Coastal Delaware Running Festival raises funds for local groups

Dewey Beach and the surrounding beach communities recently hosted the weekend-long festivities of the 2nd Annual Coastal Delaware Running Festival.

Certified Race Directors Rick Hundley and Ernie Felici of Focus Multi-Sports — known also for the Bethany Beach First Responders Triathlon/Duathlon/Aquabike, Boo-B-Que 5K walk/run, Surfin’ Snowman 5-Miler, the upcoming Justin’s Beach House 5K/10K on May 28 and the Athletes to End Alzheimer’s on Aug. 7, as well as other entrepreneurial ventures — reported sold-out races and record attendance.

Dubbed “Delaware’s Coolest Marathon” and designated by, a Trip Advisor Company, as the “Best Marathon in Delaware,” the Coastal Delaware Running Festival boasted more than 2,220 runners, and thousands of fans and volunteers. Designated a State of Delaware Championship event by the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and a Boston Marathon qualifying race, race-related activities began on Friday, April 22, with the full and half-marathons and 9K on Sunday, April 24.

On Friday, April 22, athletes and families attended a welcome party at the Starboard. Attendees from nearly all 50 states, and even from Canada, kicked off the weekend in the bar. On Saturday, April 23, from 2 to 8 p.m., there was a sports expo, featuring gadgets and gear for runners and other serious athletes.

On Sunday morning, with perfect weather conditions, the marathon, half-marathon and 9K started on time at Tower Road at the Delaware Seashore State Park off Coastal Highway. The races were expected to be fast, due to the flat terrain and traversed the areas around the salt marshes, oceanside, bayside and pond-front parks of South Coastal Delaware, the Rehoboth boardwalk and Cape Henlopen State Park.

The finish line and post-race celebration party were at Lighthouse Cove. The post-race party featured food provided by Harvey Hanna & Associates — owners of the Hyatt Dewey Place and Lighthouse Cove complex, beer provided by 3rd Wave Brewing Company and NKS Distributors, with live entertainment by D.J. Padraig.

“We were proud of the events this year because we built off the success from the inaugural run. We love showing off our ‘neighborhood’ to the world of runners. From the scenic beauty of the course to the incredible generosity from our sponsors and volunteers, the Delaware beach community shone beyond belief,” said Hundley.

The Coastal Delaware Running Festival was a fundraiser for local charities, including the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation (DSPF), a friends group supporting Delaware State Parks. The DSPF is a non-profit organization that was created to preserve, protect and enhance the Indian River Life Saving Station and the parks within the Delaware Seashore State Park Region, including the Indian River Marina, Delaware Seashore, Fenwick Island and Holts Landing state parks, and whose most recent undertaking is the restoration of World War II Fire Control Tower #3 with the Fort Miles Historical Association.

Other charities supported by the festival were: Preston’s March for Energy, the Delaware KIDS Fund, the Get Well Gabby Foundation, Seashore Striders Delaware, Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company, Autism Speaks National Capital Area Chapter, Autism Delaware and other local non-profits.

“At Focus Multi-Sports, Rick and I and our team of sponsors believe in the power of philanthropy. We believe in the partnership between for-profit businesses and the non-profit sector. Our alliances strengthen local organizations and provide businesses with a platform to give back. I would say such collaborations are win-win,” said Felici.

The organizers thanked sponsors including the Dewey Beach Hyatt Place, Lighthouse Cove and the Starboard Restaurant, Arenas, CarbBoom Energy Gel, Gatorade, D3 Corp, Creative Resource Group, Dewey Beach Lions Club, Grotto Pizza, Baja Beach House Grill, Cycling Center of Coastal Delaware, Bethany Beach Ocean Suites, J&A Racing, Peninsula, NKS Distributors, Coca Cola, D.J. Padraig, Southern Delaware Tourism, Insight Homes,, Ann Kangas Public Relations, Rusty Rudder, RACES, Intelligencer, Loftus Wealth Strategies, Que Pasa, Lupo Italian Kitchen, Oceannova Spa, Peninsula, Preston’s March for Energy, New Eyes Productions, Giant Food, the Cultured Pearl, SoDel Concepts, Beast Pacing, Run & Tri Rehoboth Beach, Racine Multi-Sports, Talbot County Humane Society, Sussex Outdoors, Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company, Henry Hanna & Associates, TripAdvisor, U.S. Candids, Delaware Sports Commission and 3rd Wave Brewing Company.

“In addition to throwing a great party, executing a first-class race and providing some of the best swag in the industry, our races are about philanthropy and giving back to the community. I can’t wait to see what kind of grants we will be able to make as a result of Co Del Fest this year!” said Hundley.

Sponsorship opportunities and registration are now open for the next iteration of the event, April 21-23, 2017, featuring new options, including a 5K on Saturday and combined challenge runs.