Diego Fernandez abandoned the stress of his job for a month to visit his brother in Savannah and enjoy his favorite relaxing activity.
Fernandez, a 35-year-old oncologist who lives in Spain, won the sixth-annual Beaufort Twilight Run 5-kilometer race and finished second in the 8K to win the Beaufort Challenge.
Racing a twisting course through Habersham, Fernandez finished the 5K in 17:10 and the 8K in 25:59. This is the second year the combined event has been part of the Twilight Run.
"The course was very good -- very fast and flat," Fernandez said. "I really enjoyed the racing."
Jay Upchurch won the 8K Saturday in 25:36. The James Island resident, runner-up in the 8K last year, is preparing for the Cooper River Bridge Run in April.
"It's a good fitness jack, so I like where I am right now," Upchurch said.
Columbia's Eric Ashton, Upchurch's friendly rival who had won the event the past two years, did not race Saturday, opening the door for the 35-year-old Upchurch.
Bluffton's Ben Vaught finished second in the 5K at 17:34. Fourteen-year-old Beaufort resident Hayden Tullos finished third in a time of 17:35.
The popular 5K drew more than 600 runners. Organizers expected about 2,000 people in Habersham Marketplace, either as runners or supporters there for the oyster roast and live music from Savannah band Tell Scarlet, which covered Little Big Town as the 8K finished.
In its first five years, the race raised $150,000 for Riverview Charter School. Race organizers hoped Saturday's event pushed the total over $200,000.
The cash purse for winners increased to $2,800 this year.
Fernandez grabbed his share for winning two categories.
His brother, Nacho Fernandez, is a volunteer assistant cross country coach at Armstrong Atlantic State University and was a four-year runner at SCAD. Nacho, injured and unable to race Saturday, is on spring break from working on his masters degree in public health at Armstrong and playing host to Diego.
The brothers are looking for their next race while Diego is in the country. Nacho said his brother raced competitively for Spanish sports clothing manufacturer Joma when he was younger.
Now the sport is a release.
"He's serious with his work, but in his free time, he runs," Nacho said. "And he loves running."
For full race results, visit www.beauforttwilightrun.com.
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.