2017 Empire Runners Hall of Fame Inductees

The 2017 Empire Runners Hall of Fame Inductees are Danny Aldridge and Steve Cryer.  Below you will find there bio’s in alphabetical order:

Danny Aldridge

Danny Aldridge was born in Michigan on September 13, 1956 but moved to Petaluma with his mom and brother at the age of four. In 1960 Petaluma was a very small town and many of Danny’s early activities revolved around school and working for the Parks and Recreation Department after high school.

Sports were an important part of his Petaluma days, especially when he discovered an aptitude for running. While not planning to go to college after high school, his 1:49 half mile time caught the attention of several college and university track coaches. With a promise of full ride scholarship, Danny headed to USC. Dislike of Los Angles, the turmoil of the ’70’s and a promised-but-not-delivered cross country program brought him back to Petaluma and to Santa Rosa Junior College where he became the state junior college champion at the 1500. More scholarship offers poured in.

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A long-time friend, Stan Hockerson, suggested that Danny look at Cal Poly, a smaller school in a smaller setting. It fit him perfectly. With two more years of track eligibility and three years of cross country, he excelled in his running events and worked with coaches and teammates with whom he would establish life long friendships. At Cal Poly he won two individual national titles and helped win two national team championships.

After Danny used up his college eligibility, he was asked to stay on as cross country coach. His team placed 4th place in the Division II Nationals during his first year of coaching (although he claims the team was already put together very well by the previous coach.)

Among a long list of outstanding racing accomplishments was a 1981 race with the great Kenyan runner, Henry Rono. Danny went under 4:00 minutes for the mile – one hundredth of a second under the magic number! He also ran a 3:58.2 mile that same year.

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In 1981, Danny was invited to join Athletics West, a team sponsored by Nike, in Eugene, Oregon and ran as a professional for five years. Athletics West was the first organization to offer high level training and support for post-college track and field and cross county athletes. Danny raced nationally and internationally with Athletics West for four years.

Following that career, he returned to Petaluma with an offer from Stan to run a speciality running shoe store, Sports Afoot. Back in the area lead to other opportunities to continue his presence in running. Again as a coach. Five years at Sonoma State in cross county and track; five years assistant coach under Doug Courtemarche with Santa Rosa High School and the Santa Rosa Express; nine years at Maria Carrillo High School; currently cross county at the Sonoma Academy.

His coaching experience has lead to many memories of times spent with his athletes. The most memorable events revolve around the growth and maturity of the athletes as they gain confidence in themselves and belief in their potential.

In his 50’s Danny decided to get back into running doing a sub-five minute mile as age 51.

800m – 1:49.21, age 18 – 95.1% of standard; mile- 3:59.95, age 24 – 92.75% of standard. Other impressive results include: 3:38, 1500m, 32:04, 2 mile, 28:28, 10k, 2:21.42, marathon.

Danny has been a member of Empire Runners since 1990.

Congratulations Danny on your outstanding success and accomplishments in racing and your dedication to coaching others to meet their potential.

Steve Cryer

Steve was born March 17, 1952.

Hall of Fame qualifying races:

5K – Phaby-Gray Resolution Run, 20:06 (age 62) 81.18%

10 Mile – Credit Union Sactown Run 1:08:33 (age 62) 81.74%

10K – Marin Memorial Day Races 42:00 (age 62) 80.20%

Half marathon Modesto Marathon 1:32 (age 62) 81.04%

Also ran Boston Marathon (’14-’16),

California International Marathon (’13-’15),

Santa Rosa Marathon (’13, ’14),

Avenue of the Giants (’13)

Steve grew up in Massachusetts and loved sports at a young age. In high school, he played baseball (mainly 3rd base) and was a 135 pound running back on the football team for four years. He moved to California in 1976 and started running in 1980. From then until 1984, running was his main athletic activity. Then he began riding his bike, doing a century ride a week for a year. Triathlons came next. Swimming, biking and running take a lot of time in order to compete. Family life took priority and raising three children replaced athletic competition for a while. But Steve still managed to get in two or three races a year.

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Steve joined a gym in 1996 and my gym friend, Harald (Potts) Nordvold, spent ten years trying to get him to join Empire Runners. During that time Steve became an avid tennis player and ran the tennis league in Rohnert Park. He also got back into baseball playing for a Sonoma County league. Finally Potts and another friend, Gil Moreno, would not take “no” for an answer any longer. He joined the club and fell in love with running again, participating in every ER race and many training runs. For the first Summer Track Series meet he attended, he ran every event. He takes inspiration from many club members and is proud to be an active part of Empire Runners.

In 2013 Steve was excited to win the PA/USATF Road Racing Championship in the 60-69 age group. He runs 60 to 80 races a year while traveling all around the San Francisco Bay area. He rarely misses a weekend of running and racing. He has also travelled out-of-state for runs including three trips to Boston for their big event.

Recently Double Racing has become a special interest and a new joy in his life. He has done every double in California as well as traveling to Kansas City for a race. Double racing combines two events in the same day with a short rest period in between. A 10K followed by a 5K for example.

Unfortunately, Steve has been slowed a bit in the past year due to a bout with a lymphoma and the resulting chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In true running spirit, he pushed his doctor to finish treatment in time to run the 2016 Boston Marathon. It was a great accomplishment for Steve to finish the event ahead of many other Boston qualifiers.

