Runners race in the Fight the Bite Lyme Awareness 5K Run/Walk last year. The fourth annual event will take place Saturday morning on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

(May 10, 2019) Several hundred people are expected to participate in the fourth annual Fight the Bite Lyme Awareness 5K Run/Walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk, this Saturday.

“Running on the Boardwalk in Ocean City is really a spectacular thing,” event organizer Angela Burke said.

Registration will open at 8 a.m. at the inlet parking lot, and the race will start at 9 a.m. The cost to participate is $35. 

DJ Rupe will emcee the event. A Zumba warm-up is a “really fun part” of the morning that will help runners and walkers get race ready, Burke said. Free educational materials about Lyme disease will be available during the event as well.

“It’s fun to have some social interaction in a beautiful place,” Burke said. “I think it’s a really fun way to spend a morning.”

In addition to the run/walk, Burke hopes attendees will gain some knowledge about how to avoid contracting diseases from ticks.

“Tick-borne illnesses are endemic in our area and the best defense against these illnesses is prevention,” she said, noting that May is Lyme Awareness Month.

Burke said participation can fluctuate depending on the weather. The forecast showed a high of 70 degrees with a mostly cloudy sky and a 10 percent chance of rain as of Tuesday morning, according to weather.com.

Burke said about 300 people participated in the third annual 5K, and the organization raised nearly $10,000.

Following the award ceremony portion of the event, Burke said there would be an after party at the Cork Bar on Wicomico Street in Ocean City.

Event proceeds go to spreading awareness through educational materials, bus advertisements in Ocean City and billboards on Route 50 in Berlin and Route 1 in Millsboro, Delaware.

Burke started the event to bring awareness to Lyme disease and help raise funds to fight the bite. 

Burke has Lyme disease and has “been dealing with the effects … for over 20 years.”

As Burke grappled with this illness, she was determined to try and help others. 

“As soon as I was vertical, I would try and bring some prevention,” she said.

There were 1,887 reported cases of Lyme disease in Maryland in 2017, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health. It has nearly tripled since 2000 when 688 cases were reported. The 2018 data has not yet been finalized by the Center Disease Control. 

Tick season, according to the CDC, typically runs April through September. Brittany Fowler, deputy director of media and contact strategy for the state’s department of health, said this could be a bad season for ticks.  

“The Department’s Center for Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases does anticipate a heavy year this year based on last year’s heavy rains,” Fowler said.

Additionally, Burke stressed that people don’t have to travel far to encounter these tick-borne illnesses.

“You can get this in your own backyard,” she said.

There will also be a Lyme Awareness Bingo from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday at the Greene Turtle on 9616 Stephen Decatur Highway in West Ocean City.

For more information, email fightthebiteoc@gmail.com or fightthebiteoc.org.

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