The 2024 Will Rogers 5/10K  Run Saw Fast Times . . . and Fun

Almost 3,000 runners were on the course.                                                                                                   Photo: RICH SCHMITT

Many runners had best times when they crossed the  finish lines at the 2024 July 4th 5/10K Will Rogers Race. While the rest of the southland was under an extreme heat wave, there was cloud cover and even a light mist, at the start of the race by the Palisades Library.


More than 2,864 runners, walkers and people pushing strollers traveled on the course through the Huntington Palisades. As the 5K runners (2,097) made a turn on Sunset, the 10K runners (742) continued past Chautauqua and onto the switch backs on the back side of Will Rogers State Park, before doubling back into the Village.

Prior to the race, long-time resident and the stadium voice of the L.A. Rams Sam Lagana served as emcee with fellow host and former Citizen of the Year Jimmy Dunne.

Mia Ruhman sang the National Anthem.

Palisadian Mia Ruhman received applause and cheers for her stirring rendition (and high notes) of the National Anthem. A UCLA student studying musical composition, this classically trained singer, also sings every Sunday at the United Methodist Church.

Then race starter, President and CEO of Saint John’s Health Center Foundation Sheryl Bourgeois, welcomed the runners to the starting line, before sounding the horn to start the race.

The pace car was a sleek, white Lexus LC500 convertible special edition, provided by Santa Monica Lexus, one of the race sponsors. Driving the car was American Legion Post 283 Commander Joe Ramirez.

In 2015, it was discovered that the 5K was 427 yards short and the course was corrected and now meets USATF standards. Prior to that time Peter Gilmore had the fastest time with 14:10, but after the added yardage, Jake Ratkovich with a time of 15:41 set the new course record in 2022.


Brentwood’s Augustus (Gus) Marshall, 22, who crossed the finish line in 15:40 trimmed a second off and now has the course record. Second place went to Blake Sigworth, with a time of 15:54 and third was Aaron Pavon, 16:02.

Augustus (Gus) Marshall was the winner of the 5K.

The last time Marshall, a runner for UC Santa Barbara, ran the course was “when I was little.” He attended Loyola High School and after crossing the finish line in 2024 said, “It’s a lot harder than how you remember it.” He said he probably went out too fast, because the first mile is downhill and “tempting,” and added “The competition was really great.”

A student athlete on the University of Santa Barbara Track and Cross-Country teams, Marshall is a senior majoring in economics and accounting and was elected as the secretary and treasurer of UCSB’s Student Athletic Advisory.

Finishing first in the woman’s 5K was Phoebe Benun, 17, (19:15). Second was Caitlin Chrisman, 38, (19:43) and third went to Mallory Weddle, 39 (19:46).

Phoebe Benun won the 5k.

Grace Zamudio has the course record 18:36, which was set 2015 with 18:36, and prior to that in 1995 Annetta Luevano went 16:29.

Benun is interesting because she didn’t start running track or cross country until she was a freshman in high school.

“I played soccer,” she said, and realized one of the reasons she liked soccer was because of the running. Last year she gave up soccer to focus solely on running and already last year as a junior at Santa Monica High School was being recruited by colleges.

“I was second in the women’s division last year, so I came back for redemption,” Benun said. In June, she ran in the Nike Outdoor Nationals in the 3000-, 3200- and 2-mile races.

Her mom Sue, 58, was first in her division (21:35) and seventh overall. She said the family has done the Will Rogers Race before and that Phoebe’s first race was probably when she was pushed in a stroller. When Phoebe was four, she was in the Kid’s Fun Run, and by the time she was 9 or 10 she was running the 5K.

“In her sophomore year, she was sixth in the state in cross country,” Sue said. “I ran the same events in high school, but she’s faster than I ever was. I’m proud of her.”


This year was a two-peat in the 10K, with last year’s winners Henry Didden and Laura Osman successfully defending their titles.

Henry Didden won the 10K.

Didden, 20, who won in 2023 (34:04), shaved about a minute off his time, winning in 32:46. He was followed by Matthew Walker, 24, with a 33:05 and Mitchell Majors, 14, ran a 36:07.

