Runners begin the SM 5000 on Sunday. (Photo by Ray Solano)

Public school athletics got a serious boost over the weekend as participants in the seventh annual Santa Monica 5000 5K/10K races raised almost $84,000 for various schools and their sports teams, officials with the event announced Thursday.

Generic Events, which produces the Santa Monica 5000, donated a portion of registration fees to the Santa Monica Education Foundation and individual schools and sports teams, depending on how runners wanted their fees spent. Some students ran to help their individual teams while others directed money to their kids’ schools.

The races, which took place on Oct. 7 along Main Street and Ocean Avenue, involved over 2,500 runners. Ben Bruce (14 minutes, 25 seconds) of Flagstaff, Ariz. held off Montebello’s Luis Ibarra to take the men’s 5K while Tanya Zeferjah (16 minutes, 54 seconds) won the women’s contest. First-place finishers received a prize of $300 each.

Bruce followed the 5K win with a second place finish in the 10K, behind UCLA coach Forest Braden (30 minutes, 50 seconds). Cheryl Smith of Laguna Beach (37 minutes, 56 seconds) finished first in the female 10K. Braden and Smith received $300 for their efforts, organizers of the race said.

“The Education Foundation is so excited by the success of the Santa Monica 5000,” said Rachel Faulkner, program and events director of the Ed Foundation, which was founded in 1982 to help ensure equitable education for all students in local public schools and is in charge of fundraising for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“Over 1,300 participants from SMMUSD schools collectively raised almost $84,000 for school athletic programs,” she added. “It was an incredible community event that celebrated athletics in our schools. We are grateful for our partnership with Generic Events for making this fundraising event possible for our school district.”

Full results and more at www.santamonica5000.com.

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