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Concrete Hero raises money for AIDS Project Los Angeles, July 14

The unique race runs through downtown Los Angeles with LA-themed obstacles

Concrete Hero participants scaled the "Hollywood Sign" in 2012
Concrete Hero participants scaled the "Hollywood Sign" in 2012

The second annual Concrete Hero will send runners through downtown Los Angeles to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles on July 14.

The fundraising event involves a 5-mile obstacle course with a twist. While most modern obstacle runs are held in rural areas, this one is on the concrete of the streets. The obstacles are inspired by Los Angeles: There's a make-shift Hollywood sign to climb; A traffic jam to maneuver; A tar pit to cross; And even a wind storm and "forest fire!" The run is a chip-timed race and is run in heats.

I ran the course last year. It was a blast. I'm not a big fan of distance running, but the great obstacles broke it up brilliantly. My favorite obstacle was surely the WeHo Dodgeball team targeting us with dodgeballs as we ran the sidewalk in front of them. WeHo Dodgeball founder Jake Mason hurled a beauty at me, and I had him "out" when it hit my hands...but not so much when I dropped it. I was pretty proud, though, finishing 14th out of about 500 participants. Most of the runners have pretty muscles, but they can't run to save their lives.

The participants were a very mixed bunch. All ages and ethnicities were represented. There was a healthy dose of gay men, but there were also many straight people. I talked to one runner who was there in memory of a family member lost to AIDS. Pretty inspiring.

You can register to participate on the Concrete Hero Web site. They have some great teams (mine is truly Kick A$$), so you can try to join one or start your own! If you can't participate, you can always come down to the course on July 14 and cheer on the participants, or you can donate to a team.

We'll have more on the event in the coming weeks.