Beaufort Twilight Run continues to expand, improve

Runners compete during the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Runners compete during the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) File -- The Associated Press

The Beaufort Twilight Run's success during its first five years allowed organizers to toss more cash to winners this year.

The road race, which will be run Saturday in Habersham Marketplace and includes an 8-kilometer run and 5K, increased its purse $1,300 to include the 5K winners and Beaufort Challenge, which is for those who run both races. The total purse now totals $2,800 and pays the top-three male and female runners in each race and the top male and female finisher 40 and older in each race.

Columbia's Eric Ashton has won the 8K the past two years. In 2013, he outlasted friend and rival Jay Upchurch to finish in 25 minutes, 18 seconds.

Savannah's Mo Love won the inaugural Beaufort Challenge in 2012, finishing the 5K in 18:02 and the 8K in 29:47.

The Beaufort Twilight Run was formed as a fundraiser for Riverview Charter School and has raised more than $150,000, according to event organizers.

The first event in 2009 drew close to 600 runners and raised $10,000. The money raised and participation has risen each year, according to race officials.

More than 2,000 runners and spectators are expected for this year's event, which includes an Oyster Roast and live music from Savannah band Tell Scarlet. Runners from 22 states are expected in the chip-timed and USA Track & Field certified races.

Responding to the need for a fundraising event for then yet-to-be-opened Riverview Charter School, race organizers wanted a unique event that combined a less popular distance -- the 8K -- with the Lowcountry feel provided by Habersham's live oaks and sunset views.

"I love this course a lot," Bluffton's Seth Tucker said after finishing as the top local runner in 2013. "It's really picturesque."

In addition to the bigger purse, changes for 2014 include improved start and finish areas to allow for the high level of participation. Organizers hope to raise $60,000 this year to push the race's total over $200,000.

"They've definitely got something special, that's for sure," Ashton said after his most recent victory here.


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, 2:30-4:30 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, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Cost: Cost for those who register on site Friday or Saturday is $65 for the Beaufort Challenge (5K and 8K back-to-back), $55 for 8K, $50 for 5K, $40 for 5K fun walk, $5 for kids fun run.

Notes: The cash purse increased by $1,300 to include the 5K and Beaufort Challenge for a cash prize total of $2,800. Categories include the three overall male and female winners of each race, as well as cash awards for 8K and 5K male and female Masters (40+), Active Duty Military and Hometown Hero (a Beaufort County resident). In addition to cash prizes, age group winners will receive an award from a local artist. 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 $150,000 for Riverview Charter School.