December 10, 2023 8am

Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50KAbout the Race

The Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50K race is run on the trails of First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, with a total of about one mile at the start and finish on a paved road. The two-loop course is lined with trees and follows hard-packed dirt trails through a variety of ecosystems. The main trail is mostly flat, while side trails are slightly hilly with some tree roots to negotiate in certain sections. Wooden bridges are also found on several trails.

Event Details 


Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50KRace Information

December 10, 2023 8am

Entry Fee

$100 before September 1; $125 from September 1 to December 8, 2023.

A refund less $25 is available until August 31. NO REFUNDS begining September 1st 2023. NO TRANSFERS, NO DEFERRALS. Please do not ask. A waitlist is available and runners will be added from the waitlist until December 8th.

Eighteen (18) is the minimum age to enter.


The 2023 Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50K online registration will OPEN July 1st, 2023.

Online registration remains OPEN until December 10th or until race capacity is reached.


For Registration and Entrant List, click on Event Details below.

Fluids & Foods

Two full aid stations on the course at 64th St and Bald Cypress with food, water and nutrition drinks. You will pass each aid station multiple times.

  • The race will be "Cup Less". It is recommended to carry water bottles and a collapsible cup. A custom Tidewater Striders collapsible cup will be provided with your packet.

The following are the aid stations and approximate distances:

  • 1) 64th Street Aid Station – 2.9 miles
  • 2) Cape Henry Trail – Bald Cypress Aid Station – 7.2 miles
  • 3) Cape Henry Trail – Bald Cypress Aid Station – 10.2 miles
  • 4) 64th Street Aid Station – 14.5 miles
  • 5) 64th Street Aid Station – 17.7 miles
  • 6) Cape Henry Trail – Bald Cypress Aid Station – 22 miles
  • 7) Cape Henry Trail – Bald Cypress Aid Station – 25 miles
  • 8) 64th Street Aid Station – 29.3 miles

Drop bags will be available to runners at mile 16 near the start/finish. The race is not responsible for keeping drop bags dry so please plan accordingly. Drop bags left behind at end of the race will be transported to the post-race party. The race will not mail drop bags following the race, so any unclaimed items will be donated.

Time Limits

All results will be based on chip time for 2023. This includes overall and masters results. Age group results have normally been based on chip time.

Runners must complete the entire race course by 4PM (in 8 hours) to receive an official finish. Also, there are two cutoffs that are strictly enforced.

  • Runners must leave Aid Station 6 (22 miles) by 1:30 PM
  • Runners must leave Aid Station 7 (25 miles) by 2:15 PM

Runners who do not meet these time limits will not receive an official finish and will be dropped from the race.

Live split tracking will be provided by Endeavor Running on Race Day.


From I-64, take Northampton Boulevard (Route 13) to the Shore Drive exit; turn right and continue on Shore Drive and continue as it turns into Atlantic Ave. Turn right on 64th Street and continue into the park and to the end of 64th Street at the Narrows boat ramp area.

Please car pool on race day if possible.

Packet Pickup

Packet pickup Saturday December 9th, 1-5pm at Running Etc., in Virginia Beach (1940 Laskin Rd #302 Virginia Beach, VA 23454).

On RACE DAY Packet pickup 7:00-7:50am at Start/Finish area in First Landing State Park, 64th St. Boat Ramp

It is recommended that runners pick up their race packet on Friday evening!


The following awards will be presented:

  • First three overall Male and Female finishers
  • First three Masters (age 40 and above) Male and Female finishers
  • First Male and Female finishers in the following age groups: 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70+
  • Overall and Masters place winners are ineligible for age groups awards
  • 5 Time finishers (individuals who currently have 4 official finishes and officially finish the 2023 event) will receive a special award for the accomplishment.
  • 10 Time finishers (individuals who currently have 9 official finishes and officially finish the 2023 event) will receive a special award for the accomplishment.
  • 15 Time finishers (individuals who currently have 14 official finishes and officially finish the 2023 event) will receive a special award for the accomplishment.
  • All finishers will receive a Brooks Podium Short Sleeve and a medal.

Post-Race Party

A post-race party will be held at the Smartmouth Brewery Pilot House, 313 32nd Street, Virginia Beach, VA from 4:30 to 7:30 PM.

One BEER ticket and Food will be provided to all runners and volunteers.


All registered runners will receive a Brooks Dash 1/2 Zip Long Sleeve.

Shirt Size Chart: MEN & WOMEN

All finishers will receive a Finisher’s award at the finish line.

Course Map

The Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50K race is run on the trails of First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, with a total of about one mile at the start on a paved road.

Course Map

Trail Etiquette

Stay on the designated trails for the course.

Numbers must be worn and visible on front of body at all times during the race.

