Gators run through Redlands

What is a fun run without a guy riding an inflatable alligator?

The sky was gray and the weather crisp in front of the post office on Brookside Avenue.

“Who’s glad it’s not snowing?” the race announcer said.   

Hip-hop music thumped. Runners at the starting line fidgeted, trying to stay warm. Soon that wasn’t a problem as participants set out on the 10-kilometer version of the 40th “A Run Through Redlands.” A half-marathon and a 5-kilometer followed. Nearly 2,400 participants competed in one of the three races.  

They were tattooed. Pierced. Young. Old. Two-legged. Four-legged. The race was a monument to inclusiveness.

There were children being pushed in strollers. There was a dog in a stroller. There was a bloke riding an inflatable alligator. I’m not making this up.  

The horde was a wild mixture of spandex and polyester and every color known to man. Timothy Leary would have loved it.

One guy was shirtless in 46-degree weather. Possibly a Buffalo Bills’ fan.    

Some came in costume. There was a 20-something man dressed like a sailor. He looked like Shirley Temple. A woman was decked out like a leopard. She couldn’t change her spots.

“Up next is the half-marathon,” the announcer said. “The half-marathon is setting up.”

Half-marathoners are the serious ones, not that the 10k peeps aren’t. Half-marathoners have zero body fat and barely discernible pulses.  

“The marathon, of course, gets its name from the toilet paper,” the P.A. guy quipped.

A half-marathon (13.1 miles) is no laughing matter. The runners were grim-faced, as if facing a judge.  

“I can make your hands clap,” a group called Fitz and the Tantrums echoed through the loudspeakers.

The crazy outfits were many. One guy wore a skeleton mask and what appeared to be a lampshade on his head. I think he was at my office Christmas party.

“5k runners, you’re up next,” came the announcement. “5k runners.”

This group was the largest and included many walkers. All took part in the movable feast.  

This being the 40th “A Run Through Redlands,” it had special significance for some.

One was Redlands High teacher and girls’ volleyball coach Corinne Flowers. She celebrated her 40th birthday by running the 10k in 58:38. Pals Heather Taggart and Jennifer Chrispens joined her. They rocked matching teal tank tops emblazoned with, “Ew, hills.”

But the top garment of the day belonged to Mariah Lazarides of Loma Linda. “I HATE RUNNING,” said her maroon tank.  

“I want to express my true feeling,” Lazarides said. “I don’t like running, but I know I should do it.”

Despite her antipathy, Lazarides scooted the 3.1 miles in 33 minutes.

Collecting a race T-shirt and finish medal as well was a white Husky dog named Snow. He also enjoyed pats on the head from admiring children.

Completing the 5k with a big grin was 20-year-old Katie Moynihan of Redlands. She’s in an adult transition program.

“It was a great race,” said Moynihan, beaming with pride.  

Having collected my fill of quotes and taken ample photos, I returned to my chair where an elderly woman had placed an orange. She was 88-year-old Barbara Pflanz of Redlands. Amazingly, she ran the 5k in 52 minutes.     

“It’s German,” Pflanz said. “P-f-l-a-n-z.”

I listened intently and wrote down each letter with care. Any senior that spry deserves a correct spelling.  

John Murphy may be reached at Twitter: @PrepDawg2.