If you live in South Beach, chances are you've seen Alex Mesa. He's the 44-year-old, neon-clad Colombian guy whose passion is jogging backward. Mesa runs all over SoBe the wrong direction, drawing honks, stares, and -- today at least -- a 911 call and a citation from police.
Mesa complains that police ticketed him simply because they didn't like his unique running style, but a police spokesman says the problem was that Mesa was dodging dangerously through traffic. "No, there's no citation for running backward," Sgt. Bobby Hernandez, a Miami Beach police spokesman, tells Riptide.
That's not the story Mesa tells NBC6. The wrong-way jogger says he was harassed by four cops simply for doing the same thing he's done around SoBe for six years.
"Four police officers for someone who's jogging backward? Someone who is doing the right thing? That's uncalled for," Mesa tells the station. "That's a waste of manpower."
Mesa has become enough of a local semicelebrity to earn a Sun Post profile in January, in which he revealed he is HIV positive and battling a number of health conditions. He tells the paper he runs backward two or three times a week all over South Beach.
Today, though, someone called police after seeing Mesa jogging near James Avenue and 17th Street.
Hernandez says the jogger was darting through traffic: "Vehicles were braking not to hit him."
Police offered to educate Mesa about pedestrian rules, but the jogger declined, Hernandez says. "He told them: 'I've always done it like this, and I'm going to keep doing it like this,'" he says.
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That's when police issued the citation. The runner tells NBC6, though, that he wasn't interfering with traffic. "I'm not doing anything different from somebody rollerskating, skateboarding, riding bicycles in the middle of the street," he tells the station.
Here's Mesa in action: