Over 160 runners from around the world came to compete in the race at the end of the world on Sunday, with locales as far away as Montreal, Maine and Cupertino, Calif. represented in the seventh annual Gay Head 10K.

But despite the wide field, in both numbers and geography, it was a Martha’s Vineyard native who took first place. Michael Schroeder, 24, crossed the finish with a time of 32:44, missing the course record by a mere 20 seconds and beating the rest of the competition by a good two and a half minutes.

“Everything went fairly well,” the shirtless victor huffed at the end of the six-mile haul. “It was so scenic the entire way and there was a tailwind off the water. But the last three-quarters of a mile were the hardest.”

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate, college track runner and son of high school track coach Joe Schroeder also set a personal 10K record with his performance on Sunday.

Vineyard native Michael Schroeder crossed the finish line first with a time of 32.44. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Well, it was only my second one,” he humbly quipped.

He was in good company in the winners' circle, joined by his fiance Caroline Turner, the first woman to cross the finish line with a time of 40:03. The couple met at Logan Airport, according to Ms. Turner, and then ran together during their college years at Davidson. Now they both live in Boston and got engaged in July.

It was Ms. Turner’s first time in Aquinnah.

“I savored all the views,” she said.

The Gay Head 10K began seven years ago as a benefit for the historic lighthouse. With the effects of erosion quickly approaching, the lighthouse’s committee organized the race in the hopes that it would help raise funds necessary for moving the building away from cliffs’ edge and toward safety.

Nearly a decade later, the lighthouse is now 50 feet inland from its original location, but the race persists to help raise money for the building’s continued preservation.

Beautiful scenery but some steep hills. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Sisters Louise and Margeaux Deroi, ages 15 and 18 respectively, came from Montreal with their parents for the race. They said it was worth the six-hour drive — and Friday off of school.

“It’s a really beautiful environment,” Margeaux said. “We wanted to go someplace new, and the race was a purpose.”

Runners were greeted with a nearly perfect day on Sunday, as a sun-soaked sky glistened off both the shore of Philbin Beach and the ball of the Gay Head Light while runners gathered near the Aquinnah shops for the start of the 2019 race.

“We’d like to thank everyone for supporting our red queen,” organizer Martha Vanderhoop told the runners at the top of the hill. “And after the race, you can go up and see what you’re running for.”

The beauty of the course, however, belies its difficulty. Runners start at the top of the Aquinnah Circle, head down State Road for approximately two miles before hanging a right on Moshup Trail. They then have a grueling, windswept and salt-blasted four miles of bumpy shoreline road that concludes at the circle, where they have to climb up the hill to the shops once more. By the time they reach the finish line, runners will have passed the Aquinnah library, town hall, beach and Orange Peel Bakery — all in six miles of scenic terrain.

They also have to traverse the Aquinnah circle twice at the end.

Most runners toured the lighthouse after their morning pounding the pavement. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Yeah, it’s torture,” Ms. Vanderhoop said. “But they have to pay their respects to the lighthouse too.”

After finishing the race, most of the runners hiked up to the lighthouse for their free tour, truly taking a moment to savor the view of the Vineyard Sound and Aquinnah Cliffs from the top of the tower’s lamp.

But Michael Schroeder and Caroline Turner had other plans. They are training for a marathon.

“I’m going to go run a little more,” Mr. Schroeder said after the race. By “a little more,” he meant 12 to 14 miles more.