by Mitch Lehman
Fifteen years ago, a handful of curious citizens assembled in front of The Tribune and watched as then-Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee and still-San Marino resident Lee Baca started the city’s inaugural 5K walk and run.
Since that cool, cloudy morn of long ago, things have changed greatly as a record 795 participants registered for the 2014 version, that in 2005 was named for San Marino resident J.P. Blecksmith, who gave his life on November 11, 2004 while taking part in Operation Iraqi Freedom II as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Baca’s still there. He had to catch a plane for Sacramento immediately after he set the field on their way for that first race, but has been a frequent participant ever since – including Friday.
Frequent champion Charlie Marquardt paced the field in 15:33, followed by Michael Mazza (15:55) and Jack Van Scoter (16:15). None of the top three are over the age of nineteen, which certainly paid dividends on a clear, hot morning.
South Pasadena’s Chloe Fata led the women with a time of 18:27. Fata – who ran track for the Tigers – is no stranger to the course, the town, or winning.
Madeline K. and Emily Hubert finished second and third, respectively.
Sally Wenzlau left many in the dust to defend her age-group championship for the tenth consecutive year.
“I thank the San Marino Tribune for again hosting the J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K and for its continued support in perpetuating my brother’s legacy,” said Alex Blecksmith, J.P.’s brother, who chairs the foundation. “I also extend our gratitude to the City of San Marino and its police and fire departments for their generous contributions to the race. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of so many, especially as participation continues to increase.”
Proceeds from the event benefit the J.P. Blecksmith Leadership Foundation, which provides scholarships for qualified students at J.P.’s alma mater, Flintridge Prep.
Blecksmith, a San Marino resident and graduate of Flintridge Prep, attended the United States Naval Academy before accepting a commission to the Marine Corps. He was awarded the Purple Heart, and, posthumously, the Bronze Star for bravery.
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