MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
More than 140 people and approximately 60 Dobermans, Great Danes, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, bulldogs, boxers and other canines made their way down Onslow Beach in a sandy stampede of holiday fun, during the 2nd annual Sandy Paws Fun Run aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Saturday.
After registering for the event, which was open to all Department of Defense identification cardholders and their guests, people and their furry counterparts mustered their strength for the mile-long run at the Onslow Beach Officer’s Pavilion.
Runners and their furry friends were greeted by the holiday-omnipresent, ever-cheerful Santa Claus and a team of Marine Corps Community Services employees.
Chris Usry, the general manager at Onslow Beach, said this year’s turnout was amazing and, despite North Carolina’s somewhat unpredictable weather pattern, couldn’t have occurred on a better day.
“This is our second event and it was fantastic,” said Usry. “The dogs had a great time, the owners had a great time and we all enjoyed it a lot.
“We gave out awards for the first dog to cross the finish line in the small, medium and large dog sizes,” Usry continued. “We (gave) the championships to the man, woman and child who finish first – nine awards total.”
Usry added that the sponsors for the run contributed a great deal and made it possible for the participants to earn prizes, raffle gifts and free food and beverages.
“We also had Christmas music playing and free photos with Santa,” said Usry. “It gets bigger every year. We also plan to do one around Easter, called the Spring Doggy Dash, and we’ll have the Easter Bunny there. We can only do this twice a year because a lot of times, the beach is full of regular patrons. Today, we had tons of people – every dog from as small as a Yorkie to as big as a Great Dane and Saint Bernard. I love it.”
Usry said all people and dogs are encouraged to come out to the next fun run event, but all participating animals must have up-to-date and valid shot records and cannot be listed in any restricted breeds categories.
1st Lt. Andrew Wright, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, finished the fun run in first place with his boxer, Remington, by his side, both panting from the mile trot.
“(Me and my wife) did it last year but we arrived a little late,” said Wright. “We wanted to come back and try it again with both dogs this time.”
Scarlett Lingafelt, a military spouse, said she and her husband brought out their Saint Bernard and German Shepherd, Maximus and Bomber, to enjoy the event. They decided to attend the event after hearing about it just earlier in the week.
“We were motivated to come out here with all the other dogs and families to run and we thought it would be a lot of fun at the beach,” said Lingafelt. “I think everyone had fun jogging, running and walking. We had a very good time, plus all the dogs were friendly and the weather was very nice.”
Brianna Beckstrand and Alissa Thomson, both military spouses, brought along their four-legged friends for “socialization with other dogs and exercise,” they said.
Beckstrand and Thomson described the event as a fun, Christmas-themed beach event, and wondered aloud what could be better than taking pictures with Santa.
“It’s a great event,” said Usry. “We just hope the folks keep making it grow every year.”
For more information on events at Onslow Beach, visit www.mccslejeune.com.