Blue skies and a cool coastal breeze greet hundreds of people on Sunday morning, June 3, as they gather at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande.
From many communities along the Central Coast, more than 300 runners and walkers of all ages are taking part in this special day: the 25th Anniversary of the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run.
As entrants in the 5K, 10K, and 1-mile walk gather at the start line, Brian Talley welcomes everyone.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” says the president of Talley Vineyards. “It’s a day to celebrate the memory of my sister Marianne, and to appreciate our community and how much people come together to support students at Arroyo Grande High School.”
At the shotgun start, runners and walkers begin their races through the vineyards and farmland visible just outside the tasting room at Talley Vineyards.
Each intersection is marked with enthusiastic volunteers cheering on the participants. One incentive for 5K runners: cross the finish line before Brian Talley to earn the “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirt.
To the Finish
The fastest 5K runners cross the finish in less than 20 minutes to applause and shouts from the crowd of family, friends, and community members.
More 5K runners, plus walkers in the 1-Mile course and the first 10K runners, pass under the bright red FINISH sign.
Kids on the Run
Now it’s time for the best part of the morning: the Youth 1-Mile Run. With earnest faces, the 35 young athletes from 3 to 13 years old toe the start line, waiting for the shotgun to set them loose.
We cheer, and in just a few minutes, they, too, begin crossing cross the finish of the 25th Anniversary Marianne Talley Fun Run. The 8-year-old winner from Arroyo Grande clocked a 6.41 mile.
A Running Start for College
And while one focus of the day is about finish times, it’s really about kicking off Arroyo Grande High School students’ college careers through the three scholarships awarded every year by the Marianne Talley Foundation.
Brayden Pinkerton, recipient of the 2016 Don Talley Leadership scholarship, explains what is so special about receiving a Marianne Talley Foundation scholarship.
“The scholarship is a huge benefit to my education,” he says. “It’s helping me pursue my degree in Criminal Justice at Boise State University, and it helps my family every year by relieving some of the stress of college tuition.”
Pinkerton, who played baseball and football at AGHS, placed second in his age group’s 5K today.
He has worked at the vineyard and knows the Talley family. “They are so supportive of students at Arroyo Grande High School, and this event is special in bringing together the community,” he says. “I love coming back every year and being part of it.”
Emily Sonny, who participated in AGHS volleyball, water polo and swimming, received the Marianne Talley scholarship in 2016.
A current Agribusiness major at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Sonny shares how much the scholarship inspires her.
“Just look at all these people here to support education and the future of so many Arroyo Grande High School students,” she says as she looks at the crowd. “It drives me to do the best I can in school as a way to give back and show my appreciation of the support I’m getting from the Talley family and the community for my education.”
The Fun Run’s Foundation
The Talley family created the Marianne Talley Foundation in memory of Marianne Talley, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Wellness Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She also competed as a runner, swimmer, cyclist, and triathlete. Because the Talley family shares a love of fitness, athletics, and education, they wanted to create a way to remember Marianne in a way that would benefit others and the community through a scholarship program.
The Fun Run is the primary fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Scholarship Foundation, which awards three separate scholarships: The Marianne Talley and Oliver Talley Memorial Scholarships, which are awarded to student athletes, and the Don Talley Leadership Memorial scholarship, which is given to an academic student. All scholarship winners are nominated by the school’s coaching, athletics, and administrative staff.
To date, the Marianne Talley Foundation has awarded $322,000 to 58 Arroyo Grande High School students.
Jorge Aguilar, principal with Wallace Group, is joined by more than a dozen coworkers and family members in burgundy team shirts. Wallace Group has sponsored the event for five years.
“We love being part of this great community event,” he says. “It brings everyone together to celebrate life and to support students as they go out and begin their college careers. It’s so uplifting.”
Aguilar placed 1st in his age group. His son, Joshua, who attends Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo, earned an “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirt for the first time this year.
Awards and Milestones
The crowd settles in on the grassy slope outside the historic Rincon Adobe for the awards ceremony.
Before the race results are announced, Brian Talley shares special recognition for Marian Fiorentino, race director, who is retiring after today’s race.
“Marian has done such a great job with this event,” he says, by attracting more elite racers while keeping the fun family focus. “We’ll miss you on this side of the event, but we look forward to seeing you back out on the race course next year.”
Talley came in 2nd in his age group this year, and he welcomes the 28 runners who earned their “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirts to come up for a group photo.
Then he shares the great news and a milestone for the 25th year of the Marian Talley Foundation.
“We will be up to $322,000 that we’ve been able to contribute to scholars from Arroyo Grande High School—and that’s 58 students,” he says. “Thank you so, so much for your support.”
As the 25th anniversary Fun Run comes to a close, 323 runners and walkers from ages 3 to 88 will have made this a day to remember. Camaraderie, support, community, and enhancing future generations of leaders from Arroyo Grande High School.
That’s a race to remember.
Related stories you may enjoy:
Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run: Good Times, Great Cause (Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande)
Winery Spotlight: Talley Vineyards
Photo Essay: Talley Vineyards Spring Fling — March 26, 2017
Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA: Local, Fresh Produce Made Easy