When LPGA golfing legend Annika Sorenstam competed at the highest level, she occasionally went running to relax more than anything. It wasn't structured physical exercise as much as it was geared to mentally clear her mind. Everything she did worked. Sorenstam is the greatest female golfer of this generation, maybe the best of all time.
Now Sorenstam runs, bikes or swims every morning as part of a group of three moms in Orlando simply trying to get in some exercise while their kids go to school. And she will test her fitness in a big way when she runs the Half Marathon distance in The FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon December 3 over the streets of downtown West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and Lake Worth.
"I'm going to do my best," Sorenstam said. "I've been training 11-15 miles a week. We will see."
In one sense, the Half Marathon challenge is a personal test not so different than all of the golf tournaments Sorenstam competed in worldwide throughout her career. Based on her track record, there is a good chance she will reach the finish line.
Sorenstam amassed 89 worldwide victories, including 72 on the LPGA Tour and 10 Major Championships. Sorenstam holds a record number of Rolex Player of the Year awards (eight) and Vare Trophies for the lowest scoring average in a season (six). She was the first and only female to cross the $20 million mark for LPGA career earnings. Her $22 million-plus total is nearly $3 million more than the next-closest competitor even though she stepped away from professional golf after the 2008 season to focus on her family, Foundation and the ANNIKA brand of businesses.
Raising two young kids definitely gets in the way of preparing for a long distance race like The FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon, but Sorenstam said she enjoys her exercise time.
"It has been fun to have someone to run with for the last year and a half," Sorenstam said of her running group. "When I played and trained, it was more weight work and strength training. Now it's more about cardio."
The FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon is a three-day festival of events that begins on Friday December 1 with the Bill Bone 5K and Fireworks presented by the Arrigo group of car dealerships, a community concert sponsored by FPL with more fireworks at 5 p.m Saturday December 2, and then the Marathon and Half Marathon at 5:55 a.m. on Sunday December 3.
The Bill Bone 5K will serve as a warm-up run for runners and walkers at 6:30 p.m. and will also be followed by fireworks. It will begin and end along Flagler Drive at Clematis Street with the Sandi Tree serving as a backdrop.
FPL is sponsoring the Sister Hazel concert to say thank you to first responders from recent Hurricane Irma and entertain participants in the FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon, their families and friends. The event is free of charge.
As part of the weekend events, a Health and Fitness Expo will also be held at City Place in downtown West Palm Beach Friday from 12 noon - 6:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. The Expo will feature the latest in health and fitness products and services, running apparel, and upcoming race information.
Then the Marathon and Half Marathon will feature a new fast and flat course built around the waterside beauty of Flagler Drive that makes the FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon a unique experience among distance races around the state and country. For the first time in the history of Palm Beach marathon racing, runners will actually be allowed to run on Palm Beach. That segment as runners approach mile marker 3 will cross onto the island at the Flagler Memorial Bridge, wind South along the Cocoanut Row bike trail, turn west at Whitehall Way and then South on the Lake Trail, before crossing back into West Palm Beach at the Royal Park Bridge.
After the Palm Beach island leg, runners will head North on Flagler to the Manatee Lagoon where they will turn and then return South to Downtown. Sorenstam and the other Half-Marathon runners will cut off to the Finish Line as Marathon participants continue down to 10th Avenue in Lake Worth before turning back North.
K2 Sports Ventures acquired ownership of the former Eau Palm Beach Marathon & Run Fest from the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches last year. Ken Kennerly, also the Executive Director of The Honda Classic PGA TOUR event in Palm Beach Gardens, has partnered with sports event veteran John Mathews of Sunshine State Races to produce the race.
FITTEAM, a Palm Beach Gardens based healthy lifestyle company, and Jupiter Medical Center have signed up as major sponsors.
For more information on The FITTEAM Palm Beaches Marathon, visit thefitteampalmbeachesmarathon.com. Registration is now open through December 1 at $105 for the Marathon, $85 for the Half Marathon and $40 for the 5K. Onsite registration will be available at $120 for the Marathon, $95 for the Half Marathon and $45 for the 5K.