I covered “A Run Through Redlands” Sunday and it was a happening. For something that only sorta happened, that is.
This is the race’s 38th year, but with a difference. The race was virtual due to coronavirus concerns, meaning entrants could run whenever they want. Or not run at all.
A paid, on-time entry fee guaranteed folks a handsome T-shirt and sparkling medal — whether they huffed through a half-marathon, strolled the 5K or 10K or went to Baskin Robbins and scarfed a hot fudge sundae.
No firm starting time meant no crowded starting line, no cheering crowd, and no Rosie Ruiz (Google her, kids) to jump into the race near the end and fraudulently claim victory.
Now I’m no novice when it comes to covering non-events. I’ve covered baseball rainouts, a prep football game canceled by lightning and a Fog Festival in the San Francisco suburb of Pacific that was fogged out.
But a footrace with no starting time, no winner and no list of finishers from here to infinity? Sure. I was game.
First, I went to the back of the Redlands Mall where the Kiwanis Club erected easy-ups and distributed race swag. There I met Maria Snavely, a truck driver from Rialto who showed off her snazzy T-shirt and medal and posed for some photos.
“It was quiet,” Snavely said. “The virtual part stinks, but the T-shirts are cool. I wanted to get one with the COVID ball as a memory of 2021.”
Back in 1979 when I ran the San Francisco Marathon, nothing was virtual. I did not officially enter the race and received nothing. The only memento I have is a race program that I wrote my time on: Three hours, 50 minutes.
Steve Palladino won the SF Marathon a year earlier in 2:21.15 and received a trophy for his efforts. Now winners of such races are more likely to bag an automobile and a six-figure check for their trouble.
Nobody got a Lexus on Sunday in Redlands. There were just a lot of smiles, such as the one on the face of Teresa Warren of Moreno Valley.
She’s two years free of rectal cancer and is mighty happy about it.
She celebrated by traversing A Run Through Redlands with her friends.
“I’m committed to running it every year,” Warren said. “I do races all over the Inland Empire.”
Then there was 72-year-old Dean Hadley of Redlands. He was a doctor in Paradise, California, until 2018 when the deadliest fire in California history obliterated his home and most of the city.
“It didn’t burn my doctor’s office, but I was in a town with no hospital and no patients,” Hadley said.
So he came to Southern California where he has run the Los Angeles Marathon and finished Sunday’s race in an impressive 2:12.37.
“I love running,” Hadley said. “The pain at the end is part of the reward. And this is Redlands. It’s a beautiful place.”