Runners race through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Next month, several participants will run the trails through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park marking the 50th anniversary of Felton’s oldest long-distance race.

Race through the Redwoods is a 10K or 6.2 miles race, starting and finishing at Roaring Camp Railroads. And according to race director Mark Giblin, not only is this the oldest race in the county, it also is the most challenging.

“The route is very scenic, with the redwoods lining the course,” Giblin said. “There are significant hills some with a six to eight percent grade in elevation.”

The race first started in August 1968 as part of Felton’s Centennial celebrations. Put on by the Felton Business Association, the race was 9.3 miles and started at the Felton Center parking lot. The first place winner was Bruce Johnson, of Orinda, who finished in 55 minutes and 1.4 seconds. Bob Brown, was chairman of the Felton Centennial committee and instrumental in getting the Amateur Athletic Union-sanctioned race for the Valley. Approximately 50 people participated in the 1986 race.

While a few things have changed since the first race, most notably the distance and actual running course, the local participation has not. To mark the 50th anniversary this year, finisher medals will be handed to every participant who completes the race. The medal, which features a mountain scene and a medal embedded into it, was designed by Giblin.

“I was born and raised in Felton and it is kind of the reason I wanted to take this on,” Giblin said. “I kind have a soft spot for this race, ever since I ran it when I was younger.”

This year’s race festivities include a complimentary light continental breakfast, Togo’s sandwiches for every runner after the race and a raffle for prizes. Each participant who registers receives three raffle tickets to enter to win items such as a Chrome notebook, a $400 gift card to Scotts Valley Cycle Sport and a spa package and date night basket.

In addition to the 10K race, a kids 1K race is also available for registration. According to Giblin, an average of 500 participants are expected at this year’s race. Giblin, who has been race director for the last three years, said because of concerns of bee stings last year, the route will be split between trails and paved road.

Granite Construction is the premium sponsor for the race, along with two silver sponsors, Santa Cruz RV in Felton and JMI Commercial Real Estate. The Felton Business Association continues to put on the race year to year. According to Giblin in addition to the sponsors, the race depends heavily on volunteers to run food and water stations and directing runners and traffic. The San Lorenzo Valley Track and Cross Country Team, San Lorenzo amateur Radio Club and Felton Fire Department all provide several volunteers on race day.

The race is on Sunday August 19 and the cost of registering for the 10K is $40 before race day and $20 for the 1K kids’ race. In addition to getting a time-chipped bib, racers will get a race themed t-shirt. Proceeds from the race are used to fund community events in Felton, such as the Memorial Day Parade, the Tree Lighting, the First Friday Art Walk, Second Saturdays in Felton). Proceeds also benefit the San Lorenzo High School track team and local charities.

To register for the race or to learn more: http://www.racethrutheredwoods.com/.

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