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The popular Ten Sisters of Dewey Beach Run/Walk series returns for its 16th season to the Dewey Beach area starting May 29 with the 15th Highway One 5K.

The races, which draw thousands of runners to the area in summer, are sponsored by Highway One Group and benefit local charities.

The series of 10 races will end with the 41st annual Gary P. Lister Bottle and Cork Ten Miler and 5K on Sept. 9.

The running series has become a vacation tradition for families who return to the beach year after year.

The series now includes: fourth 2.8-mile Dewey Color Run on June 4, the 16th North Beach 5K on June 25, the 14th Outlet Liquors at Rusty Rudder 5K on July 2, the 11th Dewey Beach Liquors at Rusty Rudder 5K on July 9, the 15th Dewey Beach Patrol 10K/5K on July 22, the 15th College Day 5K and Kiddie K on July 30, the fourth Breast Fest 5K on Aug. 19, the fifth Summer’s End 5K on Sept. 3 and the 41st annual Gary P. Lister Bottle and Cork Ten Miler and 5K on Sept. 9.

Race director Wayne S. Kursh  talks about the history of this popular running series and its growth.

How long ago did the first running race kick off in Dewey Beach?

We originally started a race event at the Bottle & Cork 40 years ago, and this season will mark 41 years. We have been hosting the racing series for 15 consecutive summers after Dewey Beach business entrepreneur Alex Pires approached my wife and I and asked us if we would be interested in adding on the running events as he added on businesses in the area.

A long time ago, the Waterfront Restaurant was bought by Alex Pires and renamed Northbeach.  Alex asked us if we wanted to do a race from there and we said, “sure.” He later bought the place next door called “Coconuts,” which is now Ivy, and that was our third race added to the series.

Why did the name change from Seven Sisters to Ten Sisters, and what is the meaning behind the name?

We actually went from Seven Sisters to Seven Sisters and Two Brothers to Ten Sisters.

When Alex Pires owned seven different establishments, he decided to incorporate the name of the race series, Seven Sisters of Dewey Beach, based upon the original seven female-only Ivy League Schools in the United States — Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Smith, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr and Barnard — four of which are located in Massachusetts, where Alex is originally from.

As he progressed to 10 owned establishments, the named changed to Ten Sisters. 10 establishments, 10 events.

Occasionally, during the giveaway portion at the awards ceremony, we ask the audience who can name the original seven schools.

How far do participants travel from, and what do you think is the reason this running series continues to have its share of exponential growth each year?

We have so many people who come out to run these races, and more than half of the participants return each year. It is not only locals. We have people from all around the country.

I was actually surprised when I saw Arkansas on one of the entry forms. This particular person was in D.C. all summer for an internship and came down to participate in every one of the races with his friends. There are people from as far as Texas and Michigan who have come down.

I often get emails from people asking when the upcoming races are scheduled because families will plan their vacation around a specific race and rent a large beach house nearby. It is truly incredible that they come back here year after year as a tradition, and I think that is because we offer team competitions. It's really neat to watch how these teams have evolved with their family members.

We ask for 5-person teams and score based on the Top 3. We call it beach house teams and we allow families to create their own names. One of them that returns every year is Lewey Dewey; in one race they all were wearing yellow shirts and there must have been 10 or 15 family members in the group. We look forward to seeing them — it’s pretty cool!

Walkers are also more than welcome to join us.  In fact, we have been getting more and more walkers at each event.

Are there any races that spark more interest over the others?

Our two most popular races are the Color Run (untimed) and Lifeguard 5K/10K. For the Color Run,  we expect 900 participants this year.

What does the $25 entry fee include?

For a $25 entry fee, you get a tech T-shirt, a USATF certified course, chip timing, music, Bud Light beer and all of the other refreshments in addition to food.  We make an effort to put out food that matches the theme of each restaurant.

Family members accompanying runners only have to pay $5 if they want food and drinks.

Along with food, what else does the post-race party offer?

We have various giveaway items from our sponsors at each race and my wife, Barb, will get up on stage and ask trivia questions; it is a blast!  We try to get everybody involved who is there.

The running portion is only a small part of the success.  People especially love the post-race parties because that is where they relax for a somewhat private party with some amazing views overlooking the bay.

It is truly a fun social scene, and it is the people in attendance who make it so much fun. What a better way to run a 5K and then follow it up by unwinding and drinking a few beers. It is truly a pleasure to be able to work down here and host these running events.

Of the 10 events, do the proceeds go anywhere particular?

Every year, Ten Sisters chooses three beneficiaries to donate proceeds to. This year they are the Dewey Beach Patrol, Sussex Consortium and Tyanna Foundation.

How are the awards divvied up?

We offer special awards for those who complete all Ten Sisters events of Dewey Beach series.
In addition to that, the breakdown is as follows:

» Awards for top male/female ($50 gift cards)
» Awards for overall male/female masters ($25 gift cards)
» Awards for Top 3 male/female in 5-year age groups, 9 and younger through 80 and older
» Awards to Top 3 male/female walkers
» Ten Sisters awards to fastest beach house team. You must have at least five team members and at least one female to score. The Top 3 places, including at least one female, on each team will be combined for the team score. (pre-registration only.)

IF YOU GO

Ten Sisters Road Race Series

Where: Dewey Beach

When: First race is May 29 at 8 a.m.  Registration is 7 a.m.
Check schedule for summer lineup at http://www.tensistersraces.com/2017-schedule.html

Info: wayne@races2run.com

Cost:  $25 (pre-register) or $30 (day of event)

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