Surfing Madonna Beach Run earns new world record title

It's official: Encinitas is the world record-holder for the largest beach run.

The Surfing Madonna Beach Run on Nov. 5 earned the new Guinness Book of World Records title after more than 4,000 people ran across the sands of Moonlight Beach.

Bob Nichols, president of the Surfing Madonna Ocean's Project, said when he approached Guinness about the possible new category last year, the organization agreed to include it if Surfing Madonna had more than 1,000 runners and if the sand was more than 10-centimeters deep.

As of the afternoon of Nov. 6, Nichols had counted 4,129 qualified participants in the 5K, 10K and 15K runs. About 4,850 people had signed up to participate but some were disqualified because they stopped running at points, Nichols explained. (The race attracted 3,800 runners last year.)

"The Guinness Book of World Records has some pretty strict rules, and they set 50 course monitors along the course," he said.

The race itself was also nearly disqualified from the world record minutes before it began when officials did not have all the proper paperwork with them. Luckily, the papers were delivered with 10 minutes to spare before the start of the race, Nichols said.

Luck was also on the race's side in another way. There was a 60 percent chance of rain that day, but the skies remained clear.

"We got very lucky," he said. "That's kind of how it is with all of our events. There's always something making us go, 'Oh my gosh,' and we just barely get something set up."

Nichols added he thought of the new category about a year ago because he believed the Surfing Madonna Run was always the largest run all on sand.

"There aren't too many of [these types of runs]," he said. "I think it's going to take a long time for somebody to beat our record, unless it's in Dubai. ... It's surprising our numbers were so high especially since the race industry is down. I think it's just such a unique event. The course is always different and is always changing. You get to run right next to the surf. Everything was just great. Everybody was happy."

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