Outer Banks Sporting Events takes on the challenge

Published 6:41 am Monday, April 18, 2022

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By Kathy Sparrow

For many who live here, it seems like Outer Banks Marathon started just a few years ago, but actually the inaugural race was in November 2006. It was started by Mike Kelly and a group of his friends who wanted to bring a healthy activity to the Outer Banks in the off-season when people aren’t here for the beach. They thought it would be a win-win for business to keep what was an iffy eight month per year economy moving forward, for healthy sports activities and for supporting Outer Banks non-profits who always needed funds to keep kids fed, active and educated.

The inaugural marathon and half marathon sold out with a total of 4,825 entrants and put some $90,000 in the hands of two major Outer Banks non-profits. Everyone got in on it – hotels, rental properties, restaurants, retail. They all benefitted and were eager for the next year’s marathon. And so Outer Banks Sporting Events was born – adding more events throughout the year to entice sports-minded people who loved the Outer Banks as well as loved to run, bike, swim, you name it.

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Fast forward to 2020 with Covid-19 and the race was run virtually. Who wants to run a virtual marathon? Not many. Moving to 2021, OBSE was poised to re-start their engines with a half marathon in November. Lots of people eager to run registered. But a major storm was also headed to the Outer Banks set to bring 60+ mph winds, drenching rain and overall not-safe conditions. The board of OBSE decided to err on the side of caution and canceled the Sunday race event. So now in 2022, after two years of no starts, false starts or less than stellar starts, Outer Banks Sporting Events has risen out of the ashes with a 90% new board of directors and one successful event under their belt.

On the weekend of April 22-24, there are four events ready to be rolled out. First, there’s the Outer Banks Half Marathon that was postponed from last November. This event is already sold out. In addition, on Sunday, April 24, there’s the annual Flying Pirate Half Marathon that is a crowd favorite because everyone is invited to dress the part and many do. The Pirate Queen always makes an appearance to cheer runners on while totally embracing her role. On Saturday, April 23, there’s a First Flight 5K to warm runners up followed immediately by a First Flight Fun Run for families with younger kids who also want to participate. This is a great way to enjoy the pre-season on the Outer Banks in a fun, family friendly way that makes it all worthwhile for the volunteers and staff that work to put this all together.

The OBSE board recently regrouped and re-organized to incorporate some new talent and move the organization forward. The board has revised their mission statement to be more inclusive: “The Organization (OBSE) shall organize and promote national and international amateur sports competitions. Competitive sports events will contribute to economic development of the Outer Banks of North Carolina with event proceeds providing financial support for board selected 50l (c)3 tax exempt organizations. The mission is to promote healthy living lifestyles, provide needed relief for the poor and underprivileged and support for education while contributing to the economic impact for the Outer Banks of North Carolina.” The board will set up a committee to accept and review grant submissions from regional non-profits as funds become available over the year.

Moving forward in 2022, the organization will have the September 16-18 Triatholon and the November 11-13 (Veterans weekend) Outer Banks Marathon and Half Marathon. Many athletes have welcomed getting back to running, walking, biking and swimming after two years of Covid and weather-related non-events. According to statistics, an average runner brings two-and-a-half other people with them when they run, so it’s a great way to keep the Outer Banks economy robust in shoulder months.

The organization’s events committee is looking at debuting other events, such as off-road bike riding, as the group looks forward to 2023. For more information on any of the race events or on upcoming activities, go to obxse.org for information.