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New Race Hits the Beach in Fairfield

In the crowded Fairfield County racing scene, it's often difficult for new races to get a foothold in their early years. Sunday's inaugural Christie's Run It While You Can 5-kilometer race seems like it's destined to break the mold.

There are nearly 400 runners pre-registered for Sunday's race at Jennings Beach. The event includes a two-mile fitness walk, a fun run for the kids, a one mile youth road race and a family fun run. The conclusion will feature a group plunge in Long Island Sound.

The race benefits the Christine Morandi Memorial Foundation, which supports inclusive swim programs and aquatic scholarships for under-represented minorities. Morandi, the former Aquatic Director at the Bridgeport YMCA, passed away in October after a long struggle with cancer.

"It's going to be emotional, but it's going to be exciting,'' says race coordinator Maureen Scinto, the aquatics director at the Fairfield YMCA. Scinto figures to be among those taking the plunge following Sunday's race along with race director Joe Riccio.

The race's popularity is tied in large part to Morandi, who founded the Bridgeport Stratford YMCA swim team. She built a program that started with six children and built it into a team that had over 100 members. "She was not afraid of anything,'' Scinto says. "She wanted to change the face of swimming in Connecticut. It wasn't just about swimming. She taught them life skills. Seeing kids get their education was just as important to her."

Morandi was also a dedicated distance runner. She competed for the Warren Street social and athletic club, and finished over 30 marathons. She completed nearly half of those marathons while undergoing treatment for cancer. The race came together quickly, but that's not surprising to Scinto. "She surrounded herself with dedicated people,'' Scinto says. "They want to continue her legacy. There is a tremendous amount of love that surrounded her."

The 5K race begins at 11 a.m. Advance registration is closed, but runners and walkers can register for the race until 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. For more information about the event, click here .