Participants in a past Toiyabe Road Run follow McGee Creek into the foothills west of Bishop. Both the 5K and 10K courses trace the desert waterway, though at some point the 5K runners turn back towards Millpond Park and the 10K runners turn west and head for the Tungsten Hills. Photo courtesy Toiyabe Indian Health Project, Inc.
An estimated 150 runners, walkers and joggers will head out from Millpond Recreation Area this Saturday at 9 a.m. in a celebration of community.
The Toiyabe Road Run is more than a showplace for record-setting trail runners. There‚Äôs a 10K and 5K run, plus a 1K walk that makes a loop around the Millpond. Add refreshments, activities and games for kids provided by Inyo County First 5 and it becomes a family festival. The run is organized by the Toiyabe Indian Health Project, so it‚Äôs logical that participants will be treated to a massage after the run and be able to take advantage of health screenings on site.
‚ÄúThe run is good for the Indian community,‚ÄĚ said Rick Frey, run director and director of preventive medicine at Toiyabe. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a welcome chance for the two communities to get together. And, it‚Äôs a fun day.‚ÄĚ The first Toiyabe Road Run was held in early November, 1981, making the event the oldest organized run in the Owens Valley. ‚ÄúThere were a couple of years where the run was discontinued,‚ÄĚ said Frey. ‚ÄúWhen I came on board full-time in 2005, I encouraged the organization to get the event going again.‚ÄĚ In 2007, the Toiyabe run was resurrected and the numbers of runners/walkers have been increasing ever since.
Originally, the money raised from the event was used to fund scholarships in the medical field for Native Americans. This year, the funds will go to the Jill Kinmont Indian Education Fund to help tribal people further their education, at both academic institutions and trades schools. ‚ÄúThe fund has quite a few success stories,‚ÄĚ said Frey. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs provided education for a doctor, a lawyer, commercial pilot. One of the graduates works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.‚ÄĚ
With an emphasis on ‚Äúexercise as strong medicine,‚ÄĚ the Run has its own success stories. Frey told of a young man trying to lose weight. ‚ÄúI showed him the course and walked with him a couple of times weeks before the event. He was working the night shift at the Paiute Casino and would practice the course after work. He set a personal best last year.‚ÄĚ
The 5K route is an out-and-back course along McGee Creek; the 10K mirrors the shorter course, then turns west to parallel the Tungsten Hills. Runners in the 5K race are asked to predict their finishing time with a prize to the participant who comes closest to that prediction.
New this year is the Team Challenge. Frey has already thrown down the gauntlet to the Inyo County Office of Education. ‚ÄúWe got a call expressing interest in the Challenge from the Mono County Office,‚ÄĚ he said, ‚Äúso I sent a letter to Inyo letting them know that Mono thinks they‚Äôre going to come down here and kick your butt.‚ÄĚ
The Challenge is open to teams of five participants, with discounted fees, in categories of youth, all members 12 and under; mixed, at least two runners under 12; and regular, with all runners 13 and over. The total of all five participants‚Äô times determines the winner in each category.
Prizes will be awarded to the fastest overall runners in the 5K and 10K and to runners with the fastest times in seven age categories, from 13 to 79, male and female in both the 10K and 5K. The record in the 70-79 male 10K category was set in 2007 by Judge John Davis of Tonopah at 69:33.
Prizes include framed photographs of the Eastern Sierra by Alex Pollini and coffee mugs hand-made by Theresa Otto. One K participants all get a medal as they cross the finish line.
Registration is open the day of the race, from 7:30-8:45 a.m. There is no guarantee of a T-shirt with late registration, but the organizers have plenty on hand. The fee for the 10K on race day is $35 or $30 without a T-shirt; the 5K costs $30 or $25 without a T-shirt. Children under 12 pay $10, or nothing with no T-shirt, and the 1K is free to all.
For more information, contact the Toiyabe Preventive Medicine Department at (760) 873-8851.