It was unclear whether Didden would be able to run in this race on July 4. Three days earlier, he was skateboarding and broke his jaw. The stitches were still apparent under his chin. His proud grandmother Gail Didden was the first to welcome him over the finish line.

After attending Viewpoint High School, he went to Bucknell University where he runs track and cross country at the Division I school. This past year the junior took first at an invitational in the 1500 (3:59.78) and at the 2024 IC4A/ECAC Outdoor track and field Championships he took 8th in the 5000 (14:32.15). His mile time is 4:16.88.

Parents Craig and Lara were also on hand at the finish line to congratulate him. Lara said, “We used to run together, but he’s too fast now.”

Laura Osman took first in the female 10K race.

Osman, 43, also bettered her 2023 time (38:59) by more than 20 seconds, winning in 38:36. Kate Beach, 30, finished second with 42:10 and Katie Vales, 49, had 42:17).

“I think my training is better and know the course better,” Osman said about her second time on the course.

She was an All-American cross country and track runner at UC Davis and is now a Cal Coast Masters runner. The mother of three, she works as a part-time English professor at Valley College. Osman did not start running until high school, when her physical education teacher, who was also the track coach, recruited her to be on the team.

In 2018, she discovered she had a BRCA1 gene mutation (read the story:click here ‎) and after multiple surgeries she started running again. She joined the Cal Coast Masters and in 2023, her club took third at the national cross-country women masters in Tallahassee, Florida.

The 10K course also had to be recalibrated in 2012 because it was 427 ft. short of an official 10K. Kara Barnard has the woman’s record of 38:34, set in 2012, and Tonny Okello has men’s record 31:21 set in 2014.


The winner of the 2024 Dick Lemen Perpetual Trophy was Loyola.

This race, which started in 2019, pits high school students against each other and coincides with the 5K race. Student runners from local high schools run under their school’s name and compete for the team trophy. The fastest three individual times are added to determine the winner.

The first year of the competition Palisades High edged out Loyola by just 53 total seconds. In 2022, Loyola claimed the trophy. The following year, Oak Park claimed the title.

The late Lemen was a longtime Palisadian and a track coach at Palisades High for many years. He was also a member of the Ridge Runners, the band of about 20 local runners who originated the Will Rogers Run in 1978.

Race outfits varied, but this was probably the most stylish.


The Kids Fun Run is about a half mile race.

About 9:30, nearly 400 kids lined up to do the half mile fun run that starts and finishes at the entrance to the Palisades Park on the corner of Alma Real and Toyopa.

When people say that the National Anthem is a difficult song to sing, they only needed to listen to the 11 anthem singers Aurora Klein, Elliot and Parker MacFarland, Lainey Berman, Hannah Shockley, Caroline Ouellette, Dylan and Liv Ellison, Calyssa and Amalia Abanto-Mortimer, Syrus Mortimer, Lily Malin and Quinn Wellman to realize how easy these kids made it seem.


There was a chorus of anthem singers for the Kid’s Run.

Race Sponsors this year included: Title Sponsor – Saint John’s Health Center and Valued Sponsors were Cynthia and William Simon Jr. Foundation, Kennedy Wilson, Laura Braus Estates, Lexus Santa Monica, the Jordan Kaplan Family, Ariola Group, American Legion and Farmers Insurance. The Kids Fun Run was sponsored by Laura Brau.

Look at me, I’m winning!

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2 Responses to The 2024 Will Rogers 5/10K  Run Saw Fast Times . . . and Fun

  1. Gail Didden says:

    Just an update on Henry Didden’s time for the 10K. It was 32.46 and Matthew was 33.05. I checked with Steve at the post and that is the correct time for this year. Henry improved this year by almost a minute. Gail Didden (the grandma) having run that race a few times in the past. We certainly enjoy reading your circulating the news, great reporting on important subjects!

  2. Sue says:

    Gail–all my fault, I updated the result–thanks for letting me know.


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