Littering may be grounds for disqualification...even if you accidentally drop it.

The trail is open to other runners, walkers, and cyclists. Be courteous.

No dogs are allowed to accompany runners.

If you can, please carry your own water container to avoid use of cups and possible littering.

If need be, stop to help others in need.

In places of heavy two-way running traffic, keep to your right as far as possible.

Please carry any trash (cups, food wrappers, etc.) with you to trash bags on the course. Leave the park cleaner than you found it.

Not following the above race rules may result in disqualification.

Inclement Weather/National Security

The Race Director and the Tidewater Striders reserve the right to modify or cancel events as needed in the interest of safety or access restrictions to the venue.

No refunds can be given in the event of modification or cancellation.


Not running the 50K? Share in the fun and excitement by volunteering to help with the race. We will need volunteers for morning and afternoon shifts. We can also use some help at the After Race Party.

Some of the following volunteer positions are available:

  • Runner Verification
  • Aid Station workers
  • Aid Station Coordinators
  • Course monitors
  • Finish Line Assistance
  • Course sweepers post race
  • After Party Help – to help serve refreshments

Volunteer individually, with a friend, or get a group together and come on out and have some fun!

Ready to volunteer? Sign up on our Volunteer Webpage -or- Contact Race Director at email address:

Mel Williams Memorial Seashore 50KRace History

Return of the Ultraby Mel Williams

A Tidewater Striders sponsored Ultramarathon running event will return to the Hampton Roads area after a hiatus of 25 years. In 1983 the Tidewater Striders, under the excellent guidance of race director Jim Hintz, sponsored the first ultradistance running event in the area. Held in April, the Tidewater Ultra consisted of both a 50-kilometer and 100-kilometer road race. The course was the 10-kilometer loop of the winter distance series when it was held in the Northwest River Park area of Chesapeake. As you would expect, there were five loops for the 50K and 10 loops for the 100K. In 1984, the event was renamed the Bud Light Ultra Classic after its major race sponsor (Michelob Ultra, which may have been a more appropriately named sponsor, was yet to be brewed). Jim, who was serving in the Marines, was transferred to Hawaii late in 1984 and, unfortunately, the Ultra event fell by the wayside.

As one who had run the 50K in both of these events, over the years I became increasingly intrigued with the idea of resurrecting the ultramarathon race for our area. However, I was also aware of the difficulties in securing approval for a feasible course on the roads in most of our local communities. While running the trails in First Landing State Park (FLSP) one day, it dawned on me that the park would be a perfect venue for an ultradistance run.

In the early years of the Striders, back in the 1970s, the club sponsored several races totally within FLSP (then known as Seashore State Park), including a 10-mile race down the Cape Henry trail and back over Long Creek trail, as well as a half-marathon run totally on the full Cape Henry trail, including two loops of the Cape Henry Narrows trail. Early editions of the Shamrock Marathon also included the Cape Henry Main Trail as part of the course, and for three years the official race course for the Old Dominion University cross-country team was a 5-mile course on the Cape Henry Main, White Lake, and King Fisher trails. However, following a state budget crisis in the early 1980s, conducting official races in state parks was prohibited. Nevertheless, the trails were open to all runners and FLSP continued to be the most popular training venue for runners in Southside Hampton Roads. Given its popularity, softer running surface, and absence of vehicular traffic, one might note that an unofficial 50K run was held surreptitiously during the tourist off-season.

About a year ago, while we were jogging in First Landing State Park, I bounced the idea of conducting a 50K in the park off of Rich Hildreth, president of the Striders, and he was very supportive. Dan Edwards, co-chairperson of the Striders Race Committee, was also enthusiastically supportive. I then contacted John Price, affectionately known among local runners as UltraJohn, given his predilection for ultradistance races (the longer, the better). For example, John thinks nothing of taking a week off to run a race across some state, such as Tennessee. John knows every inch of FLSP, and he designed an excellent course that eventually would serve as the basis for the one we are permitted to use.

A key administrator at FLSP was then contacted, provided with a broad outline of the proposed event and a copy of the proposed race course. She thought the race had merit and provided me with an application and specifics of park use. At this point, I assembled a committee consisting of experienced ultrarunners, marathoners, and race administrators, including John Price, Gene Bachman, Dan Edwards, Bee McLeod, Linda Palluch, Jean Phelan, and Goody Tyler. Other key committee members soon joined us, including Angelo Celesia, Steve Speirs, Rick Brown, Rich Hildredth, Stacin Martin, Tom Murphy, and Rosemary Plum. Rob Levinsky and Jim Ross also serve as ex-officio members. We submitted the application to FLSP and the race was approved.

Seashore Nature Trail 50KContact Us