The tradition continues.
On Saturday, May 19, around 250 runners will step to the line for one mile (8 a.m.) and five kilometer (shortly after) runs through the streets of Oakdale during the 20th annual Oakdale Chocolate Festival.
The runs, which are presented by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce with logistics and operational assistance from the ShadowChase Running Club of Modesto, draws plenty of experienced and novice runners alike and concludes with an awards ceremony after competition.
“It’s a fun part of what the festival is about,” former Oakdale Vice President of Economic Development Jerry Jones said. “It is a great little run and it has really evolved into what it is now.”
The race began in 1994 under the direction of Jones in year No. 2 of the Chocolate Festival. At the time it was dubbed the ‘Truffle Trot’ and that was a moniker that stuck for four years until the aptly named ‘Fun Run’ took headlines in 1997.
The 5K run started out near the former Hershey Chocolate Factory on South Yosemite Avenue, then was brought into town for a looping course that would weave to the factory and back.
Now, the 5K and one-mile (introduced in 2004) courses begin behind the Oakdale Library at William Meyer Park (corner of Second Avenue and G Street) and speed through town before a thrilling finish at the festival.
“The one mile run basically just goes a half mile into the 5K course and then comes back the last half of a mile,” Jones said. “It was created to get some younger runners and walkers involved.”
Jones said that the race sees good attendance from local running enthusiasts and is always generously supported by the donations of area merchants for prize drawings. He said around half of the runners will pre-register and half will sign up on race day.
ShadowChase has handled the timing and results postings of the event since its inception. The club posted Lucas Valesquez (20 years old at the time) as the winner of last year’s 5K after an impressive 16 minute, 15.8 second time. Female age division winners of the 5K included Kyannah Hernandez (12-and under, 24:45.6), Gina Vargas (13-18, 27:30.8), Lauren Bader (19-29, 19:01), Laura Viss (30-39, 23:28), Vickie Chu-Hermes (40-49, 24:32.5), Christine Fitzpatrick (50-59, 26:40.5), Nancy Gresham (60-69, 32:10.8) and Roz Letras (70-79 50:51.2). Male division winners included Michael Leonard (12-and-under, 21:46.3), Joshua Spooner (13-18, 17:56.8), Bryon Walker (30-39, 19:27.6), Michael Singleton (40-49, 17:40.3), Derek Castle (50-59, 20:00.3), Juan Garcia (60-69, 26:28.7) and Dick Shoreman (70-79, 23:45.5). Adam Covarrubias was the male 1 mile winner after a 5:20.5 time while Hernandez (running both races) was the top female at 6:34.1.
For participants over 12 years old, the race has a $25 entry fee for either run, $20 for kids 12 and under, and for $5 more, run them both. Entrants will receive a T-shirt, entrance into the Chocolate Festival and refreshments. Awards will be given to the top male and female runners in both races and the top three runners in each of the nine age groups.
Late registration is available at the start of the race at 7 a.m. on May 19.