Cloudy skies don’t deter participants in annual Moonlight Run

Gavin Libbey and Drew Keller

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Thousands of Palo Altans, including many Palo Alto High School students, turned up at the Palo  Alto Baylands on Friday night to walk, run, or just watch the five- and ten-kilometer races of the 29th Moonlight Run.

Many Paly students participated in the event. Some, like freshman Kent Slaney and junior Aaron Chandler, ran competitively in the races. Slaney finished second overall in the 5K run with a time of 17:24, and Chandler finished seventh in the 10K and first among those in his age group with a time of 38:17.

“I’ve done [the Moonlight Run] for the past two years,” freshman Ben Beaudry, another competitive 10K runner, said. “The 10K is really fun and you get a nice view.”

There were also many other students who participated not to win, but simply to enjoy the festive atmosphere and various activities of the event.

“There are a lot of people, you can get some stuff for free, and it’s just fun running through the night,” sophomore Samuel Desre said.

The annual event took place took place Friday evening, starting at the Baylands Athletic Center. There were three events throughout the night:  a five-kilometer walk at 7 p.m., a ten-kilometer run at 8:15 p.m. and a five-kilometer run at 8:45 p.m.

The five-kilometer route took the runners and walkers past the Palo Alto Airport and around the Baylands Interpretive Center. The ten-kilometer run took the participants down Embarcadero Road and then around the entire Palo Alto Baylands Park, returning along Interstate 101.

The run occurred the night before a day of hard rain, leaving the sky cloudy and with little moonlight breaking through. However, the nighttime runners did get to see some glimpses of the full harvest moon, which was for many the only source of light on the trails. Past Moonlight Runs have also had problems with weather: last year, thunderstorms and rain almost caused the races to be canceled.

Participants convened before their events on the Athletic Center’s baseball field. Runners, walkers and cheerleaders took part in an organized warm-up accompanied by music and tackled a rock-climbing wall. Organizers also provided a commemorative shirt and food, which runners and observers snacked on as they socialized before the races.

“It was cool to see all of the other Paly kids running and volunteering,” sophomore Diana Cowie said. “It’s always fun to be out on the marsh, especially under the moonlight.”