December in Key West is always a good idea. The weather was, in fact, perfect this particular day. The rain was gone, the sky was clear, and the temperature was a beautiful 70-ish something degrees. Not only was one of my best friend’s getting married, but she had decided to host a pre-bridal run. Best. Day. Ever.
Since this was a completely unofficial run, she had mapped out a course for us, complete with start and finish signs that began and ended at our hotel. She even managed to get the non-runners out of bed to cheer us on.
I bounced out of bed just as excited as I would have been had it been a real race day. I mean, it was a race after all, wasn’t it? I left hubby sleeping this morning and set out to meet friends and family in front of the hotel. Our bride-to-be KP had created little race bibs for us to wear and was handing them out as I walked up. Honestly, this rocked. Leave it to a fellow runner to come up with such a fantastic pre-wedding get together.
At around 8:15, it looked like we had everyone that was going to participate at the hotel entrance. Since it was early – and quite early for Key West party-goers – we had the run of the street. We lined up just like we would for a regular race. I got another brief explanation of our route – since there wasn’t any signs along the course to mark our way – secretly hoping I wouldn’t get lost. But with my phone, surely I could find my way back if I did manage to get off course.
We took off on a count of three. Silly string shot out like a cannon as our send-off. I took off, leading the pack, quickly getting into my comfortable pace. It was a gorgeous morning, traffic was no where to be found, and I was relishing in the nice, flat course.
Heading south on Whitehead Street, just up ahead was the iconic Southernmost Point marker. Yes, I sure did attempt a selfie as I ran past. I might need to work on this skill.
As I ran past the marker, I looked at the road ahead and couldn’t believe my eyes. Either I was hallucinating or there was another race going on. Sure enough, a couple blocks over there was a sign that marked – caution, runners on the road – along with a start and end clock where other runners were gathered. Fortunately, I turned left on Duval Street and managed to miss getting tangled up with those other runners.
I ran down Duval Street, loving to see this usual bustling street still well asleep. We continued down Duval Street until we could run no more – basically ending where the cruise ships come into port – made a left turn, and headed back up Whitehead Street to the finish line at the front of the hotel.
I got back a few minutes before the rest of the group, which worked out perfectly. I was able to wait there on the sidewalk, cheering KP and her entourage on as they came to the finish – and of course getting some pics of her crazy-happy-grin as she made those last few steps to the end.
To sum this amazing race up in just a few words… well, I’m not sure I could. If you ever get a chance to visit Key West, make sure to take KP’s completely unofficial race route and snap a selfie as you pass the Southernmost Point. You won’t be disappointed.
Note-worthy restaurants in the area
The Blue Macaw. Blood Mary Bar. Yep. That’s what I said. If you like bloody mary’s this is your place. You can make your own concoction at this elaborate bar. The food is also incredible. It’s a mix of typical Key West favorites with an artistic flair.
Sloppy Joes – not exactly a prime place to grab some grub, but it’s a must-stop for at least one drink. They do have quite a few choices of appetizers, but this would be your typical pub-type fare. Yet you simply can’t come to Key West and pass this place by.
Pinchers – a complete touristy restaurant, yet one with a fantastic view and good food. Make sure to order the crab dip – simply delicious – and get a dozen steamed oysters. Top this off with a two-for-one glasses of sangria and you are completely set.
Hotels near the race site
Lighthouse Court Hotel – a fabulous old building(s) that has been completely renovated into a boutique hotel, complete with a pool and mojito bar and little alcoves that offer just the right amount of privacy with tables and chairs tucked away in hidden areas of the resort. They also offer a complimentary breakfast in the morning at their pool and lounge area. However, parking is a little tricky here. If you’re driving, make sure to take the tiny little street – that looks more like an alley – directly behind the hotel. There will be parking behind the hotel. We managed to get a Tahoe jammed in between the street and the building, so there is some room.
Ocean Key Resort – a beautiful resort that somehow makes indoor/outdoor living quite glamorous. It’s a surprisingly good-sized hotel right on the water with a view you can’t miss. You can wake up in the morning and watch the cruise ships come into port, or you can make the nightly celebration of watching the sun go down. The cost of this hotel is slightly more expensive, but it offers all of the amenities you would expect in a five-star resort.