Category Archives: 2018 Posts

Posts made in 2018

USATF-PA Awards Banquet 2018: Empire Runners Receive Honors

USATF-PA LDR Awards Banquet 2018

Empire Runners Receive Honors

By Dale Peterson

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.

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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.

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David White, Solomon Leung and Dale Peterson were on hand to receive their respective awards.

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David picked up the award as the 2017 Cross-Country Grand Prix 50-59 Champion.

 

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David was also very excited to accept the 2017 PA Cross-Country Championship plaque on behalf of the Empire Runners Senior men’s team.

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Solomon was awarded as the 2017 Ultra Grand Prix Under-30 Champion in that grueling series.DSC01259 (1)

Dale was awarded the 2017 Volunteer of the Year award for Cross Country for his work as a USATF-PA official.

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It was a fun and rewarding evening for all who attended.

Running Amongst Tea Fields and Spices

Running Amongst Tea Fields and Spices: A race report for the Vagamon Ultrail 50K in Kerala state, India

By Heidi Cusworth

Picture1Women’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.

Picture2Checking 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.

Picture3Early 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.

Picture4Side 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.

Picture5One 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMZjacjz76o&sns=em

Have Fun while Rebuilding Our Parks with Tahoe Ragnar Relay

“So much was lost in these devastating fires, and yet the sense of community and camaraderie in Sonoma County has never been stronger. We’ve come together to form an alliance, and challenge ourselves to raise money to help rebuild our local parks – the parks that bring our community together and provide respite from this stressful and painful experience. We will be running in Tahoe this summer to raise funds for the parks and hope that other runners coming to Ragnar Trail Tahoe this year will be inspired to help us with our mission to raise at least $40,000 for the parks restoration effort. Join us to help our community remain #SonomaStrong.”  -Justin Borton

It all started with Taylor Mountain Tuesdays. 3 years ago, Justin Borton and his small cohort of die-hard Sonoma County trail runners began meeting at 6:30 sharp every Tuesday morning to tackle the 1300-foot behemoth at the heart of Taylor Mountain Regional Park. Their goal is to make it up to the summit and back down before most Sonoma County residents have had breakfast, rain or shine.

The brutal climb hasn’t grown much over the years, but Borton’s network of Sonoma County trail runners certainly has. Ranging from weekend warriors to elite athletes, this group has formed the base of the #SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challenge.

Berg04ShilohCreated in the wake of the most devastating wildfires in California history, the goal of the #SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challenge is to raise at least $40,000 to directly benefit the Sonoma County Parks. Borton hopes to build 10 relay teams, comprised of 75+ runners, to represent Sonoma County at Ragnar Tahoe this year, with proceeds being donated directly to Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation Wildfire Restoration Fund.

Taking place on July 20-21 at Royal Gorge, this event offers a different format than other relays. Instead of waiting your turn to run along the highway in a cramped van, this relay is centered around a base camp area with 3 routes originating and ending in the camp. Each of 8 team members runs the 3 loops consecutively over approximately 24 hours. The comfort and camaraderie of all the teams being in the same location will create a convivial yet competitive atmosphere. Details of the relay are at https://www.runragnar.com/event-detail/trail/tahoe_ca

Empire Runners is teaming up with #SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challenge to increase awareness of the strength of our running community and raise money for the parks. Ragnar has agreed to turn over a large portion of entry fees to the cause, plus Borton and his crew are raising  donations and schwag from sponsors. We plan to have a large camp area specifically for our Sonoma county group, plus lots of fun during and after the running. Some of the local health clubs and running companies are also fielding teams, so this is shaping up to be the event not to miss.

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Here’s the link to sign up  https://goo.gl/4pBZ3A.       Register here instead of at the Ragnar site, and please make a note that you are registering to be on a #SonomaStrong Empire Runners Team. We need all speeds and abilities, we will assign teams as the date draws near. If you want to participate as a non-runner, as a crew helper or support staff, sign up as well and we’ll have a group meeting later.

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(All photos courtesy of Sonoma County Regional Parks staff)

The 2018 Phaby-Gray Resolution Run – Race Director’s Report

The 2018 Phaby-Gray Resolution Run – Race Director’s Report,        By Race Director Brad Zanetti  / Photos by Dave DeSelle 

Jan. 1, 2018 unlike last year when we were engulfed in ‘pea soup’ –like fog until race time, this morning started clear and sharply cool (high 30s). Sunrise shone warm yellow cirrocumulus cloud formations. In short order the early morning sun rose brightly and warm; yet the air temperature remained cool. In short, “perfect racing weather!” Just before 8am the Empire Runner setup/timing crew descended on Place to Play Park to prepare the course and get ready for this years Resolution Phaby-Gray Run.

