News provided by SPHS Booster Club
Inaugural Tiger Run December 5, 1981 – started by the SPHS Booster Club President, Marty Parkinson, and members of the Booster Board who believed that South Pasadena needed a 5K and 10K walk/run. In those early years Marty, his family and a small group of volunteers worked with the City of South Pasadena and the Police Department to produce a family friendly, community focused event that would benefit SPHS sports. Marty passed away this year and is credited for starting the Tiger Run and the All City Track Meet, helping to implement Tiger Bingo and expanding the Booster Club from just football to all sports.
The original Tiger Run raced through South Pasadena until 1989 at which time it went dormant until 1998.
In 1998, Therese Molina, a long time South Pasadena resident and a member of Marty Parkinson’s running group of friends, revived the Tiger Run with 40 volunteers and close to 250 runners on December 12, 1998. The course was based on the original Tiger Run route and included the 5K, 10K and Cub Run along with the addition of a small community expo.
The Tiger Run had its fair share of unintended excitement – in 2000, the 10K winner, Steve Morales, along with 2 other lead runners made a wrong turn onto El Centro. Race officials credited Morales, who ran for Cal State LA, with the win given just how far ahead he was from his nearest competition.
The Gold Line’s arrival in 2003 ran across the route and, considering the growing number of runners, the Tiger Run team could not count on the tracks being clear as the pack approached. This resulted in changing the course route to enable runners to run without concerns about stopping for the Metro.
Over those years the run continued to grow in popularity and enjoy the support of the South Pasadena community. The Booster Club’s emphasis shifted again as it now supported all the teams, clubs and activities at SPHS. As the need for volunteers continued to grow, SPHS parent and Booster Board member, Jose Zavala, took on more responsibility and ultimately became a partner of the Tiger Run with his Aztlan Athletics Events which organizes and produces unique fund-raising events for non-profits.
2020 and the pandemic presented a new challenge. Booster Club Tiger Run co-chairs since 2018, Bill Buckley and Katie Clark both runners themselves, knew that there was still interest from the community in having the Tiger Run. With South Pasadena schools now 100% remote, Tiger Bingo on pause and the ever-evolving CDC guidelines, they decided that there could not be a SPHS sanctioned Tiger Run as it had been.
Undeterred and not wanting to break the 23 year streak, the 23rd Annual/1st Virtual Tiger Run was launched. Runners could choose their date, course and mileage and complete their personal Tiger Run. Still a fund raiser for SPHS teams, clubs and activities, runners were encouraged to register which now included a printable Tiger Run Race Bib as well as commemorative, student designed t-shirt which had the SPHS Tiger engaged with other Tigers via a Zoom like setting.
Registrations came in from not only South Pasadena and neighboring cities, but there were also runners from across the United States and as far away as Scotland. On what would have been the Tiger Run date, December 5, scores of South Pasadena runners took to the streets running the Tiger Run route on their own throughout the day. The Tiger Run streak survived with 271 registered runners!
With the 25th Tiger Run quickly approaching on December 3, registration is ahead of pace, the long-term weather forecast looks good and Bill Buckley, Katie Clark and Jose Zavala are cautiously optimistic that this may be a record breaking year. The run will be Live and Virtual and, for the first time ever, all 5K and 10K registrants will receive a commemorative 25th Tiger Run medal to celebrate the occasion!
Katie Clark will be running along with Therese Molina, former Race Director, and Bill Buckley will be announcing finishers while 80+ volunteers – mostly students from SkillsUsa and ASB – will be manning the course under the guidance of Jose Zavala and his team. Running or not, the community is invited to a $5 pancake breakfast hosted by the SkillsUSA students.
Following Marty Parkinson’s lead, Buckley and Clark have continued to focus on ensuring that the Tiger Run is community focused while raising much needed funds for the teams, activities, and clubs at SPHS. They’re also grateful to the City of South Pasadena’s for their partnership and support as well as the many businesses in South Pasadena who have been sponsors over the years.
The Tiger Run has become a multigenerational tradition and the Boosters are excited to see how the Tiger Run can continue to evolve. For more information and to register for the Tiger Run on December 3: www.SPTigerRun.com