Running Coronado
The Crown City Classic kicked off Saturday, marking a return to competitive running in the county after the pandemic pause. @CrownCityRun, via Facebook

Coronado hosted the 48th Crown City Classic – the first road race in San Diego County since the start of the pandemic – Saturday, with a field that organizers placed at 2,273 runners.

Dillon Breen won the men’s 12K in 37:26, one second ahead of fellow San Diegan Dylan Marx.

“We’ve been waiting for this for 15 months,” Marx said before the race. “The whole participant/spectator aspect of the races, it’s really what we’ve missed, the opportunity to showcase our talents.”

Jessica Tonn of Phoenix won the women’s 12K race in 42:07, two minutes ahead of Hilary Corno of San Diego.

The runners started at Tidelands Park, beneath the Coronado Bridge and a 1,500 square-foot American flag, then headed to Glorietta Boulevard.

The 12K course then swept past the Hotel Del Coronado and along the Silver Strand.

Naturally, for the July 4th holiday, some runners painted their faces red, white and blue or ran in stars and stripes compression socks.

Even the 12K distance was apt – converted, it’s 7.4 miles.

At the shorter distances, Erin Menefee won the women’s 5K in 17:38, with fellow San Diegan Bridget Nolan second in 18:19.

“It’s so great to be back racing again,” Menefee, 29, said. “It’s been so long since we’ve had a chance to compete. My team has done some time trials, but that’s nothing like the real thing.

“Being with all the people, it’s so fun celebrating the Fourth of July. It feels like we’re back again. This is the real thing.”

Menefee ran track and cross-country at Mt. Carmel High School and the University of Arizona. She underwent open heart surgery for a rare congenital heart defect nearly four years ago, then resumed her running career, qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, where she finished 328th in a field of 390.

Steven Martinez of Chula Vista won the men’s 5K in 14:46, with Jyden Schmid of San Diego second in 15:41.

“You can’t beat San Diego, the weather, the people, you just can’t beat it,” said Martinez, a 2012 graduate of Otay Ranch High who also ran at Cal State Chico, then served as an assistant coach at Augusta University.

“I was living in Georgia the last couple of years. There were races over there, but there were no clubs, there wasn’t much of a big community, running-wise. It wasn’t that important.

“Here, people love it. There are a bunch of clubs, a bunch of running groups. It’s a big family here.”