With nearly 1,500 people attending, the inaugural Double Peak Challenge sponsored by the City of San Marcos lived up to its name Saturday, with the 10K trail run presenting hundreds of runners with a daunting uphill course and an exhilarating ridgetop view of the city.
More than 600 runners participated in the two morning runs, a timed 10K (6.2 miles) event that started at 7:30 am in San Elijo Hills Park that wound upward more than 2,000 feet to the Double Peak summit and returned, and a more casual untimed 2K event.
Proceeds from the race, the first ever for the city, will be invested in the community’s parks and higher education for local students through The Friends of San Marcos Park and Recreation and San Marcos Promise.
It was a winning day for the San Marcos community of San Elijo Hills, with both the women’s and men’s first place finishers coming from homes near the starting line.
The gold medal runner in the women’s category, Caitlin Cornell, is only 14 and runs cross-country at San Marcos High School. Her twin brother, Sean Cornell, also a cross runner finished sixth in the men’s competition.
“The first half was terrible,” said Caitlin, echoing comments made by many runners.
Even John Hatala, a 47-year-old retired Marine and experienced endurance runner who finished first in the men’s category, said the ridgeline trail where he often trains was “very challenging.”
With the challenge came the reward of a medal depicting the distinctive double peaks at the top of San Elijo Road and the promise of doing it again next year.
“People told me it was the hardest 10K they had ever run,” said Buck Martin, Community Services Director for the City of San Marcos and a board member of The Friends of san Marcos Parks and Recreation. “But when I asked them if they would come back, they said, ‘heck ya.’”
“You forget about the pain,” said runner Gerardo Alvarez of Escondido, 24, who finished second, “and think about the view” with its 360-degree panorama of north San Diego County.
The event combined an endurance test with a family gathering and featured strollers crossing the finish line in the 2K run and dozens of kids sprinting across the park’s baseball field in a short trail trot to the finish line.
The San Marcos Promise provides scholarships and higher-education guidance to students in the San Marcos Unified School District. The Friends of San Marcos Park and Recreation contributes to events, programs and facilities.
Other event sponsors included San Elijo Hills, Lusardi Construction Company, Rancho Tesoro, Stone Brewing Company, and Lounsbery, Ferguson, Altona and Peak, LLP.
Race results are available at www.gemininext.com.