HIOUCHI Runners and walkers grabbed their running shoes and took to the redwoods on Saturday for the annual Redwood Wild River Run.

Participants took part in either a 15 K race or 5 K run and fun run/walk, at the event, held in the Hiouchi area.

andquot;For the first time ever we had a woman win the 15 K,andquot; race organizer Ralph Hirt said. Penny McDermott, 33, from Corvallis, Ore., won in a new course record for women of 56 minutes and 7 seconds. Hirt said she is planning on going to the Olympic trials in Boston on April 20.

Starting at the covered bridge and heading west past Stout Grove toward Howland Hill, 200 runners and walkers took part on an out and back course.

Scenic old growth redwood trees and the fast rushing river greeted the runners, as they dodged potholes and puddles along the rolling, hilly gravel road. The finish was flat asphalt, along the river bank, heading back to the covered bridge, which remained in the distance for a long period, according to some runners.

Hirt has been associated with the race since 1985, about five years after it was first held.

andquot;With a March event date each year we have experienced some really bad weather, as you might expect,andquot; Hirt said. andquot;It was cold (this year) but no rain and warmed up a little when the sun finally reached us.andquot;

Besides snow, hail and rain, Hirt said that one year an 8-foot-diameter redwood blew down across the course after the course was marked but before the run took place.

andquot;We just marked a detour around it,andquot; he said.

Runners came from as far as Eugene and Coos Bay, Ore., and Garberville.

The fastest 5K male was Michael Pedrotti, 46, from Ferndale with a time of 20:17; the fastest 5K female was Jenny Biberston, 38, of Crescent City, with a time of 24:01.

In the 15K race, the overall winner was Penny McDermott, 33, from Corvallis with an outstanding time of 56:07; the first male winner was Matt Creason, 31, of Eureka, with a time of 58:29.

A key component to the race are the volunteers who help out each year, Hirt said,

They include Steve and Debbie Ber, who for the last two years have manned a first aid station and played live bluegrass music for the passing runners.

And for the two years they have volunteered, the weather has been favorable.

andquot;We owe our good weather the past two years to Steve and Debbie,andquot; Hirt said andquot;They got tired of getting wet each year and so bought a canopy-type tent two years ago.andquot;

andquot;Along with Steve and Debbie, we count on a fantastic group of volunteers,andquot; Hirt added. andquot;Many of the same people come out each year and volunteer their time. Without them the race wouldn't exist.andquot;

Crescent City and Smith River were well represented with first place age groupers in the 5K male race: Tyler Brown, 14, 23:47; Michael Worch, 17, 20:56, and Scott Lindsay, 26, 20:56.

Brookings' Sarah Kingstrom, 28, took first place in her age group with a time of 25:41 in the 5K race.

From Crescent City, the 5K women first place age group winners were Jenny Biberston, 38, 24:01, Sandra Swift, 41, 27:57, Nan Latimer, 55, 26:42, and Penny Fleming, 63, 27:24.

In the 15K race, local first place winners in their respective age groups were: Jesse Cipolla, 17, 1:06:41; Lupe Ochoa, 25, 1:09:22, and Russ Burnette, 60, 1:12:45.

On the female side, the only local first place age group finisher was Amber Neely, 26, 1:12:36.