By Brian Park

The San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club’s annual Ridge Events began in 2008 as a celebration of the city’s open space, and although that part hasn’t changed, the competition has risen to another level.

As participation has grown over the years, the Rotary Club has added new events to cater to a larger competition pool. What began as a brisk trek along the city’s southern open space off Camino Las Ramblas has now grown to include a combination of trail runs and bike rides, ranging in distance from 5 to 10 kilometers.

Last year, Michelle Barton set the fastest women’s time in the 10K in the event’s history at 44:52. Dean Dobberteen was last year’s high mark in the men’s division at 40:14, but Ricardo Godoy’s record-time of 31:34 still stands.

Rotarian and San Juan Capistrano Mayor Larry Kramer, who came up with the idea for the Ridge Events, won his heat in last year’s 5K event and is looking to better his time this year.

This year, Rotary Club President Dr. Carol Daderian announced that the Ridge Events would include a combination 10K trail run and mountain bike poker ride for competitors who wish to get the most out of the experience.

This year’s event begins Saturday, October 6, and is expected to draw 350 competitors, according to a news release.

Both the 5K and 10K trail runs begin at 7:30 a.m. and will lead runners along the Las Ramblas trailhead. The 5K run finishes at Patriot Point, where runners can cool down and take in a view of San Juan Capistrano before heading back down. The 10K runners, however, will take on a “fun but challenging” trek that runs along the ridgeline and to San Juan Hills High School before it turns back. The 10K run is intended for more serious runners and includes a 600-foot elevation.

The 3rd Annual Mountain Bike Poker Ride begins at 9:30 a.m. In this non-timed event, cyclists travel to five separate posts along the trail where they draw one playing card. At the end of the ride, the cyclist with the best hand wins a $300 trail GPS system, courtesy of Jim Curwood, owner of Buy My Bikes in San Juan Capistrano. The cyclist with the worst five-card hand won’t go empty-handed however, as they will receive a yet unannounced prize.

Following the conclusion of the poker ride, the trails will be opened to ridge walkers, their families and their pets, who can go for a hike and enjoy the views of Capistrano Valley, Saddleback, Dana Point Harbor and even Catalina Island.

Entry fees before the event are $40 for the 10K run, $30 for the 5K, $35 for the poker ride and $60 for the combination poker ride and trail run. The fees are marked up $5 on race day. Active duty Marines can enter all events for only $10.

Proceeds collected from the event will be split between the city and the Rotary Club. The city’s 25 percent share will go toward maintenance and improvements to the trail system. The Rotary Club will take its share to fund its many local charities, including the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, the San Juan Creek Cleanup Project and high school scholarships.

For more information or to register, visit sanjuantrailrun.org.

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