NEWPORT BEACH — A gruesome skeleton hung from the bow of the ship.
A giant skull and crossbones graced the mainsail. Pirates stood around guarding chests of treasure. A sailor kept watch from the crow's nest. Others stood ready at the cannons.
With his hands on the wheel, Capt. Bloodbeard looked out from his ship to the colorful sea that his misfit crew created on the sand below.
"Welcome aboard the S.S. Scurvy," proclaimed Bloodbeard, also known as Jimmy Newton, a junior lifeguard instructor.
The Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard headquarters was transformed into a scene out of "Pirates of the Caribbean" for the annual Monster Mile near the Balboa Pier on Thursday morning.
About 1,200 junior guards ranging in age from 9 to 15 gathered to compete in an event that tested their athletic abilities. The competition spanned a one-mile run from the pier to 10th Street and a one-mile swim back.
The Junior Guards have been training for the competition through the program and with a competition day every Thursday, said Jennifer Schulz, the Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman.
"It's a challenge they have for them each summer," she said. "It is a competition, but they make it really fun."
Before the competition, the participants paraded through the ship's bow to show off their colorful and crazy costumes.
"I'm really excited about it," said Paige Kaplan, 10, as she prepared for her first Monster Mile. Like her friends, she had covered herself with blue face paint to look like a Smurf. "It's so much fun and you get to dress up."
There was every kind of pirate, mermaids, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and giant bottles of soda — one boy even smeared himself with what looked like glue with colorful features stuck on.
"I think it's really fun and exciting, and they're all really creative," said Hannah Schubert, 12, who competed in her fourth Monster Mile dressed as Pirate's Booty, the rice and corn snack food. To get her costume just right, she applied yellow hair spray, yellow and white balloons, and a white tutu with bags of the food hanging from it.
The event is Hannah's favorite of the year. She never misses it, adding she always gives the competition her all.
Joining the guards, Hannah said, has opened her eyes to what it means to be a lifeguard.
While she has always recognized that they save lives, she didn't realize how much training went into it.
"I look at lifeguards in a different way," she said. "It's more about medical training and swimming well.
Monster Mile 2011 Results
Boys (14-15 yr. olds)
Girls (14-15 yr. olds)
Boys (12-13 yr. olds)
Girls (12-13 yr. olds)
Boys (10-11 yr. olds)
Girls (10-11 yr. olds)
Boys (9 yr. olds)
Girls (9 yr. olds)
FOR THE RECORD:
This corrects the spelling of Jack Rettig and Reagan Pittman's names.