The Old Mill may celebrate its long-delayed 25th running after all.

Although given up for dead several times and not run since a frigid April Saturday in 2001, the 10,000-meter race could again hit the road this spring.

"The Old Mill Run is a great Tuolumne County tradition and we want to see it come back to life," said Kathie Peacock, a longtime community activist from Twain Harte.

Peacock and friend Sami Rhodes are asking anybody else interested in reviving the Columbia State Historic Park race to join them at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a kickoff meeting at Red Cross headquarters, on Mono Way in front of The Junction shopping center.

"We're encouraging anyone who has run in the Old Mill, volunteered at the race or has ideas about how we can get it going again to join us," said Peacock, who can be reached at 586-4802.

She and Rhodes have been hard at work on their idea and, if things go according to plan, the 25th Old Mill Run will be held on April 17, 2004.

Peacock envisions the race, which over its 24-year run drew more than 10,000 runners, as a fund-raiser for Sonora's annual free Christmas Eve Dinner.

Now held at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, the community feast has for more than 20 years provided thousands of families with a holiday turkey dinner and thousands of kids with an array of donated gifts.

"Pairing the dinner and the Old Mill Runs seems like a natural," said Peacock.

But reviving the race which historically has included a 6.2-mile main event, a 2-mile Run for Fun and an assortment of shorter races for kids will take a lot of work. Sponsors must be lined up, volunteers recruited and a planning calendar set up.

But Peacock and Rhodes already are off to a flying start. They have talked to past Old Mill organizers and potential sponsors and have rounded up race equipment and records.

The Old Mill Run was founded in 1978 by The Union Democrat. The paper was sole sponsor until 1995, when mounting costs and dropping turnouts made putting on a free race impossible.

For four more years the Old Mill by this time with an entry fee was put on by a committee of volunteers. In 2000 and 2001, its final years, the Sonora Lions Club sponsored the race.

The Union Democrat
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