The Monroe County Sheriff's Officials are telling motorists to keep off U.S. 1 this weekend if they can help it, as a 200-mile running relay through the Florida Keys is set for Friday and Saturday.
Roughly 500 teams, comprised of 11 runners each, will make the trek from Miami to Key West this weekend as part of the fifth annual Ragnar Relay. The race starts Friday morning in Virginia Key in Miami-Dade County, and will end Saturday evening at Higgs Beach in Key West.
The bulk of the traffic in the Keys will occur on Saturday, Sheriff's Capt. Don Hiller said.
The sheriff's office has been working with the relay organizers for the past several years. Organizers agreed this year to the request to move the relay from the more busy time of the first week in January to the less busy first week of February.
The 2012 relay backed up traffic for miles at various points in the Keys, and the sheriff's office and Monroe County commissioners were flooded with complaints.
Instead of cancelling the event, law enforcement personnel have been working with organizers because it brings revenue into the community, and the event raises money for various national charities.
"We have learned from each event each year to make the traffic move smoother, and the event be more efficient," Hiller said. "But there still is going to be traffic. If you don't have to be on the road, don't travel on the road. It's going to be congested. It's going to be frustrating."
Organizers have 25 course marshals who will be monitoring the event and working with deputies to make sure traffic is not being impeded, said Steve Frazee, director of marketing for the event.
Organizers have also reduced the number of points in which runners will be crossing the road, Frazee said. There will be three major crossing points in the Keys -- Mile Marker 89 at Coral Shores High School, Mile Marker 52 at the Marathon airport, Mile Marker 20 at the Sugarloaf School.