Using social media rather than letting it use them, the Keys Island Runners group has grown to 27,000-plus, fully engaged Instagram followers in less than three years. Those are enviable results, to be sure, but in the case of this group, which is spread throughout the Florida Keys, they translate to real experiences, good times and camaraderie rather than the virtual kind.
The Keys Island Runners group attracts participants not just from the Florida Keys but from all over the Sunshine State. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Yesterday’s estimated 150-plus boat turnout for the group’s Islamorada Sandbar Raft-Up, despite windy conditions and lumpy water, is yet another case in point. The entire happening was announced and organized through the Keys Island Runners Instagram account and Facebook page.
“Everything is run through the Instagram page and shared to the Facebook page,” said Daniel Garcia, III, the Key West-based founder of the group. “Every event we do goes to a sandbar. So over the last two full years that I’ve been doing this, we’ve probably gone to Islamorada eight times.
Outboard engine-powered sport catamarans and center consoles were prominent in the 150-plus-boat fleet.
“The turnout was way bigger this year than last year,” he continued. “We had high winds last year and this year as well, but that didn’t stop them from coming. There were two organized starts and everyone followed directions. And we had a bunch of past and present powerboat racers—Shaun Torrente, Gary Ballough, Will Smith, Lee Murray and Nick Imprescia to name a few. We had a blast.”
The group kicked off the weekend early Friday evening at Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar in Key Largo, where Florida Powerboat Club president Stu Jones had organized a special welcome event for them. As it did in 2020, the Keys Island Runners happening ran concurrently with the FPC’s Miami Boat Show Poker Run, which included a boat show of its own this year.
Enjoy more images from yesterday’s Keys Island Runners happening in the slideshow above.
“Gilbert’s was great—really laidback and chill,” Garcia said. “I met a lot of people from the powerboating community, did a radio interview and had photos and interviews done with some of my members. It was a really nice event.”
Exuberance and enthusiasm drive Keys Island Runners, which has attracted more than 27,000 followers to its Instagram page in less than three years.