Covid-19 restrictions have been rapidly easing across Los Angeles County, but apparently not fast enough to save this year’s Fourth of July Will Rogers 5/10K Race.
At the least, said Race Director and Co-Founder Bian Shea, it takes several months to organize a 5/10K race. The process involves securing permits for street closures, obtaining “no parking” signage, hiring a timing company, finding volunteers, ordering T-shirts — and registering close to 3,000 runners of all ages.
Last year’s Will Rogers Race, which winds through the Huntington Palisades and up through Will Rogers State Park, was cancelled because of Covid-19 shutdowns.
This year, with more than 70 percent of Pacific Palisades residents vaccinated, there was hope this traditional event could take place.
Shea told Circling the News that he reached out to Councilman Mike Bonin’s office in January, filed a race permit in March and then repeatedly sent emails to Bonin’s office to ask about the permit’s fate.
Shea wrote to Bonin’s office on April 30, “We are fast running out of time to plan/put on/officially sponsor the 44th Palisades Will Rogers 5 & 10K Run.” He reminded them that it’s up to Bonin’s office to issue the permit and asked them to respond.
On May 3, Shea received an email from Len Nguyen, “I let Street Services Investigator Aguilar know that Councilmember Mike Bonin is supportive of the 7/4/2021 Palisades Will Rogers 5K & 10K Race.”
Shea kept reaching out to Nguyen, asking about the permit, and on May 10 he wrote to Juan Augilar in Street Services: “What’s the status of our application for the Permit for the Race?”
Aguilar replied, “Good morning, Mayor’s ordinance still in effect. No changes yet.” Shea sent that email to Nguyen asking him to clarify, in light of the improving Covid-10 statistics.
Nguyen did not respond. Today (May 11), Shea sent an email that he shared with CTN: “Len: I guess since not getting back to me is an answer” that you/your office “will be unable to issue a Permit without the Mayor’s okay.”
Shea continued, “As the Race Director I cannot wait until you issue a Permit that is acceptable to myself. Therefore, I cancel the Race for 2021 and withdraw our Race Application for 2021.”
CTN wrote Shea and asked if there was still a possibility of staging the race. He noted that the City could come back with permission, but likely with massive restrictions. “There’s no time to put on a successful race,” he concluded.