Jody Hayward wanted a unique event when she decided a race was the best way to raise money for the yet-to-open Riverview Charter School.
She and co-organizer Lauren Kelly chose an 8-kilometer distance to stand out from the 5Ks and 10Ks, and started the race late enough to finish with a view of the sun setting over the Broad River. An oyster roast and live band in Habersham Marketplace created a family feel and festive atmosphere.
Now in its fifth year, the Beaufort Twilight Run has raised more than $100,000 for Riverview Charter School and grown into one of the Lowcountry's largest races. Hayward and race organizers are hoping to raise $50,000 during the event, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
"It's been a ton of fun," Hayward said.
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The race, which added a 5K component in 2011 and this year will offer the Beaufort Challenge -- the 5K and 8K races back-to-back -- is expected to draw 1,300 to 1,500 participants and about 2,000 people, when including families and volunteers.
The first event in 2009 drew close to 600 runners and raised $10,000. The number of participants and money raised has risen each year.
In 2012, 22 states were represented in the races, which are chip-timed and USA Track & Field certified.
"We wanted it to be a serious run," Hayward said.
Beaufort resident Kenneth Clyburn, who has run the race four of its five years, finished second overall in the 5K the past two years to runners from Hilton Head Island. Clyburn, who will run the 5K again Saturday, said the out-of-town competition can be tough.
"If you're not on your toes, they will definitely beat you," said Clyburn, who turns 50 in May. "But we have some pretty good local runners that can certainly run with the fastest of them."
Robert Espinoza, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Savannah and organizer of that city's Rock 'N' Roll Marathon, helps oversee the racing at the Beaufort Twilight Run. Hayward said many of the 150 volunteers are Habersham residents who stake out the same spot on the course each year.
Word of mouth and runners' websites helped spur the event's success in its first year. Facebook pages have since helped grow the event.
The race boasts 100 local businesses as sponsors.
"Everything we've done has been community based," Hayward said.
FIFTH-ANNUAL BEAUFORT TWILIGHT RUN AND OYSTER ROAST
What: 8K run, 5K run and fun walk, kids quarter-mile fun run
When: Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Habersham Marketplace
Schedule: Late registration, 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (8K registration extended until 5:30 p.m.); kids fun run, 4:30 p.m.; Beaufort Challenge leg 1, 5K run and walk, 5 p.m.; 8K run, Beaufort Challenge leg 2, 6:15 p.m.; awards, 7: 30 p.m.; oyster roast and live music, 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Cost: Cost for those who register on site Friday or Saturday is $58 for the Beaufort Challenge (5K and 8K back-to-back), $48 for 8K, $43 for 5K, $33 for 5K fun walk, $5 for kids fun run.
Notes: Cash prizes will be awarded in the 8K to the top three overall male and female, top masters (40+) male and female, top active duty military male and female and top male and female finisher from Beaufort County. Early packet pickup for pre-registered runners is Friday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. in Habersham Marketplace, and on race day up until the time of the event. The event has raised more than $100,000 for Riverview Charter School.