At 0715 on Tuesday morning, January 1, the sun was just poking above Bennett Mountain, the wind was whipping and the air temperature icy. The wind was blowing the course-marking flour about. As I finished the turnaround marking and headed back to the start/finish I noted it was really cold but at least the runners would benefit from a strong finishing tailwind. Jump ahead to 0830 and the wind had become a mere whisper, the temperature in the upper mid 40’s, crisp and clear…you know perfect racing weather!
While the runners were slow to begin congregating at Place to Play Park, the volunteers and set up crew were quickly getting everything ready for the 10 am start. While I finished with course set up, Jerry Lyman was hard at work leading the finish line and timing crews through their paces. Meanwhile, Luis and Melanie Rosales (Mr. and Mrs. Coach) were leading the Piner XC crew, taking care of most of the other necessary responsibilities for the preparation and running of a successful race. In short, I was surrounded by a race director’s dream team. We were ready and all we needed were runners.
By 0930 the buzz of excited runners was evident with the queue to both the sign-up table and the porta potty backing up. While we waited for the start of the race, Larry Meredith began announcer’s duties, updating those that were listening, with time checks, race history, introducing the Phabys and updates from last year’s results.
All the while many runners were in the middle of race preparation and practicing race starts running around and through the mass of late arrivers.
At 1000, a moment of silence was called for our fallen Empire Runners, Alec ‘Doc’ Isabeau and Michael McGuire. After a quick reminder of the course details, racers of all ages toed the line awaiting the starting marine horn blast. And an instant later the group was off.
At around the 1K mark after completing the soccer field loop, last year’s champion, Dante Capone had developed a small lead over 2nd place Scott Kruetzfeldt. In 3rd in the early going was Tyler Harwood. For the women, last year’s champion, former Ursuline star Sarah Hallas, had a comfortable lead over 14yo Sarah Skandera with Krista Dreschler a close 3rd. Behind these early leaders another dozen or so runners were in single file in hot pursuit.
Past the 1-mile mark and around the pond loop nearly 250 runners and walkers snaked around the course as the leader pulled further ahead as he entered the Northwest Park exit and continued east on the Santa Rosa Creek Trail. At around the 14-minute mark Dante Capone emerged from behind the baseball field visibly pushing the last 200 meters in an attempt to break his course record. About 30 seconds later a smooth running Scott Kruetzfeldt was cruising along followed by a fast charging Tyler Harwood. Former Analy HS and current UC Santa Cruz runner Dante Capone finished strongly in 1st Place setting a new course record by 1 second in 15:22, a 4:57/M pace. Chico State freshman (Maria Carrillo HS), Scott Kruetzfeldt finished in a fine 15:50 and former Casa Grande star Tyler Harwood with his patented “big kick” flew in with a 16:08 time.
The first woman to hit the final tarmac was Sarah Hallas running in 12th Place overall and safely ahead of 2nd Place Krista Dreschler. Sarah, just a year from Masters status, finished 1st in a very fine 18:20 (5:55/M pace) with Krista using a strong finishing kick passing 3rd Place Sarah Skandera in the last 50 meters with a 19:27 time. Sarah finished in 19:36, being pushed to the limit by 57yo Andy Howard just edging him at the line in the same great time.
There were a number of great times and notable finishes. Men’s Master runner, Brandon Bannister, came in 6th overall in 17:05 (5:30/M), 3 high schoolers finished 4th, 5th and 7th overall: Paden Collard (Cloverdale HS), Nolan Hosbein (Casa Grande HS) and Andrew McKamey (Santa Rosa HS). 70yo Lon Wiley won his division in 21:51 (7:03/M pace). Not to be outdone, 8yo Paul Skandera won his division in a blazing 21:01 (6:48/M). Our youngest finisher was 5yo Isaac Keys while our oldest finisher was 82yo Darryl “the Legend” Beardall.
In the Women’s division top times outside of the top 3 runners included a very nice 19:47(6:23/M) for 54yo Senior Masters runner Cathy Dubay. Ruth Skandera just 9yo dominated her division with a fine 21:39 (6:59/M) and big sister Rebekah Skandera just missed breaking the 20min barrier for 5K @20:11(6:30/M). Our youth was well represented as 16 girls under 12 years old finished the race (30 total boys and girls), the youngest being 7yo. The oldest woman finisher was 78yo Kathleen MacPherson.
Following the last finisher, the awards were presented to the Top 3 in the men’s and women’s divisions. They each received a beautiful Brooks long sleeve running shirt emblazoned with Resolution Run and Empire Runner graphics provided by Heart and Sole as well as a choice of a bomber of Lagunitas beer, champagne from Korbel or Martinellis Apple Cider. Age group awards and raffle prizes were provided by Fleet Feet, Healdsburg Running Company (HRC), Lagunitas and Costco.
Well the day couldn’t have been prettier or the temperature more perfect for a January race. The atmosphere was spectacular and the vibe was “very cool”. I felt like this was the best rendition of this particular race at Place to Play and it couldn’t have happened without a lot of preparation, hardwork and skill of my staff and volunteers. The volunteers were plentiful and I know I will miss some but if you helped me in anyway be assured that I am tremendously appreciative. First and foremost, no Empire Runner event can survive without the skillset of Jerry Lyman (who years ago at a monthly meeting stated emphatically that he was retiring from volunteering…and he hasn’t stopped working since! Thanks Jerry for “retiring”). The Piner XC crew led by the Rosales simply come in and take over many race day operations and with a minimal of discussion not only provide excellent service but work to improve each year. I can’t thank you enough. The Piner course monitors (XC students) are the best. We were lucky to have Larry Meredith and his expansive knowledge of all things running announcing, wife Tori Meredith in charge of end of the finishing chute, my daughter, Michelle handing out ribbons to the kids and getting each award/raffle winner their gift. Thanks to the timing tent (Peter Kirk, K-Pop and Jerry) because without them this would just be a Fun Run/Walk. Special thanks to Bob Rogers and Scotty Ames for helping with finish line setup/takedown and more importantly “keepin’ it real”. Finally, I would like to thank those that just saw something that needed doing and stepped in and helped. That is what makes the Empire Runners such a great social activity group to join and be part of. I hope you took advantage of visiting our booth and meeting our membership guru, Gil Moreno and perhaps were enticed to give us a try.
January 1 has passed and the 2019 version of the (40th Annual) Phaby-Gray Resolution Run has packed up the proverbial tent for another year. We are looking forward to seeing you again next year and we will work to make this event even better…though I can’t promise the weather will ever be as nice as 2019!
The Empire Runners Club was a Silver Level Sponsor at the inaugural fundraising dinner for Friends of Trione-Annadel State Park (FoTASP) on June 30. In attendance were (clockwise from left) Kenwood Footrace Director Val Sell, ER Secretary Kate Papadopoulos, Summer Track Series Meet Director and Student Grant Fund Coordinator Paul Berg, ER Board of Directors Member Catherine DuBay, Riverfront Relay Race Director Melanie Rosales, ER President and Riverfront Relay Race Director Luis Rosales, Jackrabbit Derby Race Director Dale Peterson and (not pictured) ER Training Coordinator Larry Meredith and ER Secretary Tanya Narath.
