By Helen Tuman
Some people run to burn off the french fries they ate for lunch. Some run so they can fit into that little black dress again. And some run for the simple pleasure of the sport. At the ninth annual Slug Run, held at the East Field House, the motivation was simple: to have fun.
“In the running community everyone just wants to have fun,” said David Rosen, coach of the UCSC cross-country club team. “It’s real friendly.”
Although the Slug Run is organized by the local, community-based Santa Cruz Track Club (SCTC), it welcomes anyone to join. In the years past, as many as 400 runners have attended the race. This year 100 racers showed up for the event, and organizers were pleased to see the triple digits.
Saturday’s racers included many adults and children but few students. With free parking and bus services available, this race was easily accessible to any number of students who wanted to partake. To attract more students, the race started later this year, with a starting time of 9 a.m.
“There are so many runners on campus,” said David Will, senior bioinformatics major and member of the UCSC cross-country club team. “But they are afraid of racing. That’s why this race is so perfect for them: it’s so low-key, not competitive. Just $10 to register — plus you get a sweet shirt.”
Low-key was the theme of the day. There were three races: a 10-kilometer, 5K and a 1K for the kids, so runners of every level could join. The 5K and 10K ran a scenic course, uphill through Crown/Merrill; the 10K continued up to the Wilder Gates Empire Grade area and then back down.
Diane Delucchi, vice president of the SCTS, riled up the younger runners before they were led around the East Field track by Adam Boothe, coach of the UCSC women’s cross-country team. While Boothe paced the kids around the track, a few enthusiastic kids running shoeless passed him. Those kids who finished in front of the pack completed the 1K, a full circuit around the track, at a six-minute-mile pace.
“It’s Santa Cruz,” Boothe said. “People like to go barefoot. Sometimes people go faster without shoes.”
The barefoot children epitomized the spirit of the race: to enjoy oneself despite the cost of grass-stained feet.
“It’s not about the results, about who won or who lost,” Rosen said. “It’s about finishing and having fun.”
The runners enjoyed the course from top to bottom, despite an accidental mis-mark in the 10K race. Instead of running 6.2 miles, runners ran 6.5, which most did not appear to mind. One racer who learned of the mistake replied, “Oh, cool.”
“[Running] is super easy to do,” Will said. “All you need is a pair of shoes and open space. It’s a natural thing for people to do.”