KEY RACE

By: JILLIAN DARA

In time for the 7 Mile Bridge Run, Marathon’s Isla Bella Beach Resorts adds a running concierge to its offerings.

 

These days, luxury hotels are equipped with concierges to cover the most nuanced of details—from pet pampering to sneaker purchases and stargazing excursions. At Isla Bella Beach Resort in Marathon, a running concierge is setting a new bar on unique services.

With wellness trends dominating hospitality, the resort’s general manager Justin Nels built the program from the ground up using the resort’s location as inspiration.

“The resort is conveniently located right next to the only area of the former railroad that has been renovated for pedestrian use,” explains running concierge, David Castro whose own athletic footprint is impressive, to say the least. His personal running resume includes two 118-mile Ultra races, ten 100-mile races, and what he considers his biggest accomplishment: a 368-mile journey over seven days to bring awareness to mental health.

“My role is unique and one I embrace as a runner myself. As wellness becomes more of a reason to travel, Isla Bella offers a sunny option with breathtaking views,” shares Castro, who leads guests on regular runs, which include a weekly Saturday morning route across the newly opened 2.2-mile pedestrian stretch. “Runners can enjoy the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other side of the bridge,” Castro describes.

Castro is also available to assist runners with training for the famed 7 Mile Bridge Run that occurs each spring. The race dates back to 1982 when it began as a dedication to the opening of the “new” 7 Mile Bridge. The race is the only known run that’s surrounded by water from start to finish, with winners awarded a black coral “7” necklace. This year’s race on April 13 is the 43rd annual run, capped at 1,500 participants.

To prepare for the race, Castro adds “lots of speed work to my training schedule; two minutes at 100 percent max pace and one-minute recovery walk. I will also add full-body strength training at least three times a week.”

Positioned at the base of the 7 Mile Bridge, Castro sees the contest as an opportunity to partake in pre-and post-race events with runners from near and far. But it’s the day-to-day of meeting people from all walks of life, who are interested in running, that he considers the most rewarding part of his role. “I’ve had a gentleman, who was in his 80s, keeping all of us inspired. I’ve also had four-year-olds and Boston marathon runners.” It’s the spirit of friendly competition and running community that re-energizes Castro and assures him, and every runner worth his salt, that the only bad run is the one that didn’t happen.

 

 

CASTRO’S FOUR RUNNING ROUTES FOR YEAR-ROUND TRAINING.

■ “In the Keys, it is all road running. We don’t have trails but have incredible views of The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Head over to Sombrero Beach for an easy 4-5 miles.”

■ “Key West has some amazing places to run; you could get anywhere from 10- 15 miles on the Overseas Highway and experience the Navy Doing training exercises with F-15 jet fighters.”

■ “Duval Street is the main strip in the Keys. I highly recommend getting out early in the morning.”

■ “Run from Smathers Beach to Higgs Beach for an easy 6- 12 miles doing this out and back.”

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