The Chester Classic 5K Fun Run will begin yet another evolution this July 4.
The long-standing event began 33 years ago with race founders desiring to support recreation in the Lake Almanor Basin.
In the last decade, the race has been co-hosted by Almanor Recreation and Park District (ARPD) and the Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce.
Three years ago, the coordination and all proceeds returned solely to the unfunded recreation district.
For eight of the past 10 years Eric and Aletha O’Kelley have coordinated, marketed and processed all phases of the popular run.
The O’Kelleys began their term of volunteer service by shadowing ARPD board member Cheri McIntire during the 25th annual Fun Run.
This year, the incoming 2013 run coordinator, Shane Bergmann, will shadow the O’Kelleys.
A familiar face about the lake communities, Bergmann is best known as a partner in Flooring Brothers, a local business providing hardwood, carpet and tile floors.
Familiar with the area, Bergmann’s family had a cabin on the East Shore. He moved to the area full-time in 1997, stayed for two years and returned permanently in 2007.
As to his connection to this type of event he said, “Distance running is a big part of my life. My wife, Delores, is an avid runner and travels to races year-round.
“You might say I’m the ultimate running cheerleader, I really enjoy going to races, this is what we do for family fun,” Bergmann said.
Bergmann said his ultimate goals for the future are to develop a savvy website that both features the beauty of the Lake Almanor Basin and provides the ease of online registration.
“I would also like the community to be more exposed and involved. I would like to run the 5K down the full length of Main Street and onto Feather River Drive,” he said.
O’Kelley concurs that more exposure on Main Street would help to build the race.
Bergmann said he is also interested in doing more with random prize drawings than costly medals.
“Random drawings are very popular. I know that if we are about to leave a race and an announcement is made that random drawings are about to start it certainly grabs my wife’s attention,” he said.
Bergmann also talked about making awards from local resources, like sugar pine cone trophies.
“People are drawn to the area, that’s why I came up here. They will appreciate the fun of it. Those types of awards are goofy and they won’t ever forget their experience,” Bergmann added.
Pre-registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and the race begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. on Main Street.
Once the starting signal is given, runners and walkers will go down one block and turn left at the Chester United Community Church.
A short block or two later, and just before the runners reach Maywood Drive, they will hang a right on a dirt road that will eventually run through the old Collins Pine horse corral area, across the North Fork Feather River foot bridge and then parallel to the log yard. From there participants will cross the mill bridge, take a logging road along the river, turn around and head back in to the staging area.
The Fun Run hosts provide a water station at the turn-around point.
The cost to enter is $30 after June 20.
For the registration cost, runners receive a Chester Classis 5K Fun Run T-shirt, chilled bottled water, a Recharge sports drink and food.
ARPD board president Wes Maston said applications are available at Lassen Gift Shop, the Coffee Station, the ABC Center on Wednesdays and Fridays and the Chester branch library.
“Currently we have 54 registrations and anticipate many more by the time we reach the Fourth of July. In 2010 we had a record-breaking 560 individuals enter the run,” Maston said.
The run is well-known for drawing fun groups, such as a Southern California track team, returning groups of Chester High School graduates and the Lake Almanor Running Club. It also draws participants in every age bracket from strollers to the most senior.
“Big groups of families run almost every year and we have had international tourists participate as well as runners from Chico, Red Bluff, Reno, Susanville and further south in the Central Valley,” O’Kelley said.
He also said registration reveals many of the same names year in and year out.
“The run is popular because it kicks off the day. People are up at the lake and relaxing and it’s a great way to start the Fourth of July. That’s why we have always kept it as a 5K — it’s short, controlled and a good segue into the day,” O’Kelley said.
The Chester Classic 5K Fun Run is the primary fundraiser for the unfunded recreation district. Proceeds from the event benefit recreation in the Lake Almanor Basin.
For more information about the district or the Fun Run, leave a message at 258-2562.
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