By 10am, 241 runners toed the line and summoned by the blast of a marine horn were off. By the end of the first loop of the soccer fields UC Santa Cruz’ Dante Capone (Analy HS) had taken control of the race with 18yo Patrick Lynch following closely and Vojta Ripa further back in 3rd place. On the women’s side Petaluma’s Sarah Hallas led the women running in 8th Place overall and had a large lead over #2 Lisa Renteria who, in turn, had a large gap over 13 year old Sarah Skandera. The racers continued out and around the collecting pond, out the West gate on the Santa Rosa Creek Trail heading east past Malibu Circle to the turn around (~2.4 miles). Around 14:30 on the clock the slight figure of Dante Capone appeared alone on the trail behind the baseball field. With a strong finish, Dante was easily first and broke the course record in 15:23(4:57 pace). A devastating kick by Vojta Ripa found him passing Patrick Lynch in the closing 150 meters, finishing 2nd in 16:25 with Patrick holding 3rd in 16:29.

It did not take long for the sighting of the first woman, Sarah Hallas finishing in a fine 17:42, 8th place overall. The gap between Sarah and 2nd place finisher Lisa Renteria was almost exactly the same as the mens race as Lisa finished in 18:46. Sarah Skandera rounded out the top 3 in 19:52. For another 36 minutes, runners and walkers circumvented the course finishing in differing levels of exhaustion but all seemed happy to have done so.

It was a beautiful morning and a great way to start the New Year. An award ceremony and raffle followed with a bevy of items provided by the 3 local running stores: Heart and Sole, Fleet Feet and HRC; and a large number of items from Lagunitas Brewing. All children 12 and under received a rainbow finishers ribbon.   There were many smiles as the crowd left with their booty in hand.

The atmosphere was fantastic and the race ran well and on time (Bob Shor would have been proud). We will miss his smile and booming voice but his presence will always be felt. It takes a lot of volunteers and diligence to make the event run smoothly and I would like to thank them specifically. I apologize for those I miss.

First I would like to thank Jerry Lyman and his timing crew (Mike McGuire, Jacqueline Gardina). Jerry doesn’t just time the event. He has a hand in most of the aspects of each of our events and every race coordinator is deeply indebted to him (and this from a guy I remember telling all of us about 3-4 years ago at our monthly meeting that he was ‘retiring’ from these duties.) Thank you Jerry for ‘retiring’.

This particular race is heavily dependent on the huge effort by Luis and Melanie Rosales and the Piner Cross Country team. Short of the timing tent, the Piner group has their hands in almost every other aspect of race day duties and without them I would be there at 7am and wouldn’t leave until after 1pm and the job done would be substandard.

Thirdly we need to thank our 3 local running stores; Heart and Sole, Fleet Feet and Healdsburg Running Company (HRC) who not only provide a presence at our events, many items for the raffle and the cool Top 3 shirts (Heart and Sole) but so positively impact our running community. These are not just running shoe stores, though their value for just proper shoe sizing and selection is a given. It is all of the other stuff they provide: clothing, nutrition items, books, auxiliary running gear, and most importantly in my mind, their sense of community with weekly runs, pub runs, in store parties and raffles, xc/track spike nights, speakers and post Tubbs Fire shoe and clothing drives. They have so positively impacted our running community I can’t picture local running without them. They have partnered with Empire Runners to make Sonoma County a running mecca and I can’t thank them enough.

Next I would like to thank Lagunitas Brewery for their continued support and donating many items and beer for all of our age group winners (21 and older) and the raffle. And speaking of raffle I would like to highlight my daughter Michelle, my son-in-law Zach and Val Sell for improving the raffle experience. We will continue to try to make this positive for everyone. I apologize if you didn’t get something (although there were a lot of coasters and magnets left J). There were many others who helped with setup and breakdown and I thank you.

I would like to thank the City of Santa Rosa for allowing us to use Place to Play Park. Its open parking, easy entrance/exit and flat and fast course make it a great place to put on the race.

Finally, I would to thank the Empire Runners for their continued support of Sonoma County running. We are a growing group, from around 200 several years ago to now over 800. For one fee you get to be part of a great group with FREE races, FREE track meets and the chance to volunteer (also FREE!) and shape how we impact the community. Our one fund raiser, Kenwood Footrace, provides us with ability to positively impact the community in many ways, including: Free events, Scholarship Program, Trail Management (Annadel) which we support with money and manpower, Children programs (Girls on the Run, ID26.2, etc), Local High School Cross Country events/sponsorship, SouthEast Greenway Project to name but a few. We support many of the other races on our local running calendar as well. In short we are a very active group and continue to need a new infusion of energy and ideas. Please consider coming to our monthly meetings and see where you can be involved or just come out to an event and ask where you can help.

One last thank you to all of the runners who came out yesterday and who make this race the way they want to start the New Year annually. Looking forward to seeing you all again next year.