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The goal for now is to get back into running shape. Maybe not 60 to 80 races a year, but to a point where running and racing can be enjoyed for many many years to come. It’s always good to have specific goals and Steve’s is to continue running Boston each year and to win his age group when he turns 70. That mark has been in his mind since he turned 60. He has several more years to work toward it. Working with the Empire Runners and seeing the result of steady practice and inspirational club members helps Steve realize his effort will pay off while he is enjoying what he loves to do.

Well done and congratulations Steve on your running career and accomplishments.

Brad’s Corner – What’s under the Christmas Tree? (running in neutral)

This is the time of the year when many of you will be treating yourself to an (early) Christmas present. Or if you are lucky enough to have a family member or significant other who is also a runner you might be looking to place a surprise under the Tree. Lucky for you there are literally hundreds of choices for your hard earned dollars. And there are dozens of styles of shoes from trail to road to racing flats, from zero drop to modified drop to full drop, from maximal to neutral to motion control. The choices and combinations can seem endless at times and that’s before you take into account if you like the color, the color combination or choice of colors for an individual product.

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This article won’t be all inclusive but rather what has and has not worked for me over this last year. Since it is my personal experience with some generalizations let me just start by saying  that there are a number of shoe companies I haven’t even tried yet or just don’t use much. Probably the largest company I don’t ever buy is Asics. That being said I think they make a great shoe and millions are sold; they have just not been for me. Contrarily I did test run their new DynaFlyte shoe, a maximally cushioned neutral shoe which felt great and I may find them on my shelf in the future (though a bit pricey at $140). I also have not tried any Altra products but I see more and more people wearing them and loving them so I guess there will be a test run or two in them for for me in the future as well.

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To further understand where I am coming from you must be aware of my stats and eccentricities. I am a male, 62 years old, short (5’7”) and stocky (165lbs). I have been running off and on for 47 years and consistently for the past 25 years. I average around 40+ miles per week. I have trained to race for the last 10 years which means: tempo, track and hill repeats, long runs, pickups, drills and fartlek. I train alone and with multiple groups. In short I have put in a lot of running miles.  I also played ball sports until I was 45 (softball, basketball). I have had a number of foot, ankle, knee and hip injuries that have made me miss running time. The bottom line of all of this is after making many slow changes I now tend to choose neutral, low drop(~4mm, not zero drop), cushioned and light shoes(<10oz, size 9).

This last year I have had 7-8 shoes move in and out of my stable. If you have read previous reviews you may remember my love of Hoka shoes especially for the over 50 set (50 years or 50 mi/wk). Well I just retired my last pair of Clifton 1’s (yes I shed a tear or two).

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But my smile has returned as I am 60 miles into the Clifton 3 and what a remake; nearly perfect (the tongue is, shall I say it, Voluptuous?!) Both the tongue and insert are almost too plush and in a perfect shoe could be minimized to shave of a bit of weight but they feel great out of the box (10 miles on day 1, perfectly settled in by day 3). I tried the Clifton 2 and hated it ( 1 snap). Hoka narrowed up the shoe box to the point of foot pain for me (and a lot of others hence the rapid update time for the ‘3’). Just be careful if you are getting the Clifton 2 on a great deal.

Hoka Clifton 3 – 8.5oz, 5mm drop, maximal cushioned, neutral, road sole but I use them all over the mountain/trails.

If you like these see also: Challenger 3(9.5oz, Clifton with trail sole)

Instinct(8.4oz, 3mm, trail sole)

I put 30 miles on the Hoka Claytons (7.5oz, road sole) and didn’t fall in love with these as I thought I would and also had some foot pain issues with these as well. Thought to be more of a performance shoe, I didn’t get that at all. If that was the goal consider the Tracer.

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I just retired the Kinvara 5’s from Saucony and have used all of the models from the original to the 5 over the last 5 years. I have loved the feel of every pair I have owned. The Kinvara 6 felt weird in the store so I haven’t ever owned a pair. Now that I am out of Kinvaras I will check out the model 7. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Also most of the new Saucony models have a new cushion technology-Everrun. I am looking forward to try new models with this tech.

Saucony Kinvara- 7.8 oz, 4mm drop, cushioned, neutral performance shoe.

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A new model for me this year is the Saucony Zealot which I have absolutely loved each and everytime I have put them on. They are a heavier more cushioned version of the Kinvara and are a perfect easy-day shoe. They run very smooth with efficient turnover and are well cushioned for long easy miles. I have run in a couple of pairs of Rides and find the Zealots far superior(as a side, I liked the Rides as well)

Saucony Zealot – 9.6oz, 4mm drop, cushioned, neutral, smooth

From another large company that I haven’t run in for 10 years, I tried the Adidas Boost Boston. I have been very happy with these except for the foot box is a bit narrow, but they work very well as a speed day shoe especially along flat trails(SR Creek) and up to say the 2nd bridge on canyon trail and smooth hill repeats. The Boost foam is pretty amazing stuff both responsive and cushioned. The Boston uses a thin layer in the forefoot which limits the use for me.

Adidas Boost Boston – 8.8oz, 10mm drop, neutral, performance.

Also picked up a pair of Supernovas for work. A more cushioned shoe, I haven’t run in them but they are a plush choice for long walks with your honey.

