Inaugural Surfing Madonna Half Marathon is Sunday

ENCINITAS — The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project’s inaugural Encinitas Half Marathon is set for Sunday, carrying the tradition of fun, fitness and philanthropy of the group’s flagship 5K/10K race.

An estimated 5,500 racers are expected to participate in the 13.1-mile race, which takes runners through the communities of Leucadia, Old Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Solana Beach along Coast Highway 101.

“People are really excited, it’s the first ever half marathon through Encinitas, and people have waited a long time for a half marathon through Encinitas,” said Bob Nichols, president and co-founder of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project nonprofit. “It’s a beautiful course, we’ve got seven miles of oceanfront course, I’d like to believe it is one of the most beautiful half-marathon courses you will fill find.

“How many half marathons, aside from Carlsbad, are right along the coast?” Nichols said rhetorically.

The lead-up to the race has shattered expectations, Nichols said, as experts in half-marathon organizing told the group they should expect about 3,500 runners for the first race. Instead, the race has already swelled to one of the larger half marathons in the state.

Runners on Sunday will be treated to a free breakfast at the end of the race, coconut and boxed water, a commemorative hot chocolate mug, and, of course, the usual marathon swag including a technical shirt and medal.

Another exciting feature of the race, Nichols said, is that prize money is not reserved to the elite runners. The fastest runners in their respective age groups will all win some of the $10,000 prize pot.

“It truly shows this is a race for everyone,” he said.

The race begins at 7:30 a.m. Runners can register until 8 p.m. Saturday on the website encinitashalfmarathon.com

Runner can pick up their packets at the Runners Expo on Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Expo will feature 30 sponsors and vendors handing out samples and selling their products.

Packets will be available for pickup on Sunday from 5:45 a.m. to 7 a.m., but a $15 fee will apply.

Race proceeds benefit a number of local groups, nonprofits and the city and county, as part of the nonprofit’s memorandum of understanding with the City of Encinitas to donate at least $100,000 of its proceeds to local organizations.

Nichols said the group has already exceeded the contractual amount well in advance of the race.

“We are doing really well, and it’s all for a good cause,” Nichols said.

For more information, visit encinitashalfmarathon.com.

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