MERCED -- Terri Pickard had a special reason to participate in Sunday's Merced Honey Bun Run.
One of her sons died in Iraq in December 2006. He was serving his second tour of duty when he was killed by a sniper, Pickard said. He joined the Marines after graduating from Buhach Colony High School in 2004.
"I'm running for my son," Pickard, 52, said with a smile after completing the 5-kilometer race.
The second Honey Bun Run was a fund-raiser sponsored by Buhach Colony's cross-country and track teams. The race, named for its close proximity to Valentine's Day, will donate all proceeds to the cross-country and track teams as well as the Fallen Heroes Memorial Scholarship.
About 300 runners took part in the event, which consisted of 1-, 5- and 10- kilometer races. It was open to all runners age 5 and older.
The 1-kilometer kids race began at 8:30 a.m. and the other two races began at 9.
Roads closed for races
Certain roads closed at 6 a.m. for the races, but all streets were reopened about 11:30 a.m.
Some participants ran to honor the fallen; others, such as April Latta, did it for a sense of accomplishment.
"I set a goal to participate in one event a month," said the 36-year-old Los Banos resident. "This was my event for the month of February."
Latta said it took a little bit to get warmed up because the cold weather Sunday morning. But once she got into it, it was a good feeling, especially when she finished.
"Now I can go have a big lunch," she said.
Natalie Flores, 15, a sophomore at Buhach Colony, said this was her first 5-kilometer race, which is a little more than three miles. She usually only runs two miles, she said.
She did it in less time than expected, with it taking her 26 minutes to cross the finish line.
Her favorite part of the event was simply the joy of running. "Not having anything in mind," she said. "Just concentrating on finishing it."
The race was started after members of the cross-country and track teams were looking for ways to raise money for travel, uniforms and other expenses. The race was inspired by the Merced Classic held in the early 1990s.
The event was part of the Merced County Road Running Series, said Vanessa Carroll, one of the organizers. There are two similar events scheduled for Atwater and Livingston.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.