Through the years I have raced in many New Balance road and cross country flats and spikes; the 1400’s and 1600’s. After about a year of hearin about Freshfoam tech from NB I ventured to try the Fresh Foam Zante. The FF Zante is another neutral, cushioned, performance oriented shoe for fast training and the occasional road race. They feel lighter than their stated weight and have a glovelike fit. I have enjoyed every run with them with my only complaint bein that they wear a bit fast (maybe 250mi max) and you feel the pebbles underfoot.

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NB Zante – 8.6oz, 6mm drop, neutral, cushioned, performance.

I am still looking for the perfect trail specific shoe (any help out there?). I have tried the NB Hierro. I don’t love them but am still trying. Will update when I have made a final decision. In looking for a lightweight, trail specific shoe which could be light enough to race on (my feet cant handle XC flats any longer and road flats often don’t have enough traction). With that in mind I ventured toward the NB Vazee Summit TR, a trail specific shoe with a rock plate. First of all they are on the Vazee last which for me is a bit narrow through the instep; so much that I had to go for the wide version. This fixed the fit issue and they feel light and responsive on first try and feel good on dirt but with the rock plate a bit harsh on roads. I have used them on trail/hill runs of less than 8 miles and a 6.5mi trail race at Folsom Lake. They worked well at the race on a rainy Saturday. I get into a little trouble if the downhills exceed Lake Ilsanjo to Spring Lake. For me the cushioning is not adequate for a run down from South Burma to Spring Lake.

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NB Vazee Summit TR- 8.8oz, rock plate, neutral, varied trail running.

Well I have my eyes on other models from Hoka, NB and Brooks. Maybe its time stretch my horizons to the Altra Lone Pine. Zero drop(all Altras) may be a deal breaker though. Well Christmas is just around the corner so don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a slick new pair of running shoes.

Spirit of the Club

An award to honor Empire Runners’ members who have given exemplary service and dedication to our club and to the running community in general.

At the club meeting on September 22, a proposal was made and approved by the board to create to annual award to honor members whose efforts have enabled the ideals of Empire Runners to grow and prosper over the forty or so years of its existence.   Called The Spirit of the Club it will be earned by members whose volunteer work with the club and beyond has significantly benefited the running community through ongoing encouragement, motivation and demonstration of skills and behavior.

Purpose: To honor Empire Runners Club members for significant contributions to Empire Runners of Sonoma County

and acknowledge long-time service to sports and athletics in Sonoma County.

Eligibility;

  • active membership in Empire Runners for 10 years or more. Years of membership need not be consecutive.
  • significant contributions to the successes of the Empire Runners Club
  • significant contributions to the furtherance of youth or adult athletics through coaching or other activities that engage others in positive physical activities

There is no age limit to selection for the Spirit of the Club Award

All club members are potentially eligible for the selection of the award. Any club member may nominate any other club member.

Awards will be made annually at the club party

Prospective recipients must be nominated by another club member

Nominators are responsible for collecting information relevant to the prospective inductees’ consideration for the Award and forwarding it to the selection committee

Photos and news articles featuring the nominee will be appreciated

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Nominations must be received by November 1 for consideration for the next year’s selections

Recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and a book containing the biographies and contributions of all Spirit of the Club Award members

A maximum of three Spirit of the Club Awards will be given each year

A Spirit of the Club committee will review all applications and will select the honorees

Suggested questions for Spirit of the Club nominators can ask of nominee: (Don’t forget to write the responses. They will be used in the selection process for Spirit of the Club.)

  • What motivated you to join Empire Runners and about when did you join?
  • What are some things you have done over the years to benefit Empire Runners? Include dates if possible. Include volunteer opportunities and club leadership roles.
  • What are some things you have done over the years to benefit youth and/or adult sports and fitness awareness? Include organizations with which you have been or continue to be affiliated with (formally or informally). Include volunteer opportunities and organization leadership roles. Include dates if possible.
  • What has inspired you over the years to continue providing help or guidance to others in the areas of youth and/or adult fitness and wellness?
  • In what ways do you believe the needs of youth or adults to participate in sports and/or fitness and wellness activities have changed over the years of your involvement?
  • What suggestions can you offer to encourage others to become involved in volunteer and/or leadership roles in activities that benefit youth and/or adults?

 

Cloverdale Vineyard Races 2016 by Dale Peterson

On Sunday October 23rd a number of Empire Runners participated in the Cloverdale Vineyard Races – Overall half marathon winner Sarah Halas (1:26:17) Nuvit Salz, Tanya Narath, Darryl Beardall and I among those I recognized.

We got lucky with the weather and it ended up being a perfect Autumn day in northern Sonoma County.

I was not quite sure what to expect when I signed up for the race and then later discovered that the entire course whether you were going 5K, 10K, Half or Full Marathon would be run entirely within the confines of the vineyards surrounding the Asti winery just south of Cloverdale.  I guess that is why they call them the “Vineyard” races!

Also, there were to be no course maps or mile markers.

Still, the morning dawned cold but clear and beautiful as we lined up at the start facing west.  We ran down the road, crossed under the freeway and immediately turned onto the groomed gravel and dirt vineyard road.  Once we got a short distance from the freeway and the scenary opened up the course revealed itself to be absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was just starting to come up over the autumn-tinged hills and valleys and the views were stunning.   I quickly realized that this was the most beautiful course I ever ran on.

The lack of mile markers was a bit odd, but since my plan was to run rather conservatively anyway, I did not mind too much.  While it was strange not knowing quite how I was doing, I felt good and I actually kind of enjoyed not dealing with the stress of counting miles.

