By MADDY VITALE
A longtime Sea Isle City tradition returns this weekend, where athletes test their abilities while enduring a long run on the Promenade and the beach.
More than 1,000 participants are expected for the 50th Annual Captain Bill Gallagher 10-Mile Island Run beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Because the event has so many entries and families lining up along the Promenade and beaches to cheer on and support the competitors, officials opted to cancel the 2020 run amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the popular attraction is back and perhaps there is no one more excited about that than race namesake, retired Beach Patrol Captain Bill Gallagher.
“Last year, it was disappointing that we had to call it off but it was for the sake of safety,” Gallagher, 77, said Friday of the decision he made, along with Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele and Police Chief Tom McQuillen.
This year, Gallagher said, get ready for an amazing run celebrating 50 years of the major event.
“It is a hard race and it is an awesome event,” he said.
And a huge part of that is how the community gets involved.
“The whole beach patrol helps out and works the water stations and the turn-arounds, plus some private citizens chip in with some water on the beaches,” he said.
Gallagher continued, “The runners like the fact that there are people on the beach cheering them on. People make a whole party out of it and give the runners water and fruit.”
The race will include individual runners, members of private organizations and running clubs, and lifeguards from Sea Isle and other communities. Competitors from different states participate.
The 10-Mile Island Run takes place on a traffic-free, flat course. The run starts on the Promenade in front of Beach Patrol headquarters at 44th Street and ends on the 44th Street beach. Approximately 2.5 miles of the course is on Sea Isle City’s paved Promenade and the remainder of the course is on the beach.
Gallagher, who was a member of the beach patrol from 1963 to 1978 and headed it from 1970 to 1978, said there is a tremendous amount of pride in just becoming a lifeguard.
A race in his name, he noted, is a true honor. And while he has been in the runs about 20 times, in recent years he has had another important role.
He stands on the top floor of the beach patrol headquarters, along with Steele and other members of the beach patrol.
“What I do every year is, I start the race,” Gallagher said. “I blow the horn and I get them on their way.”
There are many reasons the event has been so successful year after year.
The main reason is the work that goes into it, including the dedication by Gallagher, Steele and other members of the beach patrol.
“You almost start to get ready for next year the day after the run,” Gallagher explained. “You have to get the applications together, the mailing list ready.”
There is a long checklist he and the other volunteers go through to create the major event.
“You have your checklist and it starts almost immediately. It is a big job,” he said. “Renny (Steele) has been working on the run for years. He is the man who holds it all together and does most of the work.”
Gallagher said he, along with the beach patrol and the participants, are ready to celebrate the 50-year milestone on Saturday.
“I’m thankful to the city for helping to support our run,” he emphasized. “And I am so proud of all of the people who have run it over the years. It is good for your health and it is good for Sea Isle.”
An awards ceremony will take place immediately after the race in front of Beach Patrol Headquarters at 44th Street and the beach.
For more information about race registration or to learn about the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol, visit www.SICBP.com