By Mariana Dominguez // Photos by Lauren Chenault & Jay Blakesberg
Despite being a hot and steamy day, excitement remained for the more than 100 kids who competed in the annual Sandpiper Children’s Race in Ocean Beach. Scheduled one weekend after the Fire Island 5K Run for Rose in Ocean Bay Park, the children’s event takes place on the beach and features participants ranging in age from 4-14.
Andrew and Cameron Biderman, ages 8 and 11, were veterans in the competition. Their mom, Kim, said that her kids enjoy the event but as they have gotten older and move up in the age groups the races become more competitive. Even so the kids still looked forward to the event.
Because of the vast age ranges, participants were divided into four age groups with increasing age groups running further distances. The youngest group consisted of solely 4-5 year olds while the oldest group featured kids ages 12-14 running an entire mile.
During registration, each participant received a T-shirt. The designs on the T-shirt vary year to year and Sara Krug, a volunteer at the event, said that many kids collect them. The 2019 design has the iconic sandpiper logo in rainbow colors on a white background, a nod to the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
The first group that raced, the 4- to 5-year-olds, were swimming in their oversized T-shirts but definitely aced the cuteness competition. Each group was led by members of the Ocean Beach Fire Department on all-terrain vehicles to ensure that weekend beach goers would not get in the way of the race.
After the youngest group came the 6- to 8-yearolds. This group was significantly bigger than the first and there was definitely more competition as everyone was eager to race. Participants took off running full-speed behind the fire department and arrived to the finish line much more staggered than the first group. Watching the final few kids cross the finish line to a line of high-fives and congrats during this race brought watery eyes to even the most stoic of spectators.
The 9- to 11-year-old group was also big with most of the competitors on the older side. The final group, the 12- to 14-year-olds, consisted of only five children, but still provided plenty of excitement as they ran a full mile and the kids who had already raced were free to cheer the runners on.
After all of the races were done, trophies were awarded to the top three boys and girls of each age group and a group photo was taken with all of the volunteers and trophy winners. All participants in the event received a medal.
While in total time the races lasted only about an hour, Steve Einig, in his 25th year organizing the event, said that he loves it because “it’s a positive event, where everybody is happy.”
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