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There were abundant aid-stations throughout the mostly rolling course.  There were many broad sweeping turns and a few significant hills.  The course was not fast but not quite like a trail run either.  There were enough runners on the course to keep you company but it was not crowded.   The Full and Half Marathons started at 7:30am with the 5K and 10K starting later in the morning.

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With what I think was about 3 miles remaining in the Half we crossed back over to the east side of the freeway (the Full Marathoners continued for a repeat lap).  Here is where things got a little convoluted.  We soon merged with the 10K and 5K runners and passed through multiple confusing intersections, many of which did not have course monitors.  The signage was accurate but you really had to stay on your toes to avoid getting lost.  I understand that quite a few did get lost and either ran too far or too short and that some people were disqualified as a result.  Hopefully next year they can figure out a way to avoid some of this confusion and simply the course to some degree.

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When I finally came within sight of the finish-line I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been running about 15 seconds per mile faster than I thought!

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I waited at the finish-line for Nuvit and Tanya and spent a bit of time talking to Chris Mason who was diligently performing the timing duties.

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Somehow I missed Nuvit who finished close behind me, but once I connected with Tanya we found her sitting under an umbrella eating breakfast with Christina Royston who ran the 5K.

Here is what Nuvit had to say about the race:

“Started our freezing, thinking I was going to warm up after the first mile, wrong! It took about 5 miles to finally feel comfortable. But what a spectacular view through the vineyards. Wherever you looked, colors were just breathtaking, literally! Or maybe it was because of the hills! Hills were challenging, both up and down, hurt bad enough – the money you spend was worth it! Then, last three miles came, in a different vineyard. I didn’t feel this was enjoyable, no hills but very bumpy! Also in a couple of turns, I wasn’t sure if I took the right one! Over all, with just few glitches, it was a great course and I would do it again.”

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The race provided a great breakfast and Bear Republic was on hand with a choice of beers for all finishers.

Race results were available almost immediately after you finished and you could look up your time and place on one of the laptop computers set up under an awning for that purpose.

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In addition to the food and drink, there was a live band and several booths hawking various miracle cures for the runner.

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Besides awards for the overall winners in each race, all finishers received a very nice medal (at least in the Full and Half..) and there were three-deep awards in the five-year age divisions.

Nuvit and I finished first in our respective 50-59 age groups (Dale 1:53:51 / Nuvit 1:54:57) and bagged ourselves a nice bottle of red wine to prove it!

Over all I thought it was a great event and I would do it again for sure.  Of course I did not get lost in which case I might have a different opinion.  Here is hoping they can make some improvements and simplifications to what could become a classic event in the coming years.

 

Brad’s Corner – Do You Know Steve Prefontaine?

Do You Know Steve Prefontaine?

Part I (The Early Years) by Brad Zanetti

As I sit in my writing chair, wearing my OU green and gold Prefontaine Memorial Run sweatshirt and spying the iconic RIP picture of Steve running at Hayward Field, I am remembering how impacted I felt when I first heard of his car wreck and demise. I have always been a huge Prefontaine fan (Prefontaine-o-phile?). I can’t tell you how many times I have been to Pre’s Rock or have run on Pre’s trail at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. I have been to Coos Bay multiple times and made a roadtrip with my son, Michael, his 8th grade year to race in the Pre Memorial Run where we met Pre’s younger sister, Linda and his mother, Elfriede. In a strange bit of fate, Michael and Pre share the same birthdate, Jan. 25. Just this last summer during our quadrennial visit to the Olympic Trials in Eugene we met Neta, Steve’s older sister and shared many thoughts with her at Pre’s Rock.

I have read everything I can get my hands on about Steve in hard copy and the web so I thought, why not share my interest via a multipart article?

Steve Prefontaine was a meteor in full glow, not a sleepy permanent planet. In the world of track and field from 1966-1975 he was, in a word, a phenomenon and known worldwide simply as, “Pre”. He was brash, fearless and outspoken and at least in the USA, invincible. Watching him race fearlessly from the front, backing up his talk was a thrill to his admirers and frustrating to his competitors.

In short, you were either a fan of Pre or you weren’t. I, obviously, am a Fan!   If you only know him as a world class runner you are missing the whole story. He was so much more than just that, most of which wasn’t even known by those who thought they knew him. Even to those who were close to him were in agreement; it was difficult to get close to him but it was so worthwhile if Pre let you in. If you only are aware of his running history and multitude of quotes(misquotes?) you may be surprised of his many other exploits. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

…On Jan 25, 1951 Steven Roland Prefontaine was welcomed to his family home on Elrod St in Coos Bay, Oregon by his dad, Ray, his Mom, Elfriede and his sister, Neta. 2 years later Pre’s little sister, Linda, was added to the Prefontaine household and they lived a happy, near idyllic life in the hardscrabble, often harsh coastal town.

Steve was raised in a clean, neat household with rules and chores. His parents were hardworking, Ray a carpenter/welder and Elfriede a seamstress. Hard work was the expectation in their logging/ocean fishing community. Ray had met his future wife in Germany during WWII and brought her back to his hometown.

Having spoken German most of his early years posed a problem for Steve when he started school, making him Initially shy and reserved. Steve was a very energetic child who had early difficulties in school as well. Combined with his short stature(barely 5 feet and 100 pounds in the eighth grade) and not making the football team, Steve was less than confident in many situations. Still he was very athletic and strong for his size and was searching for an outlet for his special abilities, a sport of toughness for a person with something to prove.

