In this first installment of Empire Women All Stars, we chat with Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa HS, arguably one of the greatest HS XC runners in U.S. history. While there are many applicable titles for her – CA XC Champion, National Champion, Spring Lake course record holder, etc – the most fitting may be simply “Trail Lover”.
Hey Julia, thanks for taking the time to chat! There’s no question that Sonoma County has a great history of fast females, and many wonder why. Any thoughts?
We have Annadel State Park. How can you not get in shape running the trails of Annadel?! Also, we have a phenomenally supportive community. We’re not telling people not to run hard. Lots of others say don’t run hard, don’t over-train – they focus on over-training while forgetting that you need to train! I think the bar is set higher in our community in terms of what is good and what is not. Eventually the females just realized “oh wait; that’s totally attainable. So and so did it. I know her. She did that run. I did that run. I should be able to do it!”
You’ve clearly accomplished a ton during your prep career. In your mind, what are some highlights?
One is probably my freshman year when I qualified for the Junior World Cross Country Championships after I ruptured my appendix. I was facing adversity, going through not being able to run for several months, and then getting myself to qualify for the World Championships. Such an injury becomes a real pivotal point in anyone’s career, whether you’re going to give up or whether you’re going to focus on getting in shape and give it everything. And that was my first World’s experience, which was really quite entertaining Another would be Footlocker National Champs when I won my sophomore year. It was probably the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life. It just felt easy to click off the pace. Obviously it was a big moment. It was just an easy race, and really, really fun.
What would your competitors think if they heard winning a national title was easy?!
They weren’t all easy! I passed out the next 2 years in a row! Of course I gotta brag about the one that was easy. I don’t remember if I even finished or not the next two years. The tough ones make you appreciate the easy ones. My third highlight would be coming in 9th in the Junior World Championships in the 3,000m my junior year. I PR’d in the trials and then again in the finals. That was pretty exciting because at the time the U.S. wasn’t as competitive as it is now, so making finals was a big deal.
Well those are certainly some impressive highlights! To what would you attribute such success?
I love the park. I love Ananadel. It makes it easy to go out there for a 10 mile run; all those trails and beauty makes time go by fast. You have a connection between nature and yourself. I lived in Annadel growing up. If I wasn’t running I was hiking, if not hiking I was playing in streams, and if doing none of those I was bike riding. Weekends I would only come home to shower and sleep; the rest of my time was in the park. The park was my home. It’s easy when it’s fun and the park to me is fun. Also, I had phenomenal support having Danny (Aldridge) and Doug (Courtemache) as my coaches. They have a well-rounded perspective of the overall health of the athlete. Having coaches who see you as an individual and want the best for you as a person is key. That’s truly what we have in Sonoma County.
What advice would you give to all the current young runners who may be reading this?
Just love it. Love the sport. It’s a sport that if you love it then it’ll love you and you’ll have it for a lifetime. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you have the sport for the rest of your life. Love the sport and it will love you.
Julia Stamps at Santa Rosa High School: Spring Lake course record holder, former Woodward Park (state) course record holder (2nd all time as of this writing), Footlocker National champion, Three-Time State D1 champion, 3rd all time 800m, 1st all time 1,600m, 2nd all time 3,200m, Three time 3,200m state champion (2nd one), One time 1600m champion.