By Emmy Errante
The Wrightsville Beach Foundation will host a fun, unique race with several varieties of competition on the sand and in the ocean.
There will be jogging, walking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
There will even be crab crawling.
The Second Annual Pier to Pier Run, Crab Crawl and SUP Race will be held Saturday, June 7. Participants in the beach run will line up at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier at 8:30 a.m. and jog or walk to Crystal Pier and back, approximately 3.5 miles.
The paddleboarders will enter the water at Crystal Pier at 8 a.m. and paddle through the open ocean to finish at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. Those looking for an extra challenge can turn the race into a biathlon by completing both the paddleboard race and the beach run.
One of the highlights of the event is the Crab Crawl, which takes place 15 minutes before the beach run begins. Children line up in their best sea creature costumes and crab crawl about 40 yards, with families cheering them on. Prizes will be awarded to the fastest crawl and the best costume.
“They’re racing each other and they’re falling down and they’re running into each other with a lot of laughing so that’s a lot of fun,” said race director Bobby Brandon. “It just makes it such a family event.”
This year’s race looks to build on the success of its first year by adding the SUP race option for the countless paddleboarders in Wrightsville Beach. After the 2013 Pier to Pier Run saw chilly and overcast weather, event organizers moved the race from May to June in hopes of more pleasant conditions. With these improvements, Brandon said he expects more than 300 participants.
“I don’t remember how many runners we had last year but the ones that came, they loved it because it’s such a fun, different thing to do,” Brandon said. “Word spread from last year … so I think it’s just going to be a much better event.”
The Pier to Pier race, which originated as the Farmers’ Market 5k around the John Nesbitt Loop, has certainly seen many changes throughout the years, and organizers continue to add new elements to distinguish it from the many other local 5ks.
“After the town took over the farmers’ market, we decided to move the race to the beach … because there are so many 5ks on the loop and we thought it would be something different to do,” said Lisa Weeks, Wrightsville Beach Foundation board member.
All race proceeds go directly to the Wrightsville Beach Foundation, which completes various town beautification projects.
“Everything we raise comes back to doing something positive for Wrightsville Beach,” Brandon said. “That’s what I love about it. The money doesn’t go into somebody’s pocket, it comes back to the beach that we all love.”