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A 10-year-old fifth-grader, Esperansa Morales won the women's division of the 10-mile Pear Blossom Run

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 1:03:24 which is 6:21/mile.   

The last time she ran a 10-mile race 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.

(04/15/2019) ⚡AMP
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Pear Blossom Run

Pear Blossom Run

This race run by YMCA starts at City Hall and goes through the town of Medford, OR. The first Pear Blossom Run held in 1977 was won by Frank Shorter, Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. Thanks to Zellah and Jerry Swartsley who founded and led the Pear Blossom Run for the first 35 years. The race grew from 546...

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Phoenix resident Jerry Swartsley has run 555 races, the Pear Blossom Run will be number 556

Not many people can say they’ve run in over 100 races, few can say they’ve been in 300. For one local runner though, try running over 500.

He’s a modest man who’s been in hundreds of races – 555 to be exact. But with all those miles, Phoenix resident Jerry Swartsley still can’t quite put a finger on why.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “It’s just been kind of a lifestyle, part of my life, like brushing your teeth. Just something you do.”

That lifestyle has been going strong since Jerry’s first race on April 10, 1969. Since then, he’s run 29 marathons, over 72,000 miles and burned through dozens of shoes.

Jerry even has a stack of journals he’s kept from every race he’s ever recorded providing insight to a wealth of history that’s taken him across the country.

With such a passion for running, Jerry has done quite a bit of work encouraging others to do the same. In the fall of 1969, he started Oregon’s first running club, the Southern Oregon Sizzlers, now known as the Southern Oregon Runners.

Then in 1977, he and his wife Zellah started the Pear Blossom Run which they still participate in every year. But with all that work, Jerry laughs about some of his more controversial achievements.

“I ran the Golden Gate Marathon in San Francisco and they ran out of water,” he said with a chuckle. “Eventually to make a long story short, I got banned from the race.”

Besides some humorous missteps (Jerry says he later cleared things up with organizers with the marathon) Jerry is prepared to make it 556 races with next weekends Pear Blossom Run.

He hopes to keep adding to the miles he’s run with maybe one day running so many he could reach the moon.

“That’s a ways off,” he said with a laugh though.

(04/10/2019) ⚡AMP
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Pear Blossom Run

Pear Blossom Run

This race run by YMCA starts at City Hall and goes through the town of Medford, OR. The first Pear Blossom Run held in 1977 was won by Frank Shorter, Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. Thanks to Zellah and Jerry Swartsley who founded and led the Pear Blossom Run for the first 35 years. The race grew from 546...

more...
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The doctors told 40-year-old Melonie that she would never walk again...now 71 she is running the Pear Blossom 5k this Saturday

Melonie Jorgensen was told by Doctors she would never walk again. At the age of 40, doctors were at a loss for a diagnosis until she found out she had fibromyalgia, and she would be living with chronic pain for the rest of her life. “I truly prayed that I would die, and I truly believe that if there was a pill I would have taken and not woken up, I would have taken it,” Melonie Jorgensen said. But Melonie started to see an end to her pain when her son convinced her to alter her lifestyle by making small changes to her diet, and her sleep. During her forties, Melonie was convinced that she would never be active again. And yet decades later, she’s now preparing to run in the Pear Blossom 5k. “I never could’ve pictured that I would have been doing this. Ever. So I feel like at 70, I’m younger at 70 than I was at 40, 50, 60,” she said. While Melonie would love to be able to place in her age group, her biggest hope is that can inspire others with her story. (04/09/2018) ⚡AMP
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