If a survey was taken, people in Fayetteville would not be surprised to find that Fayetteville probably has more runners per capita than any city in the United States. You can’t drive down the street without passing runners č in the winter, in the rain, in the hot summer afternoons. A lot of that can be attributed to our connection to Fort Bragg, but whatever the case, in addition to being an All American city, Fayetteville is also a running city.

And on Saturday, May 10, runners will get another chance to hit the streets to participate in the 7th Annual John E. Norman Cinco de Mayo 10K and 5K road race. The annual event has traditionally been held downtown, but this year will be held on Fort Bragg, with an eye to returning downtown in 2009. The run, organized by Julio Ramirez, is designed to promote the Hispanic culture. Cinco de Mayo is commonly celebrated as Mexican Independence Day, but actually it is a celebration of the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle saw the country engaged in a fight with France. France had loaned money to the Mexican government in its early years, and when Mexico quit making payments, France invaded. The French Army, who had not been defeated in 50 years, invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion (French Foreign Legion).

France used the debt issue to establish its own leadership in Mexico by installing Napoleon’s relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as ruler of Mexico. France invaded the Gulf Coast of Mexico and began to march toward Mexico City.╩

Marching on toward Mexico City from the coast, the French army encountered strong resistance at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. Led by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a small, poorly armed militia of about 4,500 were able to stop and defeat a well outfitted French army of 6,500 soldiers, which halted the invasion of the country. The victory was a glorious moment for Mexican patriots and is the cause for the historical date’s celebration.╩

Unfortunately, the victory was short-lived. Upon hearing the bad news, Napoleon had found an excuse to send more troops overseas to try and invade Mexico again, against the wishes of the French populace. Thirty thousand more troops and a full year later, the French were eventually able to depose the Mexican army, take over Mexico City and install Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico.╩

Maximilian’s rule of Mexico was also short-lived, from 1864 to 1867, ending as the U.S. began to provide more political and military assistance to Mexico to expel the French. Despite the eventual French invasion of Mexico City, Cinco de Mayo honors the bravery and victory of General Zaragoza’s small, outnumbered militia at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. 

While this Cinco de Mayo 10K is not a battle, it does challenge its participants to give their best. This year’s run will follow the same route as the annual Jingle Bell Jog. Runners come from across the state and at least three or four other states to participate in this event.

The race, which will start on Ardennes Street beside the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum will begin at 8:30 a.m. Runners in both the 10K and 5K will start at the same time, with the 10K runners taking the lead. The event will be timed and prizes will be awarded to the top finishers. Entry fees are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the race. Ball caps will be given to all runners. Registration for the race starts at 7 a.m. Runners will be issued a timing chip. Failure to return the chip results in a $30 fee.

A Mexican-style cookout will be held following the race. All runners will receive a steak fajita plate. Non-runners will be charged a $5 per plate fee.

The Green Beret Parachute team will jump into the cookout following the race. If you do not have a sticker to access Fort Bragg, allow an extra 30 minutes to get on post. 

For more information, visit www.cincodemayo10k.org.

Contact Janice Burton at: editor@upandcomingweekly.com

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