A MULTISPORT ADVENTURE ACROSS THE ENTIRE ISLAND CHAIN OF THE FLORIDA KEYS, FROM MIAMI TO KEY WEST.
Commencing at Key Biscayne, the route will start with a sensational open-water kayak crossing to reach the azure and sheltered waters of the uninhabited and protected northern Keys.
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*price per month when you sign up in March, click here for more info on pricing
28 NOV - 1 DEC / 2024
33 MILES (53 KM) ON KAYAK + 104 MILES (167KM) ON BIKE + 13 MILES (21 KM) ON FOOT
DIFFICULTY RATING: CAN I DO THIS?
This is a brilliant adventure for those with a good base level of fitness who are comfortable in a kayak with some basic experience.
GUIDES AND SUPPORT
Professional 4x4 support vehicles, water safety staff, medical, mechanical and welfare.
High quality medal, rat rag, t-shirt and celebration meal at the end for all participants.
Professional 4x4 support vehicles, water safety staff, medical, mechanical and welfare. Audited and accredited to BS8848 expedition safety standard.
Flexible transfer policy.
RAISE £5000 AND GET UP TO £2500 REFUNDED
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CHARITY PARTNERSHIP HERE
Commencing at Key Biscayne, the route will start with a sensational open-water kayak crossing to reach the azure and sheltered waters of the uninhabited and protected northern Keys.
Making your way through shallow waters, mangrove scenery and narrow channels between islands, you’ll be heading to make land at Key Largo, where you transition to road bikes. From there, 100 miles of smooth tarmac lies ahead of the famous Overseas Highway, before you switch to sneakers for the final half marathon run into Key West.
This 150 mile (33 in kayaks, 104 by bike, 13 on foot), one-way journey along the entire island chain of the Florida Keys from Miami to Key West will be taken over 2 days.
Arrive in Miami area and attend our race HQ at Key Largo for Packet Pickup, open 1400-1800 – you will drop your bike with us here. If you are renting a boat from us, you will be able to view your boat, fit out the footrests and such and get it ready to rock n’ roll.
We have an optional kayak skills refresher session operating between 1600-1800 at our Key Largo hub. Everyone will also need to undergo the sea skills check at Key Largo also, for us to ensure we are satisfied that you are up to scratch for the kayak sea crossing of the northern Keys.
DAY ONE: FRIDAY
City to Sea begins! From a brief ‘Le Mans’-style running start to the beach, you will get into your boats and perform a mass start into the ocean at Bill Baggs State Park, making your way into Biscayne National Park itself. Pass historic Stiltsville en route to the ‘Safety Valve,’ a large sand bar with clear shallow waters which acts as a physical barrier to the outer reaches of Biscayne Bay. Eventually the Northern Keys will come into view and you will cover some 33 miles of paddling to reach land once more on Key Largo.
We will have local shuttles available to take folks to and from their pre-arranged accommodation in Key Largo. If you are staying outside of Key Largo, you are responsible for making your own way to and from the start and finish line. We cannot transport your own personal kayaks on this service. If using your own, you or your supporters are responsible for the collection of your boat from the end of the kayak stage.
DAY TWO: SATURDAY
It’s back on the bikes for some 100 miles of smooth tarmac along the cycleway that parallels the famous Overseas Highway. Depending on wind direction, this is a fast, smooth outing on the bikes, taking in coastal scenery all the way along the Keys, plus the famous bridges that span between the islands, such as 7 mile bridge just outside of Marathon. You will then ditch the bikes and transition to foot, for a 10-13 mile run (or hike) into Key West itself, coming to journey’s end after some 150 miles – and having covered the entire length of the Florida Keys by your own power. Time to party at our official celebration event, with complimentary food and beverage thrown in. You will stay in your own lodgings, of which there is plenty to choose from in Key West.
DAY THREE: SUNDAY
Having overnighted in Key West in the accommodation of your choice, you are free to enjoy the laid-back Keys vibe, use your own transport to get back to Miami and beyond; or allow us to take the strain and utilize our specially arranged coach transportation option for you, your bike and your gear back to Miami on the Sunday Morning. Your kayak (if utilizing your own) will be available to collect from Key Largo, having been transported there by us after day 1. Of course, if you have supporters or a rental car, you can simply head off from Key West with all of your gear.
