Naples Half Marathon

runners at startling line of Naples Half Marathon

Runners lined up for the 7 a.m. start of the Naples Half Marahton.

If you’re looking for a half marathon to run, you should consider the Naples Half Marathon.

I ran the 2020 race along with about 1,700 other runners and enjoyed the experience. This was the third time I’ve run the Naples Half Marathon.

Here are reasons that I think you’d enjoy the race.

The course

The 13.1-mile course is flat and scenic.

The flat course was a contrast to other races I’ve done like the San Francisco Half Marathon and the Salomon Run in Barcelona that included 83 flights of stairs (according to my FitBit).

The course parallels the Gulf and winds through subdivisions in Naples Bay. But runners only get a few glimpses of the water as the water is obscured by the massive houses that line the race course.

Palms and other trees provide shade on about half of the course, and the massive homes have lovely landscaping.

The course had seven water stops, providing water and Gatorade. Several of the stops also had Porta Potties.

Fixed Focus Event Photography was on the course, taking photos. After the race, runners could access the photos and order prints.

Naples Half Marathon course mapThe weather

The weather in Naples in January, on average, has lows in the mid-50s and highs in the mid-70s.

On race day, the temperature was in the low 60s for the 7 a.m. start. But the temperature increased to a high of 80 degrees that day.

So it’s important to remember to hydrate and to wear a hat and sunglasses.

The timing

Chip timing was used that enabled every runner to have a race finish time that coincided with when the runner crossed the starting line rather than when the race started.

With 1,700 runners, some runners took more than a minute to get to the starting line after the race officially started.

Runners received email alerts of our times from three check points along the course and received an email with our finish time.

The race also had pacers. Each pacer carried a flag indicating the running group’s projected finish time, such as 2:00 (two hours). Runners ran as a group, with the pacer adjusting the pace – including sometimes having the group walk – in order cross the finish line at the projected finish time.

The competition

If you want to run a competitive half marathon, the Naples Half Marathon could be for you.

The course is certified and awards five places in each of 27 age groups. Each age group winner receives $100, and $500 is awarded for any runner setting a course record.

More than $15,000 is awarded to runners in the Open Division and Grand Masters, Senior Grand Masters categories.

Sixteen runners trying to qualify for the Olympics were in the race.

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The post-race celebration

The race ends at Cambier Park in downtown. Just a few steps from the finish line is the shaded park.

The post-race celebration included a range of food and drink. I passed on having salsa and chips, but I did enjoy a banana and a blueberry bagel with peanutbutter. I was glad to have a bottle of water, as others enjoyed the complimentary beer.

The announcement of awards moved efficiently.

The swag

Over the years, I’ve received a wide range of race shirts. Most are short-sleeve cotton shirts. Some have artful design and attractive colors. Some are white with tacky designs and never have been worn.

Naples sunset - photo by Julie Dodd

The sunsets are another benefit of being in Naples for the Naples Half Marathon.

Some race shirts have been tank tops, some polyester. Some have been accurate in terms of size and others not.

The Naples Half Marathon shirt is one of the best shirts I’ve received at a race – a long-sleeve, zip-neck workout shirt. Women’s shirts were blue and the men’s shirts black.

Runners who finish the race under three hours received a colorful finisher’s medal that captures some of the beauty of Naples with waves, shells, palms and the Naples Pier.

The location

The medal is a reminder of another great aspect of the Naples Half Marathon – the location.

You can explore the Naples area, depending on how much time you have for your stay in Naples. You can enjoy the beaches, several nearby state parks (including Delnor-Wiggins Pass and Lovers Key), and take in beautiful sunsets.

You may even find some of the shells that are featured on the finisher medal.

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