The 14th edition of The Tribune’s J. P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run just might have been the best, but considering the event honors a San Marino boy who, as a Marine, gave his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, they are all worth celebrating.
Well over 800 registered for the event, enjoying overcast skies and comparatively cool temperatures for most of the morning, though full sunshine greeted runners and walkers at the finish line.
Running in his traditional red, white and blue long-sleeve dress shirt, Eric Kleinsasser was the overall winner with a time of 16:12, comfortably ahead of Xian Shively (16:37) and Ari Schorr, who averaged 5:23 per mile on his way to a 16:47 finish.
San Marino’s own Olivia Harrigian was the first female finisher, crossing the line in 19:35, just five seconds ahead of Meghan Baird, who clocked a 19:40. Kate Manzke was third in 19:51.
The event marked the return of Ed Blecksmith, J.P.’s father, who served in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps. Ed and his wife, Jane, have relocated to Utah and the couple spent the morning at the race visiting with friends and family members.
The event supports several charities, including the J. P. Blecksmith Leadership Foundation at Flintridge Prep, where J. P. graduated high school in 1999. A scholarship is awarded annually in J. P.’s name to a deserving senior.
The race also benefits the USC Marshall School of Business’s Masters of Business for Veterans program, a fully accredited, 1-year graduate degree created specifically for military veterans. The scholarship is available to those in the armed forces who are on active duty or reserves.
“My family and I are very thankful to everyone who participates in this event,” said Alex Blecksmith, J.P.’s brother, who, along with Mary Gilbaugh organizes the race and oversees the foundation. “The runners, the walkers, the sponsors. Everyone plays a very valuable part and we are proud to honor the legacy of J.P. This has grown into what we and others feel is a very valuable community event.”
For a complete list of race finishers and photos from the J.P. Blecksmith 5K Walk & Run, please see pages 6 and 7 of the July 6, 2018 print edition of the San Marino Tribune.