- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

People usually head to Ocean City for vacation. But on April16, many runners will be rushing there for the inaugural Ocean City, Maryland Marathon.

“The area will be our biggest attribute,” said Mark Shaw, who along with Chris Klebe and Charlie McClure are partners in Extreme Dream Events, a race management company organizing the event. “Ocean City is known for fun. People from Florida and Washington state already have signed up.”

Also scheduled are a half-marathon, two-person relay, four-person relay, 5K fun run and half-mile youth fun run beginning and ending at West Ocean City Marina, Shaw said.

Extreme Dream, with experience in bicycling rides and 5K races, conceived the idea of the multirace event and went public with it about six months ago. The motivation, according to Shaw, was to raise funds for Court Appointed Special Advocate, an organization benefiting abused and neglected children.

“We really wanted to do [the inaugural run] the following year, but we really wanted to get something on the board for CASA this year,” he said, noting that April is “abused kids month.”

Shaw, whose first love is bicycling and second love is ultramarathons on trails, said the Ocean City area is a premier staging ground for running races.

“We have Assateague Island, nice views of the ocean and bay and some great back country roads,” Shaw said. “It’s just begging for [a marathon]. It’s flat. It should be a really fast course. The area is growing by leaps and bounds, and there is nothing right here. It seems like other areas have many events, but we don’t have that here. What is needed are more physical events.”

The marathon is Extreme Dream’s first foray into the management side of the 26.2-mile distance. To gain additional knowledge, Shaw said he volunteered at the Marathon in the Parks in Montgomery County in November.

There is no limit on entries for the marathon, although registration closes April10. The race is the same weekend as the Boston Marathon, but Shaw does not anticipate any conflict for potential runners.

“We don’t really feel like there is competition there,” he said. “Actually, we are hoping to help people qualify for Boston for next year with our flat, fast course.”

Another scenic Maryland race — Online registration for the 21st Governors Bay Bridge Run opened two days ago. If you have never done this event, you truly have missed out on one of the area’s most interesting races.

The May 1 run is a 10-kilometer footrace over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a part of the Bay Bridge Walk. Starting at Kent Island, the route goes uphill for two miles to the top of the bridge, down for two miles on the other side and flat for two miles into Sandy Point State Park to the finish.

There is a great temptation at the top of the bridge to stop, partly because you are exhausted from climbing but even more so to look over the railing at the massive bay below.

Because this event has been canceled twice (in 2002 because of poor weather conditions and 2003 because of national security concerns), race organizers at Annapolis Striders have made their policy clear on the club’s Web site, annapolisstriders.org:

“Officials of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and other State of Maryland agencies have authority to cancel the Run for public safety reasons. The Annapolis Striders and its sponsors have no input or control over their decision. The Striders and its sponsors cannot be held responsible if the Run is canceled. … There will be no refunds.”

Officials say the course is not certified for distance because they cannot close down the bridge to measure it accurately by USATF standards. But how about measuring this year’s course during the event so as to have a certified course next year?

Registration closes at 3,000 entries, so do not procrastinate. Officials say the field usually fills by April7.

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