FoTASP was formed in September of 2017 by five members of the Santa Rosa community to provide a focal point for community fund-raising efforts to support the health and maintenance of Trione-Annadel State Park. Friends of Trione-Annadel State Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit with the specific objective to work within Sonoma County to create a revenue stream to allow the implementation of development and maintenance projects within Trione-Annadel State Park that enhance the value and accessibility of the park to all citizens.
The 2018 USATF Pacific Association LDR – Long Distance Running Awards Banquet was held on Saturday February 3rd in Sacramento.
The Dante Club near Sac State was packed and everyone was in a celebratory mood, enjoying good food and beverages. There were literally dozens of individual and team awards covering the spectrum from Roads and Cross-Country to Ultra and Mountain Running Grand Prix’s.
The Guest Speaker was none other than the living legend Billy Mills, surprise winner of the 1964 Olympic 10,000 M in Tokyo Japan.
Mills, whose story was immortalized in the 1983 movie Running Brave, continues to be brave indeed, championing human-rights and celebrating the common bonds between diverse peoples across the globe.
Mills did not play it safe at the banquet either. His talk, though held together by a running themed thread touched on his hard-scrabble childhood, his struggles with racism and bigotry and his own private demons. At many points during his talk, he fearlessly touched on what were certainly uncomfortable subjects for many in the audience. When he finished he received a well-deserved standing ovation from the mostly white, economically comfortable audience.
The Empire Runners were well represented on this night.
David White, Solomon Leung and Dale Peterson were on hand to receive their respective awards.
David picked up the award as the 2017 Cross-Country Grand Prix 50-59 Champion.
David was also very excited to accept the 2017 PA Cross-Country Championship plaque on behalf of the Empire Runners Senior men’s team.
Solomon was awarded as the 2017 Ultra Grand Prix Under-30 Champion in that grueling series.
Dale was awarded the 2017 Volunteer of the Year award for Cross Country for his work as a USATF-PA official.
It was a fun and rewarding evening for all who attended.
Running Amongst Tea Fields and Spices: A race report for the Vagamon Ultrail 50K in Kerala state, India
By Heidi Cusworth
Women’s race winner Maha takes a photo with us just after the finish
Running in a new area is usually quite interesting, and something many runners seek out. An added twist to this is running in a new area where running is not common at all. This adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Bill and I decided to spend 5 weeks in Kerala, one of the southern states in India. Kerala is known for its lush tropics, spices, tea fields, food, and mountains. While planning for the trip, we came across a listing for a 50K set amongst all of this! We couldn’t believe it, so of course we signed up, despite the fact that I’d never run a 50K before, let alone a marathon. While I run and hike regularly, I pinned a lot of hope on the idea that the landscape would carry me through (and Bill!). The race was at the tail end of our trip, so for the first 4 weeks in Kerala we ran every day followed by afternoon hikes. I think this ultimately helped me in being able to finish with a big smile on my face.
The race was based in Vagamon, at an elevation of ~1100 meters (3400 ft) above sea level. Vagamon is a small village in the Indian state of Kerala and is mainly supported by outdoor adventure activities in the surrounding areas. With its scenic valleys, pine forests, spice plantations, tea estates, waterfalls, bald grassy hill tops, and overall greenery, it really is rather striking area. The course took us through these different terrains and was very well-marked with signs and friendly volunteers. The elevation provided relief from the heat and humidity from the tropical coastal areas and was really quite pleasant for running – 60 deg at the start and about 75 deg at the finish.
We opted to participate in a partial package tour for the race. This was perfect as it allowed us the opportunity to spend the night before and the night after the race, in the race headquarters hotel. It also included a pre and post-race breakfasts and dinners, transportation to and from the start and finish areas, and transportation back to Cochin, the city with the airport for our flight home. It made things very simple to use this package as we could just focus on the experience and not any of the logistics.
Checking in at the race hotel
The day before the race, we checked in at the race hotel and received our bib number and T-shirt. Much to our surprise, all of the bibs had the first name of the runner printed on the front. Even more of a surprise was then seeing the race T-Shirt, which has the full names of each the runners printed on the back! Overall, the T-shirt is a nice design but unfortunately the color is a rather bright pink/peach blend, which is neither Bill nor my favorite so you probably won’t be seeing either of us wear it in public. Before the pre-race briefing, we struck up a conversation with the race organizers and learned a bit about the club that was putting on the race. The club is called Soles of Cochin and they started organizing workouts and races about 3 years ago. Their first race was the Spice Coast Marathon in Cochin, which is at sea level along the coast, and where the climate is always hot and humid. Our race, The Vagamon Ultrail, was the clubs first organized race in this more mountainous area. We found out when chatting with the organizers, that we were the first international participants in any of their races! As night fell, the race briefing finally started and luckily for us, it was all in English. So many languages are spoken in India that English ends up being the main common language for all of them. Immediately following the briefing was a pre-race dinner, served outdoors.
Early in the race through the tea fields
Saturday, January 6th was race day and it was so hard to sleep the night before because I was so nervous and excited. The bus arrived at 5:30am to take us to the start at a schoolyard and also breakfast for those who could eat. Bill managed to wolf down the provided hummus and flatbreads, while I sipped a cup of tea. The race briefing was short and sweet with lots of cheers to just celebrate us all being there. We started on time at 6:30am and immediately found ourselves immersed in the tea fields. About 90 percent of the course was on trails or dirt roads, with the rest being on paved, but rural roads. Overall, the course was very technical with a lot of steep and/or overgrown sections and rocky footing everywhere except the paved sections.
In general, there was an Aid Station or a Rest Area every 4 kms (2.5 mi). The aid stations were incredibly well-stocked with water, energy drinks, fruits etc. during the race. The rest areas along the course were additional items and places to lie down. Because this race was so incredibly well staffed and organized, we didn’t need to carry anything! With the aid stations being so frequent, we were never short on water or anything else we needed. At the 20K rest area, there was hot food and tons of it! We actually stopped for over 20 minutes to sit down and have a proper breakfast! During our travels in Kerala we fell head over heels in love with the food. In addition to flatbreads with hummus, they had Idli’s, which are one of Kerala’s main breakfast staples. They are made up of fermented roasted rice and lentil flour and served with various curries and chutney’s. They had tons of fruit, coconuts, tea & coffee etc. No one left hungry.
Side by side the whole way!
Our time goal for the race was simply to beat the pre-stated 10-hour time limit and the 30km intermediate time limit of 6 hours. We knew ahead of time that the course was actually 52.7km, a little bonus distance at no extra costJ. Our plan was to run the flats and downhills but walk the uphills and steep rocky sections. The course was marked every 5km, so we knew we needed to be under an hour at each mark. At the start we hoped to put “time in the bank” by actually running each 5km under an hour and get to 30K in 5 hours. We hit the first two 5Km markers at 45 min each and the 3rd in 30 min (probably was short) so even with the 20min breakfast stop at 20K and a huge climb around the 25K mark, we still reached 30K in 4:59, right on our goal!!!!! At that point we were feeling great and knew we could make the time limit even if we walked the rest of the way. From that point on, we were well into a zone that neither of us had trained for, so we did end up walking a fair bit of it with the occasional jog on downhill and flat sections.
