The streets of South Pasadena were filled with 701 enthusiastic and colorfully outfitted registered runners and walkers of all ages on Saturday, Dec. 1 for the 21st annual Tiger Run 5k/10k Run/Walk and Tiger Cub Fun Run to benefit the South Pasadena High School Booster Club. The event brought out a 10 percent increase in competitors from the previous year and serves as the high school’s second largest fundraiser behind Bingo, according to Bill Buckley, SPHS Booster Club vice president of marketing and event co-chair.
“Everyone is thrilled with the increase in runners and how involved the South Pasadena community is with the run,” Buckley told The Review. “We’re grateful for the partnership with the City of South Pasadena.”
The morning was crisp and clear as runners and volunteers alike descended on the high school and the surrounding course area. The SPHS Pep Squad, SkillsUSA, ASB, various SPHS sports teams and other community organizations were out in full force to assist and cheer on the competitors as well as to serve an early pancake breakfast. Music was also in the air as SPHS choir member Ashley Kwon sang the National Anthem before the start of the 5k/10k and the band “Bridget and the South Pas D.U.D.E.S” performed live on Diamond Avenue as competitors whizzed by.
“The community just comes together and it works,” said Katie Clark, vice president of the SPHS Booster Club and event co-chair. “We have a lot of volunteers, repeat volunteers, that come help out with registration and community members who come out and support us. It’s kind of fun.”
It was the third year that students in SkillsUSA at the high school volunteered at the event, serving up a hot pancake breakfast starting at 7 a.m. complete with syrup and cheerful smiles. Sandra Matson-Fennell, CTE teacher at SPHS and advisor for SkillsUSA, said the event was a good challenge for the students because of the coordination required and it helped them sharpen their organizational skills. Proceeds from the Tiger Run help fund her group’s fees for competitions in vocational occupation skills.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to organize the activity and promote it, and so they’re learning customer service skills, and job skills, teamwork, cooperation,” said Matson-Fennell. “This is actually going to fund a competition they have coming up in January.”
The Kiwanis Club of South Pasadena’s zucchini bread and hot chocolate were also a favorite highlight for many competitors. Member John Vandercook helped serve and said he enjoyed seeing the youth take charge and exhibit their leadership skills in helping make the event a success.
“I think it’s great to see all the activities organized by the high school students and pulling in a lot of the people from out of the area to run this event,” said Vandercook.
It was truly a family event with several generations making an appearance. It was the first ever 5k Tiger Run for South Pasadena’s Judy Asakura and her 10-year-old son Mason Asakura, a fifth-grader at Arroyo Vista Elementary. Asakura said she enjoyed that it’s the one day of the year that the streets are closed to cars and it enabled runners to get a good view of the city. Mason agreed.
“It was really fun,” said Mason. “It was like you got to see a lot of people. It’s like a nice fitness thing.”
For the Witherall family, 83-year-old Douglas Witherall of Palos Verdes was back to defend his 80+ age division title in the 5k, after winning it last year, alongside his son Graham Witherall, 55, and grandson Clem Witherall, 22, both of South Pasadena.
“We’ll meet up at the end,” said Douglas. “It’s just terrific. I just try to keep up as good as I can and it’s just a great family get together.”
For the 5k, Ulrik Lolland, 26, of Moss, Norway, claimed the top overall spot, top male finisher and top age division winner with a time of 15:49. Laura Aceves, 32, of South Pasadena, came in fourth overall, and was the top female finisher and top age division winner with a time of 16:56.
In the 10k, Daniel Zaragoza, 25, of California came in first overall, making him the first male finisher and first in his age division with a time of 37:19. Sydney Morrow, 14, of South Pasadena, came in fifth overall. She was the top female finisher and top age division winner with a time of 42:21.
Like many of the competitors at the 21st Tiger Run, the Witheralls were all smiles at the end. And for Douglas Witherall, he successfully defended his title.
For more information and for a full results list, visit www.sptigerrun.com.