*NOTE THAT TIMINGS AND ITINERARIES ARE APPROX AND OUTLINE AND MAY CHANGE
No accommodation is provided as part of the event format. You will need to arrange suitable accommodation prior to the start in the Miami Metro, or Key Largo area. Our suggestion is Key Largo.
For the overnight after day 1, Key Largo is the place to book lodgings and there is ample selection here, ranging from large hotels to cosy options and self-catering condos. We will have a shuttle available to take people to their accommodation in Key Largo after day 1’s stage. We will then collect you from your accommodation the following morning ready to begin day 2.
For Key West, there’s loads to choose from. Our recommendation would be to get close in on the action and try and book somewhere in the Downtown, close to Duval Street.
A celebration meal for all participants is included, plus a complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. Further beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are not provided. A vegetarian option will always be provided. No other meals are included.
During the challenge we will endeavour to set-up our famously well-stocked Pit Stops multiple times throughout the journey: A minimum of twice per day when you are on the bikes stages. You will also be able to carry your own snacks (and stock up from ours) on the bikes also – meaning you always have snacks aplenty onboard.
On all stages, the Pit Stops will typically be set-up from our vehicle support team at set spots on the route.. At all times we will ensure that participants have access to adequate sustenance and supplies to keep them energised throughout all stages.
Pit stops will typically have a minimum of the following available:
Water – Ensure you leave with water bottles and bladders filled so you have enough to get you to the next Pit Stop.
Sports Food Bars – oat-type bars for maximum energy.
Salty snacks – such as chips and peanuts.
Savoury treats – We will feature some fresh local foods and other goodies at selected pit stops, around lunchtime.
A fruit option – such as oranges, bananas, melon and watermelon.
Sweets – including local speciality sweet treats.
Our Pit Stops are there to help supplement any personal sports nutrition plan you may have – if you use gels and other such products – you should plan to bring these with you. If you have any special dietary requirements, then please also plan for this and pack your kit accordingly. Rat Race aim to offer Pit Stop snacks that are tasty and functional, catering to as broad a mix of needs and diets as possible. We have options available that are suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets and availability of this will depend on demand. If peanuts are served these will be in individual portioned bags to reduce the chance of contamination but Rat Race cannot guarantee that the food does not contain contamination from allergens such as nuts or gluten in its preparation or serving.
Please make sure you sanitise your hands prior to eating any food. Please, please, please take care with your trash and help us in our aim of leaving these incredible islands tidier than we find them. This is even more critical in this environment, with any lost trash instantly becoming a choking hazard for the marine life we are here to admire.
The date-range is set and the route is tried and tested. However, our challenges unfold in some of the most spectacular places on Earth. Sometimes we do have to change plans on account of weather or other unforeseen factors. If we do have to do so, you will be informed and usually, these unforeseen changes simply add to the flavour of proceedings and provide for a good story to tell at day’s end! That having been said, our route is likely to remain largely intact, regardless of any on-the-ground changes.
Click ‘Buy Event Voucher’ and go through the sign-up process, you’ll then be issued with an event voucher which will automatically reserve you a place in the event you have chosen.
Rat Race require you to be over 18 on the day of Registration for this adventure. If you wish to participate as a family group or with a responsible adult and you are 16+, we will consider applications on an individual basis. Please contact us if this is the case.
Getting to the start line is important and we are there to help you as best we can. However, if you feel on reflection that it is just not your time yet, we do have a transfer system that you can use to transfer out, receive Rat Race credit and come back again next year or do something else. Credit is typically valid for 12 months and there is a fee to be paid for transferring out in this way. We want to be really clear that this option is there for you if you need it, but it does have a deadline. View our full terms and conditions here.
The latest kit list will be sent to you before the event within the Essential Event Information Document.
Of course. If you run for Children with Cancer UK and raise the target amount for this event per person, we will refund your entry fee up to the amount of £2500. You are of course more than welcome to fundraise for any cause close to your heart. Click here to find out more.
Yes, you can. We welcome support on almost all of our events and if you do decide you want to come and work with us, we will make sure we look after you. Click here to find out more about volunteering for Rat Race.
