Nineteen years ago, the Miami Marathon was born almost by accident. Back in 2002, Frankie Ruiz was a new Florida International University graduate with a degree in communications. Leafing through a triathlon magazine, he came across a photo of Rudy Garcia-Tolson, who has since become a Gold Medal-winning Paralympics swimmer. Recalls Ruiz, “I came across an article about this 12-year-old double amputee who was running side-by-side with Robin Williams and competing in triathlons and I thought, ‘How cool it would be to get him to come and talk to the kids I coach.’ So I decided to give it a shot.” Ruiz contacted Tolson’s mother, who liked the idea, and encouraged him to send out a press release about Rudy’s visit from California.
Instantly, the media began calling, covering the athlete as he competed together with Ruiz at a local triathlon. Struck by the story, Javier Soto, the chief of staff to then Miami-Dade County mayor Alex Penelas, called Ruiz to invite Rudy to meet the mayor. “At that meeting, Rudy was asked, ‘Why don’t you run the Miami Marathon?’ There was silence from everyone else in the room because they knew we didn’t have a marathon,” recalls Ruiz.
Previous incarnations, including the Miamithon, the Orange Bowl Marathon and the Metro-Dade Marathon, had trouble attracting athletes, and eventually all fizzled out due to financial constraints. Ruiz adds, “The very next day, the mayor made sure I got a call from his chief of staff, who asked me what I would need to start a marathon in Miami. Mayor Alex Penelas and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz were big drivers of the upstart process. We also had lots of help from public officials including Commissioner Pepe Diaz and Sally Heyman” said Ruiz.
In 2003, that first year, the marathon attracted 3,400 people. Over its 19-year history, the race has developed into an internationally renowned event with a field of 25,000 runners from all 50 states and over 80 countries. And Rudy Garcia-Tolson, the boy who was at the start of this all returned to Miami in 2017 as Grand Marshal for the race that, once just an idea, is now firmly rooted as a world-class, global event.
Rudy Garcia-Tolson’s Story
“First they said I couldn’t walk. Then they said I would never run. Competing at the Paralympics? Don’t even try. They told us that double amputees should stay in a chair. Look how that turned out. Everyone says you cannot change the world – just the people around you. The people around me say that I’ve changed their life. I guess now it’s time to change the world.” – Rudy Garcia-Tolson
Born with popliteal pterygium syndrome, Rudy Garcia-Tolson, is a Paralympic swimmer, runner and triathlete from the USA. Garcia-Tolson started swimming at age 6. When he was eight years old, he stated that he would swim in the 2004 Paralympic Games. True to his word he competed in that event, winning the gold medal in the 200 meter individual medley and breaking the world record for his SM7 class. He’s gone on again to compete, win and break records along the way at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, and 2012 Paralympics in London. We were honored to have him serve as Grand Marshal and participate in the 2017 Miami Marathon & Half Marathon race weekend.
19-Years Miami Famous
Since the race’s inception in 2003, we’ve had a handful of athletes participate in our world-renowned event every year. These athletes are know as our “Streakers” who will be taking on the 19th annual running of the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon in 2021.
Although the world looks a bit different and the event landscape has drastically changed due to the global health pandemic, our valued athletes are able achieve their Miami Famous status once again this year by participating in the first-ever digital rendering of our premier athletic event in what is now known as #VirtuallyMiamiFamous wired by Life Time Miami Marathon & Half Marathon presented by cbdMD (January 10 – 31, 2021).
Our Miami Famous Streaker athletes will maintain their streak by participating virtually this year. We also have a unique and exclusive opportunity for them! More to come on this special engagement.
Check out our list of Streakers below who are on track to participate in all 19 years of our existence! #NotMiamiWithoutYou
|Course Record||David Ruto (Kenya)||2:12:22||2003|
|State Record||Leonid Shvetsov (Russia)||2:11:50||1995|
|American Record*||Khalid Khannouchi (USA)||2:05:38||2002|
|World Record**||Dennis Kimetto (Kenya)||2:02:57||2014|
|Course Record||Hiromi Ominami (Japan)||2:34:11||2006|
|State Record||Charlotte Teske (Germany)||2:29:02||1982|
|American Record*||Deena Kastor (USA)||2:19:36||2006|
|World Record**||Paula Radcliffe (United Kingdom)||2:15:25||2003|
Miami Half Marathon
|Course Record||Brian Sell (USA)||1:03:46||2008|
|State Record||Richard Nerurkar (United Kingdom)||1:01:33||1992|
|American Record*||Ryan Hall (USA)||59:43||2007|
|World Record**||Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea)||58:23||2010|
|Course Record||Santa Ines Melchor (PER)||1:13:53||2016|
|State Record||Anne Marie Lauck (USA)||1:10:54||1995|
|American Record*||Deena Kastor (USA)||1:07:34||2006|
|World Record**||Florence Kiplagat (Kenya)||1:05:12||2014|
Note: Course Records reported as gun time.
* American Records from USA Track & Field
** World Records from IAAF