Will There Be a Fourth of July 5/10K Race?

Annually, nearly 3,000 runners/walkers participate in the Will Roger 5/10K race. The event was cancelled in 2020.
Photo: Shelby Pascoe

Brian Shea, the Will Rogers 5/10K Race Director and Founder, filed for a race permit in March, after Durrah Wagner, the former field representative for Councilman Mike Bonin, told him in a January email: “I have checked in with my colleague who oversees the permits, and he has informed me that you can repeat the process as you did in 2019 and go ahead and put your application in for 2021. Once you do this let me know so we can follow up on our end.”

Wagner is gone and Shea has reached out to her temporary replacement, Len Nguyen, and also to Bonin, with numerous emails. He wrote on April 30, “We are fast running out of time to plan/put on/officially sponsor the 44th Palisades Will Rogers 5 & 10K Run.” Shea reminded them that it’s up to Bonin’s office to issue the permit and asked them to respond.

Today Shea received an email from 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.”

How safe is it to hold a 5/10K?

There is no science or evidence that supports the fear that Covid-19 is spread by outside sporting events, such as marathons, Iron Man events or 5/10K races.

Mike Bone of Spectrum Sports, who helps with the timing at the Palisades Fourth of July race, was featured on John & Ken’s radio show on April 30.

“You can go to any grocery story or indoor mall, but we’re not allowed to work,” Bone said on the show, adding that after running in a 10K in Colorado he asked, “What’s so magical about the virus that it seems to stop at the border? That makes no sense to me.” He said that these events are being held in 43 states and “athletes were traveling to Colorado, Utah and Nevada to participate in sports events.”

The talk show hosts asked, “Everyone has been traveling across the country to participate in these events and as far as you know there have been no outbreaks from these events?”

“That is correct,” Bone said, noting that there have been international studies that show this. “We’re outdoors, we’re socially distanced by nature because people tend not to run together unless they’re with a close friend.”

Bone explained that at the start line, people wear a mask or have staggered start times but once the gun goes off, runners soon spread out over six or 26 miles.

He joined with several other small businesses that help organize these outdoor athletic events to form the California Coalition of Endurance Sports, in order to have a stronger voice in Sacramento. These events benefit charities and over the past year, the pandemic shutdown has cost these nonprofits about $70 million in donated proceeds.

Mike Bone said the state has given no explanation for the shutdown of outdoor events, but “It’s hooked to the tier system.”

In a letter to Shea, Bone wrote: “While our industry is concerned, the state has dragged their feet and keep telling us that any day, they will have guidelines for Endurance events in the ‘small to medium’ category.  However, [Governor Gavin] Newsom has announced that the state will reopen on June 15th and Dr. Aragon at state health has referred to our industry as ‘such low risk we are not concerned.’

“Huntington Beach is operating a ‘skinnyed down’ Surf City Run on the 4th and the McCourt Foundation is hosting a 5K as part of the postponed Rose Bowl Half Marathon on July 3rd and 4th at the Rose Bowl,” Bone continued. “So, events are happening and moving forward. I would say go for it, with reduced capacity and possibly a modified start procedure. But I would check with your Council office as LA County has not lifted restrictions yet and I do not expect them to do so until the state opens.”

CTN contacted Bonin spokesperson David Graham-Caso regarding permits for the traditional Will Rogers races. As soon as we hear back, we’ll update this report.

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