Should Florida’s Beaches Be Renamed For Barefoot Beach Runners?

I don’t claim to be a renowned runner; hey, I don’t even claim to be a runner. But what I do claim to be is a Florida girl who slogs down the beach whenever she can. Living in the Sunshine State, the beautiful state of Florida, it’s not hard to find a piece of coastline. I’m not sure when I started beach running, and I’m not even sure how I started beach running, let alone why, but I did. And now I can’t stop.andrunme

There’s nothing like the feeling of sand under your feet. The salty breeze or howling wind, the baking sun, or the cool shiver you get from an approaching storm. I’ve run the same stretch of beach for a long time—a place I used to call Fishman’s Beach because of the moniker on a cool sticker I saw on the back window of a pick-up truck always parked there. I’ve since changed its name to Bonfire Beach ‘cause Fishman don’t come there no more—and now I’m greeted by festive groups of bonfire builders when I finish up my weekend long runs.

Early morning surfersBonfire beach is rocky, but you’ll still see surfers, or skim boarders diving in and wiping out. There’s always fishermen, an occasional family with beach shovels and pails, or even a huge Hummer limo with the driver taking a smoke and texting, waiting for a wedding party on the beach below.

During the summer months, I’ve unintentionally appeared in numerous wedding photographs while running by in my run garb. I’ve gotten entangled in fisherman’s lines, dodged a skim boarder or two, and watched some pretty awesome surfer wipe outs. I’ve eluded beach bikers, Portuguese man-o-war, a beached shark (dead, I hope), free-falling seagulls, and little kids running sporadically in front of me.

The terrain is always different, sometimes hard packed sand at low-tide, sometimes with a quicksand appeal as the tide is approaching, and the impassible and implausible desert sands at high tide which make a dead man’s walk seem like an intense workout.

I have to say I’ve also had some pretty awesome runs on the flat out running surface at ZZ Top Beach (where a long-bearded, look-alike father/son duo park their hippie van); Football Beach (where my friend almost broke her nose by getting in the middle of a misguided football toss); Hangover Beach (where dodging drunken landlubbers is like wading through a vacuum packed bag of nuts, both literally and figuratively); Streaker’s Beach (I wondered what that helicopter was for?), and let’s not forget Strafing Beach (with its frequent military flyovers), where I’ve also decided it’s not a good place to make business calls. Oh, yeah, there’s Dog Beach (where dodging doggie doo in the sand is a great quad workout) and Four Cats Beach (beware of stalking felines when you enter your car at night).

Heck, every beach has its personality. That’s what makes running on the beach so fun, so enjoyable, and so different every time. Running for me is pure enjoyment. I don’t run to compete—what would be the point? Running barefoot on the beach with an ocean swim following it is one of this planet’s best delights.

©Wendy Scheuring, 2013

To read author Mark Henderson’s hilarious running blogs in the style of his running humor book, Running, And Other Bad Habits, click here.