Despite a late start that led to some confusion among participants, yesterday’s Keys Island Runners Winter Fun Run from Buttonwood Sound Basin to the Islamorada Sandbar in the Upper Florida Keys delivered a fine day on the water for 100-plus powerboat owners and their friends. The 22-mile trek was part of the group’s two-day season-opener, which began Friday with a run from Black Water Sound Basin to Nest Key Sandbar.
Big fans of the Keys Island Runners group, Stephen and Heather Miles ran their MTI 340X catamaran in the event. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
An electrical issue with the photo helicopter that was supposed to carry speedonthewater.com chief shooter Pete Boden to capture the event led to the delay. The issue could not be resolved so the helicopter had to stay on the ground.
“It wasn’t as organized as usual when the helicopter is able to set the pace of the start, and I think after the 15-minute delay people were chomping at the bit to get going,” explained Daniel Garcia, the Key West, Fla.-based founder of the group. “So it was a bit of rocky start, but ultimately ended up being a great event.
After tackling the run in his 24-foot Progression, Keys Island Runners founder Daniel Garcia, III, and Kristina DeSantis hopped out of the boat to handle merchandise sales.
“Lots of boats all shapes and sizes showed up with the same common goal, which was to have a great time with the boating community,” he added.
Among those boats was an MTI 340X MTI owned the Stephen Miles of Stephen Miles Design. The Kentucky-based paint-man had hoped to register for the Miami Boat Show Poker Run from Biscayne Bay to the Post Card Inn in Islamorada, but Florida Powerboat Club event was sold out by the time he got around to it.
With Keys Island Runners and Florida Powerboat Club events in town this weekend, the Islamorada Sandbar was the place to be yesterday.
So Miles opted to join the Keys Island Runners happening—and finished the day impressed.
“First off, these Key Island Runners boys have started to attract themselves a crowd from deeper in the North than you’d think,” he said. “I talked to a guy yesterday, a Hustler owner from Upstate New York, at Nest Key and he absolutely loves what the Keys Island Runners are doing down here.”
Another gentlemen Miles met this weekend came from South Carolina. But instead of bringing his 48-foot MTI catamaran to the run, he brought “a skiff with a big Yamaha outboard hanging off the back of it, just straight Key Island Runners style,” Miles recalled.
An eclectic group of powerboats made it to the grassroots group’s season-opener.
“This thing was like a surfboard with a big engine on it,” Miles said, then chuckled. “It was so gnarly that his girlfriend ended up riding with us to overcome her fear.”
Through donations and merchandise sales, Keys Island Runners raised $5,000 to $7,000 for Voices For Florida Keys Children, an “all-volunteer organization dedicated to the betterment of the lives of the abandoned, abused and neglected children in Monroe County (Fla.),” according to the nonprofit outfit’s website.
You never know when you’re going to encounter a sleeper in the Keys Island Runners group.
“We sold a good amount of merchandise as my girlfriend, Kristina DeSantis, and I held down the KIR merchandise fort,” said Garcia. “My mother, Tammy Torres, who usually takes care of that part of the event was on her anniversary vacation. So I was able to witness firsthand how that side of things is handled. Let’s just say I really, really appreciate all that my mother has done for Keys Island Runners.
“We ended the night for the after party at Hog Heaven in Islamorada and we had a good group of members show up,” he continued. “It’s always amazing to me to see how much we have become like family over these last few years of the existence of Keys Island Runners—always a great time with even better people.”
During the run to the sandbar, Miles recalled trying to get around a slower boat ahead of him and laughed.
“It took everything, every ounce of trimming and finding a sweet spot to get by this little cat with a console—it couldn’t have been more than 23 feet long—with a single 450R outboard,” he said, then cackled again. “They had to be hanging out there at a buck-nine for 10 minutes straight.”
Critical mass at the Islamorada Sandbar.
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