To truly understand Pre you have to appreciate growing up in Coos Bay, a logging and fishing village where hard work is a given. The terrain and weather is harsh with toughness a badge of courage. Perhaps because of its isolation sports are enthusiastically followed, especially football and basketball and the pressure to participate is intense. Hence, the Varsity letter from Marshfield High is a sign of manhood that follows you long after you graduate. (Think ‘Hoosiers’).

In 8th grade, Steve noticed the cross country team practicing. He thought, who would run 2-3 hours a day? During a 3 week conditioning program in PE he noticed in the 660y and 1320yd runs he got faster the longer the distance (4th overall for the 1320y). He joined cross country freshman year and started the season #7 man, but ended up #2 man and 53rd at State. Track was less auspicious finishing up with a 5:01 PR in the mile. Sophmore year XC State Meet, Steve began to show his special qualities, pushing the state mile champion and eventual XC champion to the finish, even passing them before finishing 6th overall. He was nearly inconsolable, screaming, “Lets run it again!”

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What really focused Steve’s desire to be special was failing to make the State 2 mile championship his sophmore year after the promising XC finish partly due to his incessant running around yelling encouragement to his teammates. Even at this young age his focus, team orientation, leadership and ability to accept severe punishment, mentally and physically during training was legendary. His junior year summer training (including 2 workouts daily year round) led to being undefeated and winning a state championship in XC and a state record 9:01.3 in the 2 mile on the track. By this time, the moniker ‘Pre’, was the norm and much of Coos Bay is scheduling time to watch their precocious ‘son’. Pre is the boy who is always running and his 6am daily runs are peppered with waves from the garbagemen, bread truck drivers and street cleaners. This is the beginning of his feeling of responsibility for ‘his people’ started in Coos Bay and cultivated in Eugene.

Pre’s senior year again was punctuated with an undefeated XC season and state championship which led to unprecedented track goals of 1:52 half mile, 3:56 mile, 9:00 2 mile by the end his senior year. By April Pre was ready to attack the national High School 2 mile record held by Rick Riley in 8:48.4. On a very cool night at the Corvallis Invite running alone Pre, feeling nervous, started out in a slow 69 second first quarter mile but he got back on track quickly running a negative 2nd mile with a 61.5 last quarter and a new national record of 8:41.5 by nearly 7 seconds. As the Marshfield High track team was in a close battle for first further record attempts were traded for a mile/ 2 mile double of 4:07/9:03 at the State Meet. Pre was satisfied with this result and the national 2 mile record in particular led to a huge gain in his confidence.

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His senior year was also non stop recruiting and something Pre wasn’t comfortable with. His Marshfield coach, Walt McClure, took over and steered the recruiting path. Pre was interested in going to the University of Oregon where legendary Bill Bowerman coached many world and American record holders or Oregon State. But Pre was perplexed that Bowerman had not visited him but rather had sent some of his U of O runners and an assistant. His pride bruised, Pre finally received a handwritten note from Bowerman stating that if Pre came to U of O he would make him the best distance runner ever. That was all Pre needed to hear. He was to be a Duck. After his acceptance Bill Bowerman sent an open letter to the community of Coos Bay thanking them for their part in Steve’s success so far and that if he kept his eye on the target and his dedication with his background he would become the greatest distance runner in the world. With that Bill Bowerman picked Pre and Pre picked the U of O.  All that was left was the mile at the national meet in Sacramento, the Golden West Invitational won by Pre in a high school PR of 4:06. That ended his high school career…And almost immediately he made the plunge into world class competition.

 

Next month: Do you know Steve Prefontaine? – Part II (The College Years)

Thank You Gloria Steinem – by Catherine Dubay

This one’s for the girls.

Thank you Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine, my mom and all those powerful ladies of the 1970s who made it possible for women to have equal access to education, careers, sports and pretty much anything else that seemed out of reach to females 40 years ago.

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I knew we had come a long way when my kids (18 and 15-year-old females) didn’t think anything of Hillary Clinton possibly being our first female president. The fact she is a woman candidate for president is not a big deal to their generation. That’s how far we have come.

This is all good, right? We can have it all. A career, a family, a sport, a clean tidy house, well planned meals, perfectly crafted dinner parties and themed birthday parties for our kids. How is this working out for all of you? Do you wake up and thank women’s liberation every single day for allowing you to live a life of opportunity and endless options?

I do not mean to be ungrateful for the work of these ladies. I am so thrilled my children think nothing of gender when they think of Hillary as president. I know my success as a runner is owned in many ways to title IX which allowed females equal options for sports in school. There are so many reasons women’s rights are important. What I struggle with is the rat race I see so many women living trying to manage all these opportunities.

Just because we CAN have it all does not mean that we should have it all. We are told to find balance and let’s face it ladies, balance is for scales and not living life. There is no such thing. Balance is defined “as a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” Ha! That’s funny. I run and I run well. Therefore, I do not cook well. Nor do I work well in my yard. There is no balance between my sport and my domestic skills.

I work full time therefore I do not volunteer in the classroom or boardroom or anywhere for that matter. I used to volunteer and sit on a couple of boards. But I couldn’t do it all. I will again someday. I never did do crafty birthday parties or handmade invitations or cupcakes from scratch. But I did dress up as a fortune teller at the birthday party and read the futures of 10-year-old girls. That is not balance. My scale tips over to one side all the time and this is to the side of things that matter the most to me. Is that wrong?

