BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - As the sun rose over the Mississippi Sound, running experts and beginners were bolting down Highway 90, competing in the second Gulf Coast Marathon.
Despite especially cool temperatures, athletes and fitness-junkies across South Mississippi set out to "Soak Up The Run" while participating in the 5k, half-marathon and full-marathon. Organizers even held a kids marathon for children ages 12 and under.
James Harsch, a senior from Ocean Springs High School finished the race in less than 3 hours, now he qualifies for the Boston Marathon. With his new bragging rights, Harsch has ambitious plans for his future.
"I'd like to do the first light marathon in Mobile, and then after that, I'm gonna see if I can schedule or slide into the Boston Marathon for 2018 but if it doesn't happen I'm going to go in 2019," said Harsch.
Running the 26 miles was especially toward the end of the race, but Harsch says he found support from other runners along the course.
"They pushed me, I pushed them...I think I pushed them, but it was definitely a fun time," added Harsch.
Teams from Ainsley's Angels were pushing their own champions along the way. Ainsley's Angels is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to include people from all walks of life through endurance sports like the marathon.
"Everybody can do anything, some people just do it a little differently," said Beth Victoriano, the Ainsley's Angels Ambassador for Mississippi.
Many runners may agree that it's easy to get tired and stop to catch your breath when you run alone, but those ideas change when you're running on a team.
"You might have that same thought, but then you look down and you think that this might be the first time in this guy's life he ran. I'm not going to walk today because this is his chance, his one time that he might be able to run. I want to be able to give that to other people," said Victoriano.
Medals and record breaking times are impressive, but some people look for a different prize when they cross that finish line.
"When you see the smile on somebody's face when they cross that finish line. For me, my first marathon was a big deal, but it was a bigger deal my first marathon helping somebody else," added Victoriano.
For these dedicated runners, the miles never seem long with the support of someone else each step of the way.