Runners take off at the Running of the Elk fundraiser outside the District56 center on Oct. 17.

The 10th annual Kaiser Permanente Running of the Elk attracted hundreds of participants on Oct. 17 for its return to in-person races after going online last year.

Though the event was somewhat scaled down from 2019 — featuring a 10K, a 5K and a children’s fun run, but no half-marathon — former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis called the comeback “energizing.”

“Everybody looks forward to this run every year,” he said. “Honestly, I think people are just like so excited to go be with other people for the first time in months.”

Davis also praised the run’s new venue, District56, with a stage for musical acts and a grass area. He anticipated the event center becoming the run’s permanent home, and he looked forward to holding the Running of the Elk at its normal time in April next year.

The day’s events included rock covers by youth band Mars Butterfly and a saxophone performance by Elk Grove multi-instrumentalist Neil Nayyar.

Kaiser Permanente sponsors the Running of the Elk, which benefits Davis’ Elk Grove Youth Sports Foundation. This nonprofit provides scholarships to children in families who can’t afford the costs of playing league sports.

“Because of this run, in the 14 years we have existed, we’ve never once had to say no to a kid who wants to play sports,” Davis said.

The 10K kicked off with speeches from Davis, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and Elk Grove City Council Member Darren Suen.

“I thank all of you for coming out this crispy, cold morning and supporting our community,” Singh-Allen told the runners. “Good luck, everyone.”

The first finisher was Anthony Cortes of Half Moon Bay, who clocked a time of 16 minutes, 33 seconds in the 5K. Mariana Carreon of Elk Grove won the 5K in the women’s division. The 10K winners were Jay Chew of Elk Grove and Elisabeth Torres of Lodi.

Second place in the 5K women’s division went to Josilynn Parker, who had just come back to running after giving birth to her son.

“It felt good running again,” Parker said.

With one run under her belt, Parker and her family took part in the Kids Fun Run.

Villa Villalobos and Amanda Medina both ran the 10K, each noting something that made the run special. It was Villalobos’ first 10K, and he said he was “proud” of his performance.

Medina ran while pushing her son in a stroller. That meant added weight, but both mother and son enjoyed the experience.

“He was waving at everybody,” she said with a laugh.

The race medals were delayed by the shipping backup at the Port of Los Angeles, David announced after the runs. He said participants will receive emails when the medals are available for pickup at Fleet Feet’s Sacramento and Elk Grove locations.