A 10-year-old fifth-grader from Klamath Falls, Esperansa Morales won the women's division of the 10-mile race Saturday in front of Medford City Hall

In one of the most remarkable stories in the 43-year history of the Pear Blossom Run, Morales, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Klamath Falls, won the women's division of the 10-mile race Saturday in front of Medford City Hall.

Although documentation of the ages of all previous winners wasn't readily available, there's little question Esperansa Morales is the youngest women's victor.

“That's crazy,” said Desiree Piter, the 28-year-old runner-up who captured the women's 5K last year before entering the 10-mile for the first time in seven years in the event. “She's super fast. She's got a lot of potential. I'm really proud of her.”

Morales' father, Sergio, himself a renowned distance runner in the Klamath Basin and a coach and constant training partner of his daughter's, was no less impressed.

As he often does, Sergio raced alongside Esperansa.

“Yeah, that’s incredible, right,” he said, referring to her winning the Pear Blossom at such a young age. “We didn’t expect that. That’s a big surprise.”

It was a performance for the ages.

Morales, who attends Mills Elementary School and will celebrate her birthday May 31, completed the slightly revamped course in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 24 seconds. Her time computes to a 6:21 average per mile.

The only other time she ran a 10-mile race, she said, was last year, when she was the first entrant as young as 9 to finish Pear Blossom’s marquee race, collecting that age-group record with a time of 1:14:59.

“I do remember there were a lot of people (running) around me,” she said.

Not so this time for the youngster with Olympic dreams.

Morales set out to break the 10-14 age-group mark. She did so by 7 1/2 minutes.

Winning the race was sweet, sweet icing on the cake.

“It’s a great honor, to be honest,” she said.

posted Monday April 15th