To my female running friends; let’s make a pact. We shall run and while we run not feel bad that we are missing our kid’s sporting event. We shall watch our kid’s sporting events and not feel bad that we are not running. We will enjoy alone time with our spouses/partners and not feel guilty that we are not watching our kids sporting events or running.

Thanks to the generation before us for opening up so many opportunities for women. It is our responsibility to figure out how to enjoy those opportunities and not allow them to become burdens.

Run on my friends and enjoy every moment.

Interview with Robin Clark by Dale Peterson

Robin was born and raised in Willits about 90 miles north of Santa Rosa.  She grew up playing just about every sport that involved throwing, catching or shooting a ball.  By her own account she was a bit of a tomboy and loved the competitive nature of team sports. She played softball, volleyball, and basketball in middle and high school and football and baseball in elementary and junior high.
In high school, Robin started to get recruited by colleges to play both basketball and softball.  She decided to accept a scholarship offer to play basketball at the University of San Francisco.
After graduating from USF, Robin stayed another two years to  earn a her masters degree in Sports Administration/Management.  She got a part time job at a K-8 school in the city while working on her masters degree.  She loved working with children and coaching and started to consider teaching as a career.   Upon obtaining her teaching credential, she started teaching and coaching at the high school level but after a few years she decided she would rather coach the younger kids.  She ended up at Comstock Middle School on the west side of Santa Rosa teaching and coaching cross country, track, volleyball and basketball.
Robin lives in Healdsburg with her husband ( a retired PE/Biology teacher/track and field coach) and her Golden Retriever Amigo.
Robin became a runner after her college basketball playing days were done says that she loves the way running makes her feel and that she loves how she can get lost in her thoughts when running.
Robin is also  very competitive with her running and enjoys seeing her personal gains achievements as a runner.
Robin has qualified for the Boston Marathon twice and has a personal best of 3:29.
Robin says that nothing in her previous athletic experience that compares to running across the Boston Marathon finish line.
Robin would like to be able to run Boston in the future with some of the students she once taught and introduced to the sport of running.
You were quite an athlete growing up, competing in softball, basketball and volleyball.  When did you start running for the sake of running as opposed to as part of your training for other sports?
I started running for the sake of running my first year teaching.  My competitive athletic career was complete when I graduated from college and I knew I had to stay active and running became my sport of choice.  As a graduate student in the city , I started running daily in Golden Gate Park and really fell in love with the sport .  Some of my friends were runners and they encouraged me to sign up for the Bay to Breakers and I was hooked. By signing up for races, it has motivated me to really learn more about the sport and training for races.
You taught and coached at the high school level for four years before you realized that you wanted to work with the younger middle school aged kids.  What is it that draws you to the younger kids?

I taught high school for four years before switching to the middle school.  The younger kids are so excited to learn and have so much energy every day.  I absolutely love their willingness to try new things, get sweaty, and their silliness.  At the middle school level, I get to teach the kids everything for the first time.  I get to introduce them to new games, new sports and teach them how important living a healthy and active lifestyle will be throughout their entire lives.

Your background is primarily “ball sports” – how did you make the transition to coaching Cross-Country and Track?
 I started coaching cross country and track when I started teaching middle school.  At this point in my life, I had been running about 6 years and it was a huge part of my life.  The Comstock cross-country program had four students on the team the previous year, and I felt we could do much better than that.  I decided to take over the program and get more kids involved in this amazing sport.  My husband was a PE teacher, track coach and ran in college at Chico State so he helped me out quite a bit with the workouts and taught me pretty much everything I know about teaching/coaching  young kids.  At the middle school level, my goal is to make running fun  for the kids so they will continue to run in high school and beyond.
Working with 180 kids a day must be tremendously challenging – tell us a bit about that.
Teaching 180 kids every day in my PE classes can be challenging at times, but it is also very rewarding to give the gift of health to my students.  I tell them there is nothing more important than their health and without it they have nothing.  The quality of life is so much more rewarding when you are healthy and can enjoy it.  I make it a priority to do everything I ask my students and athletes to do so they see why working out is important. I feel it is my job to be a positive role model and to not only tell them how to be healthy, but to show them how to be healthy.
Having fifty or sixty kids in a middle-school running program is quite an accomplishment – what do you feel is the secret to getting them and keeping them interested?
I believe the reason we are able to keep fifty-plus kids in the Comstock running program is because we focus on making running fun.  Running to me is not about winning at the middle school level. I never talk to the kids about winning races or championships.  We focus on getting better, setting short and long term goals, making new friends and simply enjoying what running gives to us individually.  I talk a lot about the opportunities and benefits running could offer the kids.
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Comstock Middle School kids jumping for joy!
Tell our readers a bit more about your running club modeled after the SRLA running program down in Los Angeles – how does it work exactly?  How do kids earn free running shoes etc?

The Comstock running club was modeled after the very successful SRLA program in Los Angeles.  I heard about SRLA from an administrator who taught in an inner city LA school. He was a volunteer coach for his school and trained a group of students to run/complete the LA Marathon.  I was amazed that 12/13 year old kids could accomplish such a challenging run.  This program in LA has major sponsors, lots of corporate support and volunteer coaches who make it a reality.  I wanted to try to create something very similar to the SRLA program, but my biggest challenge became  the funding to get kids registered in local races and providing my needy kids with high quality running shoes.  We still struggle to fund the expensive race entry fees, but every year we find a way to make it happen.

