Just an hour after the sunrise appeared at Onslow Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Saturday, 300 runners took off in the Sand-Sational 8K, the 4th race of the Grand Prix Series.
The Grand Prix Series races are known for their obstacles with some offering mud pits or long distances. The Sand-Sational 8K is no exception, as most of the course is on sand rather than asphalt.
"It’s a huge difference running on the beach," said Michael Siringer, first place runner for the Sand-Sational 8K. "You don’t think about it, but you don’t get a lot of momentum back from the sand. If you run on sand, your feet kind of slip out under you. If you’re planning on running on the beach, go out once in a while before and just run. Get a feel for where the hard spots and soft spots are in the sand to make yourself more comfortable."
Though he took first place, Siringer emphasized the importance of enjoying the race rather than worrying about competition.
"I’m a special case since I’m on the Marine Corps Running Team," said Siringer. "Most people just want to have fun, which I love. The series races here are a blast. These are not competitive races, despite a few of us in the front who have competitive times; it’s not about that. When it comes down to it, it’s not about being competitive. It’s about the running community and how we all support each other and enjoy each other’s company. We just have fun regardless whether you’re the first person to cross the finish line or the last."
Despite the added difficulty, the beach’s view, calming sound of waves and gentle breeze were welcoming for participants. Many said they’d be back next year to experience the beach again.
The race drew participants from all over. Andrew Evans, from Charlotte, chose to attend the Sand-Sational 8K as an added benefit for his first visit to Camp Lejeune.
"My grandfather, Andrew William Evans, was a World War II veteran and Montford Point Marine, so I wanted to check out his memorial and see Camp Lejeune from his eyes," said Evans. "It’s a huge base and it’s an American memorial that’s very important to our history."
For information about upcoming races in the Grand Prix Series, visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/grandprix.