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8K Run Revolutionizes Bastille Day

July 08, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition.

When Newport Beach's Bastille Day 8K was launched nine years ago, eight kilometers (just under five miles) was still an unusual distance for a running event.

Since then, the distance has made big strides, finding popularity among runners who find it the perfect compromise between the 5K and 10K races that used to dominate.

"A lot more (8K races) have popped up in Orange County" since the first Bastille Day run, said Danielle DePalma of the sponsoring United Cerebral Palsy Assn. of Orange County. She says she is glad the event came in ahead of the 8K crowd, because that helped it build a large and loyal constituency before the competition stepped in.

In fact, according to DePalma, the race is considered one of the Top 10 8K events in the country by attendance, drawing a high of 4,200 runners in 1991.

Last year's crowd was held down to about 3,000 by freak July rain showers, but organizers expect upward of 4,000 participants to storm the streets for this Sunday's run.

The course has been altered slightly over the years but continues to start and finish at Le Meridien Hotel (hence the French theme) and wind through business areas of Newport Beach and Irvine.

It is described by DePalma as flat and fast.

That's borne out by the course records: 22 minutes and 46 seconds for the men by Tracy Garrison, and 25:47 for the women by Sylvia Mosqueda. The men's record will be challenged on Sunday by three world-class Kenyans whom organizers signed up for the race: Meshack Mogotsi, Shadrack Mogotsi and Meck Mothuli.

Besides the 8K run, two other events are offered: a 3K walk and fun run for those not quite ready for eight kilometers, and the 1K Young Run for children 6 to 12. The children's event will have a staggered start, with the 6-year-olds going first at 9:30 a.m., followed by a new group every five minutes until the 12-year-olds start at 10 a.m.

Also planned for the day are a fitness expo sponsored by the Sports Club/Irvine and a Sunday brunch featuring foods from some of the area's best-known restaurants, including Prego and the Ritz.

The event has raised as much as $100,000 for the United Cerebral Palsy Assn. of Orange County. Organizers this year expect to raise about $80,000, DePalma said.

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