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John Wayne Grit Series celebrates classic film while fundraising for cancer

5K and 10K scheduled for Aug. 27 in Ridgway

Fans of John Wayne’s “True Grit,” released in 1969, will have a chance to see the area where the movie was filmed in the second John Wayne Grit Series trail race, a fundraiser for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation on Aug. 27 in Ridgway.

The John Wayne Grit Series debuted in 2019 in Ridgway, where the film was shot, but was put on pause during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The course consists of challenging single-track trails and fire roads and extends across three private ranches in the Uncompahgre Valley, with wildflower fields and the San Juan Mountains in the backdrop, according to event organizers.

The series includes 5K and 10K races, Molly Kassouf, spokeswoman for the event, said.

She said the starting and finish lines are at Last Dollar Road, the location of the opening and closing scenes of “True Grit.”

“It’s a pretty unique, exciting racecourse,” she said. “And all for a great cause: Running to raise money for cancer.”

She said money raised from the fundraiser goes toward cancer research.

“We have doctors who will come to our start line who will give a talk to the runners about the importance of early protection and awareness,” she said.

Just over 100 race participants are anticipated so far, but registration is still open, Kassouf said.

On the Net

For more information, to register or donate, visit https://bit.ly/3QFSsAI.

Participants can pay to register or can commit to fundraise instead to make an even bigger impact in the fight against cancer, according to a news release.

Every participant will receive a John Wayne Grit Series running shirt and a finisher mug. People who contribute to the fundraiser can earn rewards such as a John Wayne Grit Series trucker hat, a John Wayne Grit Series Nathan Stealth jacket, a John Wayne Grit Series Patagonia Nano Puff jacket and the opportunity to name a research grant.

Podium prizes and medals will be given to the fastest runners in the timed events.

Participants range from avid runners and competitors to people in cancer remission and those running in memory or honor of a loved one.

“We get a wide range of participants, which is really neat,” Kassouf said.

On Aug. 26, Patrick and Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s oldest and youngest sons, will be at the True Grit Cafe in Ridgway to meet runners and fans in the lead-up to the cancer awareness fundraiser, she said.

The cancer foundation also has a program called Block the Blaze, which is the ABC’s of skin cancer, she said.

“The John Wayne Grit Series and the Block the Blaze program both are fundraisers that help fund the cancer foundation, which funds the research the doctors do,” Kassouf said.

Academy Award winner and cancer survivor, John Wayne always believed in searching for a cure to cancer, according to a news release about the fundraiser.

“A survivor of lung cancer who ultimately succumbed to stomach cancer in 1979, the Duke was adamant about helping all people fight cancer,” says the release. “This John Wayne Cancer Foundation was created in his honor.”


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