July 4 marked the first in-person edition of the J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk and Run since 2019, the last two editions being held virtually because of the pandemic. But the pause might have benefitted San Marino’s runners at an accelerated rate as four of the top six finishers hail from the 91108 zip code.
Olivia Ruiz, a 2018 graduate of San Marino High School, was the first female in a winning 19:13 time. Wesley Reutimann, who received his diploma at SMHS in 1998, reached into the way-back machine and clocked in at 15:55. The times of both Ruiz and Reutimann are among the top 10 all-time for their respective genders.
Ruiz has competed in both cross country and track and field at Pasadena City College and Cal State Fullerton while Reutimann participated in both events at Williams College. As a senior, Reutimann finished fifth in the CIF State cross-country meet in Fresno.
While Ruiz is never “out of season” given the ongoing rigors of collegiate sports, Reutimann enjoyed a renaissance, of sorts, because of the pandemic.
“A colleague at work challenged us to a friendly ‘How many miles can you run in a month?’ activity in March 2021,” Reutimann said. “I bought a running watch to track my miles and that month of slow jogging got me back into it. I signed up for a 5K that summer and set a goal of breaking 17 minutes. After that was accomplished, I lowered my personal goal to 16:30, then 16 minutes while training for the U.S. Masters Cross-Country National Championships in San Diego which took place in January this year. Over the course of the year, I also dropped about 16 pandemic pounds. If I can stay healthy, I am hoping to do the next one when it comes to San Francisco in December.”
The J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run was created to perpetuate the legacy and honor the life and sacrifice of J.P. Blecksmith; a San Marino resident and Marine 2nd lieutenant who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 11, 2004, while leading his Marines in support of Operation Phantom Fury.
Top 3 Female Finishers
1. Olivia Ruiz, San Marino – 19:13
2. Kayla Giddings, San Marino – 20:41
3. Dana Stenvick, San Gabriel – 21:55
Top 3 Male Finishers
1. Wesley Reutiman, San Marino 15:55
2. Angus Leung, Pasadena – 16:17
3. Benjamin Hughes, San Marino – 17:35