They said it was too hot in Miami for a marathon. The city's too apathetic.
"There were a lot of naysayers out there saying we had no chance," recalls Frankie Ruiz, co-founder of the ING Miami Marathon.
A lot has changed in the 10 years since Ruiz started what was then called the Miami Tropical Marathon.
3,400 runners entered that year, and it was literally a mom-and-pop operation.
"My family, friends, neighbors had to help out," Ruiz said. "Budget? I don't know that we had a budget, to be honest."
Now, Ruiz has 80 to 90 staffers working Sunday's race, corporate sponsors, and 25,000 registered runners.
Besides growing the sport in South Florida, the ING Miami Marathon is projected to generate more than $45 million for the local economy this year. That number is based on a study by Temple University that estimates all of the hotel bookings, restaurant spending, transportation, and shopping from the thousands of out-of-towners coming in for the race.
Sixty-five percent of this year's entrants are from outside Miami-Dade County. Eighteen percent are from out of the country. In fact, all 50 states will be represented Sunday – and 87 different countries.
Other marathons like Boston, New York, and Chicago have more history, but Miami’s is competitive because it's a destination, Ruiz says: "We see that people look at this as a reason to travel."
The 26.2-mile race and 13.1-mile half marathon start at the AmericanAirlines Arena at 6:15 a.m. Sunday.
Runners will compete for $30,000 in prize money.