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RTR – The Early Years

The first Run Through Redlands was held on March 25th, 1984 as a result of merging the  Redlands Community Hospital's  “Run for Life”, the Redlands Daily Facts' “5k & 10K” and the Kiwanis Club's “5K & 10K Run”.   The “Run for Life” was the most ambitious of the three events and included 5K, 10K and Half Marathon that had attracted about 440 entrants in 1983.   

According to Terry Greenberg, Editor of the Redlands Daily Facts and first Race Director of the Run Through Redlands, “all decided we could present a much better event for area runners if we got together”.    He went on to say that “this is something we hope we can build through the years into the kind of event the whole town participates in – either running or watching”.   “That's what we feel is important, building a community event,  “ said Ron Ossman, who at the time was RCH's director of development and community relations, “and as the community's hospital, we want to be involved”. 

The courses used for previous runs were abandoned, but portions of the Redlands Daily Facts course were retained in the original Run Through Redlands Course which had it's start and finish at the Redlands Mall.   This same layout was retained until 1992, when the finish was moved to the Redlands Bowl, to provide for an Awards Ceremony and space for post race vendors and activities.

As a result of the merger, The 1984 Run Through Redlands became the Biggest running event in the Inland Empire,  besting the Riverside Mission Inn run by 10 participants.   In total,    there were 1261 runners, including 4 wheelchair entrants, and 110-man Marine Corps 10K Team from Twenty-Nine Palms.    

Debbie Heaton, at the time ...a 35-year old Olympic hopeful from Redlands, was the 1984 RTR overall 10K winner, with a time of 38:05.  The following year during the 1985 RTR, Heaton set the course record for the 1/2M by completing it in 1-hour, 24-min and 31-seconds.    Her 10K & half-Marathon victories gave Heaton two course records in the first two years of the event.   For comparison, Christine Magill of Loma Linda won the women's 1/2M in 2007 with a time of 1:31:16 and Jeff Ambos of Riverside won the 2007 men's 1/2M with a time of 1:17:24.  

During the 80's while stationed at Norton AFB, Debbie and her husband were active runners.  In the last year of the RCH “Run for Life, in 1983, she was the  winner the  women's 1/2M.   Her career in the Air Force afforded her the time and opportunity to run Cross-Country in Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan,  and in 1985 in  Algarve {Southern part of Portugal} where she finished 7th in a field of 40.   She and her husband Robert followed a    7 mile-per-day training schedule that averaged out to about 70 miles each week.

In a recent phone interview, Debbie indicated that she and Bob have retired from their Air Force, and  have relocated to Oregon where the both have gone on to other professional work.  Bob still runs, and both enjoy bicycling and other outdoor activities.  Debbie has not run competitively since 1994 due to problems with her knees.  Debbie remembered their time in Redlands and participation in the Run Through Redlands fondly.   She was amazed to learn that people here still remembered her.