Surfing Madonna Run poised to enter Guinness Book of World Records

Organizers of Surfing Madonna Run have called the race “the world’s largest beach run” the past two years.

Now, in its fifth year, with just under 5,000 people expected to sign up for the race, the popular beach 5K/10K/15K run could become officially the largest race run on sand — desert, beach, or playground.

A judge from Guinness Book of World Records, which documents all records large, small and quirky, will be on hand at Moonlight Beach on Nov. 5 to determine if the fifth Surfing Madonna Run indeed sets the record.

Race organizers are excited and confident that it will happen.

“I think we’ve absolutely got it,” said Bob Nichols, founder and CEO of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, the nonprofit that hosts the race. “We are pretty excited.”

The confidence is well placed: Largest sand race is a new record category that Surfing Madonna sought to create.

In order to create the category, Surfing Madonna representatives had to complete an application process with Guinness World Records, which includes a detailed list of requirements they need to fulfill in order to win the coveted title.

Among other things, the Guinness document states that the race must:

• Cover a distance of at least 100 meters

• Require that all runners start at the same time and wear race number identification

• Occur only on sand that is at least 10 centimeters deep

• Be timed by at least two experienced timekeepers with stopwatches that are accurate to a hundredth of a second.

• Provide one “steward,” or independent race observer, for every 50 race participants.

They also had to pay a fee of $12,000 for the judge’s appearance, use of Guinness’ logo and other related activities.

“It’s very official, there will be photos taken from above via quad copter, so if they have to, they can do an aerial count,” Nichols said. “It’s expensive to have Guinness come out, but it’s absolutely worth it. The extra amount of participants we have signed up has made up for that.”

Nichols said the race is being capped at 4,999 registrants — 5,000 is the magic number that requires an additional battery of requirements, including having another company verify the count from the aerial photos.

“It’s a much more in-depth and costly process, so we decided to cap it at 4,999,” Nichols said.

For the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, which was formed in 2012 by the creators of the eponymous guerrilla mosaic that gained international attention in 2011, the race is its primary philanthropy. It has used the proceeds to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and public programs that promote the nonprofit’s mission of raising awareness of the ocean.

The race has grown each year. This year, Nichols said, they expect at least one racer from every state, and several international racers.

“We’ve had a family of four from Sweden who has run in the races the past few years, which is really cool,” Nichols said.

The run begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 5 with kick-off performances and speakers. The Guinness World Records announcement is scheduled to take place at 3:15 p.m.

To register for the race, visit


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