MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center
community raced to raise money for the installation’s Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital
during the 23rd Annual Ridge Run behind the hospital May 7.
The run featured something for everyone and offered two distinct courses, said Ed Tennison, a race organizer.
“The two routes are the somewhat easy 5K and the extremely hard 8K,” said the Silsbee, Texas, native. “The 8K really goes up the ridges.”
The event hit an all-time popularity record this year. The number of participants increased to 368, compared to 250 in previous years. It raised nearly $3,200, which will fund Morale, Welfare and Recreation events for hospital personnel, Tennison said. The 5K drew 110 runners, while 258 took on the 8K.
Tennison, made a point to recognize the efforts of Matthew Sandlin as one of the key reasons for the success of this year’s run. Sandlin, re-organized the courses to make them more challenging and safer, he said.
“He is one of the top runners in the hospital,” Tennison said. “He was instrumental in putting the whole thing together last year, too. That’s why I approached him.”
Sandlin said a secure route is a better route.
“The past couple years has been kind of a mud run format,” said the Columbus, Ind., native. “There was a lot of soft sand and obstacles that made it like an [obstacle course]. We tried to keep the distance roughly the same. We made it a more runable and safer course.”
Sandlin confessed it was a labor of love reorganizing the course.
“When you’re passionate about something, it makes it a lot easier to get out there and do it,” said the self described “running fanatic.” “Afterward, I got a lot of positive feedback from some of the runners, making it feel like time well spent. It took about twenty off-duty hours to set it up and eight or nine hours of making the courses.”
Sage J. Koch, a member of the Twentynine Palms Triathalon Team and life-long runner, said the course was one of the toughest he’s faced.
“The course was very challenging, no doubt,” said the Bismarck, N.D., native. “It was one of the hardest 8Ks I’ve ever run.”
Plans are in the works to continually improve the course, and continue the tradition next year.
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