Trailblazer

Participants run in the 2019 Trailblazer Race at Shoreline Park, the last time it was an in-person event.

As summer comes to a close, the annual Trailblazer Race gets going – and like last year, it’s virtual.

In its 27th year, the Trailblazer – a fund-

raiser for the Mountain View nonprofit Friends of Stevens Creek Trail – got underway Saturday and runs through Sept. 26.

Moved to a virtual event because of the pandemic, participants can register to run a 5K or 10K – or do a 3-mile walk – at any time or place (even on a treadmill), according to Andrea Stawitcke, a Friends executive committee board member.

Stawitcke, board secretary, encouraged people to get out and support the cause.

“From the very beginning – it was, as we call it – not only a fundraiser, but a ‘friendraiser,’” she said. “We really like to involve people that live around the community and (encourage) anybody that lives adjacent to the trail or embraces wild parts of nature that can still be contained within an urban area to come out and support us.”

Stawitcke added that the charm of the event is that it allows families to share the experience and is designed to suit all ages.

Active participant Rohit Sawhney began running the race years ago as a stepping stone to his goal of completing a half marathon, but currently, he said he enjoys being able to run the race with his children.

“For one of the last ones we did, which I think was 2019, my kids came as well, and they did the mile run,” Sawhney said. “That’s something that’s always special, because they’ve seen me at the finish line at a lot of these events, but then they also got to participate themselves.”

The Mountain View resident also took part in last year’s virtual run, which he said didn’t entirely compare in terms of the atmosphere to the in-person races.

Stawitcke noted that there are advantages to being virtual, though.

“Because it’s a virtual race, there is not as much involved and we don’t need as much hands-on (help),” she said. “Because the entire series itself requires a huge team of volunteers, we would get local high school groups that would come and volunteer. In the years when we had it in person, it required a huge, huge amount of man power. This year, I would say there’s probably a core group of maybe five or six of us that are working on it.”

After last year’s virtual event, Stawitcke said organizers realized they would need a much bigger social media presence to get the word out about the next one.

“We have revamped and improved our website, so it’s more attractive and there’s much more ease to register,” she said. “We have a great webmaster who’s also on our board and who handles most of that. I think we realized that we could have gotten more people if we had been really out there with the social media posts, so we made a real concerted effort to contact all four of the cities that are all specifically part of the trail, which are Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and Cupertino.”

Race proceeds cover Friends’ operating costs and trail expansion, Stawitcke added. Friends is setting its sights on funding the next portion of the trail. The trail begins at Shoreline Park, with the newest segment going from Dale Avenue in Mountain View to Heatherstone Way in Sunnyvale. The next stretch would expand it to Fremont Avenue in Sunnyvale, close to Los Altos.

“It was all the city of Mountain View at the beginning – they funded and filled everything,” Stawitcke said. “They really had the foresight to see that we needed alternatives to people just driving in their cars.”

As Sawhney noted, the race is a way for participants to appreciate nature and form bonds with others in the community.

“Finding opportunities to bring the community together is always so hard,” he said. “Having an event like this, you can lock in and say, ‘Yes, it’s a traditional thing and I’m going to do it every year and I’m going to see the people that I see at these events and support the causes that I like to support.’”

Race registration is $43.90.

To register and for more information, visit tinyurl.com/k7vek2w4.