The impact of last week’s barge collision and oil spill continues to reverberate through all facets of local life, and has reached the running community.

The Land and Sand Run, set Saturday at East Beach on the eastern end of Galveston Island, has been notified that parts of the course are now closed to the public.

Fortunately, the facilities at Stewart Beach are clean and open, so the race, which benefits the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, will be held as planned at 8 a.m. Saturday with a new start line near the Stewart Beach Pavilion.

“It’s still going to be a mixture of land and sand,” race director Heidi Walker said. “One change is that instead of a separate 10K course, the 10K runners will make two loops around the 5K course.”

The race begins on the sand, then crosses onto pavement at one of the pocket park parking lots. The course continues down the road to a turnaround in Beachtown before returning to Stewart Beach.

Access to the area originally planned for the run’s start and finish has been curtailed, and even the portion of the seawall included in the 10K course is now off limits.

“The seawall east of Apffel Road is restricted to cleanup personnel,” Walker said. “All of Bodekker Road and the area around it is closed to the public, so we were fortunate to be able to move everything to Stewart Beach. Participants will be able to park free at Stewart Beach as well.”

Ironically, the run’s beneficiary is so involved in the cleanup of the oil spill that the group may not be able to support its own fundraising event.

“Our core group of volunteers for the race are also first responders to an environmental emergency, and they’ve been swamped,” Walker said.

She urged anyone planning to register for the race to do so today at FitTriRun, 528 23rd St., in Galveston, rather than register on race day, since many of the race volunteers might still be working on the cleanup.

Walker stressed that participants would not be running through any affected areas.

“We were at Stewart Beach on Thursday and it looks as clean as always — no tar balls or other stuff,” she said. “We’re ready for the race, and have a great setup for the kids at our Discovery Zone. We’re exhausted, but excited.”

Bernice Torregrossa is a five-time marathoner and a water exercise instructor. She can be reached at

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