After running in the tea fields along with the tea field workers and their homes in the early part of the course, we crossed streams and eventually dropped into a cardamom spice plantation. Around the 35km mark, we passed into a specially planted pine forest called Pine Valley that was a big tourist draw (they don’t have natural pine forests in India). For that part of the course, we kind of felt like we were back in the USA running around Tahoe. The course then lead us back into more tea and spice plantations, up into rolling hills and eventually along a razor-edge cliff top path that was breathtaking. I had a hard time looking down as the drop was rather drastic, there were parasailers flying around in the draft, it was rather awesome to be a part of. We started seeing runners that were doing the concurrent 80K course and were running most of the 50K course in the reverse direction. The last part of the course was an out and back section to the top of a sacred rock outcrop called Thangalpara before finally finishing at the Vagamon Orchidarium.
One of the many selfies during the race –this one in Pine Valley
Whenever we ran by people we were always greeted with a smile and a hello. Sometimes we were even asked to stop and take a photo. Selfies are very big in India! Several racers took selfies with us in Pine Valley. At Thangalpara, which is this incredible rock outcrop near the end of the race, we were stopped two different times by groups of guys who were genuinely excited and somewhat surprised to see a girl running. We were asked to stop and take selfies with each person in the group! There must be quite a few funny photos of Bill and I during this race that we’ll never get to see.
Before the race started, I was lucky to bump into one of the other female racers who ended up being the overall female winner. I had a really nice chat with her. Near the end of the race while I was running up the Thangalpara outcrop, she was already coming down. Instead of just running by, she ran up to me, stopped, and gave me a big hug and said how happy she was to see me! It was just so heartfelt and it really gave me a new spring in my step which I really needed at that point.
Bill and I crossed the finish line hand in hand with huge smiles on our faces. We finished in 9:16 and while we were exhausted, we were so happy that things had gone so well. Every finisher was adorned with a ceramic finisher’s medal and then each person was asked to bang a gong to commemorate their accomplishment. They had plenty of snacks and cooked food at the finish which we thoroughly enjoyed after draining ourselves on the course.
When the final results came out, we were surprised to find out that we finished 20th and 21st overall out of around 70 finishers (out of 110 registered). I ended up finishing 3rd of 7 women in the field, just a few minutes behind 2nd place. I have to give massive thanks to Bill for sticking with me and being such a great running partner. We would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a unique experience!
You can check out a video trailer for the race at:
From Turns & Distances, a publication of the Officials Committee of the Pacific Associal USA Track & Field
Originally published July 27, 2015:
We were quite moved, a couple years ago, when the Pacific Association Youth Committee named one of their meets The Bob Shor-Charlie Sheppard Classic. The sixth* installment was held in El Sobrante in April. This honors two certified officials who are almost always there for Youth meets.
Sheppard created the youth committee’s original on-line registration system, while also working as back-up starter for many meets and serving as the youth committee’s records chair. He has done heroic work over the years, chairing PA’s Disabled Athletics Committee. (This lately has been renamed the Para Athletes Committee.)
Shor has been principal starter for club meets, association championships, Junior Olympics meets, both on the track and in cross country. He was Youth cross-country chair for many, many years. In addition, he represents the Empire Runners to the Pacific Association Board of Athletics; and will be the starter for the USATF National Club Championships in Golden Gate Park, in December. By all accounts, over several decades, he has never missed a meeting, whether of different Youth and LDR committees, or of the Board of Athletics…until a recent bout of ill-health. Awards he has received include the PA Officials’ Dick Barbour Meritorious Service Award (2001), the Pacific Association Service Award (2006), and PA Long Distance Running Committee’s Lifetime Service Award (2015). Certified since 1990, he is a Master official.
Bob sat down to breakfast with Turns and Distances at a café in Santa Rosa, in early May , and said he didn’t want to be paid for working track meets.
SHOR: It would be work and I don’t think I’d enjoy it. I don’t know. I’ve never tried it. I don’t want to try it. I just want to do it because I want to do it. Because I like it. I mean, I’ve worked, done pretty good. But it was work. I’ve never found out what I wanted to do in the way of a job that I really enjoyed the job. Never had it, just worked because I had to eat, had to pay rent.
But this track and field, after I started it, I don’t think I was doing it for two weeks after I started, all of a sudden I realized how great it was.
As a little kid, I was going to play for the Dodgers. Then I realized I wasn’t quite good enough, so there it was: track and field.
BC: So how did you start officiating?
SHOR: My first year in high school at the end of the track season, our sprinter made it to the state meet. And the guy from the next town over also made it to the state meet. So their sprinter and our sprinter were going to be at our high school just for practice, before they went to the state meet. And the coach asked me if I would just help them out. All of a sudden he had me starting for these two guys. I was a sophomore. And the coach just told me, when you say “set,” just wait before you fire the gun. So I started the races, just for the two of the guys, just for practice, not races. That’s where it started.
BC: Where was this?
SHOR: I’m from New York, I was born in Brooklyn, and at that time we were living out on Long Island, living in the town of New Hyde Park, going to Great Neck High School.
BC: So you basically started officiating even at the beginning of your running career.
SHOR: Yeah. When I was in high school, and the next year, my junior year, I was starting the dual meets, except for the mile. I used to run it. That was the longest race then, in high school, one mile. If you competed in anything from 440– which they used to call it, not 400–or longer, you could only be in one running event; that was it. So my junior and senior years, I ran the mile, and the rest of the time at our meets, I fired the gun for the other races.
BC: What kind of times did you run?
SHOR: In high school, I got down to four-forty-something, nothing spectacular. But I loved it. I just loved the sport, I loved the whole atmosphere. And cross-country, I liked cross-country a lot better than track. You weren’t running around in circles, you were out running in the hills, just mentally it was better.
BC: So you were born in Brooklyn, you grew up on Long Island, how did you wind up in Santa Rosa?
SHOR: For college I went to a military school.
BC: Are you from a military family?
SHOR: No, no, no, no military relatives whatsoever, from any side, just me, I was the outcast, in the military.
I went to Pennsylvania Military College, what it was called then, near Philadelphia. The name has been changed. Now it’s Widener University. Because of Vietnam, the enrollment kept going down and down and down, they had to do something, so they changed the name.
But the military attitude benefited me. I like to think it did, anyway. Then I went to law school, and after the first semester I dropped out, because one of my professors mentioned that if you’re gonna be successful in this business, you gotta get an A in ambulance-chasing. And I figured, no, that’s not my bag.
Then I went on active duty and I went to Vietnam, I was there in ’65 and ’66.
BC: What was your service in Vietnam?