We’ve put together a fantastic new instalment plan that allows you to choose how many months you want to spread the cost of this brilliant adventure over. You can pay it off all in one go or spread it over as many months as you like, totally interest free. There is no credit check required to use this facility. When you sign up to the instalment plan Rat Race will then set up a reoccurring payment and your card will be debited on the same date each month. If there is an error with your payment you will receive reminders from Stripe, our payment provider, and also the Rat Race customer service team. After 3 attempts to contact you if the outstanding balance remains unpaid we will assume you wish to cancel your entry and will withdraw you from the event and you will not be eligible to enter our transfer process and no monies will be refunded.
By entering this event you agreed that you have entered in your own name (not nickname) and will bring photographic ID to event registration to prove your identity. If you cannot prove your identity at that time then you won’t be able to complete registration and therefore won’t be able to take part.
Sorry we cannot accommodate dogs on the route.
No. We have rentals on providing kayak, buoyancy aid and paddle. You can use your own if you have one, however. That can be a double or single and you must also supply your own paddle and buoyancy aid. Your call. We will ask to see all paddlers perform a skills test before we ‘sign you off’ for the event.
The nature of the distance and the conditions experienced on our sensational kayak leg dictate that sea kayaks are the catch of the day here. Whilst this event could be attempted with a sit-on-top, it’s a very long way for such a craft and frankly, we wouldn’t recommend it. Therefore we advise closed-cockpit single of double sea kayaks. We will be renting both types of craft.
It’s Florida Man! Of course it’s hot. It is not the hottest time of year for Florida but it is likely to be nice and warm. Some ocean breeze may help cool you off but seriously, you need to expect two long days under the sun, in the outdoors. You will get dehydrated and need to keep taking on the fluids and salts. Our pit stops will help but it’s up to you to keep yourself in check. Part of the mandatory gear will be a minimum quantity of water and food on your person at all times.
Yes. You need a decent travel policy covering you for general travel and which covers participation in outdoor sports. You will also need what is called an Evacuation Insurance Policy, which is for if we need to send you back to the closest city for urgent medical attention via a helicopter or similar. We also recommend you have this in place as soon as you enter this event and that if you book flights, we highly recommend booking a flexible option for any last-minute changes you might need to make or to ensure you have maximum flexibility if you cannot attend for any reason.
Travel insurance is compulsory for our events, so please make sure your insurance policy covers the activities you will be participating in. There are a number of specialist providers available including Mann Broadbent.
Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a confirmation email. After that, you will be kept in the loop closer to the event when we will send out our Essential Event Information approximately 12 weeks ahead of the event, detailing the full itinerary, what you need to bring and other important information relating to the specific event you have signed up for. We will also host webinars which you will be invited to (again, closer to the event), where you will have the opportunity to ask questions and go through your kit. There will be a final email one month ahead of the event, just to check you’ve completed all the important forms and are ready for the event ahead.
If you have chosen to pay in instalments, we will also get in touch with you if any of your payments have been missed.
Rat Race have been audited and accredited to the prestigious BS8848 expedition safety standard.
We have firm emergency protocols and response systems in place whilst out on our adventures. Our main priority above all else is to keep you and our staff safe. Before we leave for each trip a comprehensive in-country risk and threat assessment has been conducted by the Head of Expeditions. All protocols are put in place relating to those assessments. We make sure that the staff involved have the highest level of first aid training; a higher level of medical cover is also put in place if needed; all instructors have qualifications and/ or competencies to match the adventure we will undertake. In the event of an emergency, Rat Race staff and appointed contractors have comprehensive knowledge of procedures which will rapidly be put in place. If needed, our staff will provide first aid and then further medical assistance and evacuation if needed in line with a published Medical Procedures Plan. We have medical back-up and Clinical Directorship provided by a specialist events medical company and we have further emergency response support services provided by competent contracted partner. All our cover is available 24/7 while operations are underway. We use our knowledge and emergency procedures to provide the best possible care in our often remote and austere environments. Before leaving on a trip, we will advise on the insurance cover you are required to have in place for the trip; we will ask for a copy of these insurance details before the departure date.
Race entry includes a glorious finishers medal and bespoke event Rat Race tee. We will request your tshirt size and this will be the size you will be given at Registration.
