Sarasota Music Half Marathon Expands



The Sarasota Music Half Marathon gears up for a triumphant return in 2016, with organizers announcing an expanded lineup for this second run, raising the participant cap by a third to accommodate 3,000 runners and bringing in five additional bands at five new locations along the route for the Feb. 7 event. Reaching a total of 20 bands this time around, event organizers report that the 2016 route, again snaking through Sarasota’s scenic downtown and surrounding neighborhoods and across the picturesque Ringling Bridge, will treat the huffing and puffing runners to live music reinvigoration at a total of 42 points. “We want this to be entertainment from the minute the starting gun goes off,” said Ryan McCarthy, event director for Sarasota Music Half Marathon, which hosts its first pre-marathon event this Saturday at Old School Bar and Grill.

With the Sarasota High School Mighty Sailor band playing the coveted spot atop the Ringling Bridge and Reverend Barry and Funktastic Soul slated to perform at the finish line after-party outside the Van Wezel, seven bands return from last year, joined by 13 Sarasota Music Half Marathon debuts. Local favorites such as Jah Movement (seen recently at the Payne Park Rock for a Cause), Boss Hawg, Aural Alchemy and Soul Sensations are on this year’s expanded lineup, as are Steel Relic, Matt Gerhardt, The John Patti Project and Trash Fence, traveling all the way back from San Francisco for member and Sarasota native Grady Lee. “I try to keep it as diverse as possible and to appeal to as broad a palate as possible,” said McCarthy, with everything from soulful Motown to Van Halen-style ‘80s rock available. “Whatever the proclivity, we try to cater to it.”

Runners and fans can get a sneak peek at two bands performing at the marathon—Kettle of Fish and Wild Root—at “Runner’s Night,” a one-night event off Main Street at Old School Bar and Grill this Saturday at 8pm. In addition to music, a special “runner’s” drink will be featured, as well as discounted registration for those signing up on the spot.

Alongside the expanded band list, the marathon itself has grown, now hosting up to 3,000 runners, as opposed to last year’s 2,000. Last year, tickets sold out 10 days before the event. This year, McCarthy reports more than 2,700 spots have already been filled.

“It looks like the perfect setup,” said McCarthy, just returning from driving the route. “I think I can fit a few more bands, but you don’t want to lose control.”

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