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Surfing Madonna 5&10K headed for the shore

ENCINITAS — The Surfing Madonna has inspired a song, a wine label and now a 5-10K run that’s slated for Nov. 16. 

Mark Patterson, the artist behind the well-known mosaic that was installed underneath a rail bridge in 2011, said the fun run on the beach will benefit the nonprofit Surfing Madonna Oceans Project.

“The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project is our way of expanding the message of the Surfing Madonna,” Patterson said. “Basically, our ocean is in big trouble and needs help.”

Robert Nichols, co-founder of the nonprofit, said money raised during the “Save the Ocean” 5-10K will go to local students.

“On one side, we want scholarships to go to biology students studying issues facing the ocean and solutions,” Nichols said.

Additionally, the run will provide funding for artists wanting to reimagine the Surfing Madonna.

Artists will reinterpret the Surfing Madonna as they see fit throughout the state to draw attention to problems like trash in the sea. Nichols noted the first adaptation could go in Pebble Beach in Northern California.

“This has the potential to spread the message in a big way,” Nichols said.

Patterson said each artist’s take on the Surfing Madonna will be installed on private property.

“I’ve learned my lesson with guerrilla art,” Patterson said with a laugh.

The original mosaic made its debut near Encinitas Boulevard, and controversy over whether it could stay followed. Eventually, the state denied a request from Encinitas to put the Surfing Madonna at the entrance of Moonlight Beach State Park, arguing the piece could potentially violate the constitution’s separation of church and state.

Today, the mosaic hangs on private property at Café Ipe in Leucadia.

A portion of the money from the 5-10K will also be used to help complete local beach and park projects, though the specific ventures have yet to be identified. In a twist, registered participants of the run will be presented with a list of local projects and vote on which ones should receive funding.

There will be more than $8,000 in prize money, and live music and other forms of entertainment are planned.

“We want this event to be successful so we can have it every year,” Nichols said.

The run will start just south of Moonlight Beach and head north.

The 5K is $39. And those who choose to do the 10K will pay $49. Register at

“Young and old, run or walk — everyone is welcome,” Nichols said.


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