40th Annual Holiday Run and Walk for Health, December 10, 2016

Holiday Run and Walk for Health Race History

In 1977, Tom Torlakson, a teacher and coach at Pacific High School, and Mike Hurd, the Antioch High School Cross Country coach during the 1970s, decided to pull together a new East County event. One in which their runners could participate after the Cross Country season ended, and one that would involve their community more in running.

In the 2nd year, Torlakson approached Clark Gelhaus—a teacher as well as a swimming instructor and fitness enthusiast—and the Delta Kiwanis Club to help with the event. Both the Kiwanis and Gelhaus enthusiastically embraced the Holiday Run.

The event’s organizers have continued to expand and transform the event to make it enjoyable and meaningful for participants.

A 10K race was added by 1979. In the 1980s, the race was moved up to Raley’s Shopping Center to take advantage of the nearby Contra Costa Canal trail. In 1987, the Holiday Run’s “School Participation Challenge” was initiated as a way to get younger students involved in the race and fitness.

In 1991, the race moved to the nearby Delta Memorial Hospital, now Sutter Delta Medical Center, allowing the use of their facilities for race headquarters. The walk was added to attract parent participation, seniors, and the growing number of recreational walkers.

In 1995, Delta Kiwanis made the Byron Boys Ranch—recently renamed the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Center—a targeted beneficiary of the financial proceeds of the event. Youth groups remain major beneficiaries to this day. A health fair was added and in 1997 our name evolved once again, to the “Holiday Run and Walk for Health.”

New participation challenges were also added. A Libraries Challnege gave our wonderful local libraries the opportunity to become beneficiaries of the event. Though their participation, libraries are awarded funds to buy up-to-date materials on fitness and nutrition.

In 2006, the Holiday Run and Walk for Health moved to the Contra Loma Regional Park with the cooperation of the East Bay Regional Parks District. This spectacular location was well received by a record-number of runners in its first three years.

We have worked together to celebrate four decades of family fun and fitness! We continue to believe that the “Holiday Run and Walk for Health” has great potential to grow and bring its message of fitness and family health to hundreds of others in our community.

We invite your ideas and help as we prepare for the 41st year of this East County holiday family tradition!