Get Back to Bach for a Really Classic Run


If you see Johann Sebastian Bach running through the streets of Newport Beach on Sunday chased by 1,000 or so men and women in jogging attire, don’t be alarmed.

It’s all part of the Bach Bay 8K, a run and walk that takes a classical music theme as it winds around Upper Newport Bay. Although Bach himself is too dead to make an appearance, a “mystery runner” dressed as the composer will run the course and pace the race.

A $500 cash prize will be awarded to the race’s top finisher--if he or she can beat Bach. Other prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers, and a random drawing open to all participants will be held (among the prizes: tickets to the L.A. Philharmonic).


Completing the run’s classical theme will be a performance of Bach compositions by a 12-piece ensemble, Tiento. It will play at the starting line, will break up into three quartets to play at various points along the course and will reassemble at the finish line to play for the awards ceremony.

“We had the idea of doing a run with a classical theme, to meet a different target audience,” said Kristin Peters of Dana Point-based Race Pace Promotions, organizers of the event.

In addition to advertising in the usual sports and event magazines, Race Pace has turned to some unusual outlets for publicizing the run, including a joint promotion with classical radio station KKGO-FM.

Last year’s event drew about 1,000 entrants, an impressive crowd for a first-time race. “This year, we’re looking at more than that,” perhaps more than double, Peters said. “It’s going to be a pretty big turnout for a second-year event.”

While the Bach theme adds a touch of class, organizers are playing it with a light touch. In addition to the “mystery runner,” puns abound in the race material, from the run’s title (a play on Back Bay), to such exhortations as “B sharp” for the run and “get Bach to basics.”

Last year’s course was an out-and-back route that stayed close to the edge of the bay. Because of storm damage to Backbay Drive, the course may be altered, but organizers believe repairs will be made in time to keep last year’s route.


The run will benefit Hope House, a long-term residential program for people suffering from substance abuse.