6 almost an hour slower than the record run set in 2011 Tomasz Kochanowicz with a 6:55:39.
The record set in the inaugural 50K run was clocked by David Kilgore, a 4:19:17.1 for future runners to break.
Becker said the addition of the 50K and word of mouth has helped the race grow in numbers each year.
“It’s been almost 200 additional people every year. We’re about 1,200 this year,” Becker said. “This year we added the 50-kilometer race which is the shortest of the distances recognized as an ultramarathon, which is 31 miles. We started in Big Pine Key, which worked out well for the course.”
Traffic has been a big issue in past races leaving motorists impatient and frustrated. Team vans are no longer allowed to drive next to runners, alleviating many of the painful slowdowns.
“Our biggest thing is to not disrupt traffic down here in the Keys. We want to be good guests of Monroe County and we do that by staggering the starts which helps,” explained Becker. “We stager it within a 5-10 minute span instead of staggering over many hours. By doing that, as the runners come down the course, they spread out which helps alleviate the big traffic congestion.”
Around 7:15, a wave of four runners crossed the finish line at Higgs Beach, nearly 24 hours after they began.
William Conway, 47, of Clearwater said, “It was awesome. It’s my second 100 this year.” Conway clocked a 24:56:58.2. “My time is good considering how warm it is, but (the race was) very well organized, great route, but I could not have done it without my crew. They’re like a pit crew. The traffic was not that bad, I really like the bike paths. Traffic was not an issue, even at night.”
A very elated Jodi Weiss and William Corley gave each other a big hug after finishing the 100-miler on Sunday morning.
The duo clocked a time of 25:05.
“The heat was oppressive, but we exceeded our goal,” Corley said. “It was a personal record for myself and Jodi.”
“This is my fifth year doing this. It’s brutal, but I loved it,” Weiss said with a huge smile. “We wanted to break 24 hours, but came in 25 and change so we’re thrilled. I’m glad it’s over.”
For complete results, go to MCMtiming.com.