The costs of running a track and field program are not lost on Tania Fischer.

There are assistant coaching salaries not covered by the Santa Monica-Malibu school district. There are entry fees for invitationals, usually several hundred dollars each. There are recurring needs for vaulting poles, high jump pits and other equipment. And there are often athletes who need financial assistance with uniforms and other expenses.

“It starts to add up,” Fischer said.

It’s why Fischer, the track and field coach at Santa Monica High School, is grateful that her program is a beneficiary of the Leslie Cohen Law 5K. The fifth-annual edition of the race is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey.

The event is the brainchild of Cohen, a Santa Monica-based lawyer and parent of two Samohi track alumni.

“She’s an amazing woman,” Fischer said. “She had this idea, and she made it happen. She runs the whole show. It’s hard to put on races if you’re not established, and yet she did it. Every year it get a little bit bigger.”

More than 300 people registered for the 5-kilometer event in 2014, the year Cohen’s twin daughters Phoebe and Rachel Kirkhofer graduated from Samohi.

Organizers are hoping for an even larger turnout at this year’s edition, which comes during the Vikings’ track and field season. Members of Fischer’s team will either race or volunteer that morning. Parents often help out as well.

Proceeds from the 5K will support Fischer’s program as well as the Public Counsel’s Debtor Assistance Project, which provides free legal assistance to low-income debtors in the Los Angeles area.

In late 2009, Cohen established a running team to promote physical fitness and camaraderie. The group, which welcomes athletes of all ages, has led training sessions for Lincoln Middle School students who went on to join Fischer’s team at Samohi.

Then came Cohen’s inaugural 5K fundraiser, which was held at Santa Monica Beach on April 28, 2012.

“She lost money the first year just to get it off the ground,” Fischer said. “It’s a huge operation. A lot of people don’t put on 5Ks for those reasons. But she believes in it so much. It’s amazing what she does and how she gives back. It’s a great thing.”

The money raised is extremely helpful for Fischer, who said SMMUSD covers only one of her two stipends for assistant cross-country coaches. She has even more assistants during the spring track season, which requires more specialized training and instruction.

In addition to entry fees, Fischer said, her athletes regularly qualify for events in other parts of the state that necessitate hotel stays and other travel expenses.

“If you want to go to a bigger invitational, you spend the night,” she said. “Our sport is not that bad compared to football or lacrosse, but there are still a lot of costs.”

Cohen’s upcoming event includes medals, prize giveaways, action photos and a variety of post-race snacks. Registration currently costs $45, but the price is scheduled to jump March 30.

To sign up for the race, or for more information, visit