Runners flock to race uphill above Brand Park -- and back down again

Nearly 600 people battled a 1,735-foot rise in elevation on Sunday above Brand Park during the second annual Verdugo Mountains 10K.

Marc Stirdivant, an analyst for the city of Glendale and an organizer for the run, said people came from as far south as San Diego and north as Modesto to participate.

Carl Kloos, a Pasadena resident who placed third in the 18 to 34 age category for men, said the steep incline can be just as grueling both ways.

“The downhill is a lot harder than the uphill,” said Kloos, 31. “It’s tough on your legs and quads and knees coming down.”

The first male runner to cross the finish line was 23-year-old Kwin Keuter of Eagle Rock, who secured the fastest overall time of 42:44. The first woman to finish was 24-year-old Liliana Hernandez, of Glendale, with a time of 49:34.

Runners and hikers alike enjoyed taco truck fare after the race, which benefits the Glendale Parks & Open Space Foundation.

Stirdivant said the mission of establishing the run was threefold: to emphasize recreation, to support the foundation and to get people to “think of Glendale as a great space for outdoor recreation.”

Glendale Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor for the event, had more than 15 staff members — mostly from the emergency room and critical care unit — race up the mountain in orange shirts.

One of them was Lance Keene, vice president of the hospital’s foundation.

“For some people, just to make it up to the top was a huge thing,” he said. “They had never done anything like this. It’s inspirational.”

But that accomplishment would likely come with a cost for Keene, who ran the three miles up and three miles down.

“My knees are going to hurt later,” he said.

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