Thousands of people are expected to run across the Encinitas sand March 4 when the second annual Half Marathon at Moonlight Beach takes place.
The event, which kicks off in the beach's parking lot and is presented annually by the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, will raise money to fund local ocean conservation projects and programs that benefit disabled veterans and special needs youth, officials said.
Bob Nichols, president of Surfing Madonna, said he expects 5,000 runners to participate.
The 13.1-mile route takes participants along Coast Highway 101, through Downtown Encinitas and past more than seven miles of coastline. Runners will pass Encinitas landmarks such as the Swami's Temple, the Encinitas Boathouses, the Tiki Heads at Swami's Beach and the Surfing Madonna Mosaic.
Participants are expected to maintain a 14.53-minute mile in order to stay within the three-hour-15-minute time limit.
Following the race, runners will be rewarded with medals that pay homage to Encinitas landmarks like the Swami's Temple and Tiki Head; a free breakfast from Ki's Restaurant, Lazy Acres and TruMoo; and discounts to local stores.
New this year, Surfing Madonna has added a private VIP section for 75 runners that includes private port-a-potties, a hot breakfast, free massages, seating, and parking two blocks from the start and finish lines.
There will also be an after party from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Seaside Bazaar. The party will feature local breweries offering free craft beer for runners and $5 beers for the community; live music and a photo booth.
An expo will also be held ahead of the race on March 2 from noon to 6 p.m. and March 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That public event, in the Moonlight Beach parking lot, will feature more than 25 sponsor booths giving away free samples of health and fitness products.
For more information about the Encinitas Half Marathon and to register, visit www.encinitashalfmarathon.com