Kaweah Country Run provides family fun, fitness, and funds


After seven previous events, the Kaweah Country Run as arrived as an anticipated annual event, whether a competitive runner or someone who simply enjoys some time outside with friends on a crisp fall morning. The event takes place rain or shine, and it was a tight weather window for the morning of Saturday, Dec. 1, but the outcome was that everyone remained dry while enjoying clear mountain views. 
More than 100 participants ran, walked, volunteered, or spectated, all for some worthy causes, not the least of which was generating more than $1,000 in donations to the student body fund at Three Rivers School.
When the KCR started back in 2010, these were the goals: promote local fitness (running and walking) and introduce more people to the trail opportunities at Lake Kaweah. The two trails that make up the race courses are the Kaweah Trail (10K) and the upper Old Road Trail (5K).
These clearly marked trails become accessible each year when the water recedes from the reservoir, typically August through March.
The recreation possibilities in the Lake Kaweah basin are many for runners, walkers, bikers, equestrians, and it's a great outing for people with pooches too. 
The Kaweah Country Run also raises funds for worthy causes. Over the years, donations have been earmarked for the preservation of the Kaweah Post Office, funds for families with medical emergencies and, for several years, camp scholarships for youth with Type 1 diabetes who
attend a summer camp sponsored by the Chris Dudley Foundation.  
This year, the proceeds will go  into the student body fund at Three Rivers School. This is intended to help cushion the account as upcoming seventh-grade classes lose the income beginning in 2020 that was generated by their food-service sales during Jazzaffair.
Meet the participants. For seven of the eight years of the Kaweah Country Run, the 10K champion and course record holder has been Seth Lagerhausen of Visalia. Seth ran competitively in college and he set the course record (10K) a few years back when he broke 36 minutes. That
blistering pace may never be beaten.  
Stacie Villavicencio of Three Rivers is the perennial 10K female champion, also for seven of the eight years that the event has been held. The only reason Stacie and Seth haven't won eight-for-eight KCRs is because they were both absent for a respective race, kindly leaving the field wide open for someone else in both the male and female categories.
The most popular competition this year was the combination race. The KCR is the only event in the area that features a format where runners can choose to participate in back-to-back 10K and 5K races. 
This year, there were 11 runners who signed up to run in both events. That’s twice the number that ran in previous years. It’s not easy running either distance but try running both back-to-back. 
Walkers also have contributed to the success of the event. They walk the 5K course and actually get a moment or two to enjoy the course, take selfies, and savor the views. Nan Celia Horobetz and Donald Peter, both of Three Rivers, have walked in all eight events. 
Here are the top finishers in each event and some special awards:
10K Male Runners— Seth Lagerhausen, 38:46; Justin Levine, 40:41; Dennis Villavicencio, 42:21.
10K Female Runners— Stacie Villavicencio, 50:20; Tina Hogan, 52:39; Renee Saxman, 53:13.
5K Male Runners— Miguel Rios, 20:47 (Woodlake High School); Christian Lewis, 21:21; Hector Torres-Moreno, 21:59.
5K Female Runners— Stacie Villavicencio, 25:22; Renee Saxman, 26.37; Melissa Adalian, 27:20.
Combo Male Runners (combined time)— Dennis Villavicencio, 1:04:51; Christian Lewis, 1:04:52; Seth Lagerhausen, 1:07:54.
Combo Female Runners (combined time)— Stacie Villavicencio, 1:19:40; Renee Saxman, 1:19:51; Shannon Lewis, 1:24:40.
5K Walkers— Audrey Das (age 10) 31:16; Xavier Bocanegra, 40:10; Toni Mata, 41:45.
Special awards— 
Spirit of the Run was awarded to Senior Grandmaster (over 60)  Elia Rodriguez, 68, who ran the combo.
Spirit of the Walk was awarded to Veteran Grandmaster (over (70) Don Siegal, 81. 
For those interested in seeing all the times in the 2018 events, each participant with a bib number, and who finished their respective event, the results are posted at RTSracetiming.com or runsignup.com. 
Signups for 2019 are already live on www.runsignup.com (just in time for holiday gifting). Next year’s Kaweah Country Run event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7. See you where the river meets the lake!   

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