SHOR: I was with the advisors, we were advisors to the Vietnamese infantry. When I went there I was a first lieutenant, when I left I was a captain. And I got hit and I had to get out because of the injury
BC: Where in Vietnam, do you remember?
SHOR: For the most part, it was just 60 kilometers north of Saigon, but you couldn’t go anywhere, you went anywhere, boom, you got shot at.
BC: Do you speak Vietnamese at all?
SHOR: Yeah, because we were advisors. I spent time at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, then eight weeks at Monterey, at the language school, and I learned how to speak Vietnamese, because the teachers couldn’t speak English, so you learned. And then when I got over there, because I was with the Vietnamese, I don’t think I’d been there too long, I realized, I don’t have to translate. They would say something and I could answer right away in Vietnamese. It shocked the heck out of me. How could this happen? I didn’t have to think in English. And I can still speak Vietnamese, a little bit, not as much, at a high school level, because we have a couple of Vietnamese kids in high school, but they were born here, and I can speak better Vietnamese than they can—their parents, no, their parents speak Vietnamese, and I can speak with them a little bit.
BC: After the service…
SHOR: When I got out, I got myself a job up in northern California. I was hired in New York for a company that owned a couple of lumber mills near Arcata and Crescent City.
I met a woman when I was up there in Arcata, Linda, and we married. Unfortunately, after ten and a half years, she died of cancer.
And I got married again, and I’ve been married ever since to another one, Alix. She worked for the county as a social worker. Different departments, different positions. She is now retired but helps out with a few different organizations. She has very little interest in sports. But she sticks with me.
We got married in 1980 and we had a daughter, born about a year and a half later, she’s now Adrienne Johnson. She, her husband, and their boys live in Quincy.
I was in the lumber business about a year and a half. I could see I wasn’t going to stick with that, so I worked for the newspaper in Eureka, selling advertising, and I’ve been in sales ever since. I worked for that newspaper, I worked for a very short time for the newspaper in Salem, Oregon, and then moved here, to Santa Rosa, and I was working for the newspaper here, selling advertising.
After about six years, I started working for a winery, Windsor Vineyards, hawking wine, with personalized labels, over the phone. That’s when I realized, sales is sales. No matter what you’re selling, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling yourself. People don’t buy the product, they buy you. That’s how I wound up selling wine. Not that I drank very much of it, but I sold it.
I worked for Windsor Vineyards for 13 plus years and then came retirement, and that’s the best part. I tell people, if I’d known retirement was so good, I would have done it years before. Now I’ve been retired about 17* years.
BC: You do a lot with youth. How many meets do you figure you work a year?
SHOR: Probably about 120. Like this week. Here I had a meet last Saturday, Sunday, then I had a meet on Tuesday and yesterday and I got one today and I got a youth meet this Saturday. And there’s no meet Sunday because it’s Mother’s Day and if we had a meet on Mother’s Day, it would be over. The parents would never come to a meet again.
BC: How did you get involved with Youth on the governance side? In fact, Joanne Camargo tells us that when she became Youth Chair, you and Charlie Sheppard constituted the entire PA youth committee.
SHOR: When Joanne became the Youth Chairman, Charlie Sheppard and I were quite active as officials and on the Youth committee, but there were quite a few other people as active as we were or more so.
The reason I got involved with the youth was my daughter. I didn’t even know youth existed until then, then I found out what it was, and I got with the local youth club, and I started helping them out, and I went to the meetings, for the youth committee. Come January we would set up the schedule for the year, and I’d just see what was going on, ask questions, and I got involved in it. In ’89 is when I got with the youth. It just grew from there.
BC: So, you’ve been officiating essentially your whole life.
SHOR: In Arcata, I used to start the meets up in Arcata. Everywhere. Even when I was in the service. When I was at Fort Polk, in Louisiana, we were doing basic training, every eight weeks we would rotate, eight weeks, then a new group. I used to start at the small high school track meets, in a small town. Kinda pathetic, but I liked it. It was just too small a town.
BC: You volunteer at Santa Rosa High School, is that right?
SHOR: I’m one of the coaches with the high school. On the list, I’m listed as the head girls’ coach, although there’s one person who coaches the whole thing, he’s actually the head coach, then it’s myself and we have a bunch of other people that do the coaching. The way they pay, they have a head boys’ coach, they have a head girls’ coach, and then they have assistant coaches, depending on the number of kids. So we’ve got two assistant coaches, but one person is listed as the head coach. I coach the hurdles and I help out on everything else, everything, whatever that has to be done. The only thing I can’t do is pole vault. That is not my bag.
BC: Understood! We’re our own little cult over there—athletes, coaches, officials. When we were talking to Mark Drafton, at Santa Rosa Express, he mentioned you working with Sarah Bei (2001 Pan Am Games steeplechase winner) and Julia Stamps (six-time All American in cross country and track at Stanford, six-time national team member) and Kim Conley (US Olympian at 5,000 meters in 2012 [and 2016]). That was through Santa Rosa High?
SHOR: No, Santa Rosa Express.
BC: Did you see something really special in them at the beginning?
SHOR: They have that something that you can’t read in the book. They don’t like to lose. There’s just something there, they just have it.
Like with Kim Conley, she didn’t have that at the beginning, but the other two girls did. They just Did Not Like To Lose and didn’t take ‘em long to realize if they want to win, if they don’t want to lose, they gotta work. And they put the effort in and you didn’t have to push. They would work. And they were a pleasure to work with because of that. And you wonder, how come the others don’t want to do that? Because that’s why there’s just those few, especially in distance running.
In sprinting, the way I look at it, you’ve either got the speed or you don’t have the speed. You can improve it, but you’re not going to move from the bottom to the top.
But in distance running, it hurts. And you just have to make it hurt more.
Like when I talk to the kids on this, I say, okay, in cross country, you’re going so far, now the faster you go, the sooner you get to the finish, the sooner it stops hurting. And they laugh. It’s not funny! It’s true! You gotta make it hurt, and some people can do it, some people can’t. It’s upstairs. It just says that. The light doesn’t go on and say, “that’s enough,” but that’s enough, you can’t go any faster. But other people just do it. And that’s what makes the difference between why some are better than others.
BC: Coach Drafton also gives you credit for teaching rules and especially etiquette to the parents and athletes with Santa Rosa Express.
SHOR: Track etiquette, well, it’s not so much the rules, it’s the attitude. Maybe I’m being as biased, as prejudiced on this as possible, but I like to think people in track are just a step above people in other sports. In this sport, there’s no contact. It’s you, it’s an individual. One thing we don’t have in this sport is a bench. Nobody sits on the bench. Everybody plays. That’s a different attitude. And with the parents, all of a sudden, parents realize what this has done for their kids. And all of a sudden, parents want to get involved in it. It’s just a different attitude.
There are no time outs in this sport, nobody sits on the bench, it’s a different attitude, it’s you. And if you’re content to come in last, that’s fine, but most of the kids don’t want to come in last, so they work.
