February 3, 2015

Race expected to impact traffic - particularly in the Lower Keys

The Ragnar Relay Race takes place Friday and Saturday and is expected to most impact Keys traffic in the Lower Keys all day on Saturday. The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone who plans any highway travel on Saturday to be aware and to plan extra time for their trip. The most impact will be to southbound traffic, but northbound traffic will most likely slow as well as runners cross the road at designated locations and as drivers slow down to look at the runners.

The race is comprised of more than 500 teams with 12 runners for each team. Each team has two support vans where the team members ride when they aren’t running. At any given time, each team has one runner on the roadway and two vans traveling between designated “exchange” points where runners are swapped.

In the Upper Keys and through much of Marathon, the impact is expected to be minimal because there are more locations where runners can easily remain off the roadway and where runner exchanges can be done away from traffic areas.

The most impact will likely begin to occur when runners reach the exchange point at Marathon Airport, which will be in the early morning hours on Saturday. Runners are expected to arrive at this exchange point between 1:15 a.m. and 12 noon on Saturday. Another major exchange point is located at Sugarloaf School, where runners are expected between 3:15 a.m. and 5 p.m.

At each exchange point on the route, deputies will be on hand to make sure vans are pulled off the highway and not impeding traffic. They will also assist runners to cross the roadway when necessary, and the crossing will be accomplished taking in to consideration traffic flow. They will not be stopping traffic for every runner.

All runners must cross the finish line at Higgs Beach in Key West by 8 p.m. Saturday.

“We ask everyone to be patient this weekend and plan extra time for their travel,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We have worked extensively with race organizers in an effort to improve the flow of traffic and to keep the impact of the race at a minimum, but with this many runners and this many support vehicles there is just no way to avoid delays.”

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