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Ultra-distance runners and swimmers compete in the Florida Keys

Ultra-distance athletes including runners and swimmers are to compete in the Florida Keys and Key West.
Ultra-distance athletes including runners and swimmers are to compete in the Florida Keys and Key West.
Jill Zima Borski

There's action aplenty this month and next in the Florida Keys. This weekend, it's the runners turn to race 100 miles, basically the length of the Florida Keys from Key Largo through Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key to Key West. The 7th annual Keys 100 racers took off at 5:45 a.m. if they planned to run 100 miles; the start is at 9:45 a.m. in Marathon for the 50-milers.

The race is a point-to-point event ending in Key West on the Atlantic Ocean at Higgs Beach. The Keys100 promotes charitable fundraising for prostate cancer education, free screenings and more by supporting the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys. Individual runners and teams are invited to earn a refund of their full race entry fee by raising funds for the foundation.

The Keys 100 offers individual and relay races comprised of a six-runner 100 mile team. In the individual races, runners may compete with a support crew or without. Nearly 900 people competed in the 2013 Keys 100. That number is expected to exceed 1,100 in 2014.

Next month, it's the annual Swim Around Key West, and last week it was the 12-mile Key West Paddleboard Classic in which paddleboard and self-propelled watercraft enthusiasts circumnavigated the continental United States' southernmost island.

Long-distance swimming enthusiasts are to compete in a 12.5-mile open-water swim Saturday, June 14. Solo swimmers and relay teams of two to six people, with or without fins, are to compete in the annual Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West. Swimmers can check in at 7:30 a.m. and the race is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the boat ramp at Smathers Beach, located on the Atlantic Ocean where South Roosevelt Boulevard meets Bertha Street.

The clockwise route around the island takes swimmers through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, ending where they began at Smathers Beach.

The challenge typically attracts athletes from the U.S., Canada and abroad to compete for awards in multiple age categories ranging from 12 and under to 65 and older.

Event organizer Lori Bosco of Florida Keys Community College says swimmers must provide their own support crews and escort boats, but can't touch the boats except for teams making relay changes. Lifeguards and kayaks will be positioned throughout the course for safety.

In addition to traversing the waters of the Atlantic and gulf, swimmers are to pass Key West landmarks including the Southernmost Point marker and Mallory Square.

Swimmers must be registered by Friday, June 13, and must check in that day between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Florida Keys Community College pool.

The entry fee is $100 per solo swimmer, $160 per two-person relay team, $240 per three-person team, $320 per four-person team, $400 per five-person team and $480 per six-person team. Discounts are available for United States Masters Swimming and USA Swimming members.

The Swim Around Key West benefits the Florida Keys Community College swim program, Key West High School swim team and the Keys' Bone Island Swim Club.

For event information and registration:; for Key West visitor information, see or call 1-800-LAST-KEY.

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