MELBOURNE, FL (May 12) -- The USA Masters Half Marathon Championship was a big hit with competitors, officials and spectators alike in February when it was contested as part of the 2009 State Farm Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon.
Now, it will become an official fixture at the event for several years to come.
USA Track and Field, the governing body of track and road running in America, announced that the Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon has received official three-year USATF sanctioning to stage the USA Masters Half Marathon Championship, beginning February 6-7, 2010 in Melbourne.
In addition, early registration is now open for the USA Masters Half Marathon and Melbourne & Beaches Marathon (www.themelbournemarathon.com).
"We couldn't be more excited with the USATF awarding Melbourne the home site of its USA Masters Half Marathon Championship for the next three years," said event founder Mitch Varnes. "2009 was a special year for us with the inaugural running of the event. We learned a lot and are looking forward to making race day and all else better and better."
The decision follows an event that featured most of the nation's finest 40-and-over runners, including premier women's runner and four-time Olympian Colleen DeReuck, former Boston Marathon winners Bill Rodgers and Greg Meyer, two-time Boston Marathon runner-up Kim Jones, and top half-marathoners Paul Aufdemberg and Sean Wade. Aufdemberg upset Wade to win the men's title in Melbourne, while DeReuck dominated the women's field. Two months after that victory, DeReuck, 45, surprised the running world by finishing eighth in the Boston Marathon.
The USA Masters Half Marathon Championship is part of a full Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon lineup. Other events slated for 2010 include the full marathon, an open half marathon that includes the USA Masters event, the Florida Today 5K, and Ronald McDonald Kids Dashes. More than 1,500 runners competed in the events in 2009. Varnes expects that number to climb substantially in 2010.
Sponsors of the 2010 Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon include the Florida Space Coast Tourism Board, Melbourne-Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce, Delta Airlines, Melbourne Porsche Mercedes-Benz Audi, Beachside Performance & Health Studio, Space Coast Credit Union, HealthFirst Health Plans, Melbourne International Airport, Crowne Plaza Melbourne Oceanfront, Bright House, Crocs, Florida Eye Associates, Clif Bar, Agua Hydrate, Fleet Feet Sports Orlando, Dick's Sporting Goods, Osler Medical, Space Coast Massage & Spa, Mima Sports Medicine, South Beach Fitness, Publix, Florida Academy, McDonald's and the Air Force Reserve. Media sponsors include Florida Today, Space Coast Living, Florida Sports Magazine, and WFIT 89.5 FM.