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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 5 years ago

Turned Up: Sarasota Music Half Marathon returns

Sarasota Music Half Marathon rocks downtown for second year.
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Every runner has a go-to race. Which is to say, if their time and budget only allows them to run in one event for the year, there’s one they just can’t live without.

When sporting-event-organizer John Korff moved from New York City to Sarasota two years ago, it was one of the first things he noticed about his new home.

“I started asking other runners, ‘What’s your go-to race?’” he says. “I kept hearing that we didn’t really have anything like that here. I just didn’t feel the energy.”

After a career spent founding and organizing athletic events in New York, including the New York City Triathlon and A&P Tennis Classic, Korff says he wanted to bring a fresh concept to the Suncoast. What’s nearly every runner doing during a race? Listening to their headphones, he says. So he teamed up with co-creators Molly Jackson and Tony Driscoll, and the Sarasota Music Half Marathon was born.

Runners will pass live music a total of 42 times in this year's half marathon.

“Here’s the problem,” he says. “The first part of any race is all fun and games. The end becomes like torture. When you bring in some entertainment, it makes the whole experience more fun. We decided music was the way to go. Who doesn’t love music?”

This Sunday, the Music Half Marathon returns for its second year, with more bands, more runners and more fun. But the focus is still the same — keep the party going with live music. And this year, there’s even more of it. Runners will pass live music by 20 bands a total of 42 times on the 13.1-mile course, which starts and finishes at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, crossing the Ringling Bridge, circling St. Armands and venturing down U.S. 41, almost as far south as Siesta Drive.

After the race, runners and spectators can gather at the Van Wezel after party, where Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul, featuring The Hellacious Horns, will return as the headlining act. The Sarasota High School Mighty Sailor Marching Band will line the Ringling Bridge again, boosting runner morale for the biggest incline in the race, and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens even opened its grounds for the Kara Nally Band.

“More than half the race, you’ll be hearing music,” says Korff. “That’s what this is all about — having fun. Whether you’re running or spectating, there’s going to be something for you.”

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