Has your inner runner been restless recently? Or maybe your 2022 resolution is to discover that runner for the first time? Then the 13th-annual Oakland Running Festival is for you—and for dedicated marathoners, half-marathoners, 5- and 10-K lovers, little kids—in fact, everybody.
March 20, 2022 will be here before you know it, so now’s the time to get the running shoes out of the closet and sign up for one of the many races and events the festival is sponsoring this year. As always, you’ll be able to crown your achievement with festival swag.
Race Director Lena Zentgraf noted that this year’s medals feature a depiction of a mural painted at 400 Franklin Street in downtown Oakland by Trust Your Struggle, an artist collective of visual artists, educators, and cultural workers dedicated to social justice, environmental sustainability and community organizing through the medium of public art and activism.
“This is the third year we’ve used a mural for the medals,” Zentgraf said. “They’re designed to celebrate the street art people see as they run, walk, or ride bikes through Oakland. Trust Your Struggle was excited to partner with us, because they see us as sharing their values and their vision of a healthy Oakland.”
This year’s many T-shirt variations will all feature the iconic Oakland oak tree, a return to that image this year. “Everyone who lives in Oakland sees the big oaks,” Zentgraf said. “The tree is an image that people connect with,” Local apparel company Sky Oak Co. is designing and producing the shirts.
“We’ve all been through a lot of shifts in the last couple of years,” Zentgraf said. “The tree says, ‘we’re here, we’ve always been here.’” It symbolizes the ability to weather difficult times and still flourish. “The tree and its sturdy roots remind us of the resiliency we feel being together, running together, and celebrating Oakland together,” she said.
Races this year literally run the gamut. The full marathon will cross the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island and return, and counts as a qualifying run for other races, such as the Boston and New York marathons.
The half-marathon does not cross the Bay Bridge, but follows the same route otherwise. Both races are designed to highlight Oakland neighborhoods, Zentgraf explained, and are on relatively flat terrain.
The Total Health Dental 5-K race will be joined this year by the Heritage Bank of Commerce 10-K, which will take participants around Lake Merritt and then “on a tour of downtown Oakland,” she said.
The 5-K run can be combined with the half-marathon for the “We Run the Town Challenge,” with the 5-K serving as a warm-up, and the chance for three separate medals and T-shirts for those who complete both races.
Kids under 12 are invited to the Kids Fun Run, which welcomes a partnership with Stephen and Aisha Curry’s Eat, Learn, Play Foundation. There will be separate distances for children younger than age 7, and those 8-12.
“And don’t forget our virtual options,” Zentgraf said. Participants can sign up to run events in their own areas, either individually or as a team.” Options include the full and half marathons, Run the Town, 10K, 5K and the ”26.2 Challenge” (total miles in March).
Registration details are available at OaklandMarathon.com
Race day itself is far from the whole festival, Zentgraf emphasized. “We have days of events in the park, connecting with charities, nonprofits, and local businesses. There will be music and food—we want to re-establish the festival atmosphere, but safely.”
The Festival also is launching a new program, beginning Jan. 5: “Walk & Talk.”
“Many people who work downtown are really missing the personal connections, the networking, they enjoyed before the pandemic,” Zentgraf said. “Walk & Talk” will combine a walk or run around Lake Merritt with discounts for local businesses’ happy hours afterwards.
She encouraged people to sign up as a team, noting that team participation is often less intimidating, and more manageable, especially for those just starting a new exercise program. Small downtown businesses can benefit from “Walk & Talk” participants who stay and patronize them, she said.
There is still plenty of time for businesses and organizations to sign up for “Walk & Talk.” Visit https://oaklandmarathon.com/corporate-wellness-program-2/ or contact Zentgraf directly at [email protected] for more information, and to register.
For more information about all the Oakland Running Festival events and races, visit OaklandMarathon.com