The top finishers in Wednesday's Firecracker Mile Fun Run not only were fast, they also showed off some adept people-dodging skills.
As Brandon Reiff and Alex Taylor raced neck-and-neck down the final stretch through downtown Truckee, they found themselves running past unaware parade-goers leisurely walking, biking or skateboarding down the street.
The frontrunners, both from Truckee, managed to avoid any contact, however, and race officials quickly shooed the human obstacles off the course as runners began to pour in.
Using a strong kick, Reiff, 30, reached the finish line first in a time of 4 minutes, 20.1 seconds. Taylor, 22, finished on his heels in 4:21.3, while Mike Sunseri, 20, of Kings Beach rounded out the top three in 4:27.4.
Tina Oprean, 21, of Kings Beach was the top woman and 11th overall in a time of 5:00.8. She was followed by 16-year-old Leigh Moffett of Truckee, who finished 13th overall in 5:06.7, and Anja Gruber, 21, of Olympic Valley, who was 18th overall in 5:18.
More than 400 people participated in the annual fundraising run, which begins on Donner Pass Road across from U.S. Bank and benefits Auburn Ski Club's youth and Junior Nordic programs.
They had plenty of moral support along the way, particularly near the downtown finish line, where thousands of spectators lined the street and cheered on the runners as they awaited the parade.
Spencer Eusden of Soda Springs finished fourth overall in a time of 4:34. He was followed by Truckee's Austin Meng (4:37) in fifth, Isaac Hoenig (4:39) in sixth, Luke Hoffman (4:48) seventh, Alex Kopytko (4:55) eighth, Ben Grasseschi (4:57) ninth, and Martin Benes (4:58) 10th.
Truckee runners Macaviay Porter (5:30), 16, was sixth among women, Carrie Bradley (5:53), 12, was seventh, and Hannah Halvorsen (6:14), 14, was ninth.
The event, which was the largest since Auburn Ski Club (ASC) began organizing the race in 2008, raised more than $6,000, said ASC Nordic Director Sally Jones.
“The Firecracker Mile is one of our favorite fundraisers, as it captures the spirit of what The Auburn Ski Club is all about — providing opportunities for all ages and families to get out and stay in shape, and for elite athletes to race and train,” Jones said.
Jones said race organizers were challenged by the high volume of participants finishing in such a short period of time, especially because several “poachers” ran across the line wearing no bib number, and a number of runners ducked out of the finish chute before their bibs could be recorded in the correct order.
“We are looking into ways to improve how we run the finish for next year so we can continue to grow this great event,” she said.
Auburn Ski Club's next fundraising event is the Squaw Mountain Run on Aug. 4.-
Find more photos from the Firecracker Mile at http://macbethgraphics.smugmug.com/RUNNING-COMPETITIONS/TRUCKEE-FIRECRACKER-MILE-2012/.