Local runners and athletes are pacing themselves to raise money for a host of charities at this year’s Keep LA Running event. The 13th year of the 5k run, 10k run/walk and coastal bike cruise returns this year to its traditional starting point at Dockweiler Beach, 12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey.

First on the Keep LA Running agenda is the ten- or 20-mile bike ride beginning at 7:30 a.m.; followed by the 5k run and walk at 8 a.m.; the 10k run at 8:30 a.m.; and the “Kiddies-K Fun Run” at 9:30 a.m.

The event has raised about $600,000 for its beneficiary charities through its history. Organizers want to see the event grow each year. Last year’s event exceeded the $100,000 mark in funds raised for charity.

The event was originally organized to raise funds for the Los Angeles County/Special District Employee Disaster Relief Fund, but now other beneficiaries have been added.

This year, the event benefits the American Cancer Society, the Breast/Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the Rosa Parks Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center and the Pediatric Oncology Ward, Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center. This year, proceeds from Keep LA Running will also benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Los Angeles County/Special District Employee Disaster Relief Fund was established in 1994 by the Los Angeles County Employees Association (LACEA), which represents about 55,000 county and special district members. Los Angeles County employees provide public services during and after disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes and civil unrest.

The event has been successful in attracting the participation of track and field legends. Last year, Olympic track and field medalist Tommie Smith, the 1968 Olympic 200 meters champion, was the honorary spokesman and starter for the event, along with former Dodgers baseball team member Willie Davis.

This year’s event will feature 89-year-old former Olympian Louie Zamperini as honorary spokesman and starter. Zamperini, representing the United States, participated in the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany.

Other notable athletes, celebrities and politicians expected to attend the event include radio personality Pepe Barreto, former Angels baseball player Jim Anderson, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca (who plans to run the 5k race); Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (also plans to run); Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina; and California State Assembly members Jerome Horton, Cindy Montanez and Lloyd E. Levine.

At this year’s Keep LA Running, organizers seek to attract about 2,000 runners, walkers and bicyclists. The races are open to both beginners and experienced racers.

A variety of activities are planned before and after the race, including a pre-race aerobic warm-up, an awards ceremony, a barbecue and live musical entertainment.

Registration is available online at www.w2promo.com or by calling (310) 828-4123.

Non-runners can participate in the event as volunteers, who are needed for race day setup and registration, T-shirt distribution, finish line help, water stops, time splits, sponsor booths, competitor packets and the awards ceremony.

Information on volunteering, (213) 744-8238.

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