Get ready for the Freedom 5K |

Get ready for the Freedom 5K

The Freedom Run 5K trail run, the sixth of 12 events in the 2008 Gold Country Grand Prix, will be held on July 4 on the track and trails behind Nevada Union High School.

The race, which benefits the Nevada Union track and cross country teams, will start at 8 a.m. and includes one significant hill in each of the three miles.

Pre-registration at a lower cost is still available, through June 28, with forms, along with further details and a course map, available online at Other questions can be addressed to Race Director Ken Newton by phone at 530-470-9069 or via e-mail at

Due to a busy schedule of Grand Prix races starting in April, which have taken all available column space for months, a number of outstanding race performances by local runners have gone unreported until now, and it’s time to rectify that.

We’ll proceed in chronological order, starting with John Darlington, who, on March 30, competed in the 800 meter race at the 2008 U.S.A. Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

John, at age 63, ran a very fast two minutes, 29.58 seconds to finish fifth in the nation in his favorite event, with his time good enough to score 86.59 percent on the age graded charts, putting him solidly into the top half of the National Class rankings. John’s performance is, so far, the best by any local male runner this year.

Nevada Union’s boys’ cross country coach, Gene Gilligan, traveled to Carlsbad, CA., to run the Carlsbad 5000 (5K) on April 5. Gene ran an impressive 21:13 to take third place out of 51 finishers in the 65-69 age group in this highly competitive event.

As you might remember from some of my columns earlier this year, Gene had flirted with a National Class age graded ranking, just missing a couple of times. But this race, Gene’s time was 80.27 percent, getting him over that magical barrier and into National Class.

Robert Warner (currently second in the 40-49 Grand Prix) ran the ING Bay to Breakers 12K on May 18 and, starting with the elite wave, finished 225th out of over 12,000 finishers. Robert’s time of 49:44 was a strong Regional Class age graded ranking of 73.76 percent.

Therese Iknoian (who is first in the women’s 50-59 Grand Prix competition), Ron Gross (second in the 70 and over Grand Prix) and I (second in the men’s 50-59 Grand Prix) all competed in the No Excuses 5K in Sacramento on May 26, a race day featuring a record turnout.

This is the only regional area race with results based solely on age graded performance, essentially putting everyone on an equal level.

I ran 20:16.7, placing 63rd out of 926 finishers, with an age graded ranking of 73.93 percent. Therese finished in 23:59, placing 101st with a 71.7 percent age graded ranking, while Ron was 115th in 25:02.2, age graded at 70.9 percent. I’m happy to report that all three of us ran well enough to achieve the Regional Class level of the age graded rankings.

Sara Freitas, Nevada Union’s girls’ cross country coach, finished fourth in the Fleet Feet Sports Nike Women’s Fitness Festival 5K on June 8 in a blazing fast 18:52. Not only was Sara’s time good enough to win the 50-59 age group and only eight seconds out of second place and 25 out of first, but it was also an amazing 90.07 percent age graded, our first World Class performance by a local runner this year.

Sara is not one to enjoy the spotlight, but that was one amazing effort. Way to go, Sara!

After that, other race performances might seem a little less mighty, so I’ll stop there for now and report the rest of the worthy race efforts in the latter half of July, in my column after my Freedom Run race report, coming the week following the race.

On a side note, I’ve been informed that the Ghidotti Phoenix Run, scheduled for August 23, the eighth of the 12 Grand Prix events, will now be only a 5K. More details to follow as they become available.

For more information about upcoming Grand Prix races, or for current Grand Prix standings, go to the Sierra TrailBlazers site online at

See you on July 4 at the Freedom Run!

Steve Bond is a competitive runner who lives in Nevada City and regularly writes columns and feature stories about running for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at

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