Also, in other sports half of the people clap and the other half boo. In our sport nobody boos. Well, I guess the only time they boo in our sport is after a false start when they blame the starter. One person breaks, seven don’t, but it’s the starter’s fault. Oh well.
BC: We get a bit of that in field events, too. And umpires! Miss steps on the line or a baton exchange out of the zone by 10 centimeters, and you’ll hear about it. But, let’s talk about the qualities or skills that a starter should have, in your opinion, especially to work with youth.
SHOR: You’ve got to have confidence in them, they’ve got to have confidence in you, that when you say “on your marks,” that they’re not going to mess it up for you, you’re not going to mess it up for them. Get ‘em in there, just so they know, when I say “on your marks,” get in position. When I say, “set,” come up immediately. And what I find, you’ve got to hold them. You can’t just say, set-go. Sure, it’s a legal start, because nobody breaks, but it’s not a fair start because they don’t get out even. Get them set, and when they’re all still, boom!, then, the gun goes off, and all eight of them get out even. After all eight are out of there, then as a starter, I’m done. But to get them out even, that’s the whole thing.
And it’s just something. I remember when I first started doing this, 62* years ago, I was scared stiff and all of a sudden I realized that, hey, if I can do it, they can do it, and I could feel it, you just know that you’re doing it right. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Youth or it’s a high school, or it’s college, or whatever.
I do a lot of the LDR, the cross country and road running, both starting and refereeing. See, there’s another thing. I used to run. And if I was supposed to run at 9 o’clock, upstairs, in the head, I was ready to go, and I had to sit there and wait and wait and I would go crazy, I had to go to the bathroom, nothing came out, but I had to go to the bathroom. It’s nerves! So I figure, these runners, they have to be thinking, most of them are thinking the same way, maybe all of them, I don’t know. But I figure we’re going to start at 9 o’clock, we start at 9 o’clock, period, on the button, and I’ll go to the nearest second, so everybody knows, that’s the way it’s going to be. And it makes me feel good, sometimes people come over and say thank you.
BC: What is your advice for a new official, just starting a career with us?
SHOR: Go out there and have a good time, and so far as learning, no one thing is difficult, if you’re trying to get it all put together, that takes time. But if you can go out there and take care of one thing and make sure it runs right, and you’re out there to make it right for the athletes, you’re not out there to make it right for you, it’s for the athletes. And if you’re doing that, it makes you feel good.
That’s what the sport’s all about. We don’t get paid for doing this, we’re out there to help them; they’re not there to help us.
But there are always details to take care of, sometimes a lot of them.
It’s like a couple years ago, when they had the World Masters Championships in Sacramento, I was on the technical end, and for the steeplechase, we had to get a trellis, that’s what the rules say, so when the runners come up they can see it’s a water jump, they know that there’s something there.
So I go out and I get the trellis, make sure I’ve got a 30 inch high trellis to put across, because that’s what it is for the women. And I put it down and all of a sudden, it sticks up above the top of the barrier. And I think, maybe I got the wrong trellis. And I measure it and it’s 30 inches. Then I realize the water jump barrier is too low.
I did the measurement again and saw it just happened to be the thickness of a 2×4, an inch and a half. So I just took the caps off and put a piece of 2×4 in there, drilled the holes and set it in there, and every way this is legal, so now, it’s at 30 inches and when you raise it six inches for the men, it’s 36 inches.
I just happened to catch it. But if the trellis hadn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have realized it was too low. I like things to be done right.
BC: What do you see as the best outcome for an athlete coming through the PA youth program?
SHOR: Starting with the youth, what you gotta realize is you can take kids born the same day—physically, not mentally but physically—some are way ahead of others. And some that are down at the bottom end, as they grow older, they catch up and they go ahead of the other people and they’re the ones who end up being successful. The ones that start doing it at the top, it’s too easy. And then when the others catch up with them, they don’t want to do it anymore.
BC: This is going back to Julia and working hard, isn’t it?
SHOR: But she worked hard and she kept going.
They’re special. Julia Stamps and Sarah Bei, it just so happened that they were four years apart, so they never competed against each other, not in high school, because one graduated and the other started.
We had another girl from around here, right in between, Trina Cox. She never won a league championship, but she won the state meet. But in the league, she had Julia Stamps for the first two years and Sarah Bei for the last two years. But she won the state meet in cross country and she made it to the state meet on the track, but nobody knows who she is because she was beaten by these other two girls. But she was also one of the top girls we’ve had around here, also came through the Santa Rosa Express.
BC: What’s the best individual athletic performance you’ve been part of?
SHOR: Oh, my god. There are so many spectacular races that I’ve seen. I’ve gotta say with Kim, making it to the Olympics, that was just her race, that was just unbelievable, the way she pulled that one out, by far.
I’ve seen many spectacular races, not just with the Youth, but going all the way back, even when I was in high school, my idol was a guy who won the Olympics in ’56 at 1500 meters, happened to be an Irishman, but he was going to Villanova, Ron Delany. He was my idol in track, and just seeing him in some of these indoor meets, where he would hang back and then take off. At all levels, a race is a race is a race.
Somebody jumping 29 feet. You can’t imagine how far 29 feet is. You look at your house, you don’t have a room that’s close to 29 feet. And you wonder, when Bob Beamon cleared 29 feet, how high up did he have to go? Everybody thinks, boom, you take off and you go straight. But there’s gravity. If you’re going to go straight, you’re going to come down right away. How high did he go? I can remember when Beamon set the world record, that’s back in ’68 in the Olympics and I’m thinking, that will never ever happen again, it’s impossible. But it’s happened. Not very often, but it’s happened again, it’s just unbelievable.
It’s the same thing when somebody has high jumped 8 feet. You look at 8 feet, go in your house, and measure from the floor to the ceiling, that’s not eight feet! And someone has actually cleared that. That’s unbelievable.
And in the pole vault. Over here at the JC, one time I just wanted to show somebody what twenty feet is like. Up in the bleachers, I got up on top and I let a tape measure hang, and I realized it wasn’t 20 feet high! That’s high! How can they do that? It’s amazing.
BC: Tell us something personal, that people might not know about you.
SHOR: When my daughter was about 5, for whatever reason I cannot remember, she went riding at a stable just up the hill from where we still live and my wife, Alix, and I were hooked. That summer we spent a week at a dude ranch in Quincy and figured out how to ride a horse. Our daughter really got good at it, my wife and I took some lessons at the local stable and for some reason or other we bought a horse for our daughter. For quite a few years after that we would spend a week each summer and/or winter at a real live cattle ranch north of Susanville or at a ranch north of Pyramid Lake in Nevada. That all came to an abrupt end when our daughter went to college. I think I’d have a tough time riding a horse now.
I still have lots of friends back east from college, and I still can’t figure out how come when I went back for my 50th college reunion, all the other guys there were old, I was the only young guy there, I can’t figure that out.
BC: What would you like your legacy to be, here in the North Bay?
SHOR: Just so they don’t call me a bum, basically that’s it, just be nice.
There’s other people who are putting as much effort or more.
I just want to do this as long as I possibly can.
