Joe Hammerquist was happy to have walked the 3K course in the rain Saturday at the 35th annual Human Race, thoroughly unconcerned with how long it might have taken.
“It was fine, I’m here,” he said, standing under shelter at Herbert Slater Middle School, the post-race festival site.
Considering his age, 92, Hammerquist had a right to boast a bit.
“I’m in good shape,” he said, noting that it was his fourth time at the race, a hybrid sports event, community gathering and mega-fundraiser for local nonprofit groups.
Cool, damp weather failed to dull the spirits of an estimated 9,500 people of all ages, including preregistered and timed runners as well as folks who just showed up to run or walk the 3K and 10K routes through Howarth and Spring Lake parks.
When all the pledges and donations are in, the race is expected to reap $500,000, which will be distributed to 250 Sonoma County nonprofit organizations, said Cami Kahl, executive director of the Volunteer Center, which sponsors the race.
Wearing a tan poncho and using a cane, Hammerquist walked with his wife, Yvonne, who gave her age as “only 89.” The couple, residents of Friends House for 13 years, said they exercise daily in a fitness program at the Santa Rosa retirement community.
“We did backpacking in our 60s,” Yvonne Hammerquist said, but their boots have long since been retired in favor of comfortable tennis shoes for walking.
Accompanying the couple were their daughter, Linda Garcia, 67, and her children, Kim, 38, and Eric, 41, who came up from Southern California, mostly for a relative’s wedding later in the day.
Also making a family appearance Saturday were the three indefatigable Bowen sisters.
Rylee Bowen, 16, who’s been setting track meet records around the country this year, had the top time in the 3K event at 10:23, while Kate Bowen, 14, finished third at 10:40.
At last year’s event, Rylee had the top time in the 3K at 9:59 and Kate was the second-fastest female at 10:36.
Rylee Bowen ran the second-fastest mile in the nation this year for a female high- schooler when she took home the gold medal at the 58th annual Mt. SAC Relays in Southern California last month. It was Bowen’s third meet record this year.
Taylin Bowen, 8, the youngest of the fleet-footed Santa Rosa family’s runners, opted for the 10K course and covered it in 42:51, the second fastest female and 13th overall. Last year, Taylin was the third-fastest female at 44:01.
Yes, there are genetics involved: Their mother, Nika Bowen (née Horn), was a track and cross-country star at Santa Rosa High School in the early 1990s. Rylee Bowen, a sophomore at Sonoma Academy, is a two-time state cross country champion.
“I tried to talk them out of it” due to the rain, Nika Bowen said. “They wouldn’t be denied.”
Said Rylee: “The race is just for fun. A lot of fun.”
Joey Johnson, 17, of Santa Rosa posted the top time in the 10K event at 34:56, coming in 21 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kheva Mann, 16, of Sebastopol.
Human Race costume awards
Fastest centipede — Sutter Care at Home
Best centipede — Napa County Office of Education/Cal Serves
Centipede with most legs — Clover Stornetta’s Lymphoma and Leukemia team
Best adult group — Food for Thought Food Bank
Best canine group — Greyhound Friends for Life
Most creative youth — Rhazi Kennard, 10, Warriors fan
Most creative adult — Brett McFarland, “Freedom, Baby”
Judges’ choice — Clover Stornetta’s Lymphoma and Leukemia team