Will Roger 5/10K Celebrates Nearly 3,100 Runners

At the start of the race, nearly 3,000 people ran down Alma Real.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

There were 3,064 total registrants in the 46th Will Rogers 5/10K race, and about 412 of those were kids who had entered the half-mile Kids Fun Run.

After the race, co-organizer Thomas Hathaway told Circling the News “We’ve averaged 3,015 over the past ten years, which means that the race has returned to pre-Covid attendance levels.”

The weather was ideal at 73 degrees and slightly overcast. The course started by the Palisades Library on Alma Real, and then proceeded through the Huntington Palisades. Those running the 5K circled back to finish by the library, while those running the 6.2 miles continued down Sunset Boulevard. Racers took the switchbacks up the hill to Will Rogers State Historic Park and then circled back to the finish at the library.

West Point graduate, and Korean and Vietnam Veteran Wally Hastings, 93, was recognized and honored for his service prior to the run.

Ross Chitwood, who is the Director of Worship and Community at the Methodist Church, and a graduate of the Juilliard School, sang the National Anthem.

The honorary race starter was Michael Ricks, CEO Providence/St. Johns Hospital. Ricks, 52, is also an accomplished triathlete, avid runner and ultra-marathoner. After starting the race, he ran it finishing 43rd overall in the 10K in a time of 44:03, which was good enough to capture third in his age group.

Steve Guttenberg ran the 10K.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

Former Honorary Mayor Ray Leonard was at the race.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

Sprinters, runners, walkers, stroller pushers and those with dogs started down the course, cheered on by neighbors who had gathered to support athletes and friends. At least two former honorary Pacific Palisades mayors were on the course: Sugar Ray Leonard (2011-2014) and Steve Guttenberg, (2002-2006). Guttenberg, who has a play opening in August on the East Coast, was in town over the 4th and ran the 10K.



Noah Wexler
Photo: Rich Schmitt

Borrowing a title from the film No Country for Old Men, this 5K could best be described as “No Race for Old Men.” The top ten runners in this 5K included three who were 19, three who were 16, two 17-year-olds and two 15-years-olds, and all easily finished in under 17:30.

The winner was a former Palisades High School cross country and track standout, Noah Wexler, 19, who finished in 16 minutes flat. He attends the University of Michigan, where in addition to studies, he worked as a football manager.

He was followed by Max Fields, 17, (16:06) who runs cross country and track for Palisades High School and was second in the 5K in 2022 (16:01).

Fields is a two-time City Champion in cross country and at the state championships last year, he was 15th in the Division I boys’ race.

Aaron Pavon, 15, was third with a time of 16:14. He runs track and cross country for Loyola High School.

The 5K course record was set by 17-year-old Jake Ratkovich in 2022 (15:43).



Kaitlyn Tanner
Photo: Rich Schmitt

Kaitlin Tanner, 26 from San Clemente, was first with a time of 18:45. Second was 18-year-old Ava Baak of Pacific Palisades (18:51). Baak, who graduated from Palisades High School in June won the 1600 at the CIF City Section, qualifing for state.  She will attend the University of Michigan in the fall and has plans to run club.

Third was Darby Green, 21, (20:12). A Georgetown University student, Green was a standout swimmer at PaliHi. She won the 5K last year in 19:46.




10K Male

Henry Didden
Photo: Rich Schmitt

The top runner was Woodland Hills resident Henry Didden, 19, who ran a 5:29 mile pace finishing in 34:04.  He attended Viewpoint High School, where he ran cross country and track. He finished his freshman year at Bucknell University where he also ran track.

Taking second was Jim Lubinski, 44, (34:59) of Calabasas.  Last year Lubinski finished third in 35.39. Rounding out the top three was Pacific Palisades’ Leo Craig, 17, who ran 36.35. Craig attends Harvard-Westlake High School, where he runs cross country and track, specializing in the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs.

The course record was set by Tonny Okello (31.21) in 2014.


Female 10 K

Laura Osman
Photo: Rich Schmitt

First was Encino’s Laura Osman, 42, in a time of 38:59. Santa Monica’s Elizabeth Fellows, 32, was second with a time of 40:49. Jessica Rees, 38, from Culver City was third (43:48).

Kaitlyn Peale set the course record in 2018 with a time of 36.19.







The winner of the Dick Lemen Perpetual Trophy was Oak Park High School, which is located in the Westlake area. Palisades High School was second.

The top three Oak Park runners were Mark Hodges (18:31), Enzo Crivello (19:12) and Luke Hodges (19:18). The top three Palisades runners were Axel Mammen (17:61), Louisa Mammen (21:19) and Bailey Gair (24.32)

This race 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. Last year Loyola claimed the trophy.

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.

Kids Fun Run:

Nearly 400 kids ran in the Fun Run.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

This year’s race sponsors included: Saint John’s Health Center, the Cynthia L. & William E. Simon Jr. Foundation, Farmers Insurance, Kennedy Wilson, Laura Brau Estates, The Ariola Group, Will Rogers Ranch Foundation, Ronald Reagan American Legion Post 283 and the Jordan Kaplan Family.

Race organizers Hathaway and James Klein gave a huge shout out to the community for its participation.  Money after expenses goes to Palisades Optimist Club, which not only supports education and treatment centers for juvenile offenders and at-risk children, but also gives grants to local nonprofits.

Wally Hastings was honored for his service to the country at the beginning of the 4th of July Will Rogers 5/10K Race.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

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3 Responses to Will Roger 5/10K Celebrates Nearly 3,100 Runners

  1. Jane S Permaul says:

    Congratulations for another successful 5K and 10K run on 4th of July. And, the proceeds will benefit many young people via the Optimists-Palisades. Naidu would have been very proud.

  2. Judi Friedman says:

    My son in law and his friend both registered for the race but when the pick up their bibs no one told them to get their t-shirt. Do you know who I can connect for them. They don’t live here but they would like the shirts. Thanks for your help

  3. Sue says:


    Try going to the race site and emailing. The t-shirts were given out after the race.


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