It just so happens that when a committed Rotarian and a dedicated coach get together, things get done.

Back in 1988, Al Baskin’s 11-year-old son, Michael, signed up for cross country at Black Mountain Middle School, under Coach Phil Warren. At a meet, Baskin’s 8-year-old son, Joshua, was disappointed he wasn’t allowed to join the middle school meet. Coach Warren explained that there simply weren’t any local running events open to elementary kids. As Al Baskin and Coach Warren got to talking, they realized they could change that.

“I offered that my Rotary Club might be able to support a community fun run for elementary and middle schools, and we were off and ‘running’,” said Baskin. With Coach Warren as race coordinator and the San Diego North Rotary Club providing the funding and volunteers, the Invitational Cross Country Meet was born.

The Invitational is held each fall at Mt. Carmel High School. This year’s October 25 run marked the 24th consecutive race, making it one of the longest running community events in the county. “The run was a huge success this year,” said Baskin. “With funding cuts, there are fewer opportunities for young runners to develop and compete before high school,” he explained. “This venue provides another organized opportunity for students to excel.”

District Supervisor Pam Slater-Price supported the event by providing funds for T-shirts. Over 725 runners attended, some children of past participants, competing in the 1.0 mile (grades 3-5) or 1.8-mile (grades 6-8) course.

What Baskin enjoys most, he said, is “knowing that literally thousands of children have been exposed to a healthy athletic option that they can stay active with for a lifetime if they choose.” Some race participants have indeed kept at the sport beyond the Fun Run. World championship competitor Ben Bruce is an Invitational veteran, and Baskin’s own son, Michael, went on to become a four-time CIF running champion.

Warren is now retired and Baskin, after 34 years in Rancho Penasquitos, now lives in Coronado. But both continue to support the 92129 community by making the Invitational happen. And they don’t do it alone. They’re especially grateful to “all of the folks in the San Diego North Rotary Club and the individuals who help Coach Warren in putting on this great event,” and they look forward to hosting over 800 runners at next year’s race.




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Name:  Alan I. Baskin
Age:  64
Community:  Rancho Penasquitos
Residence:  Coronado
Volunteer affiliation:  San Diego North Rotary
Family:  Wife, Elizabeth Baskin, Step-daughter, Katy Titus, Sons, Michael and Joshua Baskin

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Name:  San Diego North Rotary
Specifics:  Thursdays, 7 a.m. at Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club
Mission:  To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
Officers:  President, Shirley Vaine
Secretary, Matt Mahoney
Membership Chair, Alan Baskin

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