Boston Marathon-Qualifying Race, Mountain Circle's "Running with the Bears", A Success for Foster and Adopted Children

Share Article

One of the country's smallest Boston Marathon-qualifying races hosted 500 runners which raised $50,000 for foster programs and brought over $250,000 to the Plumas County, California local economy.

running with the bears crossing the finish line 2016

Participant Crosses the Finish Line at Running with the Bears

We do not close the course and many runners cross the finish line at 2 or 3:00 p.m. We are so inspired by them.

The Running with the Bears™ Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K is a success for foster and adopted children. Running with the Bears was created and is managed by Mountain Circle Family Services, a foster care and adoption agency. Running with the Bears raised $50,000 for Mountain Circle’s foster care programs such as the PowderQuest leadership adventure program for older foster teens, school supplies, and Christmas gifts. Five-hundred runners, from age 8 to 74, competed in the three divisions with some runners leaving as early as 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning wanting to beat the heat. As they left the start line, two cowboys on horses trotted through the grass parking lot—a cow field, which is borrowed each year from local ranchers. “Managing a Boston Qualifying race in the middle of nowhere is quite a challenge,” says Race Director Josie Litchfield. “It’s the simple things such as where do 500 people park?”

When Executive Director Dr. Shauna Rossington started Running with the Bears five years ago, it was with three goals:

  • To share the beauty of the Indian Valley with the rest of the runners of the world
  • To make Running with the Bears the best and smallest Boston Qualifying race in the country
  • To bring awareness to foster care, children, and youth and make their dreams come true.

These goals mean being creative and dedicated to giving the runners a sense of value through experiences.

That dedication is felt by the runners, such as the ones who flew from Germany, England, and China. Matthias Luene, his wife and teenage daughter from Germany, said, “The race is very well organized- just small and lovely. The aid stations were amazing, we saw the Flintstones, Star Wars, superheroes, we loved it!” Brian Marks, aka “Dashing Dad,” and the father of the youngest participant said, “My dog set the course record for the half marathon (bear defender division) and my 9-year old son ran the 10K and set a 6-minute PR. Running with the Bears was awesome as usual.”

Each of the 13 aid station was organized by a different community group; they worked hard to earn the vote of the runners in the areas of best spirit, best theme, and best food, and were rewarded with $4,000. At the finish line, every runner was welcomed back with a finisher medal, a cold beer, and a five-minute massage.

  • The overall winner of the 10K: Dan Napieralski of Citrus Heights, CA, age 56, finishing in 48:16
  • The overall winner of the half marathon: Jeremy Brown of Folsom, CA, age 38, finishing with a time of 1: 36:51
  • The overall winner of the marathon was Walter Handloser of San Luis Obisbo, CA, age 34, with a time of 3:02:47
  • The most dedicated runner finished the course, with a time of 7:02 hours and received a brand new pair of Brooks running shoes

“She earned them.” says Litchfield. “We do not close the course and many runners cross the finish line at 2 or 3:00 p.m. We are so inspired by them.”

The event brought in over $250,000 to the Plumas County, California economy; a welcome addition to this rural community. Registration is open for 2017 (race day: 8/19/2017), and is already 80% full. Register online or see more information at and

About Mountain Circle Family Services, Inc.

Mountain Circle Family Services, Inc. is a non-profit community-based organization, committed to ensuring stability and life sustaining changes for foster and adoptive children. Since 1986, Mountain Circle has supported over 3,500 children and families in their journey to a healthier future. Our approach is simple: Offer the best possible training to resource families, provide 24/7 support by experienced social workers/mentors, and equip older foster youth with the skills they will need to be productive adults in the real world.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Josie Litchfield

Shauna Rossington
Visit website