If you’ve lived in Virginia Beach for more than 5 minutes, you either are a runner or you love someone who is a runner.
When I moved to Virginia Beach in 2003 to attend graduate school at ODU, I found myself living at the Oceanfront, broke, and in desperate need of a way to release all the stress that graduate school has to offer. Before moving here, I dabbled in running, but it was more of an occasional activity than a way of life for me. That is until I moved close to the Disneyland of running, i.e., the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. There is something about the Boardwalk that just makes you want to run. First, it’s “I’ll run to one end and back”. Then it’s “Let me run to the other end and back so I can check out what’s going on down there too”. Before you know it, you’re running the whole Boardwalk, all 5 glorious miles of it. “Why is the Boardwalk such a cool place to run?” you ask, “It’s so crowded and touristy”. Yes, you are correct, but that’s one of the reasons it’s so appealing. Name one place that you can check out the surf, spot dolphin swimming along the shoreline, hear live music, and people watch (mostly people wearing outfits that should probably be illegal) all in less than a few blocks? The public restrooms and water fountains every few blocks are just icing on the cake.
The Boardwalk is home to many, many races, all of which benefit one great charity or another. If you have not run a race on the boardwalk, I would strongly suggest you do.
There’s always a fun afterparty somewhere that you won’t want to miss.
I have personally run more races on the Boardwalk than I can count, and have had some of my best and worst running memories made there. Friendships are formed through running on this strip of concrete, if you let them.
There is an energy to the Boardwalk that I have yet to find anywhere else in Virginia Beach. Yes, often it is full of out-of-owners (especially when you hit it in the summertime), but seeing their wide-eyed excitement at being away from their real lives and letting lose for a few days, almost makes you feel as though you are on vacation yourself. Times like these, you realize how lucky you are to live close to the ocean and enjoy it anytime you want. I try never to take this fact for granted, and feel ever so grateful to live by the sea.
…when you hit the Boardwalk early in the morning, there is a peacefulness in the air that is contagious…
Other times, when you hit the Boardwalk early in the morning, there is a peacefulness in the air that is contagious. The quietness of the morning allows you to able to hear the roar of the surf and watch the early-bird surfers out trying to catch the best waves of the day. It feels like you’ve got the whole place to yourself. As you run, stop to take a look out to the ocean and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic. You are guaranteed a beautiful show.
Next time you’re bored and want something to do, I suggest lacing up and heading down there. When you run, make sure to touch the railing at each end of the Boardwalk. It’s a legend throughout the running community here that this is good luck, so don’t jinx yourself. Also, look for me, because I will hopefully be there too.
Words by Karen Lindauer, Photos by Karen Lindauer and Carla Serex
Upcoming Events at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront
March 18-20, 2016 Shamrock Marathon (Marathon, Half-Marathon, 8k, 1 mile)
May 29, 2016 Steel Pier Classic 5k
September 3-4, 2016 Rock’n Roll 1/2 Marathon (1/2 Marathon, 5k, 1 mile)
October 29, 2016 Wicked 10k (10k, 1 mile)
December 17, 2016 Surf-n-Santa (5 mile)