Bruce Colman thanks the following individuals for helping to prepare this interview: Joanne Camargo, Mark Drafton, Irene Herman, George Kleeman, Margaret Sheehan, and Dave Shrock.
How Youth feels about Bob Shor
Joanne Camargo tells a story about a Pacific Association Youth championship when it was 110 degrees on the track. Bob had problems with the heat—passed out, Joanne says—and was sent back to the hotel. One of the Bantam boys came up to her, and said, “Where’s Bob?” He’s back at the hotel, resting. “I can’t run if Bob doesn’t start me. Will he be here tomorrow?”
*Note: The years were updated to reflect today, 2 years after the original interview.
A memorial gathering for Bob Shor will be held tomorrow, September 16, 2017, at 2 p.m. in Santa Rosa High School’s auditorium.
“On Sundays We Go Long”, A Novel by, Ty Strange, BeachLife Books, Santa Rosa, CA, 2017, pp 485
This is the second novel of the Empire’s very own Ty Strange. His first novel a few years ago (2014), “Hunt for Wolf_Eyes”, was a good first book and as previously reviewed was not a running book. As I stated during that review it was and still is a very worthwhile read. But what I (we) are always looking for is a great fiction running book (probably should be written by a runner). Some previous positively reviewed fiction running books have included: The John L Parker, Jr trilogy (“Again to Carthage” et al) and “100 Miles to Destiny” by Willis B McCarthy. Even before reading his first novel I asked Ty if a fiction running book was in his future and he assured me there was. Well three plus years later here it is.
With great excitement I began reading, “On Sundays We Go Long”. Unlike any other book I have read in recent history I had an inkling of what the book would be like or at least I thought I did. I knew it was a book about running (an activity we readily do), about a group of age group racers (kind of like us), who run regularly in the hills and trails of Santa Rosa (again like us) and whose lives are intermeshed outside of running (sound familiar?). And unlike many of those other books my first readings of “On Sundays We Go Long” were difficult, slow and frankly not what I expected.
In fact it took me about 100 pages before I had fleshed out the characters and got my mind wrapped around the storyline. I say this because in no other book have I been so insistent on trying to figure out exactly who each character IS in relation to one of the many characters who reside currently in the Empire Runner Empire. I also say this because this is a fiction book and my insistence hindered my getting involved in the story line. If you read the book allow yourself to read it for what it is and immerse yourself in the storyline. After fleshing out the characters I thoroughly enjoyed the ride; a season of Cross Country (XC) racing in the PAUSATF NorCal circuit, specific workouts (felt like I was running in the races, trails, etc) and the relationships of this “fictional” band of brothers.
I think this is a very worthy read. The author has a lifetime of running history to draw on and it shows yet it is not just a story of 5 guys running around in shorts. It is much more than that with some twists and turns to keep the reader interested. By the end it was a very good running story, written by a runner for runners. Though I think it shouldn’t be relegated to just runners or local readers. I think the story line is more global than that. Yet I did definitely lose myself in what was familiar and so I think this is a story for runners everywhere but a must read for those who live and race locally or on the circuit. I think it is a great addition to any runners library and although I am not sure who else will be reading this review, enjoying “On Sundays We Go Long” shouldn’t be limited to just us runners.
July 14, 2017, Happy Bastille Day. To those of you not interested in the history of France evert your eyes for a couple of paragraphs. This national holiday originated with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This action was a major turning point of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a fortress-prison often holding political dissidents and authors whose writings angered the Nobel class. As such, the Bastille was a symbol of absolutism of the Monarchy. As it turns out, the Bastille was also a storage facility of guns, ammunition and gun powder. So quicker than you could say, BAM – ZOOM, the peasant/working class had made their mark and statement to the ruling class and the trajectory of the French Revolution was forever changed.
But enough of my simple version of history, Bastille Day for me marks the midpoint of the Tour de France bicycle race. And the big question is; Will this be the year a French rider wins the Bastille Day Stage (14 this year)? For those of you who have been following this years version of the TdF, it has definitely been interesting and remarkably close this deep into the event (8 stages left). From the rain slicked opening stage (Prologue) with a myriad of crashes and crash outs through multiple stages of intense heat and more slick roads and even more bad crash outs this years Tour has had a fabulous storyline. In contrast to most of the tours this century, the race is very close with 4 riders within 35 seconds of the leader (yellow jersey wearer-maille jeune) and the top 10 all within 5 minutes of the podium.
Today’s race continued this story of close racing, multiple attacks, riders taking chances on downhills and tightening of the general classification results. In fact just today, the top 10 riders overall ended up in the top 10 of the day’s stage, and for the first time since 2005, a Frenchman (Warren Barguil) won the Bastille Day Stage. Not only was Barguil brought to tears but so was most of France (or maybe the tears were from Trump’s visit – I don’t know 🙂
The results of Stage 14:
Warren Barguil (France)
Nairo Quintana (Colombia)
Alberto Contador (Spain)
GC results (total of 14 stages): (Over 1500 miles)
Fabio Aru (Italy) Yellow Jersey
Chris Froome (RSA) 6 seconds back
Romain Bardet (France) 25 seconds back
Rigoberto Uran (Colombia 35 seconds back
Yellow (1st Place) – Fabio Aru
Polka Dot (climber) – Warren Barguil
White (top under 25yo) – Sean Yates
Green (sprinter) – Marcel Kittel
Top Team – Sky
So maybe you are wondering why the TdF update. Well I thought:
1- A fair amount of runners also follow the TdF.
2- It is Bastille Day.
3- A book review will be coming soon including a mention of the book, “The Secret Race”, by Tyler Hamilton.
For those of you who remember of the Pre-2013 TdF you might remember a guy named, Lance Armstrong, who dominated the tour for about 10 years, tried to cure cancer and then came clean(?) on how he cheated the whole time on Oprah. Well not exactly entirely clean, but it was a start. Frankly I never met anyone who didn’t back Lance for most of this tenure and many didn’t believe it even after the Oprah interview. But now years later (anybody know where Lance is, anybody care?) does having more answers to how far he went to cheat and keep from getting caught interest you? Well if it does, consider this book by Tyler Hamilton a must read. It is informative, I believe accurate (if you followed this closely I think you will agree) and well written. It has the pace of a mystery adventure novel and I highly recommend it. I will leave the reader to write their own review.
Also coming soon will be the review of 2 running books:
1- “The Longest Fall”, by, Lee Krinsky
2- “On Sundays We Go Long”, by, Ty Strange (fellow ER member and XC National teammate(2011)
I will begin the review this weekend, but a here’s a teaser line:
“I enjoyed it and everything from the book cover to the storyline itself will be familiar to many Empire Runners who have run the PAUSATF XC Circuit and our many trails in Annadel and Santa Rosa Creek. You might even recognize some of the characters.”
This is Ty’s second novel and one runners have been looking for: A novel written by a runner for a runner.