Absolutely. We welcome supporters and they will have a great time down in the Keys too.
Depends on what you are benching it against. As sea kayaking goes, it is very, very inviting and accessible. BUT we are attempting an open water crossing of the ‘safety valve’ right at the beginning of the event, which is exposed and therefore may be rough, depending on weather and wind direction. For the most part, the paddling will be fairly sheltered and is beautiful. For us, the kayak leg is the essence of this adventure and a truly unique and very special opportunity for all concerned. Make sure you are up to the task and then simply enjoy it! How often do you get to say you paddled the Northern Keys? All of ‘em!
The Event comprises 3 main locations:
Key Biscayne, which is where it starts out from.
Key Largo, which is here Registration occurs, the bike transition and drop-off point and your overnight mid-point accommodation location
Key West – where we finish
It is up to you to sort lodging pre and post event; and to sort somewhere to stay in Key Largo at the mid-point of the event
This kit list is from our 2022 event - you will be notified of any changes to this list ahead of the event you have signed up for.
THE KIT LIST
Here’s a rundown. We may revise this nearer the time but this should give you a good idea at this stage.
Note: All items are mandatory, unless it says recommended, where they are, well, recommended!
Buoyancy aid, paddle and kayak – if using your own boat. . If you are using a rental, we will provide all of these for you.
Suitable lightweight clothing for kayaking. It is recommended to use a light-coloured full-sleeve top, plus quick-drying materials for upper and lower garments. Board shorts are ideal. Also, tops with SPF built in are recommended.
Waterproofs or kayaking cag
Sandals or boat shoes or trainers
A dry bag and/ or waterproof rucksack liner to put your personal effects and snacks.
If you are using a phone for navigation with the route loaded on, you will need a waterproof case for this. If you wish to rent a waterproof GPS unit from us, you may do so HERE.
A suitable hat (Basecall cap or visor is OK, however a ‘boony’ style hat is recommended as it provides all-round head shade and also some neck protection) Water carrying capacity -
Water carrying capacity - minimum 0.5 US gallons (equivalent of 2 litres). This can be carried in bladder, hard or soft bottles.
Water carrying capacity - minimum 0.5 US gallons (equivalent of 2 litres). This can be carried in bladder, hard or soft bottles.*
Suitable lightweight clothing for cycling. It is recommended to use a light-coloured top. A good brand of padded cycling shorts are recommended, ideally with ‘bibs’ although that is personal choice. Also, tops with SPF built in are recommended
Cycle footwear. This can be sneakers or cycling shoes of your choice. If renting, you may bring and use your own cycling footwear and pedals/ cleats. All rentals will be provided as standard with flat pedals.
Cycle helmet. A helmet can be rented from us for $10, however it is always recommended by us to
Bike puncture repair kit – to include spare inner tubes, slime (if you use it) or spare CO2 canisters**
Set of bike lights – front and rear***
A high-visibility rear-facing item to ensure excellent visibility on the Highway at all times****
* Rental bikes will be fitted with a minimum of 1 x bottle cage. Please plan accordingly on water provision.
** Note on spares: If renting a bike from us, our bike rental partner will provide a small repair kit, with 1 x spare tube, small hand pump, tyre levers and a multi-tool. Our firm advice is always that you have your own spares kit, bring it with you to enhance your ability to deal with road-side mishaps. But if renting, be sure that we will give you a spares pack. If bringing your own bike, we expect you to be self-contained on these items, particularly if you are running tubeless set-ups. Whilst we will have bike mechanic support on the route, there is no substitute for you being able to do running repairs to flat tires at the side of the road.
*** Bike lights are essential for this event. Whilst for many riders it may be extremely unlikely that you will find yourselves riding in darkness, we must set a base level of gear provision for all riders - and for some riders, they have previously found themselves riding near to nightfall and through the dusk. On Route 1, it is essential that you maintain good visibility at all times. A headtorch and a flashing red rear LED light are permitted as suitable bike lights for this purpose. See road-running kit below, which you can double up for both disciplines on lights.