Age Group Results:

Male                                             Female

12 and under

  1. Numa Crist(12)     19:59           1. Ruth Skandera(8) 22:44
  2. Triston Liggett(12) 22:42        2. Rebekah Skandera(12) 22:50
  3. Paul Skandera(7) 23:32           3. Aurora Nicolas(10) 23:27

13-20

  1. Patrick Lynch(18) 16:29           1. Sarah Skandera(13) 19:52
  2. Luca Mazzanti(19)17:10           2. Molly Koslowski(18) 21:15
  3. Job Skandera(16) 17:16           3. Samantha Moberly(16)27:07

21-29

  1. Dante Capone(21) 15:23(CR)   1. Gretchen Forrey(29) 22:24
  2. Vojta Ripa(28)       16:25                2. Amanda Cream(29) 27:24
  3. Brian Goodwin(25) 16:54           3. Emillie Feenan(25) 29:19

30-39

  1. Jesus Frutos(36) 18:00             1. Sarah Hallas(38) 17:42
  2. Daniel Karbousky(33)19:26       2. Lisa Renteria(39)18:46
  3. Bruce Tuohy(31) 21:07               3. Renee Chaffin(31)24:08

40-49

  1. Kenny Brown(48) 17:48             1. Karen F Teuscher(41) 20:56
  2. Vince Viloria(40) 20:17               2. Kerry Hanlon(45) 21:15
  3. Michael Moberly 21:59               3. Kerry Gesell(44) 23:25

 

50-59

1.Guy Shott(54) 18:02                     1. Valerie Sell(53) 21:38

2. Anderson Howard(56) 19:31       2. Nuvit Salz(57) 22:37

3.Phillipe Thibault(52) 20:13           3. Chris Martindill 25:07

60-69

  1. Frank Cuneo(62)21:17                1. Ann Thrupp(60) 22:19
  2. Don Lindsay(64) 21:30                 2. Karen Kissick(60)23:57
  3. Lon Wiley(69)     21:43                 3. Dara Hill(65) 26:22

70-79

  1. Bob Holland (73) 25:36               1. Abbie Stewart(74) 32:18
  2. “Hutch”(74)        25:46               2. Sherri Guinn(71) 37:51
  3. Don Sampson(70)32:49               3. Kathleen Macpherson(77)

80 and over

  1. Dan Touhy(82)   36:09
  2. Darryl Beardall(81) 44:47

 

Michael McGuire: Santa Rosa Strong

Editor’s Note: Empire Runner’s member Michael McGuire’s positive attitude about life “after the fire” has become an inspiration to others. 

Quite early one morning . . . A rap on our door began an adventure that will play out over the next couple of years. A neighbor, living a half mile from our house, banged on our door about 2:00 A.M. to say a serious fire was moving toward our homes. Quickly picking up the dog and very few items we drove both cars to Safeway on Mendocino Avenue. There were several people milling around in the lot and the market had brought out a pallet of water for free distribution. Sandi and I determined we had time to return home. So taking one car and the dog we drove back to Aaron Drive in the Hidden Valley neighborhood. We probably stayed 15 minutes and made a couple of quick trips to the car – Sandi with her sewing machine and some clothing; me with my camera, hard drives, Mac Mini, some cables and two arm loads of clothes. We probably had more time, but never being in this situation before, we left sooner than necessary. Looking for important items under the glow of cell phone flashlights likely caused us to miss important belongings – Sandi’s many beautiful quilts, family treasures and most jewelry. I was sure, though, we would return to a house and neighborhood unscathed. Anything else was too improbable.

Our son and his family live in the Burbank Gardens Historical District and we let ourselves into his house about 3:00 A.M. He was quite surprised to see us. We shared what little information we had and I set out across town to see what I could learn. I walked and hitch hiked to the foot of Aaron Drive. Within a hundred yards of the street, there looked to be no fire destruction, although there was smoke (therefore fire?). I witnessed the full involvement by fire of houses at the bottom of the street and knew our home was also gone. After taking a couple of photos, a neighbor and I were able to hitch another ride to our respective safe zones. We got to ride in the back of a pickup truck with no fear of anyone stopping us. At this point it was about 7:30. I have no recollection of the rest of the day for us, but our daughter and her family were evacuated from their home near Fulton Road. Cell phones proved to be indispensable in the first two weeks of the fire.

As the weeks went on I tried to keep a diary of events. That proved very difficult for me. So many things were happening and so many conversations occurred that days became fractured. By the end of any day I was exhausted and could barely recall what had transpired. There were too many rumors and too few facts. Fortunately, our son secured housing for us the next day and we moved into a furnished cottage on the edge of downtown. Despite the problems and challenges of the fire loss, living downtown is proving to be terrific – three breweries, two bookstores, uncountable restaurants, a movie theater, library, police and fire department and wonderful shops within three blocks! And the new town square.

