This past Fourth of July, the Santa Clarita Runners Club sponsored its annual Independence Day Classic. Almost 700 participants donned red, white and blue spirit wear to run the festive 5K or 10K course. Scores of toddlers and children participated in the Kiddie K.
The Santa Clarita Runners Club has been hosting the Independence Day Classic for 38 years. It is the community’s oldest and largest ongoing race. Each year the club donates proceeds from the event to the high school cross-country teams in Santa Clarita.
Back in 1984, when the William S. Hart Union High School District included only three high schools, the initial races attracted about 100 participants, and each school received $300. Thirty-five years later, in pre-pandemic 2019, 1,000 runners participated and the club was able to donate $3,200 to each of the community’s six high school teams.
This year, with the addition of Castaic High School, the donations were divided among seven schools. Although this year’s race had fewer participants than the pre-pandemic races, and costs of administering the race increased, each school received a $1,850 donation. Representatives from the schools’ cross-country teams were presented with checks at the run club’s summer social.
In the last 10 years, the club has donated more than $130,000 to support Santa Clarita’s cross-country teams. Since these high school programs don’t have the financial support that larger sports programs have, they are dependent on donations to fund registration fees, transportation and training. Over the decades, many local businesses and corporations have sponsored the Independence Day Classic.
Carl Pantoji, the club’s race director for the last 14 years, says he is gratified to see how the race has grown over the years. “The Santa Clarita Runners look forward to carrying on the tradition of supporting local high school cross-country teams and other nonprofits.”
For information about becoming a sponsor of next year’s Independence Day Run, contact Santa Clarita Runners at www.scrunners.org.