Clovis News: Sports

Running series is chance to reach goals for new year

Remember that New Year's resolution about getting in shape?

Time to make good on it.

The 2011 Valley Runner of the Year Series kicks off Saturday with the Break the Barriers Dream Run at Woodward Park.

"I hear it all the time over the winter, 'I gained a few pounds and need to start running,' " series organizer Ken Takeuchi said.

"Running is a real economical way to get fit. You don't have to join a club. Just go."

In its 25th year, the Valley Runner of the Year Series pits central San Joaquin Valley runners against each other in a combination of distances in three age groups: open division (39 and under), masters (40-49) and seniors (50 and over).

The 15 races are divided into three point categories (10, 20 and 30) based on factors such as history and attendance.

A runner's point total is determined by his or her three best finishes in each category.

At the series' end, the top finishers in each category are honored at a champions' breakfast.

Winners from 2010 were J.K. Lundberg of Fresno (men's open), Becky Cutler of Fresno (women's open), Joe Amendt of Clovis (men's masters), Molly Friel of Fresno (women's masters), Nestor Ayala of Coalinga (men's seniors) and Valerie Zacharchuk of Fresno (women's seniors).

Amendt was the only repeat winner from 2009.

"That's a good sign," Takeuchi said. "It gives everyone the chance to run for a championship."

All series races double as charity events. Proceeds from Saturday's Dream Run provide scholarships for local families and to expand Break the Barriers' Buddy Program in area schools.

Besides the 6-mile main event at 8:05 a.m., worth 20 series points, there is a 2-mile run open to walkers and wheelchair users and three kids' races.

Registration is $15 until Friday or $20 on race day beginning at 6:15 a.m. at the Mt. View Shelter. Details: