A mostly local crowd dominated the field of the 9th annual Calabasas Classic 5K and 10K races held last Sunday at Park Sorrento, near the Calabasas Civic Center.
“It’s a really cool community event that’s open to all,” said Julie Talbert, executive director of the Talbert Family Foundation, the race organizer.
The Calabasas-based non-profit organization puts up the annual races to lend a hand to families whose members have been afflicted with catastrophic illnesses including, but not limited to, cancer.
Families came in droves, bringing jogging strollers and their four-legged pets. Some pets were dropped off at the Pet Sitting by Ashley booth at the expo.
Past winner Ryan Emery bested second place finisher Jerome Vermeulen by over two minutes, coming in at 32:27 in the 10K race.
“Yes, it feels good to be back because I love this challenging race and the beautiful loop which we have to do twice,” said the Newbury Park resident who also won the same race in 2009.
Emery’s winning time was not a personal best but the 32-year-old was pleased with his second victory and being able to run it with locals, most of whom know him from his work as assistant principal at Calabasas High School.
For Calabasas resident Maribel Goldberg, persistence finally paid off. On her ninth year of participating in the 10K, the 45-year-old finally came in first among the women, crossing the finish line with a personal best of 41:07.
“It’s really sweet because I know this course so well, this being my ninth year running it and I still find it tough,” said the mom of two teenage daughters.
Majority of the participants agreed that the course through scenic Calabasas Park was very challenging, mostly due to the rolling hills. Plus, for the 10K participants, it had to be tackled twice.
“It’s a tough course but I liked the two loops because you see all these people cheering for you and you can also see who’s ahead of you and by how much,” said Rafael Gonzalez of Camarillo, who is Boston Marathon-bound in April.
The 52-year-old bested 25 other runners in the 50-54 age group, clocking in at 41:22.
“Yes, I plan to be back next year,” said Gonzalez, a newcomer to the Calabasas Classic races.
John Wheeler also loves the hills of the course, but still finds it challenging even after six years.
The Simi Valley resident won the 35-39 age group, coming in at 37:54. "It's just another training run for me," said the 36-year-old who like Gonzalez is training for the Boston Marathon.
Husband and wife running partners Clark and Sherry Osborne come and run the 10K every year. The Simi Valley residents love everything about the local race, which benefits families dealing with catastrophic illnesses such as cancer.
“We love how it’s so well-organized and accessible. You park and you walk to the expo and the start line which is right there,” said the Osbornes, who both placed in their age groups.
Jose Alvarez, dad of Matthew Alvarez, who has been battling pre-B ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) since 2010, was beside himself with the outpouring of love and support for his son this year.
“Matthew’s school started Team Chaparral this year and I think we have over 200 members walking, running or just showing their support today,” said Alvarez, who was wearing a Team Matthew shirt.
The 10-year-old is back in school after a recent spinal tap and is in good spirits, said his dad. He has one more year of chemotherapy left.
After the race, participants mingled and strolled through the expo which attracted local vendors such as Lululemon Athletica, My Gym, Fresh Brothers Pizza, Montessori of Malibu Canyon School, Equinox Gym, O.N.E. Coconut Water and many others.
Talbert was pleased with the outcome. Over 2,500 people signed up to participate in the races and support the families that the Talbert Family Foundation has taken under its wings.
She said, “As always, the community participation and support was astounding.”
For the complete race results, click here.