(REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.) - Close to 3,000 runners from 44 states take various courses that start and finish on the boardwalk. Focus Multisport's Coastal Delaware Running Festival is shaping up to be the biggest of its kind in the state.
Racers take their marks in the misty and early Sunday morning to launch the day's festivities for the 5th annual Coastal Delaware Running Festival.
"We believe that this is trending to become the largest weekend running event in Delaware," says Assistant Race Director, Ernie Felici.
A few thousand runners choose between a full marathon, a half marathon, and a 9K.
Felici says Focus Multisports designed the marathon course and had it certified to be Boston Marathon Qualifier. "It's nice and flat, it's fast, and it is beautiful," he says.
Steven Eshelman and Jake Mashack were the first and second runners to come back from the course that spans to the Cape Henlopen State Park. Both runners are pleased with how the weather turned out, saying that the fog kept the air cool. This was Mashack's first time at the festival, but Eshelman has watched the courses change pace over the years, participating in last year's 5K and the 9K two years ago.
Eshelman is from Lincoln and Mashack comes from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. In fact 44 states are represented by these racers and their fans.
Karen Morrison came from Yardley, Pennsylvania to cheer her daughter Steph on. "She's 26 weeks pregnant and whenever she does a race, I try to make a really cool poster," she explains.
First responders, local businesses and more than 200 volunteers also came to support the racers. The Indian River Travel Lacrosse Club is among them and they are rewarded for their time.
"The generous organization provides us some funds to help purchase equipment for all of the players," says Boosters President, Mike Furman.
"It also helps get the kids interested in coming along the way with the feeder program," Assistant Head Coach Shane Forrey adds.
The festival also benefits the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation, restoration of the fire control tower that sits just south of Dewey Beach, and various other nonprofit organizations.
Felici noted that racers in Saturday's 5K beat the weather Saturday too. That event was held at the Dewey Beach Lions Club in between the rain showers.