Pleasanton Weekly

Column - June 6, 2014

Father's Day Spirit Run offers family fun, scholarships

by Jeb Bing

I hope you'll join me and hundreds more at the downtown Rotary Club's annual Spirit Run on Father's Day, and really for three reasons:

* It's an exhilarating, fun-filled family activity, and a healthy way to start off this special day for dad.

* Proceeds from corporate and individual sponsors and race fees benefit Pleasanton high school graduates and community projects.

* It's a chance to test your skills, either running in the 10K or 5K events or (like me) taking a three-mile walk along downtown and neighborhood streets and the Arroyo del Valle.

There's even a Kids' Challenge fun run for 8-year-olds and younger, although don't discount these youngsters when it comes to running and endurance. We've seen even 5-year-olds running alongside their parents at very competitive speeds.

But to get all the goodies, including free T-shirts and early registration discounts, sign up by 10 p.m. Wednesday at www.PleasantonRotary.org. Pre-registration fees are $10 for the Kids' Challenge, and for the 5K and 10K: $25 for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, and $35 for high school students and adults. A special registration fee of $25 is available for each member in families of four or more. After Wednesday, registration will only be available on the day of the race.

Over the years this race has raised over $900,000 in college scholarships and humanitarian projects of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton. Recipients of 2013 Spirit Run proceeds included:

* College scholarships for Pleasanton students

* Wheelchairs for those in need

* Rotaplast

* Valley Humane Society

* Hope Hospice

* The Tri-Valley YMCA

* Victims of the Boston Marathon bombings

* Open Heart Kitchen

* Amador Valley High School Robotics Club

* Amador Valley High School Competition Civics Club

* Local Boy Scouts Troop 911

* Assistance League of Amador Valley

* Life Links Program of the Arc of Alameda County

The Spirit Run had its beginnings during the city's 1994 Centennial celebration when Joanie and Jim Fields, with the help of Brad Hirst and others, started the Arroyo Creek Trails (ACT I) community race.

More than 1,100 runners joined in, although that number fell to 800 the following year, when it was ACT II. Downtown Rotary took over the third year, providing the manpower needed to promote and handle what its members saw as a spirited event, which also gave it its name.

This year, with more than 1,500 runners expected to participate and a larger group that eyes certification for other marathons, Rotarians will have water and other treats available at stations along the way. Club spotters also will alert race officials if a Union Pacific train is approaching so that the top runners can be alerted to speed it up. Several years ago, a train blocked the route at Santa Rita Road, canceling out several top times at the finish line under the Pleasanton Arch on Main Street.

The 10K run will start promptly at 8 a.m. on Father's Day, followed by the 5K run/walk at 8:20 a.m. Three separate Kid's Challenge Races, for children ages 2-8, will include a number of 100-yard dashes on Main Street, finishing right underneath the Arch. Each child participating in the Kids' Challenge will receive a finisher ribbon.

Commemorative Tech T-shirts plus more than $3,000 in door prizes will be given out to all 5K and 10K participants. In addition, medals and etched-glass trophies will be awarded to the top male and female finishers in designated age groups, as well as the first-place man and woman "Masters" (over 50 years old) winners.

This 21st annual Spirit Run event also marks the start of a series of special events planned over the year ahead to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rotary in Pleasanton. The downtown club was chartered in May 1965, followed in 1987 by the Rotary Club of Pleasanton North and in 2002 by the Tri-Valley Evening Rotary Club. All three clubs with some 170 current members are affiliated with Rotary District 5170 in San Jose, and with Rotary International, a global community service organization with 1.2 million members in 166 countries.

The first of the celebrations will start with the Spirit Run on Father's Day. See you there.

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