To: All runners
From: Palm Beaches Marathon race committee
Subject: Running through the Town of Palm Beach
Please be advised, you will be running part of the marathon and half-marathon on Dec. 3 through the Town of Palm Beach.
Some of you may not fully grasp the historical significance of this. To you, it might look like just another couple of bridges to cross, and a small, seemingly insignificant 1.2 mile stretch of a much longer route you will race.
But you will be pioneers that morning, brave souls venturing much like Neil Armstrong did 48 years ago, into a hostile, sterile environment, where you will take many mincing little steps for runners, but one giant leap for runners-kind.
In the past, the Palm Beach Town Council has taken a dim view of the area marathon, barring runners from entering the island and using the rationale that the race, which is dominated by runners who live off the island, really isn’t “town serving” enough to accommodate.
As former Town Council Member Robert Wildrick put it so succinctly two years ago:
“I just don’t understand how it benefits the town of Palm Beach. I don’t see why anyone who is a resident here should be inconvenienced when there are other alternatives.”
But this year, race organizers came back again with another proposed route that included the island. The Town shot down the original plan for a 4-mile section, but on a tight 3-2 vote, the council allowed the runners to enter north side on the Flagler Bridge, run down the Lake Trail and leave through the Royal Park Bridge.
The idea is to get the Palm Beach portion of the race done early. So early, the people in Palm Beach may not notice it. All runners are expected to have completed the Palm Beach section of the race by 7 a.m on that Sunday, and all traffic cones will be gone 15 minutes later.
“Our goal is not to be a nuisance,” race owner Ken Kennerly said.
So the question is: How can you, as a runner, do your part in not making yourself a nuisance on race day to the good people of Palm Beach?
Just follow these five simple rules:
1. Don’t stop running
You may pull a muscle, turn an ankle or get a stitch in your side. There are many reasons why runners sometimes stop running.
But you must keep running through Palm Beach. Nobody stops. We have to get off the island as quickly as possible.
Hobble along as best as you can until you cross back to the West Palm Beach side of the bridge. Once there, you can ice down that ankle, massage your problematic hamstring, or start walking.
2. No talking, grunting or moaning
If you open your mouth, it’s to get air. Better yet, just breathe through your nose.
Expect police to have decibel meters. If the race emits as much sound as a leaf blower, our future on the island may be jeopardized.
3. Practice running in your socks
The route will take you on the Lake Trail, a pathway that is close to the back yards of many homes.
One runner in rubber-soled shoes clomping on an asphalt path doesn’t make a lot of noise, but hundreds of rubber-soled impacts does.
So we’ll be asking you to take off your shoes and run in your socks on the Lake Trail. If you get a blister, keep running. The faster you go, the faster you’ll reach the first-aid stations on the West Palm Beach side.
4. Bring your own water
We tried to get a water station for the race route in Palm Beach, but it didn’t work out. So don’t be looking for a water station while you’re on Palm Beach.
If you think you might be thirsty, bring your own water. If you don’t have water and need it, ask another runner.
If you’re not willing to do that, and you feel yourself getting woozy, try to time your collapse to the West Palm Beach side of the bridge.
5. Expect police stops
The town police are accomplished at using license plate surveillance cameras to monitor auto traffic coming onto the island. We expect by race time that officers may be using BNRS — Bib Number Recognition Software — to scan incoming runners as they cross the north bridge.
So please, as a courtesy, try not to allow your hands or arms to obscure your race number as you enter the island, and if you see another runner being pulled over, don’t be alarmed.
It’s probably just a parking ticket.
As for you, remember Rule No. 1.