Runners ready for DeSoto half marathon

Here’s the race course for the Bradenton Area Half Marathon.
Here’s the race course for the Bradenton Area Half Marathon. PHOTO PROVIDED

More than 300 runners will take to the streets of Bradenton and Palmetto early Saturday morning, participating in a new signature event for the DeSoto Historical Society.

The Bradenton Area Half Marathon is the only half marathon in Manatee County right now, totaling 13.1 miles. Runners are arriving from Ontario, New York, Minnesota, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere for the run, which starts and ends in downtown Bradenton.

“We put on large communities events. We wanted to try something new, something different,” said Ray Niecestro, the executive director of the historical society. “We’re very excited.”

The half marathon will join other DeSoto staples, including the seafood festival, a children’s parade and the grand parade. The nonprofit honors Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s landing along the Manatee River in 1539.

The cooler weather this week may have enticed more runners to sign up, as Niecestro reported an uptick in the last couple of days. He expects to hit 350 runners by the start of the race, which kicks off at 6:30 a.m.

After the race, Darwin Brewing Company will debut a new custom-brewed beer. Darwin’s also will host a post-race party Saturday evening with food and live music.

The half marathon requires some road closures, and all runners are expected to be finished by 10 a.m. Here’s a list of some closures and other notices those in the area should be aware of:

  • Runners and spectators should plan to park in the Bradenton municipal auditorium lot, near city hall, or in one of the nearby parking garages. There’s no overnight parking Friday on Barcarrota Boulevard.
  • The southbound lanes on Green Bridge will close between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Niecestro said he anticipates the bridge may reopen earlier than that, depending on when runners are finished.
  • Both boat ramps, including in Palmetto and at 59th Street West in Bradenton, will be limited while runners are in the area.
  • One westbound lane of Manatee Avenue will be closed for runners.
  • Riverview Boulevard, which makes up the bulk of the race route, will be closed while runners are in the area. Door hangers were hung at homes along the route.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney