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Race Returns on Heels of Swallows


Organizers of San Juan Capistrano's annual Follow the Swallow 5K and 10K run take its name more literally than before.

The event, now in its 16th year, used to take place before the date of the swallows' reputed return to the mission that gave the city its name. In recent years, the run has come after that date, March 19 (St. Joseph's Day), at the tail end of festivities celebrating the birds' fabled arrival.

If the birds don't flock to the city in quite the numbers they once did, the runners have taken up some of the slack. More than 1,000 are expected for this year's Follow the Swallow, to be held Saturday.

The courses are "very scenic," said Maricella Moreno, who is handling registration for the event. The event begins at Cook Park, which is along San Juan Creek. The 10K course goes through some semirural country and past some of the city's historical sites, including the mission, with two "challenging" hills, Moreno said.

Cook Park and adjacent bike pathways will make up the 5K course, which is flat.

Awards will be given to the top three runners in each age category, male and female. There will also be a wheelchair category in the 10K.

Looking ahead: The seventh annual spring Rosarito-to-Ensenada 50-mile bike fun ride is billed as the most popular bicycle event on the West Coast, with more than 9,000 riders expected to take part April 17.

When you add in the folks who accompany the riders over the border for the post-ride festivities, the partying crowd numbers some 30,000, according to Dave Dickson, owner of San Diego-based Bicycling West Inc., which is the organizer of the event. Dickson said about 30% of the riders typically come from Orange County.

For the first 22 miles south from Rosarito, the 50-mile course follows within 100 yards of the coast. There are no traffic lights or cross traffic on the route.

Registration for the event is $22 and can be accomplished on the day of the ride. Registration applications, which include information on accommodation packages, are available in many bike shops, or by calling (619) 583-3001.

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