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June 12, 2024
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40th anniversary Wildflower Run is March 26

Event has raised more than $500K for gender equity 

The 40th annual Wildflower Run will take place March 26 at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill and is anticipated to sell out, reaching its maximum capacity of 1,200 runners and walkers.

The Morgan Hill branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is proud to have created this legacy event for our community.

This is one of the largest runs in the country that is still completely organized by volunteers. Close to 200 AAUW members and community volunteers pitch in to make it a success.

All proceeds are directed to causes that support gender equity. Over the past 10 years alone,

AAUW has donated more than $500,000 to a broad range of local scholarships, STEM camp for middle school students, community and school grants, leadership programs for women and girls and more.

Looking back, the run had a bit of a rocky start. In its second year, it almost came to an abrupt end when a disgruntled resident pointed a gun at the 300 women running by his home on Watsonville Road. The undaunted organizers relocated the event to Live Oak High School, where it has thrived and grown.

From its origins as a women—and girls—only race, the Wildflower Run has expanded. In 1988, events were opened up to men. In later years, event options were further expanded. In addition to a Kids’ 2K, a 5K Walk, a 5K Run, and a 10K Run, in 2012 the AAUW introduced a unique stroller/baby jogger 5K race. This event was immediately a hit, drawing 76 participants in its inaugural year. 

A few years later, a Senior 2K on the school track was added. By making the run accessible and diverse, AAUW members have achieved their goal of ensuring everyone in the community can participate at whatever competitive level they choose.

Recognition and recreation

The 5K stroller event led the Wildflower Run to international recognition in 2019 when Ann Marie Cody, a NASA research scientist, broke the Guinness 10K world record for a woman pushing a triple stroller. Cody was drawn to the Wildflower Run for her record-setting attempt because of the USATF Certified, flat, fast, stroller-friendly route and because she supported AAUW’s mission of gender equity for women and girls.

Ann Marie Cody is pictured at the 2019 Wildflower Run in Morgan Hill, where she broke the Guinness Book 10K world record for a woman pushing a stroller. File photo

A diverse set of events to choose from is just one example of how the Wildflower Run has evolved over four decades.

A comprehensive online presence—including the website, WildflowerRun.org, informative emails to participants, and active use of social media—enabled the Wildflower Run to weather the pandemic when many other nonprofit events were shut down.

After pivoting temporarily to virtual runs in 2020 and 2021, AAUW was able to provide a $5,000 grant to Gavilan College’s Student Emergency Fund in addition to their usual causes.

Charles Weston, a competitive runner and organizer of the annual Freedom Fest and Veterans Day runs, participates in the Wildflower Run each year with his family, including his daughters and granddaughters. This year, he is planning to enter the stroller run with his 15-month-old grandson.

“It’s always a fun day running, talking with fellow runners, passing others that you know and getting passed, and having a good laugh with them after finishing,” he said. “I love the flat course. And the constantly changing directions make it interesting. I think it’s the most fun run on my running calendar.”

In addition to a beautiful Morgan Hill run in the springtime with dozens of cheering course marshals, participants always enjoy one-of-a-kind annual T-shirts, bonus baby-tees for 5K Stroller tots, custom medals and goodie bags for all little kids (aged 10 and under), beautiful wildflower-themed medals for overall and age group winners, activities for kids at the Finish Fest, free downloadable photos, group and family discounts and entertainers. 

All for a good cause

For its 40th year, the Wildflower Run’s Roadshow entertainment for runners along the routes will

include taiko groups, school bands and several other performers.

There is also a new school team competition, with several Morgan Hill Unified School District schools vying for a “runner ducky” participation prize.

If you would like to run with your school, learn how at WildflowerRun.org/schoolteams.

In recognition of AAUW’s sustained contribution to and positive impact on our community, AAUW was recently recognized by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce at its Celebrate Morgan Hill gala as 2023 Nonprofit of the Year.

AAUW Morgan Hill President Suman Ganapathy said, “We are grateful for this honor and excited to be recognized for our contributions to the quality of life in the South Valley. The Wildflower Run and the funds we raise are essential to that contribution.” 

She added, “Come run with us as we celebrate our 40th Wildflower Run!”

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