The Redwood Wild River Run was back for the 39th year on Saturday, as a total of 163 runners ran either the 5K or 15K courses starting at the covered bridge on South Fork Road and heading off into the redwoods before turning around and coming back to the bridge.

Although the run had roughly the same turnout as it had last year, organizer Ralph Hirt said the overall numbers are down significantly from the 200 or so runners that the race has averaged recently.

“I think the local participation was about normal, but I noticed that there weren’t nearly the number of runners from Brookings, Eureka, and the Grants Pass-Medford area. But I am in no way complaining. I am a very happy race director,” Hirt said. “Everything sure went more smoothly. At the sign up and the finish line it wasn’t the usual chaos, so we came out alright. We certainly lucked out with the weather. It was overcast at the start but then it got sunny — it was just a nice day.”

Scott Lindsey has been coming to the Redwood Wild River Run for a little over 10 years now. Although Saturday’s run was graced with sun, Lindsey said it is always a fun event no matter the weather.

“Ralph does a great job setting it up,” Lindsey said. “It is just a great course, it’s a great atmosphere, and it is nice to see all the people out here running.”

Lindsey also likes to drum up some local runners to participate in the race every year from some of the kids in his math class at Redwood. Lindsay said this year he had five takers join him for the 5K.

This year’s overall winner in the 5K was Zachary Abblitt, who finished the course in 18:11. Abblitt, 15, of Brookings, is a homeschooled student but he also is a distance runner on the Brookings-Harbor High School track and field team. Abblitt said he had never run a public race before, but found the Redwood Wild River Run back in December and decided to give it a try.

“I liked running through the redwoods, and it was pretty cool running with people of all different ages,” Abblitt said. “It was a really fun race. I’ll be doing it again.”

Holly Jacot, 38, of Crescent City was the fastest female in the 5K this year, finishing in a time of 26:16. The 5K run had a total of 116 runners this year.

Matthew Kidwell, 36, of Eureka won the 15K race in a time of 57:11. Tami Beall of Arcata was the fastest female, finishing with a time of 1:05:22.

Although the Redwood Wild River Run pulls in a lot of runners, both locally and from out of the area, Hirt said the run is fairly unique because it has stuck to its local roots for nearly 40 years.

“The general consensus of a lot of the serious runners that come out is that they like to come to this because it has remained a local run,” Hirt said. “A lot of companies have bought out these kind of runs and they have become very commercialized, but we have stayed away from that. We still use snail mail to sign up, our awards are made locally, and we don’t give out commercially made medals to the finishers — we give out redwood trees. The whole atmosphere has remained a small local run and a lot of the runners that do a lot of races appreciate that.”

Hirt said he wouldn’t be able to keep that atmosphere going every year without lots of local support from the community.

“We appreciated the local support that we get, especially, and I can’t emphasize this too much, to the volunteers that come out year after year and give their time to support this run,” Hirt said. “Our volunteers give us an entire day, and it is really appreciated.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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