In the spirit of classic running novels, Ty Strange has imagined a story about five thirty-something men bound by running talent and living in Sonoma county who juggle relationships, careers, heartaches, and technology’s pervasive reach, all the while training and racing together, pursuing cross-country club championship bragging rights. The following excerpt picks up where the guys christen the start to their season long pursuit.
Saturday Afternoon Annual XC BBQ
“Robyn, sweetie, this is Dillon and his dog, Miles,” Jake says to his eight-year-old daughter when a man and his siberian husky enter the homestead’s backyard, his arms full of banana bread, a serving dish filled with roasted potatoes, and a case of Allagash White.
“Very nice to meet you,” she says. “I’m Robyn, spelled with a y because y is the best letter in the whole alphabet.” She takes out her Agent Carter notebook and jots in it. “I shall call you Dilly and Miley.”
“WooooowooowoooWooooowoooo,” Miles says.
“Oh, that’s a funny noise,” Robyn says, scribing another entry.
Miles tilts her head up toward Dillon.
“If I can live with Dilly, you can live with Miley,” Dillon whispers.
“And this is my lovely wife, Linda,” Jake says as she walks up to them. “This is Dillon.”
“Hello, Dillon. Let me take some of that off your hands.” She offloads the food items. “I’m sure the guys can help you with the beer.”
“Mom, it’s Dilly.”
“Yes, sweetie, I forgot the y.”
Linda laughs. “You’re right, Jakey.”
“Mom, Dilly’s dog barks funny,” Robyn says, wrapping her arms around Linda’s legs.
“You know it’s not nice to make fun of others,” Linda replies.
“I mean it’s different,” she says, now playing around Jake’s legs as if they were a jungle gym.
“That’s not a bad thing,” Jake says.
“She’s talking, not barking,” Dillon says.
“Oh, then we have things to discuss, Miley. We must go!”
Miles eyes Dillon, who nods, and trots alongside Robyn, moving away from the trio, talking a mile a minute.
“Here, let’s find a home for that beer, and I’ll introduce you around,” Jake says, giving Linda a kiss afterward.
“Nice meeting you, Dillon,” Linda says.
Jake walks Dillon around the spacious backyard hidden from view out off Willowside Road, a patchwork of green and brown grass owing to the drought engulfing the region, that plays host to a dozen wooden picnic tables loosely clustered around a large BBQ pit. Around the perimeter of the property tall eucalyptus trees sway to a gentle breeze. Through the trees Dillon watches two horses saunter around a dusty corral, grinning when he spots a pair of donkeys in the same corral, one nudging and chasing a large plastic ball while the other chases the first, nipping at its hindquarters.
“It’s amazing,” Dillon says.
“What’s that?” Jake says.
“How much your place, and mine, makes you feel so out in the country and away from everything, yet we’re only ten minutes outside town.”
“That’s what makes this area special: a little heaven on Earth . . . and a trail always within reach,” Jake says, approaching a lively group sitting around a pair of picnic tables pushed together. “And this motley crew collectively represents the founding mothers and fathers of the club.” He gestures to the consortium of senior-division-and-up female and male runners sitting in various modes of running shirts from years gone by. “Founding mothers and fathers, Dillon; Dillon, founding mothers and fathers.”
A chorus of hey greets Dillon. “Founding mothers and fathers,” Dillon says. “Hey, Dale.”
“The shower working in the Tokyo Room?” Dale says, the club’s most senior of senior members and Dillon’s handyman at his Bed, Run & Breakfast Inn.
“Like a waterfall.” He hands Dale a beer.
“Ooookay, we’d better keep moving,” Jake says, turning and moving on, “or you’ll be employing the entire table for beer.”
Various forms of “But Jakey” fade behind them as Jake walks Dillon over to where the Sunday crew has staked out a table and several lawn chairs. “This is more our demographic.”
“Dillon,” Chase says from his seated position, shirtless.
“Chase. Guys,” Dillon says, setting the case of beer down. It is instantly emptied and placed into the oversized cooler.
“Maggie couldn’t make it?” Jake asks Spencer, referencing his longtime girlfriend.
“She’s on a writing tear.”
“What’s she working on now?” Chase says.
“She doesn’t let me read anything until the second draft.”
“She says I’m too literal.”
“Nooooo,” Jim says.
Spencer gives off a distinctive clearing of the throat, aka “Spence-speak.”
“Who’s the hottie,” Chase says, gesturing across the way.
Dillon turns toward the hottie, a woman with short black hair and shorter running tights conversing with Robyn and Doris (Jim’s fiancé) on the other side of the fire pit.
“Terri,” Dillon says. “She works for me, helps with breakfast and housekeeping.”
“Hmmm,” Chase says, sipping his beer. “I think I saw her out at the JC track last week.”
“She teaches a class there a couple days a week,” Dillon says.
“You two . . .” Chase gives Dillon the inquisitive eyebrow treatment, shifting his eyes back and forth between employer and employee.
“Nope. I don’t mix business with pleasure.”
“Or trouble,” Jake says, popping the cap off an Allagash White. Doris’s cackle catches his attention and he watches his daughter take notes like a journalist as she and Doris converse with Terri.
Dillon scratches his chin.
“What’s her story?” Chase says.
“She’s working on her master’s in human sexuality—”
The beer that reaches Jake’s lips sprays outward in all directions. The guys standing directly in front of him take quick cover.
“Smooth, Jakey,” Chase says, chuckling along with the others afterward.
The commotion catches the attention of Terri, Doris, and Robyn, as well as others in the vicinity, and all are staring in the guys’ direction, scrambling to cover up their shared embarrassment. Robyn marches over to her dad.
“Dad, I have questions for you and Mom.”
“Lord love a duck,” Jim says.
“That’s my dad’s words, Jimmy.”
“I’m sure you do, sweetie,” Jake says. He composes himself and successfully takes a sip of his beverage. “But not now, okay?”
“Chasey, why are you ’fraid of commitment?” Robyn asks.
More beer spews out from its intended palate, this time from Chase, spawning raucous laughter. “Whaaaaaat?”
“My new best friend, Terri—spelled with an i, though I wanted to change it to a y, but she said she preferred i and I agreed because she’s pretty smart—said you were checking her short shorts out, but if she went out with you—and she said she thought you were cute with your little dimple and blue eyes so it could be a possibility—you’d only sleep with her, then find something wrong with her and tell her goodbye.”
Chase sits stunned. Dillon hangs his head. Jim is about ready to say Jake’s patented catchphrase again, but stops short. Spencer tries to suppress laughter but fails.
“It’s not funny, Spencey.” Robyn glares up at him. “You’re not married, and you’re living in sin.”
Spencer clams up, smirk wiped clean.
“And you thought Doris was going to be your worst problem today,” Jimmy whispers to Chase.
Chase gives Jim the stink eye and turns toward Robyn. “It’s complicated, Robyn with a y.”
Robyn fixes her tiny hands on her hips and juts her head forward. Chase flinches, bracing for the unbridled scorn of a young girl. “No, it’s not, Chasey,” she says. “Grown-ups always say things are complicated. That way they don’t deal with them. ‘It’s complicated. . . . ’ If it’s complicated, then you talk about it more!”
