The annual Fourth of July Fun Run/Walk drew quite the crowd this year. In fact, it may have been the most ever with 132 participants signed up and 127 crossing the finishline.
“It was a very successful run,” said race organizer Ralph Hirt. “I don’t have exact records but we may be one or two over the record with 132 [signed up]. It was gorgeous weather. Overcast and cool to start was great for running and it was sunny at the finish line.”
Runners and walkers started off with a run down Pebble Beach before cutting over on Pacific Avenue to join the parade route.
“This is a unique event,” said Fred Robinson from Lolita, who ran with his son Jayce “There is nothing like it where you get to run in the parade. For casual runners to run with so many fans is amazing.”
“It felt good having a lot of people cheering,” added Jayce, who took first place in the under 10 boys division.
In fact, even more experienced runners rarely get that kind of excitement.
Emmet Clus of Burns, Oregon won the Class 3A cross country meet last fall and also competed in at the state track meet in the spring. Yet the Fourth of July Fun Run/Walk matched or even exceeded those events in terms of an audience.
“It’s fun,” he said after running the fastest overall time in the event to win a beautiful redwood trophy. “I figure the best way to get running fans is to drag the race through something that is not a running event. People tend to cheer for you as long as they are there.”
Sue Reynolds of Camarillo is a regular at the event, as she frequently comes to Crescent City to visit her brother, whose birthday is July 3.
“The first time I did this I was just amazed at what goes on,” Reynolds said. “You are passing all the floats, people are throwing candy and cheering you on. So, it is a lot of fun.”
The local Army recruiting station has made it an annual tradition to appear in the run, where they carry an American Flag through the course.
“I did it last year, and this year I brought some of my recruits — future soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Slusar, who first came to Crescent City shortly before the Fourth of July last year. “We are just showing off our American pride and spirit on Independence Day.”
This year, Slusar passed off the American Flag to Justin Goudelock, one of his recruits. Meanwhile, Pvt. Jonathan Case ran the course while sporting an Army recruiting flag.
“They aren’t too heavy, but once you get them up into the wind and everything it is pretty tiring to be honest with you,” Slusar said.
But Goudelock said the extra resistance from the flag was more or less off set by the extra support from the crowd.
“The parade kind of made it easier because you have people cheering you on the whole time,” he said.
Although the annual Fun Run/Walk is a Crescent City tradition, Hirt said there were still a couple new things with the run this year.
“We had a little better crowd control at the finish line, which helped our scoring people,” Hirt said. “We also had finishers medals this year for the first time, which went over very well. I got several compliments on that, so we will probably try to do that again next year.”
Hirt says the Fourth of July run usually loses money, but he is able to afford the extra costs thanks to the Redwood Wild Rivers Run which is held each March.
“We try to make this a family event and join in the whole parade and the Crescent City celebration,” Hirt said.
Hirt also wanted to thank his roughly 18 volunteers who helped out this year, many of whom have been helping for a long time.
“Greatest of all I appreciate my volunteers who come out every year, give up a day, and help us all make this a success,” Hirt said. “I certainly can’t do it all myself. I do a lot of the prep work, but the race day is all handled by the volunteers. Its a lot of the same follks who have been with us for 10 or 15 years, and those same folks tend to volunteer at the Redwood Wild River Run in March, so I guess I extract two days out of their life each year. But I and hopefully the community appreciate their efforts.”