Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon

Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon Expands to Two Days

It was hard to keep the smile off Mitch Varnes’ face after last year’s inaugural State Farm Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon drew 254,000 spectators and 2,000 participants.

“It went well, didn’t it?” the event’s organizer asked with much understatement. “The next one will be even better.”

It certainly will be bigger, a second day having been added to the event, which will take place Feb. 6 and 7 in downtown Melbourne and along the south beaches. The USA Track-sanctioned event will include Florida’s state championship marathon, the National Championship Masters’ Half-Marathon and 8-kilometer footraces, as well as a 5-K race and a “Kids’ Run.”

The total cash purse for the event will be $10,500.

“Having USATF award us these state championship races in addition to the national one is incredible, an acknowledgement of all the city and community support that led to the creation and success of (the event),” Varnes said.

Some of the country’s best-known marathoners are expected to compete again, the 2009 event having brought the likes of four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers and four-time Olympian Colleen DeReuck, who won the women’s event. South African running superstar Zola Budd has announced her intention to appear.

Rodgers called it a “stunning Florida course” and Paul Aufdemberge, the 2009 USATF masters’ half-marathon champion, described it as an “instant classic.”

“You could tell from their faces that the runners had a fabulous experience,” said Mary Daugherty, spokeswoman for the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, a beneficiary of the event and provider of some entertainers. “I spoke with the musicians following the event and they said they enjoyed being part of this inaugural event and would participate again.”

The Challenged Athletes’ Foundation, which is expected to have a team in one of the weekend’s races, will join the Prostate Conditions Education Council and the Brevard Schools Foundation, as well as the BSO, as beneficiaries this year.

Runners will pick up packets at the 2010 Health & Fitness Expo at the Crowne Plaza Melbourne Oceanfront in Indialantic, which will have 29 exhibitors in areas that range from designs, technology and trends, shoes, apparel and nutrition

Entertainment wise, about 20 highly diverse acts will perform both days at various venues.