Ventura is welcoming back two signature sporting events that have been benefiting good causes for years in the city, with creative adjustments for COVID-19 precautions.
On May 15, Ventura will host Bike MS — the largest fundraising cycling series in the world.
Each year, Bike MS has nearly 75,000 cyclists participate in the around-the-country ride to raise money to combat multiple sclerosis.
This year’s single-day portion of the Los Angeles Coastal Challenge begins and ends at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura. It will take riders properly spaced through Southern California’s countryside.
A week later, the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon and Half Marathon will take place from May 22 through May 31. To promote social distancing, instead of a traditional single-day event, runners will run the race on their own any time during the open window of days.
Using the event’s app — which provides course maps, keeps track of the runner’s pace and more — or their own GPS device, runners can run a marathon, from the town of Ojai (downhill) to the beaches of Ventura, a half marathon or a 5K (along Ventura’s beachfront).
“We are so happy to be able to host two incredible giving events this May, and do it in a way that’s safe for both visitors and our community,” said Cheryl Shallanberger, vice president of sales and marketing for Visit Ventura. “Everyone has worked hard to make the necessary accommodations for these times, and now we can host these two events which help others. It just feels good.”
Since 2013, the Mountains 2 Beach event has raised between $400,000 and $450,000 for local schools, hospitals and land trusts. Much of the school funding has gone toward health and nutrition education, in hopes of putting children on a lifelong path of good health.
“Giving money to help promote healthy active lifestyles in our community’s youth seems like a no brainer,” said Ben DeWitt, the organizer of Mountains 2 Beach. “Teach them how to be active and eat well and take care of themselves from an early age and you just set them up for a better chance of success. I feel that spending what few dollars I have every year to help children will mean those dollars get stretched well into the future as the children implement what they learn.”
For more information, go to mountains2beachmarathon.com and bikems.org.