Thousands attended the 32nd Annual Southland Credit Union Race on the Base on Saturday.
Sponsored by the Los Alamitos Recreation and Community Services Department, Race on the Base offered an array of fun and challenging courses, including a 10K inline skate, 10K handcycle/wheelchair, 5K run, 10K run, 5K walk, junior triathlon, two junior reverse triathlons, 1K kids run, and two waves of adult reverse triathlons.
Though this was Wendy Edralin’s second year participating in the event’s reverse triathlon, it was her first time rooting for her 12-year old son, Brandon, in the junior reverse triathlon. Edralin said she heard about the Race on the Base from her son’s former second grade teacher, Leigh Anne Sandlin of Bethany Lutheran in Long Beach.
“She does a lot of these events, and she encourages the students and parents to get into it, too,” said Edralin, who added she enjoys the Race on the Base because of its unique, family fun vibe.
Six members of the Long Beach-based running club, A Running Experience Club, also participated in the reverse triathlon Saturday at the Joint Forces Training Base. They kept track of each other using a Hello Kitty balloon as a beacon in the transition areas. Members Maureen Grainger, Leticia Mimila and Karen Hester were excited to introduce fellow runners Joanna Mireles, Elizabeth Vanegaspou and Jennifer Connelly to triathlons.
“They’re virgins!” Grainger said as she and the rest of the group laughed while they prepared to start the race.
“We just wanna have fun!” Vanegaspou added.
Many others participated in Race on the Base in honor of their friends and family in the military.
For Didi MacPherson, it was about honoring her son, Thomas “Tommy” MacPherson. Thomas served as an army ranger in the 2nd Battalion, and was killed in action in Afghanistan on Oct. 12, 2012.
“This is where they brought his body in, so it’s kind of weird to be here,” Didi recalled while looking around at the base.
Still, Didi, joined by Robbi Barbieri, Steve Barbieri and Sheila Thrash, walked the 5K in high spirits while wearing personalized Honoring Our Fallen T-shirts.
One of the official charity partners of the race, Honoring Our Fallen is a nonprofit organization that offers aid to families who have suffered the death of a military member. The front of the shirts sported the Honoring Our Fallen logo, and the back had the words “In Honor/Memory Of” and a blank section to fill in. Didi proudly displayed the back of her shirt on which she wrote, “My son, Sgt. Thomas MacPherson, Forever Young and in my heart. KIA 10-12-12.”