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Running moms converge on Cocoa Beach for morning races

Hundreds of moms celebrated by running 10K or half-marathon

Runners celebrate during the finish line this morning during the USA Beach Running Championships in Cocoa Beach.
Runners celebrate during the finish line this morning during the USA Beach Running Championships in Cocoa Beach. (Photo: Craig Rubadoux / Florida Today)

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Sunday morning, hundreds of moms celebrated Mother's Day by running a 10K or half-marathon under brilliant sunshine during the USA Beach Running Championships.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today said, dashing across the sand near the lapping waves, Debra Cane ran the final 200 meters holding hands with daughters Anya, 7, and Elizabeth, 9. The trio crossed the finish line together, side-by-side.

"I got to pick what we wanted to do since it was Mother's Day, so I picked coming up to Cocoa Beach and running the half-marathon," said Cane, a Boynton Beach resident, catching her breath afterward.

"It's exactly what I wanted to do today — run with my kids," Cane said.

Conch shells lined the course near the finish line, and a band near a lifeguard tower supplied reggae music. Surfers and stand-up paddle-boarders cruised the smallish waves, and spectators lounged on beach towels and splashed in the sea.

Based at Shepard Park, the races drew 1,272 entrants from 23 states and four countries, said Mitch Varnes, race director.

Seventy-seven percent of the field was female, Varnes said

"I used to do an event on Father's Day, and it was never really successful. So I was wary of Mother's Day, but it seems to be just the opposite," Varnes said.

Varnes said that former event, the Dad's Day Triathlon, typically topped off at a modest 230 male and female athletes.

"My wife enlightened me. She said if you're a woman who's married and has kids, you're not going to run an event on Father's Day. But on Mother's Day, women seem to want to do it themselves and bring the families along," Varnes said.

"What I've learned from emails and Facebook is that people made a weekend out of it, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives and kids," he said.

Case in point; Stephanie Coleman of Ormond Beach ran the 10K with her daughter Kelly, 10. Her husband, Matt, ran the half-marathon with daughter Katie, 12. The fleet-footed family wears "Team Coleman" T-shirts during numerous races across northern Florida.

"My husband surprised me; 'We're going away somewhere for Mother's Day.' And it wasn't until we got to the hotel last night that he was like, 'Surprise! We have a race in the morning,'" Stephanie Coleman said, laughing.

Keith Snyder, an Air Force technical sergeant based at Patrick Air Force Base, brought two pink "Happy Mother's Day" balloons and a bouquet of flowers to cheer on his wife, Jessica, who ran her first half-marathon.

The East Orlando chapter of Moms RUN This Town, a nationwide running club, placed 40 to 50 mothers in today's races, said Kindra Coyle. The Casselberry financial analyst set a new personal record in the 10K, six months after giving birth to her son, Hunter.

Coyle said East Orlando Moms RUN This Town chapter boasts more than 1,000 members.

"We're a giant group of moms. It's really great, because we have all two common interests; being mothers and running. I've met a lot of really great friends in the group," Coyle said, sipping a post-race mimosa with her bare feet in the ocean.