Hundreds walk, run in Temecula Valley Wine Country event supporting Temecula Theater Foundation

Participants in the 5K run at Maurice Car’rie Winery await the signal to begin running on Saturday, Oct. 7. Alex Groves photo

A vibrant orange glow enveloped the sky over Maurice Car’rie Winery on Saturday, Oct. 7, and a slight chill was in the air as hundreds of people either ran or walked through the winery’s vineyard for an event supporting the Temecula Theater Foundation.

The Harvest Moon Run took place at the winery about 6 p.m. and gave both running enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs the chance to support the foundation and the three groups that perform as part of it — the Fine Arts Network, Temecula Valley Players and Southwest Women’s Chorus.

Event participants had the choice between a 5K run where wine awaited them at the finish line, or a slightly less strenuous 1K walk with wine tasting throughout the event.

Sara Giampiccolo, the events coordinator for the Southwest Women’s Chorus, said the event was designed to help the performance groups with such costs as renting a rehearsal room, renting a theater and paying for a stage crew.

The event attracted people like Cindy Blackman of Murrieta and her daughters Makenna and Tatum.

“Makenna’s friend is a member of the Temecula Theater and she performs in the plays and we wanted to support them,” Blackman said. “Because if you don’t support them then it can go away, so we decided we were going to get involved.”

Amy Ellevold, 34, of San Diego was one of the participants in the 1K walk. She said she was coming up to visit her parents when they told her about it.

“They said, ‘oh my gosh, there’s this really fun event going on, we should do it.’” she said.

Ellevold said there were lots of things she found appealing about the event. The wine was a selling point, as was the promise of a full harvest moon in the sky, but she also had a personal connection to the event.

“I grew up doing theater in Temecula, so supporting the arts is really important to me,” she said.

Before the running and walking events commenced, members of the Southwest Women’s Chorus performed a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Then, about 6 p.m., the runners were off and on their way through a course that wound around the perimeter of Maurice Car’rie’s vineyard before going up and down through rows of planted grapevines on the inside.

There were about four times as many walkers as there were runners. The walkers’ course was much shorter and had them walk up then back down to where they started.

Sarah McGaugh, 37, a Temecula Valley High School teacher and assistant cross country coach, was the first person to complete the 5K run in a little over 21 minutes.

McGaugh is an avid runner who participates in races regularly.

“I’ve run Run Through the Vineyards before which is a 10K here on the same course, so I thought I had a chance, but you never know who will show up,” she said. “Anyone can show up and do great.”

As runners made it through the finish line, they were treated to fresh fruit, bottled water and high fives from their friends. Later on, they could partake in a celebratory glass of wine beneath a moonlit sky.

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