Steven Waite (35:47.9) and Katie Burns (45:36.3) are back-to-back winners of the 10k race at the Sept. 23 Smokey Bear Run / Walk at Bass Lake. Burns finished 19th overall from a field of 106 men and women in the 10k.
“Our times are a bit slower this year, but we have good excuses,” Burns said with a chuckle.
The pair indeed had good excuses - Waite was running for the first time in eight weeks due to a broken toe, and Burns just came off a six-day backpacking trip.
The first place finishers are both university professors with master’s degrees - Waite, 27 of Fresno, is a professor of kinesiology at Fresno Pacific University, and Burns, 32 of Bass Lake, is a professor with a master’s degree in education, and teaches at the High Sierra Campus of Azusa Pacific University.
For Waite, who only took up running seriously about four years ago, it was his second time to run in the event, placing first each time.
“This is a challenging course with a lot of great volunteers,” Waite said after the race.
A member of the “Bandoleros Running Club,” Waite graduated from Clovis East High School in 2008 and was the goalkeeper on the Fresno Pacific soccer team prior to graduation.
Waite will run in the New York Marathon on Nov. 5, and Burns is preparing for a 100k on Oct. 7 in San Diego.
Finishing about four seconds behind Waite was Enrique Flores of Fresno (35:52.3), and Yosemite High School graduate Alek Simpson in third (36:25.7). Jacob Geyer of Coarsegold placed fifth (39:30.9), and another recent YHS graduate, Russell Warmerdam placed 10th (43:09.5).
Finishing second in the women’s 10k was Cristina Garvin (46:16.4), and Julia Johnson of Reedley came in third (47:33.2). Coarsegold’s Sarah Ferguson place fourth (48:25.1).
The men’s 2-mile race was won by Fresno’s Ricky Flores (10:55) with Justin Beaumont of Coarsegold coming in second, and Raymond Varvel of Lodi placing third (12:38.6). Brian Gearhart of Oakhurst placed 10th (14:07.2)
In the women’s 2 mile, the top three finishers were Hannah Beaumont (16:15.3), her mother, Nanette Beaumont (16:53.2), of Coarsegold, and Ramona Young of Mariposa (17:21.6).
Braydon Burgess of Lake Elsinore won the kids 1/2 mile run, with Logan Beaumont of Coarsegold and Sean Glitch of North Fork, placing second and third.
The kids 1/4 mile race was won by Kaleb Rosas, followed by Peter Shaw and Kate Ensminger, both of Oakhurst.
It was Carter Richter-Vint of North Fork who won the kids 1/8 mile race, with Naomi Brown of Fresno, and N. Scholl of Fresno taking third.
Nearly 300 men, women and children participated this year with the major sponsors being Sierra Tel and Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.
This year marked the 30th year the event has been held and Ken Takeuchi, of Fresno, has served as race director for all 30 events.
Takeuchi serves as director of many other running events in the Fresno area. “This is my life ... it’s what I like to do,” he said.
Sierra Tel’s Eva Busto has served as the race coordinator for 15 years.
“I feel fortunate to have been involved in that capacity for 15 years,” Busto said. “There are so many things I love about the race. The children’s races, the community involvement, visiting with friends and acquaintances and just enjoying a beautiful morning at Bass Lake.”
Busto said she is thankful to the contributions that the business sector have made to this event with all types of donations year after year.
“We are blessed to have so many caring people in our community,” Busto said. “Also, the participants come out rain or shine to enjoy the day with us.”
First time coordinator, Sierra Tel’s Laura Norman, said it was a challenge getting the committee together for meetings this year with all the fires raging.
“Up until about 10 days before the race date we considered postponing it a few weeks,” Norman said. “Then the heat broke and the air cleared and we couldn't have asked for better weather. The atmosphere was cheerful and we had plenty of volunteers. The 30th Annual Smokey Bear Run was a complete success.”