Randy Angel

Record number expected for Village Runner 4th of July 5K

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A record 5,000 runners are expected to participate in the 21st edition of the Village Runner 4th of July 5K. Photo by Randy Angel

A record 5,000 runners are expected to participate in the 21st edition of the Village Runner 4th of July 5K. Photo by Randy Angel

Donning red, white and blue and filled with patriotism, thousands of participants and spectators will converge on Riviera Village in Redondo Beach to kick off their Independence Day festivities.

Celebrating its 21st year, the Village Runner Annual 4th of July 5K Run/Walk  presented by UCLA Health Systems expects to draw a record 5,000 runners and walkers to this year’s event that will kick off a three-day weekend.

“We’ll have a big jump from last year’s attendance,” said race director Mike Ward. “It’s such a great community event. For certain people, the 4th of July 5K is the one time each year they reunite with old friends.”

Bob Larsen, a track and cross country cross coach who has completely reshaped U.S. distance running over the course of his career, has been selected as the recipient of the inaugural “Pathfinder Award” which will be annually presented to an individual in the distance runner/track and field community who has blazed his or her own path in a groundbreaking fashion. Last year he was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Martha Watson, who was a member of four U.S. Olympic teams as a long jumper/sprinter, will present the award to Larsen.

Larsen coached the UCLA men’s track & field team to two NCAA Outdoor track and field titles (1987-1988) and coached UCLA distance legend Meb Keflezighi to a first-place finish at this year’s Boston Marathon, a win at the 2009 New York Marathon and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics.

At the same Olympics, Larsen helped coach Deena Drossin Kastor to the bronze medal in the women’s marathon, the best marathon showing in U.S. history.

Larsen has won 11 Pac 10 Titles and Coach of the Year Awards, nine in track and two in cross country. He has received four National Coach of the Year Awards, three in track and one in cross country.

Larsen is the subject of a documentary film still in production called “City Slickers Can’t Stay with Me: The Bob Larsen Story.”

Prior to running the race, Redondo Beach Councilman Jeff Ginsberg will welcome the crowd before Mayor Steve Aspel officially starts the race at 8 a.m.

The 5K starts and finishes at Village Runner, 1811-A Catalina Ave. on a flat, fast course with ocean views and cool breezes. All participants receive a 4th of July Run t-shirt.

Male and female winners earn cash prizes for first ($200), second ($125) and third ($75). The top three in each age division will be awarded medals.

The popular Firecracker Kid’s Dash follows at 9:30 a.m. where the next generation of runners competes in age divisions with all finishing receiving medals.

Defending champion is David Cardona, of Torrance, who finished last year’s race in 16 minutes, 12 seconds. Nathalie Higley, of Redondo Beach, won the women’s division with a time of 15:38.

The race is sponsored by the official vehicle, Land Rover South Bay and The Sound 100.3fm serves as the presenting media sponsor. Race supporters include ClifBar and theRemedyPharm.

Because of its popularity, the Race Expo has expanded to two days July 3-4. New this year will be a post-race party at Rock & Brews, in walking distance of the finish line at 6300 Pacific Coast Hwy.

Proceeds benefit after-school programs for schools in Redondo Beach and Torrance along with South Bay high school cross country and track & field programs.

Registration (adults $35, kids $25) is ongoing. For additional information and registration, visit villagerunner.com or call the Race Hotline 310-376-7900.

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