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MB10K Looks To the Future With a Nod to the Past

Aug 12, 2020 12:27PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The legendary Manhattan Beach 10K race will look different this fall - but race organizers are weaving cherished traditions in with the new format.

What's changed? The most obvious change is that this year the race, now in its 43rd running, will be an individual event. Racers can run or walk the 10K at any point between October 1 and 10, in whatever location they like. (Runners can even break up the run or walk into two 5Ks or ten 1Ks, or any other combination.)

What's stayed the same? Community spirit, of course. Race organizers are working overtime to find ways to connect participants and community members virtually. As always, all profits from the race will go back into the community through scholarships and community projects. 

And what's better this year? There's no limit to the number of entries. In the past entries had been capped at 4,000. But this year, given the virtual nature of the event, any number of people can participate.

"I would love for us to just come together as a community and all find a way to join in," said race director Rachel Judson, who added that even her family in Michigan was hoping to participate. "It would be so exciting to me if we could just 'blow out' that 4,000 participant number."

Kicking off that theme of old versus new is a colorful new logo that the race organizers are calling "throwback nouveau." It harkens back to the popular logo on the 1982 MB10K t-shirt (that became a coveted collector's item).

MB10K Logo Design

As it turns out, quite a bit of thought went into the design of this year's t-shirt, according to David Schwartz, owner of Manhattan Repro and designer of the logo.

"The MB10K has always been an iconic event in our city, instilling a sense of pride in all those involved - runners for certain, but also their families and the entire community who celebrate it," said Schwartz, who is also a longtime sponsor of the race. "Because of the unique situation we're currently in, the race committee asked for something that would honor the history of the event, but still be fresh and modern."

Schwartz continued: "The 80's colors were a tribute to a favored vintage MB10K race T-shirt - vibrant and upbeat - coupled with bold type in an effort to be easily read and ultra modern. By incorporating the traditional logo-mark, but with a solo runner, we gave a nod to the special nature of this year's (Run Your Own) Race theme."

The result is a sleek and colorful design that - who knows? - could itself become a collector's item in the future. 

"Our hope is that people will be warmed by the tradition, recognize the connection to today's circumstances, and keep a positive outlook for the event and the future," said Schwartz.

The original 1982 t-shirt, was designed by Ocean Pacific (a client of MB10K founder Russ Lesser at the time) and is so rare that when the MB10K team was putting together a collection of past t-shirts, they had to substitute a printout of the shirt because they couldn't get their hands on one of the actual shirts. 

So when race director Judson happened to come by longtime participant Bill Geary wearing his 1982 t-shirt, she had to snap a picture. (See photo below.)

"The 1982 t-shirt is a favorite," Geary told DigMB, adding that he likes the new design as well. Geary said he has participated in "90 percent" of the past races, and that even though he will be walking, not running, he plans to participate again in 2020.

Incorporating Community Spirit, Memories

Registration for the MB10K Special Edition “Run Your Own Race” will open on September 1 at

Runners will have ten days to run the 10K, anywhere, in whatever way they choose to complete it, from October 1 through October 10, 2020.

But despite the change in format, the race committee is continuing to find new ways to connect runners to preserve the cherished sense of community. 

The new plans include a "community page" on the MB10K website where everyone who has registered can choose to have their name displayed as a show of support for the MB10K.

Race organizers will also create a digital presentation of how and where people choose to run the race. It will be housed on the MB10K website so that even those who are not on social media can view it.

Additionally, the team is working to create a repository of MB10K memories that are being collected for the website. (You can send your memories to [email protected]

"It’s just so touching to see what the race means to people - That’s my favorite part," said Judson. "So many people have a story about how their family always looks forward to race day."

Added Judson:  I love the emails we've been getting. Somebody just shared a photo from 1978. If this is the energy we're going to get, this is going to be so much fun."

Interestingly, Judson noted that some races around the country and around the world had already been moving toward virtual events, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The MB10K was compelled to make that change because of the pandemic, but organizers have embraced the new format.

"The current state of the world has forced us to do this, but virtual events are becoming popular. It had been something that was already happening in the running community," said Judson.

Manhattan Beach 10K Background

The MB10K is one of the few 10K races in the nation that is volunteer organized. Since the first race in 1978 it has been a volunteer effort on the part of the Manhattan 10K Race Committee, and no one gets paid for the work they do organizing the race. There are approximately 30 committee members and some have been with the race since year one.

A celebrated cadre of runners known as the P.I.E.R. Group (Participated In Every Race) has run every MB 10K since the race was founded. (That group includes race founder Russ Lesser, who says he will participate again this year as always.) The P.I.E.R. Group can be recognized on race day by the color of their race shirt - theirs is printed on a different color to distinguish them from the crowd and to honor their commitment to the MB10K.

Profits from the race go to local fitness-related recreation projects and college scholarships. Entry fees over the years have helped fund local par courses, the Mira Costa High School track, The Strand mile markers, the synthetic turf at the Marine Avenue soccer field, and the 2014 play structure at the Live Oak Park Tot Lot.

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