**** Route 1 is a regular road with traffic on it. It is biked regularly however if we can enhance safety measures, we will always look to do so. A quick and easy way of doing this is to wear something that is high-visibility. (i.e. ‘dayglo’). Such an item could be your riding top itself, of which there are excellent choices in stores in good fabrics, in day-glo colors. SImilalry it could be a day-glo arm band that snaps or wraps onto your upper arm, or flashes of gay-glo colour on the rear of bags, garments or cycling footwear. We are not prescriptive to what you use, other than to say you must have something of high-visibility in your riding kit.
Road running kit
Working head torch
Red flashing light to attach to your rear (or backpack)
Suitable running vest/ backpack
Suitable running clothing for hot climate – SPF garments recommended
Sneakers (road runners are recommended)
Water carrying capacity of 0.5 US Gallons (equivalent of 2 litres). This can be carried in a bladder, hard or soft bottles.
IF THERE ARE ANY CHANGES FOR THE EVENT THIS WILL BE COMMUNICATED IN THE PRE-EVENT DOCUMENTATION
Carrying this kit is a requirement of the Event and forms part of our planning in ensuring reasonable measures are put in place to keep you safe should anything go wrong during this adventurous endeavour. We ask you not to take short cuts or ‘second guess’ our advice. For instance, the carrying of waterproofs is required even if rain or snow is not forecast as a means to prevent cooling down too fast if you get injured in a location that is very exposed to wind or extreme cold – remember you may be very tired and sweaty, and who says the forecast is always right? In the Arctic, being prepared is key. It is therefore important that you carry the mandatory kit at all times.
The emergency kit is important for several reasons:
1. It helps you to help yourself should you have a problem.
2. We are in this together and you may need to assist others if they have a problem.
3. In the case of an incident our Event Control and safety teams will make decisions based on the knowledge that you all have this equipment.
4. Carrying the kit is a requirement for everyone and hence provides an equal and fair challenge.
5. It is part of our risk assessment process that is shared with insurers. Your insurance may be invalid if you do not follow our advice.
6. If your lack of kit preparation contributes to making an incident more serious, then you may be avoidably drawing resources from our medical team and the emergency services at the expense of others.
7. Without the kit you will be unable to complete registration. If during the race you are not carrying the mandatory kit then you will be disqualified and deemed to have not completed the challenge.
Ok, let’s start by stating the obvious. You do need to kayak to be able to attempt this event. There is a committing sea leg to undertake at the outset of the journey, followed by a good few miles of sheltered Keys paddling to reach the get-out. It’s a long day in the boat for any paddler, before you’ve added on the cycling and running legs. As such, we can’t allow people who have never been in a boat before to undertake this event. Which means we have laid out some guidance on what we expect regarding the level required to undertake the challenge. It’s not meant to be intimidating or out of reach and anyone who has done some paddling will be able to achieve this level quickly, with some refreshment of skills. If you have never paddled, you can get there too, but you will need to take some tuition and/ or spend some time in the boat between now and the event. You can learn more about the level of paddling skill we expect below. One thing is for sure – this is a superb kayak leg and the opportunity to traverse this section of uninhabited Keys is certainly very unique. Its entirety is rarely travelled along and certainly not in such an outstanding event format such as this.
We expect that you will be able to:
Be comfortable and have had some experience in a solo enclosed sea or touring kayak (or a double, if that is what you select).
Be confident steering a straight course and the various strokes to be able to turn your craft efficiently.
Be comfortable sitting in a kayak for extended distances.
Be able to exit your craft under control, should you capsize and to be able to call for help.
Please note that sit-on-top kayaks, whilst providing good paddling experience, are not used or permitted in this event.
The bike stage is all on smooth tarmac and as you would expect in the Keys, is for the most-part extremely flat, except where you go up and over large bridges. Even then, it’s hardly any ascent at all! As such, this is classed as an easy bike. However, with 33 miles of kayaking in the arms and legs and a 13 mile run ahead, this is not to be underestimated. There may be a headwind and 100 miles is still 100 miles. But you will be rewarded with great views, fresh sea air, occasional sightings of birds and marine life around you and hopefully, a good fast ride along a very unique and historic stretch of the US Highway network.
RUNNING / TREKKING
You can walk or run the foot stage. We have designed the format of this event so that the final half marathon foot route will be suitable for fas