Santa Rosa Express Youth Running Club, with Mark Drafton

Nov15_SRExpress010Question: This is the iPad generation. Is it difficult getting them to put down the screens and run wild like when we were kids?

Answer: In this day and age children use more technology in their daily lives than ever before. With that said, we invite the parents to join us in all of our activities. We try to make it a family affair.


Do parents primarily encourage their kids to join, or do some kids find the club on their own?

We have a little of both. Parents who encourage their kids to join have heard about us through current or former parents. We do have that group of kids who seek us out on their own because they want the training for other sports.


Who are your current coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Our current coaches include Dawit Tessfasilassie who was a track and cross country stand out at Piner High school,  Caroline Gonsalves, who is a local elementary school teacher with extensive marathon experience,  and the head coach Mark Drafton, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and former high school 400m specialist.


How do your coaches make running “fun?” Even a common comment from adults is that running is boring.

We try to make each practice an event by changing the routine often. And we invite parents to join in our workouts. We use games for the younger group with prizes and competition for the older kids.


Bob Schor can often be seen as the “starter” for both track and cross-country races in the north bay. What is his connection to Santa Rosa Express? And why is there a scholarship named after him?

Bob was a former Santa Rosa Express Coach and continues to be involved in coaching during track season. He was instrumental in keeping the club together and brought it back from the brink of fading away four years ago when the coaching support was no longer there. He reached out to me and with the help of Kelly Gaab and Caroline Gonsalves we were able to right the ship and it has grown exponentially every year.


Do you have any well-known alumni?

Julia Stamps, Sara Bei, Jacque Taylor, Jenny Aldridge, and Kim Conley.

What do you want to tell parents that are considering getting their kids involved?

The mission of Santa Rosa Express Youth Running Club is to encourage young athletes to learn and appreciate running in a fun, safe and healthy environment. Runners learn good sportsmanship, a strong work ethic, and self-motivation while receiving training and coaching from a team of dedicated volunteers. Our coaches believe in providing a dynamic environment in which our athletes can develop at a rate designed for each individual. Running is a great opportunity for young runners to get in shape, try new distances and build self-confidence. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. It doesn’t take long to feel good and see improvement, but it does take regular practice.




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