Runner Josh Spiker thinks that The Dole Great Race of Agoura Hills lives up to its name.
“It’s a unique race composed of a half trail and half road course,” Spiker said, referring to the Chesebro Half Marathon, which he won in 2008 and 2009.
On its 27th year, the Chesebro Half Marathon is the original “Great Race” but currently one of six events that are taking place this Saturday, March 24, at .
Organizers expect over 7,000 runners to participate.
The Pacific Half Marathon is a road race option for the trail-challenged. “Don’t be fooled, though, as it has lots of sneaky hills that can leave even the most experienced runners breathless,” said Rafael Gonzalez of Camarillo, who has completed it twice in the past.
The Old Agoura 10K is equally challenging. “There will be two waves this year– one for local elite runners and one for the rest of the field with $5,000 in prize money,” said Danny Greenberg, executive director of The Great Race.
According to Greenberg, at least 15 elite runners from the area have confirmed their participation in the 10K with the number expected to grow as race day draws closer.
The Family Fun Run, the Deena Kastor 5K and the Kids’ Mile round up the six events this Saturday beginning at 7 a.m.
Elite runners like Spiker are partial to the trails. “They’re very challenging but very scenic,” said Spiker, who also won the Old Agoura 10K in 2007.
“We get many comments year after year from people saying that they never knew this type of scenery existed around here,” said Greenberg, noting that participants in the three longer races will pass Paramount Ranch, Malibou Lake, ranches and state parks along the way. “It’s definitely oozing with small-town charm.
Greenberg expects participants from 35 different states and from outside the US as well.
Along with small-town charm comes some big-hearted philanthropy. Every year, the Great Race benefits local schools, including seven elementary schools, and Oak Park High School.
“Last year, we raised $100,000 for local schools and we hope to duplicate that this year,” said Greenberg.
Local businesses benefit, too, by participating in one of the biggest post-race parties in the area.
Over 70 local vendors will be in attendance to showcase their wares, give out samples and feed the hungry racers who are expected to cross the finish line.
Expect to see local favorites like Dole, Whole Foods, Rubio’s and Great Harvest at the post-race party, said Greenberg.
The Deena Kastor 5K and the Family Fun Run are already sold out with other races at 90 to 96 percent capacity. Online registration closed on March 19.
Check the website if late or race-day registration is still open for your desired event.
There will also be a Great Race Sports & Fitness Expo held Thursday and Friday of this week. Held at the , it is free and open to the public with indoor rock wall climbing, activities, entertainment, vendor booths and last minute race registration (for races not sold out). Hours are Thursday, March 22, from 12– 7 p.m., and Friday, March 23, from 12-6 p.m