Running with the Bears a big hit

The runners take off amidst thunder and rain. More than 300 runners participated in the event this year.
James Wilson
Sports Reporter


Despite hazy smoke and ominous clouds bellowing out thunder and rain, runners from all around came out for the Running with the Bears Marathon in Greenville Saturday, Aug. 18.

The event was thrown by Mountain Circle Family Services, Inc. Mountain Circle is a private nonprofit organization that works on developing healthy family relations for foster children.

This was Mountain Circle’s second year hosting the marathon, but this year’s event was much larger and more grandiose than last year’s.

Last year boasted around 50 runners while this year had 306 participating. Fifty-three ran the full marathon, 146 ran the half marathon and 105 ran the 10K. Nearly 30 percent more initially registered, but dropped out due to fears of the smoke from the Chips Fire.

Part of draw for this year’s event was that the race is registered as a Boston Marathon qualifier. Those qualified for the Boston Marathon are automatically qualified to race in any major marathon in the U.S. This was the last qualifier of the year. Many marathon racers eagerly signed up to have the chance to qualify.

Many more raced solely to support Mountain Circle. The youngest racer to run was 4-year-old Nikolas Douglass who gained sponsors before the event and raised $375 for Mountain Circle.

Jerry Douglass and Steve Janowski from Reno adopted Douglass just two months ago. Jerry and Janowski adopted Nikolas and his two brothers, Joshua and Dillon.

“We just wanted to raise awareness for foster kids who need forever families to adopt them,” said Jerry, who ran with Nikolas in the 10K.

What set the Running with the Bears Marathon apart from many other races was the amount of detail that went in to assuring everyone had a good time. In many ways, the atmosphere of the event could be likened more to a festival than a race. There were more activities to be done than could be done in one day.

Before the runners took off, personal trainer Christy Schmalz of Greenville led runners and bystanders in some stretching exercises that were synched to modern pop music.

There was ample free food and beverages available. Runners and spectators alike devoured bagels, various fruits, orange juice and coffee.

Signs spotted along the course were meant to motivate the runners. Several of the signs had proclamations of support. Many others had quotes from various great minds throughout history. A good portion of them read interesting facts about bears, sticking with the theme of the marathon.

Aid stations were available every 2.5 miles of the course. Various groups from Plumas County manned each aid station and each one had a unique theme. At the end of the race, the runners had to vote on best theme, best food and best spirit.

The station manned by the Indian Valley Academy and Plumas Charter School won Best Theme with its hobo theme.

Best Food went to the Greenville Tribal Belly Dancers and the Genesee Hysterical Society for their cups of watermelon slices. Best Spirit went to Marsyas Complex, a rock band who pumped up the runners as they passed the station.

Towards the end of the course, Lauren Guthrie serenaded the runners with her violin playing. Similarly, Alex Rossington, dressed in a bear costume, was stationed near the finish line cheering the runners on as they neared the end of the course.

There was plenty for the racers to do after completing the course. As they crossed the finish line, each racer was handed a bottle of water and a cup for beer. Under Cover Ale Works out of Blairsden provided beer. Owners Susan Duniphin and Rich DeLano were present to hand the beers out and answer any questions about the brewery.

A pool filled with water and ice was available for runners who were hot from the race. Many took advantage of this and plunged right in.

After the completion of the race, runners also received complimentary massages to ensure any kinks from running were worked out.

Charlie Johnston from Sparks took the men’s overall first place for the marathon with a time of two hours and 53 minutes. Jackie Clark from Tahoma took the female overall in 3:28:00. Carinne Cook from Greenville finished first in the female 16 to 29 category with a time of 3:40:00.

In the half marathon, Michael Tyler from Salem, Ore. took male overall first in 1:29:00 minutes. Donna Collignon from Tahoe City placed first in the female overall in 1:36:00.

That the 10K race had the majority of racers from Plumas County was evident by the placing.

Greenville’s Kate Zachman placed first in the overall female in 50 minutes flat. Bruce Coury took the overall male in 52:18.

Thirteen-year-old Julianne Cook from Greenville placed first in the 15 and under category in 1:03:00. Madeline Goss from Taylorsville placed second in that category.

Erica Brown, originally from Quincy, placed first in the female 30 to 39 category in 59:29.

Adriana Uken from Greenville placed first in the female 60 to 69 division while Kathleen Erickson from Taylorsville placed third.

Ten-year-old Colton Lawson from Greenville came in first in the male 15 and under category, followed by 14-year-old Taryn Lind, also of Greenville.

Casey Peters of Greenville placed first in the male 16 to 29 category in 52:59. Geoffrey Guthrie of Crescent Mills placed second in one hour nine minutes and 14 seconds.

Jeffery Wilson of Belden came in first in the male 50 to 59 category while Charlie Brown of Quincy placed first in the male 60 to 69 category. Taylorsville’s Armando Digiacomo placed third in the category.

At 73, Meadow Valley’s Joseph Williams placed first in the male 70 and over category.

Every participant received a runner’s bag, which was filled with donated items worth far more than the registration fee. A $500 gift card from Red Star, goat milk soap, bear bells, candy and lots of gift certificates stuffed the runner bags. All participants of the half and full marathons received a medal as well.

“This whole thing went great,” said race director Josie Litchfield. “It went better than expected. The runners had terrific attitudes about the weather and we are excited about the rain and the thunder. It all just went totally smooth.”

Shauna Rossington, executive director of Greenville’s Mountain Circle, praised Litchfield’s abilities and hard work as the race director.

“Josie Litchfield rocks as the race director,” said Rossington. “She’s the detail person. She really gets all the credit. We pulled it off and we couldn’t have done it without the whole team and everyone’s support.”

The party continued late into the night with a luau theme. Two pigs were cooked to feed everyone and a Brazilian samba band kept the crowd energized and dancing. Proceeds from the bachelors’ auction went to Mountain Circle.

For more information on the Running with the Bears Marathon and Mountain Circle Family Services, go to or call 284-7007.

  • Search area
    • Site
    • Web
  • Search type
    • Web
    • Image
    • News
    • Video
  • Power by JLex