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The 2016 LA84 Foundation Run4Fun Festival: Uniting communities

The 2016 LA84 Foundation Run4Fun Festival: December 10th, 2016. Courtesy: Jon Soohoo/LA84 Foundation

Atop Los Angeles’s breathtaking Elysian Park, over 1,400 young athletes gathered from 32 middle schools across the southland for the LA84 Foundation’s 28th annual Run4Fun Festival. Ten weeks of intensive training culminated on this brisk December morning with a total of six races, one for each gender, uniting athletes of all backgrounds.

Launching in October and concluding with the December festival, LA84’s Run4Fun program introduces and reinforces the values of hard work and dedication through physical education to energetic middle-school distance runners. In its second year at Elysian park, the Run4Fun athletes traversed through a gorgeous, yet challenging two-kilometer course.

Festivities kicked off with remarks from the foundation’s CEO Renata Simril. After an appearance by Sam the Eagle, the official mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games, the girls’ 6th grade competitors ascended past the start line and into the course.

Student athletes voiced appreciation for participating in America’s largest cross-country running program.

Girls 6th grade winner Milan Paniagua breaks away from the competition.
Courtesy: Jon Soohoo/LA84 Foundation

“I get nervous before anything I do, but I was feeling confident once I got past the hill. I love running, it’s fun to participate,” said Ariana Rodriguez, winner of the 8th grade girls race out of Frost Middle School.

The 7th grade girls winning runner, Frieda Cedillo, also from Frost Middle School, was emphatic after her victory.

“I was expecting to finish first, because I believe in myself! When I run I just feel free, all the stress in my life is off my shoulders. I really enjoyed this competition,” she said.

Eider Martinez of Global Middle School dashes through the finish for the victory.
Courtesy: Jon Soohoo/LA84 Foundation

Perhaps the most exhilarating group of athletes were those from Global Middle School, who had much to say after their own Eider Martinez prevailed in the 8th grade boys competition. Martinez finished with the best time of the day at 6 minutes, 20 seconds, and was animated upon crossing the finish line.

“I love running, I can’t stop, 100 percent max effort all the way through,” he said.

His coach, Miguel Medel, was equally energetic.

“Everything I’ve learned, I’m passing it on to them. Running is for now, but it helps in all sports.”

LA84 President and CEO Renata Simril with Sam the Eagle.
Courtesy: Jon Soohoo/LA84 Foundation

“Our message is life ready through sport, with Run4Fun being our signature program,” Simril said. “With 32 schools included from Oxnard to Long Beach, over 1400 kids qualified. Who knows, we might have the next great Olympic athlete in this race.”

This is our signature festival, and our goal is to get kids active,” Simril added. “The LA84 Run4Fun Festival is an opportunity to really bring communities and families together.”

Race Results 

Boys 8th grade

Individual winner: Eider Martinez, Global Middle School

Team winner: Frost Middle School

Girls 8th grade

Individual winner: Ariana Rodriguez, Frost Middle School

Team winner: Frost Middle School

Boys 7th grade

Individual winner: Bryce Bitetti, Rosemont Middle School

Team winner: Rosemont Middle School

Girls 7th grade

Individual winner: Frieda Cedillo, Frost Middle School

Team winner: Frost Middle School

Boys 6th grade

Individual winner: Isaac Gonzalez, Porter Middle School

Team winner: Bell Gardens Middle School

Girls 6th grade

Individual winner: Milan Paniagua, Frost Middle School

Team winner: Frost Middle School

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