Idyllwild 5K and 10K Run and Fitness Walk course. Courtesy of Idyllwild Race Committee

The first Saturday in June is race day, Idyllwild’s annual celebration of fitness, family, fun and financial contribution to Idyllwild School’s physical education program.

For more than 30 years, the Idyllwild 5K and 10K Run and Fitness Walk has energized entrants from age 7 to 70-plus in a spectacular mountain setting blessed with sweetly scented alpine air. For committed runners, the race is highly competitive. For many others, it is an opportunity to stroll with children, friends, family and dogs and to raise money for a good cause.

A 1983 T-shirt, one of the earliest dated shirts for the Idyllwild 5K and 10K Race, belonging to Kent Steele, one of the original race organizers. Photo by Marshall Smith
Over the years the Idyllwild Race Committee has contributed more than $60,000 to the local school’s physical education program, funding among other things, a climbing wall, gymnasium scoreboard, grass for top field, athletic uniforms, a VCR and video camera for instructional feedback and PE equipment. Longtime organizer and former Idyllwild physical education teacher Holly Guntermann noted the importance of the race to the school’s athletic programs. “The run is very important,” she said. “It gives the physical education program 95 percent of its funding. What’s fun is that some of the adults now running it ran it years ago as students, and now their kids are running it, too.”

Guntermann remembers the first year there were 25 participants. In 2009, a record 411 runners and fitness walkers registered.

Race Committee spokesman Bill Whitman, lawyer, physical therapist and triathlete, said the race was his first introduction to Idyllwild. “I came up in 1992 with the Desert Cities Track Club to run in the race. I was so impressed with Idyllwild that I started coming back. And I think that’s what happens with others. They come up for the race, they love it and the town, and they come back.”

Whitman tipped his hat to the many locals who volunteer to staff the race as well as those who participate. “The locals make such a difference by supporting this race, whether walkers, racers or local high school kids fresh from CIF.”

Whitman said the course for the 5K and 10K should not be underestimated. “It’s a challenging course what with the hills and the altitude. It’s not your average flatland race.” Whitman also credits the small town conviviality and camaraderie that each year help make the race a positive and friendly experience. Add to that the familiar race emceeing of Chip Schelly, and you have the right mix for a great event.

Part of the fun is a kids’ run at Town Hall and a post-race pancake breakfast and awards ceremony. Tickets for the breakfast can be purchased on race day or at the registration and packet pick up on Friday night before the race. Proceeds benefit the Idyllwild School PTA program.

Registration for the race itself is either online, or from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31, or on race day from 6:15 to 7 a.m. Online registration is at

The 5K race and fitness walk begins at 7:15 a.m. at the Village Center Drive starting line. The 10K race begins at 8 a.m. and the 1⁄2-mile kids’ run for children 7 and under is at 9:15 a.m. at Town Hall.