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September 16, 2009 > Union City Celebrates 50 Years With A Fun Run

Union City Celebrates 50 Years With A Fun Run

By Gary van den Heuvel

Union City celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend with festivities that culminated in a "Fun Run" on Sunday morning (September 13) in which serious runners, recreational joggers, strollers containing curious and/or sleeping toddlers, and athletes of the four-legged variety participated in one-mile, five-kilometer and ten-kilometer courses.

The Fun Run, which started and finished at the William Cann Civic Center on Alvarado-Niles Boulevard, began bright (or on this day, partly cloudy) and early at 9:30 a.m. Over 100 men, women, children, and a few dogs on leashes lined up and hit the trail when the starting gun was fired.

Several local business entities had set up booths in the parking lot, including ClubSport, Chirosports USA and LifeWest Health Center. An inflatable "jump house" was kept in constant use by young bouncers. A solo electric guitarist, introduced as Jose "Mr. Extremo," kept the crowd entertained, particularly before the Fun Run when he played the guitar behind his head for part of the National Anthem, a la Hendrix.

The race was a combined 5K and 10K (followed by a 10:30 a.m. one-mile run for children), and each of the participants had a chip affixed to their shoe, which recorded their times and specified which distance each participant had run. The mood was not one of intense competition; 16-year-old Janae Mayfield, a member of Coach Lee Webb's Logan High School cross-country team, several of whom participated or volunteered in the event, said, "I'm running for fun." She also admitted, "I'd be very happy if I won."

She came close, finishing second among the women runners in the 5K (sixth place overall), with a time of 20 minutes and 12 seconds.

10-year-old Justin Gonzales was circumspect about running in the same race as his 8-year-old brother Troy. When asked if he would be trying extra hard to beat his brother, Justin thought about it for a moment and said, "I do not know. I'll try."

The first runner to cross the finish line was 17-year-old Logan team member Jose Baltazar with a time of 17:30 in the 5K. Jose hadn't come to the Fun Run aiming for victory. "I just wanted to run," he said. Between deep breaths, he described his feelings as "happy, and tired."

The women's 5K winner probably wouldn't have been considered an odds-on favorite before the race - considering that she was up until 2 in the morning the night before: "I was hanging out with my cousin," said 12-year-old Amihan Agustin. A student of Alvarado Middle School, Amihan finished with a time of 19:45. Her siblings RJ (age 11), Ava (9), and Russell (7) also completed the race.

The most unlikely winner of the day was the 10K champion, 41-year-old Mark Gainey, a resident of Portola Valley. Gainey was supposed to be in another 10K race on Sunday morning - in Mountain View.

"I couldn't find it, so I got on my IPhone, scanned all the races, and found this one," said Mark, whose 10K time was 34:54. "I set my GPS in the car, got here fast, and was registered at 9:21."

Dr. Abdollah Nejad, from Chirosport USA, was one of the primary organizers of the weekend, and he has high hopes for future Union City Fun Runs. "Next year we want to get the support of the local businesses so that it can become an annual event," he said.

The Fun Run was preceded by Saturday night's festivities (including a spectacular fireworks display), which Helen Kennedy described as "a near-riot," largely due to the performance by the popular Quest Crew, a dance troupe who have gained fame on the MTV show "America's Best Dance Crew." Kennedy is the president of the 50th Anniversary Committee, and she was excited over how the weekend went.

"It was exciting," she said. "I was thrilled to see the community coming together. A lot of people who were here to the bitter end last night are here this morning."

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