LA CRESCENTA — Whether they were experienced or novice runners, it didn't make a difference moments before gathering at the starting line in the final day of the inaugural Crescenta Valley Park Summer Cross-Country Series.
On Wednesday night in a comfortable setting at Crescenta Valley Park, runners, ages 5-65, competed in separate races to test their endurance and running skills without worrying where they finished.
The event, spearheaded by Crescenta Valley High cross-country and track and field Coach Mark Evans, attracted local runners, as well as runners from the San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, for $5 apiece.
"It's for all age levels and abilities," said Evans, who hatched the idea for the event in May. "We want it to be a community thing and people get to run a cross-country course, some for the first time.
"We didn't really have anything like this in the area and I thought there would be some value in it. It's something I'd like to see continue and I think it can get a little bigger."
The race distances for the series, which were also held July 20 and Aug. 3 at the same location, were 1 1/4 and three miles. Teams from Crescenta Valley High, Hoover, Pasadena Poly, Pasadena and Canyon Country Canyon participated in preparation for their respective cross-country seasons that kick off in September. Even collegiate runners, including former Crescenta Valley and current UCLA runner Zack Torres — who won the second race of the series, have tested the course for tuneups.
Adam Stanford-Moore, who will be a freshman at Pasadena Poly in the fall, participated in the 2K race on Wednesday. He finished first, clocking 8 minutes 7.42 seconds.
The race had meaning for Stanford-Moore.
"It's a real good opportunity to get into a race before the seasons starts," Stanford-Moore said. "I've never run a high school race before.
"I came in just trying to stay with the other runners. It's definitely a good experience in terms of pushing yourself."
Zachary Wims captured the three-mile race in 16:57. Wims, a junior on the Canyon boys' cross-country team, said he'd run the course about five time previously.
Wims also said the course was a good barometer with Canyon expected to participate in a nonleague multi-team meet upcoming and the Kenny Staub Invitational in September and October, respectively.
"I use something like this as a good workout," Wims said. "I wanted a different kind of setting and to get used to this course, which is mostly dirt and some grass.
"This is something I'll definitely come back to again. I'm just trying to stay competitive and keep in training."
The series was sponsored by the Crescenta Valley High Cross-Country program and Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation.