Crown City Classic ...

Coronado’s Crown City Classic celebrates its 48th anniversary this coming Saturday. The event, which starts at 7 a.m., marks the first road race in San Diego County since the pandemic.

Independence Day Holiday weekend tradition benefits the Islander Sports Foundation

Restaurants are packed again with indoor dining. SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo are open for business. Baseball fans have returned to Petco Park for the Padres, with no limit on attendance.

After more than a year of masks and restrictions because of COVID-19, life is getting back to normal and nowhere will that be more evident than in Coronado when the Crown City Classic celebrates its 48th anniversary this coming Saturday.

The event, which starts at 7 a.m., marks the first road race in San Diego County since the pandemic.

“Anybody can go out and swim, bike or run on their own,” said endurance athlete Bob Babbitt, co-founder of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. “But it’s at races where you get the most amped and pumped. It’s the social part of what we do, seeing your buddies at a race.”

Babbitt paused for just a moment, thinking of the scene that will unfold in Coronado come Saturday. “It’s going to be really special,” he said.

Race director Jamie Monroe kept the event rolling amidst the pandemic last year with a modified race. He plopped down a timing mat on the bike path at Tidelands Park for the only in-person event to take place in San Diego last year. Counting the virtual race, nearly 1,000 participated.

The atmosphere figures to be electric on Saturday when some 2,000-plus participants are expected to lace up their running shoes. The Crown City Classic will feature a 12K, 5K and 1/2 –mile fun run for kids.

Why a 12K? Because it’s 7.4 miles, celebrating our nation’s Independence Day on July 4th (7/4).

Few cities celebrate the Fourth of July more enthusiastically than Coronado, with a road race, rough-water swim, parade, fireworks, flags everywhere and people dressed in red, white and blue. As one Coronado city councilmember put it, “If you’re a resident of Coronado and you don’t support Fourth of July festivities, you should have your resident card pulled.”

One of the people most excited about Saturday’s event is Monroe, owner of Coronado-based Easy Day Sports. Monroe and his staff were taking inventory recently at a storage unit, organizing the start line arch, podium, banners, pennant flags and coolers. Normally, it’s a bit of drudgery. Not this time.

Said one of Monroe’s staff after skipping the full-scale event last year, “I can’t tell you guys how excited I am to be doing banner inventory.”

Monroe described the joy race directors draw from providing an event for people of all ages and skill levels.

“It’s the difference we make in the community and the impact people have when they accomplish goals with other people,” he said. “You can go out and run on your own. But when you watch 1,000 people cross a finish line, you see the difference you make. That’s the high an event organizer gets.”

In addition to age-groupers reaping the satisfaction of working up a sweat on Fourth of July weekend before hitting a barbecue Sunday, the 12K has drawn some of San Diego’s fastest runners. Included in the field are San Diegan Dylan Marx and Chula Vista’s Steven Martinez, both of whom raced at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. Marx finished 35thand Martinez 57th.

“We’ve been waiting for this for 15 months,” said Marx. “Maybe we won’t be our sharpest but good enough to toe the line and mix it up with some competition. The whole participant/spectator aspect of the races, it’s really what we’ve missed, the opportunity to showcase our talents. People say you race to see how good you can be. But there’s got to be an aspect of showmanship for our sport to grow and that’s why we’re happy to support San Diego’s first race back.”

Registration is still open online for all events. The weekend kicks off with a packet pick up on Thursday at Nicky Rottens restaurant. New in 2021, the Coronado Ferry has added a special early morning service for runners.

Race day features a finish line festival at Tidelands Park with live music and awards. Following the event all of the participants are invited to attend Coronado’s famous Independence Day Parade which starts at 10 a.m. on Orange Avenue.

For a complete weekend schedule, online registration and more, visit CrownCityRun.com.

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