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Boston qualifier to bring hundreds into Indian Valley

James Wilson
Sports Editor
8/8/2014
Now entering its fourth year, the Running With the Bears marathon has found its niche. The event, which sold out eight months in advance, has become the biggest draw to Greenville since Gold Digger Days was formed more than 50 years ago.

This year’s marathon, set for Aug. 16, promises to be as successful as the previous three years’. The combination of a beautiful location, well-organized route and great cause has made Running With the Bears a must for many runners.

Mountain Circle Family Services, a nonprofit helping foster and adoptive children gain stable lives, started the marathon as a fundraiser for its annual Powder Quest weekend. During the weekend-long retreat, foster youths are taught outdoor leadership skills and have a blast all the while.

In addition to the regular 300 runner slots the marathon offers, additional spots are opened for charity division runners. These runners raise or donate at least $300 to gain a spot in the charity division.

Running With the Bears offers a full marathon, which begins at 7 a.m.; a half-marathon, which starts at 7:30 a.m.; and a 10-kilometer course, which starts at 8:30 a.m. All courses start and end at the Goss Ranch on 4864 North Arm Road in Greenville.

Two years ago, the race was certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier. To be a qualifier, runners must finish the marathon within a certain time. This incentive attracts runners from all over the world. Last year, runners from Israel, Australia and Sweden showed up for the event.

The Running With the Bears marathon is the second-to-final Boston Marathon qualifier in California this year. The date attracts runners who want more time in the season to improve their times. According to race director Josie Litchfield, Running With the Bears is the smallest Boston qualifier out there.

To make everything even better for the runners, different themed aid stations will be set up along the course offering water and snacks. Musicians will be stationed at several points along the course to give runners that extra bit of encouragement. At the end of the race, runners will be treated to an ice-cold beer and a massage.

Runners will also be treated to some pretty impressive gift bags. Litchfield told Feather Publishing that Mountain Circle attracted twice the number of sponsors as last year with 60 sponsors.

After all the runners finish, the real fun begins. A post-race country-style party will kick off at 5 p.m., with something to do for all ages. The party will include plenty of food, beer from The Brewing Lair, a dance contest and a bounce house. The fun will continue until midnight.

Tickets for the post-race party are available online at runningwiththebears.org, and at Lupines Natural Foods, Greenville’s Plumas Bank branch and the Mountain Circle Family Services office. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $15 for 12 – 18; admission is free for those under 12.

Mountain Circle is already planning next year’s marathon, with a special discount coming available for early birds. The price of registration for the 2015 marathon will be greatly reduced during the weekend of this year’s race. The marathon normally costs $130 to register, but will be reduced to $99 for a limited time.

In addition, next year’s race will increase the number of spots open from 300 to 400. For more information on the marathon, visit runningwiththebears.org or email Litchfield at jlitchfield@mountaincircle.org.


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