What better way to kick off the summer vacation season than with an early morning run or fitness walk that benefits Idyllwild School’s physical education program?

Consider the salutary benefits of participating — brisk, early summer mountain air, camaraderie, race cheerleaders bearing pom-poms and spirit, prizes, a renowned race announcer and a post-race carbo feast.

This year’s race takes place on Saturday, June 11. The 5K Race and Fitness Walk begins at 7:15 a.m. and the 10K begins at 8 a.m. A half-mile Kids Run for ages 7 and under takes place at Town Hall at 9:15 a.m.

For at least 37 years (the exact tally is shrouded in mystery), the Idyllwild 5K and 10K Race and Fitness Walk has raised money for Idyllwild School physical education — more than $70,000 to help fund PE equipment, a scoreboard for the gymnasium, grass for top field, athletic uniforms, a VCR and video camera for instructional feedback, and other items for elementary- and middle-school PE programs.

Idyllwild resident, triathlete and former Race Committee Chair Bill Whitman touted the challenges of the course. “There’s elevation gain, not just running on some flat blacktop, and the mountain air and beauty on the course make it a very memorable experience,” he noted. “And it gives even the best athletes a challenge.”

Race committee member Mike Slattery said he’s hoping for record-breaking participation, even though registration to date has been light.

Visit for registration details and other information, including registration packages, race T-shirts, joining existing teams and previous-year results. Top male and female finishers overall in 5K and 10K runs will receive special awards and custom medallions, as will top male and female competitors in the Fitness Walk. Awards also will be given to the top three male and female finishers in each age group for the runs and for the top five male and female finishers overall in the Fitness Walk.

This year’s race is dedicated to the memory of Janice Kelly, longtime Hemet High cross-country coach who died earlier this year at age 55. Kelly coached Idyllwild runners who attended Hemet High. Kelly embodied the spirit of a lifelong athlete — she ran with her cross-country teams in practice for the entirety of their 2015 season and taught until the Christmas break, even though few knew she was ill. She died in January of cancer.