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Human Race award winners:

Fastest centipede and best Centipede — Center for Innovation and Resources

Centipede with most legs — Napa County Office of Education/Americorps

Best adult group — Sonoma County Roller Derby

Best canine group — Greyhound Friends for Life

Judges’ choice — Food for Thought food bank

Silver robots, rescued greyhounds and babes in strollers joined the 36th annual Human Race, a jubilant Sonoma County fundraising event that mixes hard-driving athletes with throngs of folks out for a pleasant walk Saturday through Howarth and Spring Lake parks in Santa Rosa.

Bolting or just strolling from a start beneath a multicolored arch of balloons in front of Herbert Slater Middle School at 8 a.m., the participants enjoyed a bright, cool and breezy day, ideal for those who aimed to run hard.

Catherine DuBay of Santa Rosa raised her fists after crossing the finish line in 40:57, the second-fastest female and fifth overall in the 10K competition.

“It’s great. Just the best race in Sonoma County,” said Dubay, an elite local runner and health club manager who figures she’s run in at least 30 years of the Human Race, including years when she was seven months pregnant and when she was undergoing chemotherapy.

“You feel the spirit of Sonoma County in one great event,” she said, noting that Human Race participants raise money for their favorite nonprofits.

Alicia Alexander, special events coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which stages the race, said the goal is to raise $500,000, matching last year’s mark.

Pledges made on the center’s website topped $194,000 Saturday, and fundraising will continue through May 24, with donations taken online and at Exchange Bank and Redwood Credit Union locations.

The center doles out race proceeds to about 225 local nonprofits, Alexander said.

Saturday’s crowd, including registered runners and people who just show up to run or walk, totaled 7,000 to 8,000, Alexander estimated, putting it about even with the population of Sebastopol.

Dylan Phillips, who runs 800 meters and the mile for the Dubay-coached Santa Rosa Middle School track team, was a bit dissatisfied with his 10K effort, finishing 16th with a time of 46:49.

“Started too fast,” he said, sipping from a water bottle near the finish line.

Margaret Lynch of Sebastopol was part of a group representing Greyhound Friends for Life, a rescue organization for the breed of large, lean dogs, including former racing hounds. They brought 19 greyhounds to the event.

It was the fourth Human Race for Lynch and Flynn, her 5-year-old pet who at 105 pounds is about as large a greyhound as you’ll see, she said.

“They’re wonderful dogs,” she said, extolling the health benefits of dog ownership for people. “They get out and walk.”

Tiffany Bagala, a Volunteer Center board member, was one of 10 robots in the race representing the theme of innovation.

Bagala looked the part, encased in two cardboard boxes wrapped in shiny foil with flexible silver ducts around both arms. “Definitely walked all of it,” she said of the 3K course.

Rosie O’Brien of Santa Rosa also did the 3K route, pushing her year-old daughter, Bayah, in a stroller all the way. It was Bayah’s second Human Race, having made it last year at 2 months old.

“I think we did pretty good,” said her father, Steve O’Brien, who had Buster, a chocolate Labrador retriever, on a leash. The family “power-walked” most of the route, then strolled across the finish line, he said.

Runners and walkers congregated on the middle school playground, where a long line formed for the post-run breakfast of flapjacks and sausages cooked on portable grills.

“The sausage was the best,” declared Samantha Guerra, who did the 3K course with her friends, Isabella and Valentina Caceres of Santa Rosa, and their mother, Alexandra.

Julio Caceres had to sit out the race with a bum knee but enjoyed the morning. “Great family event,” he said.

Gavin Flynn of Rohnert Park posted the fastest time in the 3K race, coming in at 9:32, while Jennifer Orozco of Santa Rosa, at 12:33, was the swiftest female, placing sixth overall. Orozco was seventh overall last year at 12:36.

In the 10K competition, Ripa Vojta of Santa Rosa came in first — by a mere 6 seconds — at 34:55. Vojta finished third overall last year at 35:37.

Sarah Hallas, the fastest female for the second year in a row, placed fourth overall at 39:18.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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