WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville Criterium has zoomed through the neighborhood around Brewington Avenue for the past 40 years. But tucked away in the relatively quiet area, it has gone unnoticed by many residents.
That is why this year, race organizers reached out to the community to put together the first-ever kids race, urging Watsonville to become more involved in the longstanding event.
Saturday’s criterium (a closed-circuit cycling event) featured eight categories of adult races between noon and 5 p.m., racing for 45-60 minutes. Presented by Velo Promo and Golden Chain Cyclists, the USA Cycling race attracts cyclists from across California.
In the middle of race day, kids and teenagers from the community lined up for their very own race—ready to complete one lap of the 0.75 mile course as fast as they could.
“We really want to get more people to come out and see the race,” said Velo Promo Manager Robert Leibold. “This has been a great way to do that.”
The start of the race was delayed slightly as neighborhood youth made last-minute decisions to join the fray. On hand was local organization Trips for Kids, offering participants a bike or helmet if they did not have their own.
“It gets kids outside, it promotes healthy living,” said volunteer Anna Fallorina. “And it’s just really fun for them, too. It might be the first time they’ve ever done something like this.”
Starting on Brewington Avenue, the race curved down Cerritos Terrace and onto Rogers Avenue. Then, a sharp hairpin turn onto Oregon Street, one block down Hill Avenue and back onto Brewington.
Parents, neighbors, event organizers and adult race participants cheered loudly as the kids crossed the finish line one-by-one, most with huge grins plastered on their faces.
“Look at them—they’re so proud,” Fallorina said. “They should be. It’s a big accomplishment.”