Surfing Madonna run aims to become world record-holder

This year’s Surfing Madonna Beach Run could be one for the record books.

Organizers are hoping their Nov. 5 event on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas will win gold medal status as the world’s “Largest Race on Sand” and they’ve invited judges from Guinness World Records to observe the proceedings.

“It does add to our cache to be able to tell runners about (the record-setting goal),” Wil Fisher, development director of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, said as he described why his organization was seeking world recognition.

Word’s already started to percolate out through the running community about what they’re hoping to achieve and they’ve had a 30 percent increase in early signup registrations compared to last year, Fisher said. Last year’s event attracted about 3,800 runners and this year’s goal is 5,000.

“We’ve already had one runner who has said, ‘It’s on my bucket list to be in Guinness Book of World Records,’” he added, laughing.

Even if they don’t achieve their goal of getting 5,000 people to participate in this year’s event, they’re still likely to obtain their world-class status as long as they follow Guinness’ requirements. That’s because the “Largest Race on Sand” is a new category that they sought to create — they don’t have to beat a prior winner, Fisher said.

Surfing Madonna officials sought the category’s creation by completing an application process with Guinness World Records, and they’ve received a detailed list of requirements they’ll need to fulfill in order to win their 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.

Easily the toughest requirement is going to be the stewards one, Fisher said. These event observers can’t be people affiliated with the race organization and they can’t be participating runners, so organizers are avidly seeking volunteers for the job.

Now in its fifth year, the Surfing Madonna Beach Run is named after the famed Surfing Madonna mosaic art piece along Encinitas Boulevard just west of the railroad tracks. The run is a fundraiser for the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, a nonprofit ocean advocacy organization that provides grant money for conservation projects and hosts surfing camps for children with disabilities, among other things.

Visit surfingmadonna.org

—-Barbara Henry is a freelancer writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune

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