The Cameron County Commissioner’s Court approved the use of County beach accesses for the 2nd annual South Padre Marathon which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 16 of this year.
Last year’s inaugural race saw approximately 2,400 race-day participants out of the 2,900 people who registered, marathon organizer Tim Scribner told the Commissioners Tuesday morning.
“That’s a good turnout,” said Commissioner Alex Dominguez. “These events are gaining popularity in the Valley where a lot of people are getting active. It’s always good for people to get fir,’ he said.
This year, organizers hope to draw 3,000 participants.
Commissioner David Garza asked if the organization overseeing the event is a non-profit. Scribner said it was not, but that the race does partner with charitable organizations. “Last year, the event itself lost over $26,000, however, we were still able to raise $10,000 for partner charities,” he said.
The event features a full 26.2-mile marathon, and a 3-person half marathon relay. No matter which race they choose, the race routes will have runners beginning in Port Isabel before crossing the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway to South Padre Island. Once on the other side, runners will head south to run a circuit of Isla Blanca Park then continue north on Padre Boulevard towards Clayton’s Beach Bar for the half marathon runners, and further north through County Beach Accesses 5 & 6 for full marathon runners.
Full marathon runners will continue north on Park Road 100 before doubling back to the finish line at Clayton’s.
The County approved the use of the three beach accesses for the event, assessing a $1,500 event fee plus a $100 license fee for the use of Isla Blanca Park. The event will also pay a $250 fee for Beach Access 5, in exchange, its entrance fees will be waived from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the day of the race.
Beach Access 6 will be closed during that time period as well.
Restricting access to public beached requires permission from the Texas General Land Office (GLO). Cameron County Parks Director Joe E. Vega reported that the GLO had already given its go-ahead. “They have approved permissions for us to close the beach accesses temporarily,” Vega said. Signage will need to be placed at Beach Access 6 alerting the public to the closure, he said.
Though last year’s event was well attended, not everything ran smoothly. Residents and visitors reported traffic snarls along Padre Boulevard as the throngs of runners made their way along the Island’s main thoroughfare. One resident Doyle Wells, stood before the Commissioners to speak about the race affected him.
“I will be impacted by this event in the fact that my business is located at the end of Park Road 100 beyond Beach Access 5,” Wells said.
Wells said his employees and customers were prevented from proceeding to his horse stable, where he offers customers guided horseback rides on the beach. “We were blocked at The Shores,” he said.
“I have one request of the organizers. At 1;30, I’d like to be able to access my 1:31, … There has to be a cut off,” Wells said.
Scribner agreed that route issues contributed to traffic problems, and assured that changes had been made to rectify the situation. “Last year we had some for sure hiccups. It was new for us, new for the city, new for both municipalities that were involved. The traffic plan was not ideal last year, however, all that has been changed,” he said.
“The course has been rerouted.”
That new course route includes keeping the half marathon participants farther south within the city limits, reducing the number of people on the far north end of the Island to only the full marathon runners, Scribner said.
“Anybody that would still be on the course at 1:30 will be on the shoulder,” he said, adding that Wells should be able to use the road ahead of the 1:30 p.m. deadline. “Let’s hope for the beast for this event,” Commissioner Garza said.
By Dina Arevalo