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Comstock Middle School runners off another adventure.
The kids earn free running shoes from me by working hard, having good attendance and showing me they are dedicated to the sport.  Each year, I use my track coaching stipend to purchase 30 pairs of shoes. The kids earn a free pair by showing me they are serious about their running.
Do you keep tabs on your former student-athletes?  How many went on to successful high school and college running careers?

 

I keep in contact with all of my former student-athletes running in college.  I invite them back to run the half marathon in San Francisco during Christmas break and travel to watch many of them run In college.  The kids give me so much joy and bring so much happiness to my life.  Being able to cheer them on and support them is very important to me.  Last year, my husband and I traveled to Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, Fresno, Los Angeles and Stanford to watch my former athletes compete.

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Robin with Empire standout Luis Luna
Outside of your work at Comstock Middle School, how is your running going these days?  Your 3:29 marathon PR is very impressive!  What are your short term and long term goals?

My running is going pretty well.  I am training to run the Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon in January and two half marathons this year.

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Robin Clark – educator, coach and runner.
Long term /bucket list goals for running would be to run Boston again with some of my former athletes, run the New York City Marathon and the Nashville Rock n Roll Marathon.  Running is such a gift and has given me the opportunity to travel, meet new friends and watch my students enroll and graduate from college.
Who has been the greatest influence on you as an educator and coach?
My husband has been the biggest influence on me as an educator and a coach. He has taught me the true meaning of education.  We have been fortunate to be able to help my athletes in a variety of ways, and all I have ever asked in return is for them to pay it forward when they are able to do the same.
Any question you wished I had asked or anything you want to be sure to share with our readers?
Thank you for allowing me to talk about my amazing students and the joy they have given and added to my life!

Brad’s Corner

“First Ladies of Running”, Amby Burfoot, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, 2016, pp275

A new book landed on my Kindle library a couple of months ago. Actually a few books did but I had lost track of the iPad and have gotten behind in my reading. This particular book interested me due to the content: twenty-two short stories – inspiring profiles of the rebels, rule-breakers, and visionaries who changed the sport (womens running) forever; with a foreword by Shalane Flanagan.  And the author, Amby Burfoot.

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Amby Burfoot was an outstanding distance runner (Boston Marathon winner 1968) and is an outstanding writer and editor for Runners World. He has written four other books about running, all well worth a good read. His marathon PR set in 1968 in Fukuoka Japan in 2:14.28 was only one second off the American record at the time.

At the age of 70, Amby continues to run today including the Boston Marathon annually and he has run the Manchester Road Race fifty-four times in a row as of this year. If you have read Runners World you have undoubtably read one of his many articles. Amby is a veritable running historian.

What he has brought to the table in this, his fifth book, is a complete history of women’s development and impact in the running world; our world. Whether your recollection of the history of women runners may be the indelible photo of Jock Semple chasing after Kathy Switzer and attempting to physically extricate her from the 1967 Boston Marathon or equally indelible photo of Mary Decker down on the infield during the 1984 Olympics 3000M and Zola Budd looking back, you will have a complete understanding of the road that has been travelled.

I suspect that many readers of this review will recall the span of time between when women weren’t allowed in road races, through the  first women running in marathons, Title IX with its many implications, to the first women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984.  Some of our readers were likely impacted by such and may have gotten their running start with the original Avon 10K/Marathon series.  I also imagine there are some women readers who have never heard of Title IX and take running in local and national races for granted (as they should).

Prior to 1928 women were only allowed to run up to 200m by the powers that be (Men!) because it was thought they would injure their reproductive organs. At the 1928 Olympics women were allowed to run 800M. At the end of the race, one collapsed to the track and several looked tired and in pain (as did the men in their race). Because of this it wasn’t until 1960 (Rome) that women were again allowed to run 800m. Then in 1972 the 1500M (metric mile) was added to the Olympic schedule (as a result of women jumping into long road races/marathons in the mid 60’s?). In 1984 the 3K and marathon were added (thanks to the international Avon series). In 1988 the 10K was added and in 1996 the 3K was extended to the 5K. The steeplechase wasn’t added until 2008.  

[Editors note: at this time men and women compete in all of the same standard distances the only exception being the 110M hurdles for men vs 100M hurdles for women]

Yes, you have come a long way baby. Of the many rights that took so long to achieve; voting, equal opportunity to education (college, post-graduate, medical and law schools), to have to fight for the right to be free to run in a road race seems almost ridiculous and at the same time it is an activity, to me, that is basic to life. I am happy that in my life I have had the opportunity to run with and against women in many races beginning at Central Jr High in San Carlos when a young lady named, Roberta ‘Bobbi” Clapham, could out sprint all of the boys. The first real race of my life was in 1970 (Age 15) at the Bay to Breakers where I was passed by many women many of whom were not only better trained but were frankly superior to me. And for the last 45+ years I have looked forward to running with women especially the shared experience of training and racing together multiple times a week.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I think everyone should read it. It is an important part of the history of our sport and lifestyle. The format of twenty-two short stories makes it a book that can be read all at once or over time. It would even make a nice nightly read of one or two chapters but I found that reading it as one story allows for more fertile connections between the intricacies and interactions of each woman depicted.

