Although it was 24 years ago, Tom Bornheimer said he still remembers running the second Stevens Creek Trailblazer Race.
The former Los Altos resident recalled standing at the starting line among 100 other runners, walkers, joggers and toddlers, and then taking off through the old Silicon Graphics campus and into Shoreline Park.
But what he remembers most is the feeling of community running the Trailblazer gave him, and how it inspired him to return year after year.
“You run a race, you come back, you’re tired and then you see the kids run around,” he said. “It’s inspiring to see them do it.”
The course and scope of the race, which Sunday celebrates its 25th year, has changed since then. It still starts on the same campus – now occupied by Microsoft Corp. – but participants then move onto the Stevens Creek Trail and run a loop through Shoreline Park.
Scott Trappe, board member of Friends of Stevens Creek Trail – the nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the protection and expansion of the path along Stevens Creek – said the course isn’t the only change over time. In 25 years, the race has grown to accommodate approximately 1,000 participants and now caters to families as well. There are a number of races and other activities for children, along with a 3-mile walk for all ages.
Trappe said part of the reason he began using the trail was for his kids, and he remembers some of their accomplishments along it.
“When my kids were young, I started taking them on the trail on their bikes. As they got bigger, we could do longer and longer sections of the trail. I can still remember my son being so excited when I told him, ‘You’ve now ridden the entire Stevens Creek Trail,’” he said.
The mission of Friends is to maintain the 28-year-old trail and expand it into the Santa Cruz Mountains, according to Trappe. The trail currently goes from the bay (near Shoreline) into Cupertino.
Trappe said a Cupertino resident recently donated half a mile of land from McClellan Ranch Road to Linda Vista Park to Friends, and wants it to be used for the trail. The land transfer is set to happen before the end of this year, according to Trappe, and the trail expansion could begin as soon as next year.
Construction costs money, however, as does trail maintenance. That’s where Friends helps out, raising funds through events like the Trailblazer.
But Friends needs friends to make it happen. Trappe said the group relies on volunteers to help out at the race each year. Among them are students from local high schools, neighbors of the trail, members of Friends and even a local ham radio group, according to Bornheimer. A group of 10 or so people with radios come out each year and set themselves up along the course in the event of problems, he added.
“I’ve never seen that in any other race I’ve run,” said Bornheimer, a former Friends board member who has run in all but a few Trailblazers. “I’ve never seen the sort of organization around volunteers that we have at the Trailblazer Race.”
Although Bornheimer will miss this year’s event, he encourages others to attend.
“Meet people. Meet your neighbors. Meet new friends,” Bornheimer said. “Have a good time.”
The Trailblazer is set to start at 7:30 a.m. with check-in; races begin at 8:30 a.m. Race registration is $20-$35. To register and for more information, visit trailblazer.itsyourrace.com.