Run with Nature celebrates 30 years

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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The city of Folsom prides itself on its location, trails, parks and its small town community feeling in a town that has added more than 50,000 residents in the last 30 years.

If there is an event held in Folsom that highlights all of those things it’s the annual Run with Nature, a run that has been held since 1983 and has raised approximately $150,000 for three local organizations over the years, the Folsom Athletic Association, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Folsom Parkway. With the money raised, the city has expanded and improved the trails and offered youth scholarships and additional youth programs.

“What makes this event so popular is the sense of community about it,” said Susanne Linnane, a supervisor in the Parks and Recreation Department. “The runners bring their grandmas and grandpas and other family and friends. It’s all about family and being fit and doing something together. The money also stays in Folsom and I know that’s important to some people too.”

The first Run with Nature was nothing more than a run that followed Blue Ravine Road and essentially circled the city. Since the first run in which about 300 people participated, Folsom has grown and so has the run. In the early 1980s, Folsom’s population was about 16,000 residents. In the run’s best years more recently, it has attracted a little more than 1,000 participants at a time when Folsom’s population grew to close to 70,000. While most of the participants come from Folsom, a portion of the participants come from surrounding communities in El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, Orangevale and beyond.

As the number of participants rose, the course was moved off the streets and onto the trails, which not only made for a more pleasing place to run, but also kept the city from blocking off major roads. The Parkway, which it is now known as, was the home of the run for several years before the run was moved to Folsom City Lions Park two years ago. “The run started out as a fitness idea to get people out and get them healthy,” said Ernie Sheldon, a city councilman and executive director of the Folsom Athletic Association. “People just like it because it goes to a good cause and supports the FAA, the Friends of the Parkway and Parks and Rec. I haven’t missed one since I got here in 1985. It keeps getting bigger and better and it’s well organized.”

The event offers participants an option of running five kilometers or 10 kilometers, the 5K race which runs through the Rodeo Park parking lot onto a loop-trail course, while the 10K race which begins on Natoma Street and from there goes to the trail on Folsom Lake Crossing. For the first time this year, part of the 10K run passes through Folsom State Prison property.

“This is a unique opportunity for runners, as this area is normally off limits to the public,” Linnane said.

There’s also a youth half-mile fun run at Rodeo Park and two years ago the Wild Way was added to the day that starts in Dan Russell Arena and continues out to Rodeo Park. Proceeds from the Wild Way benefit the Folsom Zoo.

“It’s a two-mile obstacle course and families have to start and end the obstacle course together,” Linnane said. “It’s become a popular event.”

The Wild Way features a foam alley, a double-wide slip and slide, several mud pits and a haystack to climb.