Jake adjusts the 2008 Pikes Peak Ascent cap on his head. “Sweetie, let’s discuss this another time, okay? Why don’t you go ask Mom what she wants for her birthday?”
“You already know what she wants, and this is wayyy more important.”
“I’m sure it is but—”
“Okay, moving on to my next topic,” Robyn announces, setting down her notebook.
Everybody within earshot holds their breath, drinks far from their mouths.
“These are my new shoes.” Robyn bends over as if stretching her short hamstrings, pointing to her new red Crocs that have sunflower stickers across the tops.
Relief, smiles, and nervous chuckles spread over the group.
“Yes, sweetie, the guys think your new shoes are very nice,” Jake says. “Now, go find Daddy a napkin to clean up with.”
“Yes, you are very messy . . . and scruffy!” she says as she turns away, jotting again in her notebook. “We must work on that!”
Jake lets out a sheepish chuckle. “Trouble. Lord love a duck, trouble.”
“Hmmm,” Chase mutters. “I don’t find things wrong with women.”
Dillon grins as groans, guffaws, and a Spence-speak besiege Chase.
“How about the one who insisted on wearing socks during sex?” Spencer says.
“Who wears socks during—”
“Or the one that ate like a wood chipper?” Jim says.
“Chomp, chomp, chomp . . . sharks eat slow—”
“Or the one with the intense eyebrows?” Jake chimes in.
“Hey! She looked serious all the time, especially when she smiled. In fact, when she smiled, she looked fanatical, and when she laughed . . . holy cow!”
Belly laughter brings more attention their way.
“Pfft . . . Spencey’s the one living in sin,” Chase says, sucking down beer.
“Lord love a duck,” Jake concludes, raising his bottle and toasting the group. “To another fun cross-country season ahead.”
Many of us had the pleasure of running with Brian on Thursday evening at Howarth Park for his first Empire Runners training run. Sure, he’s done a handful of races, but nothing could prepare him for Larry’s one-liners or Zanetti’s, well…Zanetti. Just kidding, the guys and gals are always extra pleasant around first-timers.
How long have you been a member of the Empire Runners?
I’ve been a member for 5 months now.
Why did you join the club?
I became a member to be part of a running community and motivate me to make time for exercising. Plus you get to run in a bunch of local events for free. What’s not to like?
How did you enjoy your first club training run?
It was great and I’ll definitely feel it in the morning. The group was inclusive and the runs allowed you to participate at your ability. There was beer at the end too!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I once did a 2,200 mile National Parks road trip with my sister in under 3 days.
TRACK! If there’s a more exciting word in the English language I haven’t heard it.
After 2 years of injury (long story, but includes sacral stress fracture and a will-never-heal labral tear), I’ve finally had the chance to have a track season. Two track seasons, in fact!
At a personal level, I went from no track season since 2013 to (thus far) 4 meets and 7 races around the oval. Somehow included in that was a small (0.83) second PR (personal record) in the 1,500m. So that’s cool. But the other season has been a lot more fun.
The more important season is that of Santa Rosa Junior College (Go BearCubs!). Somehow former Maria Carrillo HS (Go Pumas!) teammate and Chico State standout David Wellman talked me into being his assistant distance coach this season. And it has been a blast. Helping others work hard to achieve goals is an awesome experience. And exhausting. I do not understand how those high school coaches with scores of athletes do it year after year. But major props to them!
Anyways, you didn’t open this article to read about my track or even about SRJC Track & Field, though you should (Go BearCubs!). You opened it to learn about how you (yes you!) can enjoy the wonders of racing around the oval!
Coming up tomorrow,Saturday, April 22nd, at Montgomery High School is the Viking Invitational. The Viking Invite is a huge track and field invite, but what makes it extra-awesome is that at 8:30am (be there by 8!) there is an open/community 3,200m. That’s right, you can burn up 8 laps of the track before watching some awesome HS T&F action. (Pro tip: Santa Rosa HS senior and Heart & Sole Co-Runner of the Year Luca Mazzanti has his eyes set on breaking 4:10 that day. You do not want to miss it!)
While you don’t have time to physically prep for this weekend, you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for summer. The Empire Runners Club hosts five all-comer meets over summer, every other week on Tuesdays, starting June 13th. These are truly all-comers; there are little kid 100m dashes, 80+ year old athletes running round the oval, fiesty HS student-athletes showing their speed, and everything in between. Each meet runs in the following order:
*The Distance Event rotates throughout the summer, going from 3,000m to 2mile to 5,000m to 3,000m for the first four meets.
**The first four meets conclude with the 4x400m relay. Grab your friends and each run a lap around the oval! There’s no better way to finish a track meet! Well, except for the…
Distance Medley Relay! The final meet combines the Distance Event with the Relay, for the awesome, the amazing, Distance Medley Relay! The DMR is another 4-person relay on the track, but each runner runs a different distance. The first runs a 1,200m (3 laps), the second a 400m (one lap), the third an 800m (two laps) and the fourth a 1,600m (four laps). That is the best way to finish off a track meet!
Now one concern many have is that they aren’t “fast enough”, or some such silly worry. Again, these are all-comers; EVERYONE is welcome. Races will be divided by expected finish time, so you don’t have to worry about being a lap behind or anything like that. It’s a super supportive environment for all.
Want to start getting prepared now? You’re in luck! The Empire Runners host weekly track workouts led by Larry Meredith on Tuesday evenings. Specifics for each week can be found on theERC Training Calendar.
If you’re getting excited (and really, who isn’t?!), then let’s talk a little bit about spikes. SPIKES! (That’s one of the top-5 words in the English language.) Spikes are your light-weight, responsive racing shoes. They aren’t for every-day runs, but for races and workouts. They are for going FAST! (Remember: Fast is relative!) They are something you have to work into, but they are so much fun. One of the greatest feelings in the world is doing a quick stride on a warm summer day after lacing up a pair of fresh spikes.
Not sure if spikes are right for you? That’s okay! Heart & Sole, Santa Rosa’s local, independent running store, has done the legwork to provide Saucony Vendetta spikes for anyone to use at each of the five ERC Summer Track Meets! More details to come.
Already aware of the above local T&F options? Check out the Pacific Association of USATF’s annual Track Meet. On Sunday, June 11th at College of San Mateo you’ll experience a professional-level track meet with some impressive competition. The PAUSATF also provides information on other open, competitive track meets throughout spring/summer for your veteran tracksters. And yes, they provide info for Master’s competition (40+ years old). Getting older does not mean getting away from the oval!
While nothing beats racing fast around the oval, watching athletes race fast around the oval is pretty dang awesome too. So put these events on your calendar:
Payton Jordan Invitational: Saturday, May 5th, Stanford University
USA Track & Field National Championships: Thursday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 25th, Sacramento State
TrackTown Summer Series: Thursday, June 29th, Stanford University
Alright, you’ve spent way too long staring at a screen while reading this article. Time to get up, lace up your shoes, and go burn up the track!