Those looking for a sense of community don’t have to go beyond the annual Tiger Run to find it.
For many of the 700-plus runners who braved the early morning chill to take part in the 5K and 10K event last Saturday, it was an opportunity to run through the streets of South Pasadena with friends and neighbors, punctuated by total enjoyment.
Once warmed up following the 8 a.m. send off from South Pasadena High, participants soon encountered legions of supporters, many waving while others provided makeshift rest stops, passing out cups of water. Others sprayed water from hoses, helping participants stay cool.
“The Tiger Run is officially of age!” said South Pasadena High Principal Janet Anderson, pleased by the large dedicated turnout, knowing the proceeds help support the school she represents. “In its 21st year, it has become a South Pasadena tradition, and it is really exciting to see multi-generational families enjoying the event together. At the registration today, I saw the Turner family; the grandparents walked while their daughter ran with her two young sons. That is a great example of how the Tiger Run brings the community together.”
Proceeds benefited the South Pasadena High School Tiger Booster Club, with entry fees supporting SPHS clubs, activities and campus sports. The event also featured a fitness expo on the campus tennis courts.
“The Tiger Run is not only a fun community activity, but it also enables the South Pasadena Booster Club to raise essential funds for SPHS campus sports, like girls’ soccer and boys’ tennis, and many programs, including band, math club, photography, drama and Academic Decathlon,” explained Board of Education member Suzie Abajian.
The first half of the 10K covers the same ground as the 5K, with the second half run on a challenging, hilly course through the higher elevations in the city.
Many of those involved say the Tiger run is special because it is a total community event, involving support from a variety of organizations. The local police department also lends it’s support by providing traffic control along the two routes. Members of the South Pasadena ASB and SkillsUSA help with many of the logistics, including setting up the start, managing the finish and cleaning up when it’s all over. A number of non-profits, from the local Kiwanis Club to the Girl Scouts, provide food and beverages to fuel the runners.
South Pasadena High track coach C.B. Richards, didn’t stray from the theme most heard. “The Tiger Run is a true community 5K and 10K race event,” he said. “Many of our South Pas families, SPUSD students and SPHS Tiger athletes, sports teams, ASB members and pep squad participate or coordinate many areas of the Tiger Run each year. Our SPHS Booster Club and race management team do an outstanding and tireless job bringing the local South Pasadena community and local vendors out for this great fitness event. It’s a true win-win for the school and the South Pasadena community.”
Race categories for Saturday’s event included: Wheelchair (5K Race) 40-44, Elementary (K-5), 45-49, Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-79 and 80-plus. A 300-meter Tiger Cub Run on school track for kids was held after the 5k and 10k runs.
South Pasadena City Council member Bob Joe has been competing in the run for years, now competing in the 70 and over age division. “It keeps you young,” he said, insisting, like others, the Tiger Run is a “real community event” that takes participants though “beautiful neighborhoods.”
Fellow City Council member, Michael Cacciotti, says the event is the essence of what South Pasadena is all about, “(it’s) building a sense of community,” he stressed. “I have been participating in the Tiger Run for many years, whether as a runner, walking or, even one year, on a bike. Families, slow runners/walkers like Mayor Richard Schneider and Council member Bob Joe or some of our faster high school boys and girls, people walking/running with their pets – no matter how fast or slow – are welcome and encouraged to participate.”
Sam Hernandez, chairperson of the board for the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, agrees the Tiger Run brings the city together. “We have a supportive community that supports the SPHS Booster Club and our kids, and we have all ages running through our neighborhoods for a very fun event,” he said, noting that his wife Corlyn Saldana, was among those taking part in the 10K.
The Tiger Run is managed by Aztlan Athletics, which developed and operated unique grassroots, community-based fundraising events, since 1974. Azlan Athletics endorses various agencies whose goals are to improve the health and wellness of all communities.
“The Tiger Run is a wonderful tradition that gets our community together, outdoors, enjoying walking and running on open streets through our lovely city,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Marina Khubesrian. “All this plus 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the extracurricular activities, clubs, and teams supported by the South Pasadena High School Booster Club – a win all around!”
Added South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz: “The Tiger Run has been an annual event that has brought our community together in support of the SPHS Booster Club, who provides critical financial support for high school programs. We appreciate the many enthusiastic volunteers and participants who make this tradition memorable.”
From his council seat, Cacciotti endorsed the compliment, saying the Tiger Run is “one of those special annual activities that makes South Pasadena one of the most desirable places to live in the western United States.”