Huntington Beach goes all-in on Independence Day — parade, fireworks and all.
The Surf City Run kicks off the holiday each year, and Huntington Beach residents took pride in setting the pace for the latest edition of the 5K race.
George Gleason, a 2015 graduate of Huntington Beach High, won the Open Division with a time of 15 minutes 14 seconds. Josh Espinoza, 26, placed second (15:26) and Nicholas Spector, 27, took third (15:35).
Growing up, Gleason, 22, used to get up early in the morning to watch his father, Pat, run in the local event. He only needed to walk out his front door to watch the runners pass by.
Pat rowed at the University of Washington, and he was a triathlete after that, so catching the athletics bug was only a matter of time for his son.
“The Fourth of July race is always just a really special race for me because I can literally walk outside of my house, and I’m right on the race course,” George Gleason said. “I’m also able to race and run in front of so many friends and family, which is really cool. I feel like a lot of people don’t really get to see that side of running.
“A lot of people don’t get to see you training every day and see all the work that is put into it and how much I really love running.”
A two-time state qualifier in the boys’ 1,600 meters with a high placing of third in his senior year with the Oilers, Gleason’s work has also paid off in college. As a redshirt sophomore at UCLA, Gleason helped the Bruins reach the NCAA Division 1 Cross-Country Championships in 2017.
“I think going to nationals with my whole entire cross-country team [that] year was a terrific experience,” Gleason said. “I love being able to compete and travel with the whole team.”
In the Huntington Beach residents’ race, brothers Ryan, 20, and Jason St. Pierre, 18, finished first and second, respectively.
Ryan St. Pierre won the race in 16:22, winning the race by a nine-second gap. He made the move to take over the lead from his brother near the end of the second mile.
The former Ocean View standouts helped elevate the Seahawks program, which reached the CIF State cross-country championships for the first time in 2017.
“My best and fondest memory of high school running was the first time that we made state,” Jason St. Pierre said. “I remember that CIF finals race, after the heartbreak my sophomore year, watching my brother go through it and just missing making state for the first time. The program really [rallied] around this idea of wanting to make history, so at the beginning of the year my junior year, that was our goal — somehow make history.”
Ryan St. Pierre said that he had talked with Jason about the possibility of claiming the top two spots in the residents’ race. In seeing it come to fruition, the St. Pierre brothers made another memory.
“Making history on the Fourth of July, on the day we’re celebrating history [as a nation],” Ryan St. Pierre said.
Ryan will be entering his junior season at Biola University, a program that becomes eligible to compete in the NCAA Division 2 postseason this year.
Jason, who graduated from Ocean View this year, will run for Concordia University in college.
Joshua Finkle, 28, placed third in 16:36, in his attempt to defend his title in the residents’ race.
Surf City Run
Men’s Open 5K
1. George Gleason 15:14; 2. Josh Espinoza 15:26; 3. Nicholas Spector 15:35
Men’s Residents’ 5K
1. Ryan St. Pierre 16:22; 2. Jason St. Pierre 16:31; 3. Joshua Finkle 16:36
Men’s Stroller 5K
1. Kurt Whittington 19:56; 2. Keven Williams 20:41; 3. Christopher Napper 21:50
Women’s Open 5K
1. Ashlee Powers 17:23; 2. Leilani Rios 18:03; 3. Natalie Larson 18:05
Women’s Residents’ 5K
1. Keili Dorn 18:08; 2. Hillary Hayes 18:37; 3. Kate Hartley 19:03
Women’s Stroller 5K
1. Carrie Johnson 22:25; 2. Hilary Infinger 23:18; 3. Nicole Valdivia 23:20
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