Human Race runners fill east Santa Rosa streets
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
Everybody knows that carrots are good for the eyesight, but on Saturday morning, Rod DeMartini proved they are good for overall fitness as well.
DeMartini sported a bright orange, homemade carrot suit with a green frilly top on his head in the 32nd annual Human Race. He walked alongside Frederick Kasl, who spent the day as a bunch of grapes, part of a group of 23 people and two dogs raising money for Food for Thought.
“Everybody comes, everybody smiles, everybody talks to each other. It's very Sonoma County,” said Kasl, vice president of Food For Thought, a nonprofit food bank for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The annual Human Race — part footrace, part parade, part party — again launched from Slater Middle School and took runners through Howarth Park to Spring Lake Park and back to cover about 6.2 miles. A shorter route, which drew more walkers, dogs and costumes, was nearly two miles long.
The event has become a cornerstone of many groups' annual fundraising efforts. Participants earned money and carried signs for the Sonoma Humane Society, Becoming Independent, Rincon Valley School District, research into Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease as well as youth athletic teams.
Racers and supporters then gathered on Slater's blacktop, which was transformed into a bustling bazaar of information booths and food tents. SchoolsPlus founder John Bribiescas handed out red licorice to weary racers while getting the word out about the nonprofit group that supports arts and sports in Santa Rosa City Schools.
Down the row, free “compression-only” CPR lessons were offered.
“This is exposure,” Bribiescas said. “And it's fun. It's fun to be a part of it.”
Race organizers said between 9,000 and 9,500 people participated Saturday morning, up from 8,000 last year. Thousands more turned up to support runners and take part in the after-party.
The event is expected to raise about $850,000 — on par with last year — but totals will not be compiled until May 22, when all groups must turn in final counts, said Alicia Alexander, special events coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which runs the event.
The event peaked in 2006 when $1.1 million was raised.
The race has become a staple — both as a fundraiser and a team-building event — for the United under-11 girls Lightning soccer squad, said team fundraising coordinator Jennifer West.
“It bonds the girls together as a team,” she said. “And it's good fitness for the girls, rather than selling candy.”
But it's not all fun and games and vegetable costumes.
John Litzenberg of Glen Ellen took first in the 10k race with an unofficial time of 34:12.
“I had to work,” he said of the caliber of runners he lined up against. “It's got some hills.”
Catherine DuBay of Santa Rosa was again the fastest woman on the 10k course, finishing in 39:18.
There were two medical calls during the event, including one for a runner who collapsed at the finish and suffered a gash to his head. He was alert and talking after the incident but was taken to the hospital for examination. Another call was for an asthma attack, organizers said.
(Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @benefield)
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