As an avid fan of all things running for most of my life and a reader of running history it always intrigues me when a book is informative and adds to my knowledge base. Amby Burfoot has written an excellent and informative book for everyone including children and adolescents. If the history of women’s running is of interest to you this is a must read.

Rating:   Excellent               *****5/5

Fun in the Sun

Aug16Berg01The second annual Empire Runners Member Appreciation picnic was held on Sunday, August 28 at Morton’s Warm Springs resort. This event is the brain-child of Peter Kirk as a way to get members together in a social environment, including families and friends, to celebrate our friendship and do something other than run. In that vein, there was softball, bocce, cornhole and mystery games organized by Tori Meredith. We were happy to see several families new to the club, brave souls who figured it was a good time to meet fellow runners.

In keeping with the spirit of member appreciation, this is no BYO potluck affair, but fully catered and carefree, with appetizers and salads by the famous Tag’s deli from Novato (long-time club member and race director Al Tagliaferri), and grilled burgers and sausages cooked up by Peter’s team of volunteers.

Since every picture tells a story, here are a few from the festivities….

 

 

The Long and Short of ER Uniform Changes

At the last Empire Runner’s club meeting held Thursday August 25th at Round Table Pizza in Montgomery Village, it was proposed that a graphic artist be secured to produce a new Empire Runner’s logo.

My first thought was “why?” and my next thought was “no”. I was a bit surprised that anyone would even think about doing such a thing.

I admit that I am a sports traditionalist. I don’t like rule changes. I don’t like the DH in baseball. I don’t like the Oregon football uniforms.

So, after a lengthy and spirited discussion at the club meeting regarding the logo, tradition, club identity etc. I went home and thought about writing something up about the issue.

On Saturday I pulled out all of my club singlets going back twenty-plus years. In my mind they had all been very similar and yet when I pulled them out of the drawer I saw that although there have been some constant themes, there have also been quite a few, not always subtle changes.

Looking at my collection here is what I found:

In the early to mid-nineties when I was first introduced to the sport of Cross-County the basic singlet was white with the blue logo and lettering over blue shorts. This featured the now classic sunrise, mountain, trees and male and female runners. This singlet was some sort of synthetic fabric though I can’t be certain exactly what as I cut the tag out years ago. There was also a cotton version of this singlet that I bought but that I never really raced in for obvious reasons.

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Bob Merritt working hard back in the 90’s

During this same era, many of the faster runners in the club were sporting a black version of this same design – intimidating but I imagine hot.

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Preston and  Gibbons – classics sporting classics

During my third or fourth season of Cross-County in the late nineties a new singlet was introduced. This design had bold black and white panels on either side of a pale blue front and back and very large, bold new Empire Runners logos including the “ER sunburst”. As I recall, this singlet was initially well received but then got low marks as the 100% nylon material tended to be hot and sticky. You don’t see this one often any longer as I imagine they are tucked deep into drawers that seldom see the light of day.

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Darryl Beardall running in ER colors

The next iteration of the Empire Runner’s singlet brought back the older logo, now in white on a simple but hard to mistake deep blue polyester body. The new uniform called for black shorts. This combination became the essential ER team uniform for about a decade. Though classic and easily identifiable, it was updated a few years back with script vs block letters and a more realistic graphic of trees and mountains along with the now traditional sunrise. The male and female runners disappeared. The “official” uniform was blue but I own a white version of this latter design that I purchased on special order with the intent of wearing it in hot-weather marathons.

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Megan Johnson and Val Sell in the blue

About the time that the latter version of the uniform described above became available, the decision was made by the ER Board to allow ER singlets and gear to be sold to the general public.

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Gil Moreno – back in black

The other interesting thing that occurred at this time was that you could now buy ER gear in pretty much any color of the rainbow. Don’t like deep blue and white? No problem, get a chartreuse ER singlet and pink cap… Argh. But to each his or her own I guess.

Just a couple of years ago… though it could be longer I suppose, the club racing singlets saw their arguably most radical change ever which included completely new and/or altered logos, lettering, colors, tones and fabric. The current racing singlet retains a brighter sunrise but only proclaims “Empire” on the front as opposed to Empire Runners and there is no longer any mention of Sonoma Co. The back has a simple ER graphic. The blue is muted. The lettering is outlined in yellow. There are white and gray “flames” or stripes or whatever they are blending in and out. I would describe the overall design as “contemporary”. The fabric is light and breathes well but it is a little course for my taste and I think it could result in chaffing issues in longer races such as the marathon.

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(Note that the third singlet from the left is actually hanging backwards.  For a front shot of this singlet, see the picture of Darryl Beardall earlier in this post)

So there is your unofficial, incomplete and totally biased history of the ER club uniform over the last twenty years.

All of this thinking about the club uniforms and logos combined with an actual inventory makes me realize that although we have had some constant themes – the sunrise and “blue” for instance – we have not really kept to a single long-term design.

With all of the above in mind, I would make just a few simple recommendations to the club – 1) adopt a classic logo design and stick with it. 2) If there is a way to tie into some of our earlier themes such as the sunrise motif, do it. 3) Have separate lines of official club racing apparel vs casual apparel. The former should meet strict guidelines and not be altered on a whim. The latter can be in any color, cut or design subject to the winds of fashion.

If you have a passion for what constitutes a strong club logo or uniform design, now might be a good time to get involved.

 

Located in beautiful Sonoma County, California.