Earlier this year, Will Rogers 5/10K Race organizers wanted to encourage high school cross-country teams to compete in the annual Fourth of July race.
They also wanted to honor the late Dick Lemen, a longtime Palisadian and a track coach at Palisades High for many years. He was also a member of the Ridge Runners, a band of about 20 local runners who originated the Fourth of July Will Rogers Run in 1978.
The result was holding a high school competition and then awarding the Lemen High School Run trophy to the winners.
High school teams, public or private, were invited to enter, and the three fastest times from the runners (male or female) for the 5K were added together to determine the winner. Nine schools participated, including Palisades, Loyola, Santa Monica, Venice, Brentwood, Crossroads, University, St. Monica and Wildwood.
On July 4, the Palisades High runners edged out Loyola by 50.2 seconds, and on Monday this week, the current Pali cross-country team was awarded the perpetual trophy for their win.
The top three runners for the Dolphins were Brett Bailey 17:35 (fifth overall), Alec Schmitt 18:27 (ninth overall) and David Tobin 18:54 (fifteenth overall).
The top three Cubs were Nathan Mars 18:28 (tenth overall), Tyler Ratkovitch 18:39 and Mark Valencuela 18:39 (tied for eleventh).
In a 1990 feature article in the Palisadian-Post written by Matt Purdue (“They’re Running the Show”), Dick Lemen explained why his group organized the 5/10K races. “It’s a good opportunity for us to put something back into running. Also, it’s good for the community and we enjoy doing it.”
Lemen died in 2017 and is survived by his wife, Karen, and two adult children, Carly and Jeff.
Next year, race organizers are hoping for even greater participation by high school students. Visit: Palisades4th.com.