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The Miami Man Triathlon

November 16, 2010 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Sports NewsMiami: Things to Do  | 5 Comments


For those unfamiliar with the world of Triathlon, the sport offers a few different standard distances of races. The Ironman – the sport’s most famous race, is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride then a full 26.2 mile marathon. But most races are much shorter. The Miami Man, run every November at Zoo Miami in Southwest Dade, is a half-Iron distance race, meaning all those distances above are cut in half. The race is the original half-Iron triathlon in Miami, despite a branded “Ironman 70.3” being run a few weeks ago downtown. And even though the newer race carries the familiar Ironman brand name, nothing in this city tops the Miami Man.



All jokes about other possible events to include in something called the Miami Man aside, this race is a really nice way to get yourself used to doing races at the longer distances. Two years ago, I ran the Miami Man as my first Half Iron. This year, I had taken the entire year off since doing Ironman Florida last November, and hadn’t really done much other than running and swimming in the year since. As such, I opted to do the International Distance Miami Man, a race about half as long as the half-Iron. A .6 mile swim, 22 mile bike ride and 6.6 mile run.

The reason the Miami Man is such a great event for people new to longer distances is because it is completely flat. It is much easier than the races run near downtown and the beaches, which feature climbs up freeway overpasses and causeways. This race has almost no elevation change, making the bike and run very straightforward. The swim is in a lake at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, just outside the zoo, so new open water swimmers don’t have to deal with current either.


This past Sunday I made my return to the sport at the Miami Man. The race begins on the shores of the crystal clear lake, as athletes go off in waves depending on age, gender and weight. Being over 200 pounds, I usually opt to race in what is known as the Clydesdale division, and Sunday was no exception. But because I was racing the shorter distance, and was in the fat boy division, I had to wait almost an hour and a half after the race had started for my wave to go off. No matter. I hit the water and immediately found myself in the front of the pack. Not bad for having taken a year off.


Of course, spending a year swimming in pools had led me to forget how to sight in open water, and I found myself a good 50 yards off course by about the .4 mile mark. Even with that, I ended up second in my division, and only by half a minute. The bike was also a new test, as I hadn’t had to really race against anyone in a year. The course, which weaves through the Redlands and down almost to Homestead, can sometimes by tough because of the fierce winds that blow though the agricultural area. But Sunday we lucked out, and I was able to average almost 20 mph on that leg. Not phenomenal, but again not bad for having taken a year off.



The crown jewel of the race, though, is its run course. Most of the course is done through the zoo, and as such makes it extremely easy to complete. Even though iPods and headphones aren’t allowed, it’s easy to take your mind off the 6.6-mile loop by looking at elephants, monkeys, and a bunch of other animals I couldn’t even identify. One woman ran past me telling me she was a zoologist and could help identify things I didn’t know. This, of course, would have meant being able to keep up with her. Which wasn’t happening. Though I turned in a better-than-expected run this time around, at my size it’s still my weakest event.


The race finished up at back at Larry and Penny Thompson Park. My friends who had come to watch timed their arrival perfectly, getting to see me run on their tram ride over from the parking at the zoo, and getting to the finish line just as I did. They also had been nice enough to bring some beer and mimosas, as we sat in the park after my race and had a makeshift Sunday brunch on the ground. Which I think consisted of a protein shake for me. But this race, especially when compared to the Ironman 70.3 downtown, is a fun time. It’s a flat course (marked with cartoon animals too) and ends in a shady park on a pleasant Sunday. The participants and volunteers are all very nice and very helpful, and the event is incredibly well run. Which, if you think about it, makes me wonder how you could call it “Miami Man.”

Related Categories: Miami: Sports News, Miami: Things to Do,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

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5 Comments on

"The Miami Man Triathlon"

Christy says:

Congrats! Very cool that you get to run through the zoo as part of the coarse and I like the cute alligator medal you got.

Posted on 11/17/2010 at 12:29 PM

Laurie says:

Congrats Matt! Do I know the blonde in the photo? Can’t be…

Posted on 11/17/2010 at 2:58 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thanks, Guys. Yeah, the medal was really cool. Definitely the cutest one I’ve gotten after one of these races.

No idea who that blonde is, Laurie. None. None at all.

Posted on 11/17/2010 at 3:41 PM

FredTheCatTravels says:

Congrats Matt!  Hopefully I’ll get my butt in gear for next year!  I love running the ING Miami Marathon every year.  Just have to add biking and swimming.

Posted on 11/18/2010 at 9:46 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thanks, FTCT. This is actually a LOT easier than a marathon. The different events breaks it up and makes it a much easier mental event.

Posted on 11/19/2010 at 12:17 AM

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