AGUA DULCE — If it’s New Year’s Day, you can bet members of the Santa Clarita and High Desert runners clubs will start the morning with the annual Hangover Run at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center.
About 95 people turned out for the run Tuesday morning despite temperatures in the lower 30s and a cool breeze that whipped into a gusty wind as the morning wore on and the day grew warmer. Runners and walkers brought dogs and children in strollers to tackle the nearly 8-mile course, or whatever distance they chose.
“I enjoy running; it’s a wonderful crowd. I do it most years and it’s just a great way to start the year,” Northridge resident Terry Whelan said before the race.
The run, with Mervat Tawfik of the Santa Clarita Runners as host, also is the first race of the year for the High Desert Runners Mountain Trail Fun Runs. Participants warmed up in the park’s parking lot prior to the start of the race. This year was the 32nd year for the race, which began in 1988.
Tawfik set the 7.7-mile course Monday with assistance from Donald Hughes and John and Betsy Swallow.
“If anybody gets lost, I don’t know what to tell you; I marked the trail really good,” Tawfik said.
The course is mildly difficult and takes place all on the Pacific Crest Trail. The run begins from the Vasquez Rock’s Park main parking lot and continues out of the park through a tunnel and up into the hills southeast of the Antelope Valley Freeway.
Participants signed up before they hit the trail. That allows organizers to keep track of who is on the trail in case someone gets lost.
“It’s kind of traditional to start off the year,” Acton resident Scott Butler said. “It’s fun, casual — take it as serious as you want or as unserious as you want.”
There are no rules for the Hangover Run.
“You can walk; you can ride your horse, you can go to the end or stop halfway,” Hughes said.
Santa Clarita residents Beth Theule and daughter Allie, 7, a regular runner, came out for the Hangover Run.
“We wanted to start the new year off with exercising and being with friends,” Theule said.
Tawfik said prior to the race that she wasn’t sure if anyone would show up because of heavy winds in Acton. But the list of participants grew quickly from 34 people shortly after 8 a.m. to about 95 people by the time the run began. In fact, several people showed up after the 8:30 a.m. start time and joined the run.
“I thought it was going to be miserable,” Tawfik said.
The weather cooperated. And people were waiting for Tawfik when she arrived at the park about 8 a.m. Not everyone is ready to run the entire 7.7-mile course.
“Most of the people go to the tunnel and come back because after the tunnel you’re going to start climbing up,” Tawfik said.
Participants remained at the park after the run for an informal potluck lunch.
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