The annual 8K Run for the March of Dimes, scheduled for Sunday, may have the highest spectator quotient of any running event in the county.
That's mostly because it precedes the annual Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade, which has been winding its way through the streets of the seaside city every Independence Day for the past 89 years. The crowds are waiting mainly for the parade, but that doesn't mean the runners don't enjoy striding in front of an audience.
"People love it, running in front of all the spectators on the parade route," said Carol Dollahite, director of development for the Orange County Chapter of the March of Dimes.
Last year, 300,000 people watched the parade, which organizers say is the oldest Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi.
The run is not quite as old as the parade, but this is its ninth year, so it's becoming a tradition in its own right. The course, which follows the parade route, is mostly flat and fast. The run starts at 8 a.m., with an awards ceremony at 9 a.m.; the parade follows at 10 a.m.
Last year, 1,500 runners took part in the race, placing it among the county's most popular running events. It raised about $18,000 last year for the March of Dimes, which supports research into birth defects.
"It's been a really good event for us," Dollahite said. "We get a lot of support from Huntington Beach."
The March of Dimes also sponsors annual walking events in Huntington Beach and Irvine; the WalkAmerica event in Huntington Beach in April drew almost 4,000 participants and raised $35,000.
"This is the only run that we do," Dollahite said, but the organization is considering organizing more runs as fund-raisers.
Among the participants in this year's Run for the March of Dimes is Steve Scott, one of the country's greatest-ever milers, who will help with the awards ceremony and maybe run in the event, according to Dollahite. Among the event organizers is David Warady of Huntington Beach, who won last year's Trans-America Footrace from Huntington Beach to New York.
Pre-race registration for the event can be accomplished at Sport Chalet, one of the sponsors. Information: (714) 848-0988. Race day registration is also available.