As night falls and runners take their places, excitement brews for the race known as the Moonlight Run and Walk.
In this annual event, people have the opportunity to run in the darkness with friends and family on one of the largest undisturbed tracts of marshland in the San Francisco Bay.
This year, the Moonlight Run and Walk is set to take place on Oct. 11 at the Palo Alto Baylands Athletic Center.
Marking the 35th time the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Weekly have hosted this event, many runners are looking forward to the event.
According to Paly senior and varsity cross country athlete Wolfe Pickett, participating in the run is a great way to exercise and socialize with friends.
“(The Moonlight Run is) a great way to be physically active and to spend time with family and friends, as well as being able to support a good cause and to be active in your community,” Pickett said.
Onsite registration for the Moonlight Run and Walk will open at 5:30 p.m., with the first race beginning at 7:00 p.m.
A registration fee of $50, $60 for the Half Marathon, or $35 for kids, is required to attend. Additionally, runners or walkers under the age of 18 must bring a signed waiver and an accompanying adult or guardian.
Participants will have the opportunity to choose to race in either the 5K Walk, the 5K Run, the 10k Run, or the Half Marathon.
According to the Moonlight Run and Walk website, the 5K walk begins at 7:00 pm, followed by the Half marathon at 7:30, the 5K run at 8:15, and the 10K run at 8:25.
All proceeds earned from the event will be donated to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund which provides its funds to local nonprofits serving Palo Alto families and children.
“The Moonlight Run kicks off our fundraising effort for the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, with the proceeds ultimately being used as grants for local nonprofits serving children and families, so our goal is always to raise as much money as we can,” said Moonlight Run Coordinator Kali Shiloh. “Last year, the event brought in $69,110, so a primary goal is to raise even more this year. In total, the Holiday Fund generated $411,000 in grants last year, which was distributed to 57 nonprofits.”
Runners are recommended to arrive one hour earlier before their respective events and bring headlamps to illuminate the path. Dogs are not permitted on any of the runs, but will be permitted on the 5K walk to accompany participants.
Similarly, runners with strollers are welcome on the 5K walk, but are expected to stay at the back of both.
The run, taking place at night — hence its name — offers a uniqueness not seen in other races, according to Palo Alto High School math teacher and former Moonlight runner Cynthia Chen.
“I love the uniqueness of the race,” Chen said. “Most road races are in the morning, so it’s quite a novelty to have a nighttime race. I like that it is a low-key event where families can come out and run or walk together.”
Chen, who participated in the Moonlight Run and Walk in 2015, 2016 and 2018, initially heard about the run in high school, when she was an athlete on the Gunn High School Cross Country team.
“The Moonlight Run typically coincides with the cross country season, so some of my teammates and I would participate in the race for fun when we were younger,” Chen said.
On the other hand, Pickett first heard of the run when his dad mentioned it to him.
“My dad suggested we run the race together, and I agreed to try it out with him,” Pickett said.
According to Pickett, the Moonlight Run was a refreshing change from the traditional races he had competed in.
“The Moonlight Run was more casual and less stressful than the traditional races I competed in,” Pickett said. “When I ran the Moonlight Run, it comprised of several different events: the 5K run, 5K walk and a 10K run … I ran in the 5K run for fun.”
Pickett had worries about running at night, but quickly saw that the run was safe by design.
“Because the run was at night, it was sometimes difficult to see where I was going,” Pickett said. “Luckily, there were always people in front of me or next to me that I could run with. Although the charity component of the Moonlight Run was inspiring, my favorite part was just being able to run and have fun.”