J.K. Lundberg, 35, of Fresno, and Maria Rodriguez-Lafleu, 35, of Cutler, won the men’s and women’s division of the Smokey Bear 10K at Bass Lake Sept. 26.
More than 350 men, women, and children participated in the 28th Annual Smokey Bear Run/Walk at Bass Lake Sept. 26.
Lundberg won the men’s title by completing the 10K course in 36:25.7, about one minute ahead of second-place finisher Jose Villegas, 36, of Madera. Rodriguez-Lafleu finished the course in 42:16.1, with her close friend Carmen Pedraza, 42, of Madera finishing second at 43:55.3.
Rodriguez-Lafleu, the single mother of four, including a 21-year-old son serving in the Army (and three children attending Orosi High School), has been running competitively for 14 years and has always wanted to compete in the Bass Lake event.
“This is my first time running the Smokey Bear event,” Rodriguez-Lafleu said. “I was super excited to be able to participate ... I enjoyed everything about the race ... It was such a gorgeous, and challenging race course.”
She said running is definitely one of her greatest passions.
“Running is such great therapy ... I love the way it makes me feel so free ... so happy,” Rodriguez-Lafleu said.
She works in food service at Orosi High, and was “thankful to God to cross the finish line in first place.”.
Nearly 140 men and women participated in the 10K, one of 15 races in the Central Valley that runners can acquire points for the Runner of the Year award.
Mountain Area top finishers in the men’s 10K were Dave Miller (Ahwahnee - 10th), and Rob Moore (Coarsegold - 20th), with Linne Bayt of Coarsegold placing 40th in the women’s race.
In the men’s two-mile race, the top three finishers were Fresno’s Nestor Ayala, Jr., 20, (11:19.1), Artemio Villegas, 56, of Madera (12:17.5), and Korbyn, 15, of Sanger (13:41.6). Out of the top nine finishers in the race, five were under 16 years old. Justin Beaumont, 11, of Coarsegold, finished the race in sixth place with a time of 14:46.6.
In the women’s two-mile race, Oakhurst attorney Nanette Beaumont, 41, was edged by Tiffany Begaye, 27, of Tollhouse for the win. Begaye finished with a time of 14:36.7, about one minute ahead of Beaumont, who won her age division, which she has done multiple times. This year, Beaumont was attempting to win the overall women’s two-mile title for the third straight year.
Third place in the race went to Christine Lawrence, 49, of Oakhurst (15:37.9), who also won her age division.
“This is a great event which our family looks forward to every year and we wouldn’t miss it,” Beaumont, the mother of four said. “My husband missed the race for the kids soccer games, but just before the race started, he said, “you better defend your title.”
Lawrence, like Beaumont, is an experienced runner having done the Boston Marathon with her running partner, Eva Busto, in 2011.
“The Smokey Bear Run is a great race that involves all ages and abilities as well as donates money to many community organizations,” Lawrence said. “Being involved as a volunteer has been very rewarding. This year both my children Quentin, 17, a senior at YHS, and Natalie, a YHS freshman, also volunteered at the race with the YHS cross country team.
As a competitor, I have won 1st in my division in the 2 mile run multiple years in a row which is exciting.”