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Running through the colors

Steve Bond

On Sunday, Oct. 24, Pioneer Park and Nevada City streets will be the site of the 13th Annual Run Through the Colors 5K and 10k races, which start at 8:30 a.m.

Remember my column two weeks ago about the fun of racing and not being afraid to give it a try?

Well, here’s your chance.

Run Through the Colors is a low-key, local race, with some fast runners, but more that are just out there for fun rather than for the competition.

Race Directors Richard and Theresa Thomas have been involved in putting on these races since the first year, and have been the race directors since the second year.

Both are very friendly and easily accessible for any questions. They can be reached by phone (265-2666) or e-mail (randtthomas@sbcglobal.net) and will be happy to send you an entry form with a map, if you call soon.

Don’t come expecting to run your fastest 5K or 10K times as the courses are very hilly and consequently, slow, compared to flat courses. But, you won’t get bored on this course, as it’s mostly up or down, with, of course, the fall colors to appreciate on the way.

The races start at Pioneer Park and go up Nevada Street, which is steep and lasts longer than you think it will. Keep in mind you don’t want to go out too hard and be too tired when you finally level out.

A while later, you’ll hit the steepest downhill on the 5K course, Washington Street, which will take you over Highway 49. You can’t help but fly down this hill.

Then it’s a right hand turn at the courthouse and up Main Street, which is not the longest uphill on the course, but the steepest.

Ah, and then, it’s speeding down Broad Street and over 49 again. It’s much better to have the longest downhill near the end of the race and the worst uphill near the beginning, in my humble opinion.

Then there’s a deceptive uphill on Spring Street after you go over the overpass. Short, but tough. And then it’s back to Pioneer Park for the finish.

I highly recommend, if you can, to run the course, or at least parts of it, before race day. There’s no substitute for being familiar with the course, especially where the major up and downhills will hit.

Last year, a record 400-plus participants, including walkers enjoying the fall colors, showed up. This year, based on historically about half pre-registering and the other half showing up on race day, there is an expectation of not quite so many.

A few other words of wisdom based on experience at this race: Dress warmly for registration and warming up. Pioneer Park tends to be very cold in the mornings this time of year, and it sits in a cold pocket, which is significantly colder than the surrounding area.

You can always shed a layer, but you don’t want to be shivering getting ready for the race. If possible, take off your sweats as late as possible so you don’t get too cold at the starting line.

There is also always a possibility of rain this time of year, so better prepared for that eventuality than not. It rarely does rain, but one year it was very foggy, making for an interestingly surreal race experience.

Based on pre-registrations through Oct. 13th, plus a few phone calls around town, there are favorites to win each race. Keep in mind there is another week and a half before the race, and many will register on race day.

Larry Defeyter finished second at last year’s Run Through the Colors 5K in 20:26 and is the top runner pre-registered so far. Larry won the Draft Horse Classic 5K last month, in Grass Valley.

In the 10K, Sara Freitas, who won the 10K in 2002 in a very fast time of 38:19, is back to defend her title.

And I just want to make one thing crystal clear: She didn’t “just” win the women’s 10K, she won race!

Other local runners who have pre-registered and will likely finish in the top 10 overall are Peggy Davidson, Drue Matthies, Al Shook, John Seivert and Alexis Horlick.

Michelle Falvey is always a contender and usually runs this race, winning the women’s 5K in 21:09 in 2002, and this year winning the triathlon at Scott’s Flat Lake and the women’s 10K at the Nevada City Spring Run.

Phillipe Mickelson won the Run Through the Colors 5K last year and if he shows up on race day, could do so again.

There is also rumor that Mo Bartley, from Cool, will come and run the 10K. Mo, as you might remember, won the women’s Gold Country 10K in June and demolished the old women’s course record.

I’ll be there, for my seventh straight Run Through the Colors 5K. I’ll be doing my best to continue my string of finishing no worse than sixth.

Be sure to say hello. I’ll be looking for you!

The Run Through the Colors races are sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Group and the Sierra Club.


Steve Bond, a Grass Valley resident, is a competitive runner who writes columns and feature stories about running for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at stillrunning5@sbcglobal.net.


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