OCEAN CITY- Thousands of runners are expected to compete next week in the annual Island 2 Island Half Marathon and 5K race, which returns to the resort area for the 10th year with a significant change in the format.
The Island 2 Island Half Marathon and 5K, produced by OC Tri Running, returns next Saturday, April 26 with thousands of runners expected to compete in the combined races. Last year, a record 2,600 runners competed in the event on a picture-perfect Saturday in late April and that number should be approached or surpassed this year in the 10th annual event.
For the first few years, the event featured a full marathon that started and ended at the commercial harbor in West Ocean City. Several years back, the event was reduced to a half marathon and 5K and the participation rates soared. For the last several years, the event has started at the Inlet in Ocean City and the course crossed the Route 50 bridge and wound its way down Route 611 for a finish on Assateague.
This year, OC Tri Running and race organizers are adding a different twist, essentially running the same basic route only in reverse. Next Saturday’s half marathon will begin on Assateague and conclude with a finish at the Inlet in Ocean City, where an awards ceremony and post-race party will be held. In the past, competitors had to ride buses or find a ride back from Assateague to the post-race events in Ocean City, but the course has been reversed this year.
The event gets started next Saturday at 6:50 a.m. with the national anthem, followed shortly thereafter by the start of the race at 7 a.m. The post-race festivities are scheduled from around 9:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies will monitor traffic at the intersections along the course at Assateague, West Ocean City and Ocean City. For the record, in last year’s race, Lee Kauffman of Annapolis came in first in the half-marathon, finishing in 1:16.42. David Vitek of Baltimore was second, while Kristen Lasko of Gaithersburg was third overall and the top female finisher.