It’s an event that quickly became a tradition and has now progressed to the status of institution; the San Marino Tribune’s J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk and Run, which this past Monday was held for the 12th consecutive year, all of them on July 4.
The more than 800 registrants set a new record for participation and the forecasters couldn’t have been more cooperative as the cool, cloudy environment held until the end of the race and the sun arrived in time for the presentation ceremony.
Eric Kleinsasser was the overall winner – again – traversing the course in just 15:51 and Nicole Prause was the first female to the finish line with a clocking of 19:55.
And though it might sound trite, everyone was a winner on Monday morning as the community assembled near the town square to start the holiday while paying homage to United States Marino Corps 2nd Lieutenant J.P. Blecksmith, a former San Marino resident, who gave his life on November 11, 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom II in Fallouja, Iraq.
The event supports the J.P. Blecksmith Leadership Foundation. A scholarship is awarded annually in J.P.’s name to a deserving senior at Flintridge Prep, where J.P. graduated high school in 1999.
“The turnout was phenomenal and there was a very positive vibe at the event,” said Alex Blecksmith, J.P.’s brother, who manages the foundation. “People seemed very excited to be there. We are very grateful to our sponsors and our volunteers, which really contributed to the community atmosphere. We are pleased with how it went and are looking for ways to improve the event.”
Mary Gilbaugh Thompson, a friend of J.P. who helps organize the race, agreed.
“This event has become a 4th of July tradition for many people in San Marino and the surrounding communities and we hope to continue to make it a great experience for all participants, from elite runners to recreational walkers,” said Mary, who participated in track and cross country while attending San Marino High School. “We had a record-breaking year with over 800 participants, so thank you to everyone who showed up.”
Aside from providing the scholarship at Flintridge Prep, the J.P. Blecksmith Leadership Foundation also sponsors awards at Carver and Valentine Elementary Schools, has provided a memorial to fallen Marines at Pasadena’s Blecksmith Hall and supports a Masters of Business for Veterans program at USC’s Marshall School of Business.
Blecksmith Hall is named for J.P. and his father, Edward, who was also a United States Marine and fought in the Vietnam War.