The Coastal Seaside Marathon reached the planning stages in spring 1976. The race was a point-to-point from Bethany to Lewes, but when haggling ensued over the lunch menu as five Chambers of Commerce discussed race management and police support, the idea was scuttled.
John Curtin, supervisor of the Lewes Board of Public Works and a certified NCAA track official, stepped in and proposed he could find 26 miles inside the city of Lewes. Curtin and I drove around town and into the state park. Curtin mapped out a 26-mile course on the back of a paper plate.
The inaugural 1977 race had 67 runners and was won by Doug White in 2 hours and 35 minutes.
The race ran for 10 consecutive years. During one year’s race, circa 1979, the Lewes drawbridge at the 26-mile mark went up as leader Dr. Paul Dawson approached, his eyes bulging out in disbelief, and it went back down without Dawson breaking stride.
There are hundreds of stories of locals running the Lewes Marathon - 300 was the largest field - and virtually all of the runners actually trained properly.
Lewes and Rehoboth became running towns; long, slow distance became the most popular training method kicked by two track days of interval training.
Thirty-six years later an ungodly number of runners do marathons; some actually run, others survive. The 2013 Rehoboth marathon is the sixth running of the event. Fewer marathoners train properly or seriously; you just don’t see them on the roads. They are treadmill trainers and elliptical orbiters.
The sixth annual Rehoboth Beach Seaside Marathon and Half Marathon attracts a diverse crowd from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
The course from Rehoboth to Lewes using the Junction & Breakwater Trail is comfortable and protected from the winds. The results are immediate, and you get wrapped in foil afterward like a boiled hot dog.
The 2013 New York City marathon had 50,000 finishers while Chicago attracts 40,000 and the Marine Corps in D.C. maybe 30,000 runners. The prevailing question has to be, “Doesn’t anyone have a job?”