The 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon is in the record books now, but area runners have another long-distance race right around the corner. The Surfside Beach Marathon is scheduled for next weekend, taking place on February 2.

In many ways, the Surfside Beach Marathon and Half Marathon are the antithesis of their Houston counterpart. Instead of huge crowds of runners and spectators, a smaller but still enthusiastic number of participants and bystanders come to the event. Along some stretches of the course, there are more seagulls squawking than spectators cheering.

A more significant difference, however, is the course. When runners toe the line at the start of the Surfside Beach Marathon, it’s actually a line in the sand. The entire 26.2 miles of the marathon, and the 13.1 miles of the half marathon, are run on the sand. It’s the only marathon in the country run entirely on sand.

While the marathon and half marathon have been popular local races for fifteen years, two years ago the race directors added a 5k race that is also run on the sand. All distances start at Stahlman Park in Surfside. The marathon and half marathon head west for two miles along the beach before making a hairpin turn to head east for a long stretch of either thirteen (for the marathon) or seven (for the half marathon) and then heading straight back to the finish line at Stahlman Park.

The 5k makes only one turn, beginning at Stahlman Park and immediately heading east along the beach. At the halfway point, 5k participants turn around for the straight shot back to the park and the finish line.

The marathon and half marathon are walker-friendly, with a special early-bird start time of 5:30 a.m. for those who plan to walk the marathon course. Other marathoners will begin at 7:00 a.m., followed by the half marathon start at 7:15 a.m., the Kids K at 8:00 a.m., and the Surfin’ Surfside 5k at 8:30 a.m. Registration is open at Surfsidebeachmarathon.com.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com.

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