Photo by Paul Berg

Despite the confusion and magnitude of the fires what happened next was impossible to foretell – the constant out-flowing of kindness, generosity, skilled helpfulness, professional competence and charity. The banners around town, the stories in the newspapers and on the radio, the witnessing and receipt of ‘good deeds’ being done will forever mark this community as one that willingly and seemingly easily demonstrates a strength of character rare in the world today.

Daily routines are still difficult to maintain. Too many small tasks that interrupt the need for more concentrated thinking and doing. There is still a bubble of curiosity and needing to share adventures and misadventures. Stories are becoming more compact with their repeated telling, but appointments must still be met, deadlines are still in force and the day still has a finite number of hours and minutes.

By the end of the days, weeks, months and years to come, I am confident we will be made whole with the benefit of new and strengthened friendships. SANTA ROSA STRONG and similar mottos are true in ways we never imagined.

Resolutions 2018 –

Interesting question. I am dogged by what I think is a slow recovery to my cancer operation in August and radiation treatment in September and October. Add to that recovery from the fire and planning for a new home in a bit of an uncertain future adds to an ‘iffy’ resolution: to get back to a state of health and confidence that allows me to see my life as still expanding. A better resolution is to continue to see the positive side of events over which we have little opportunity to control. We are dealt a hand and should learn to play it in a way that benefits and inspires others.

Emil Shieh: Reflections on 2017

Editor’s Note: Empire Runner’s Club member Emil Shieh reflects on the Santa Rosa Firestorm of 2017 and how it effected his family.  His  posts on Facebook made us cry and laugh at the same time, and reminded us of the importance of a positive attitude and humor during times of crisis. 

Cover Photo courtesy of Emil Shieh. Caption: “I posed like this before when our house was not transparent.”

With the fires, we suffered the loss of our home and belongings, but gained appreciation for the generosity of the community, in coming together to get us back on our feet. We were fortunate to have the police knocking door-to-door to warn us that the fire was coming and that we had to immediately evacuate. Little did we know that it was the last time we would see our house again. We left with ourselves and our pets and not much else. We stayed at a motel on Cleveland Ave, from which we could see the red glow of the fire and hear explosions in the distance, and the next day, even though the area was still blocked off, I headed up to our street in Fountain Grove with my friend who was a fire fighter to check on our homes. He had earlier been up to check his house and found nothing left standing but his concrete steps, and myself, what little hope I had that our house had survived was crushed when I got to our street and saw house after house completely flattened by the flames. There were still small smouldering flames and plenty of smoke around. Everything was flattened, and eerily I could see the back yard from the front yard. Nothing in the rubble looked salvageable except for nails and random bits of pottery. The backyard furniture was still intact, but was the only thing left standing.

After a short trip to target to get some toothbrushes and clothing essentials the next few days were a blur, meeting up with many friends and neighbors who were in the same boat as us. We learned our daughters school, Cardinal Newman HS, had also burned, but had only a few buildings standing. After days of living out of our car, couch surfing, and dealing with FEMA and insurance, the air started clearing out and we were trying to get some normalcy back in our lives. Off for 2 weeks, my daughter started up with a makeshift school at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Windsor. I found a rental house in Healdsburg and got it furnished thanks to our insurance.

Once the air cleared enough, my headache from breathing all the smoke also resolved, and I began itching to exercise from having all the time off, and as a way to de-stress. However even running requires some basic equipment. I had only my clothes I went to sleep in, a few things I had picked up, and fortunately, some workout clothing that I kept in my car. My wife always told me my car sometimes smelled like a locker, because I used it like a locker. Underneath the dog food, and other things I found a shirt, shorts, and the cap I kept in the car. But I had only Crocs, which I wore for several days. I went to Fleet feet and was surprised to see what was there. There were piles of shoes and clothes that had been donated by people, both new and used. I was able to find a pair to fit myself and my daughter. Thanks Rhonda, and also to New Balance and Hoka for the generous donations. I was nearly in tears to find such help. Even socks were much appreciated. But mostly it was great to find people willing to help us out, and to commiserate with, as many other people had found basics donated by so many people. Probably the last thing you want to do after such a disaster was to go shopping but it was a necessity. I found similar generosity at Healdsburg Running Company with donations as well. Thanks Skip! And at Bike Monkey and Echelon, I found some old cycling clothing and clip less pedals, though I did not have a bike yet.

My daughter, Natalie, eventually also began running again and her cross country schedule returned to semi-normalcy. Spring lake and the parts of Annadel still intact were again the sites of her practice. For her meets, the cross country team had seven varsity girls, 3 of whom lost their homes. Those girls had to wear older uniforms that were a different color but at least they were running again. The football team was unable to use the field and had to hold all practices and games away.

I replaced my bike, thanks to Kevin at Echelon, who also gave me some donated shoes. Every thing feels like another step towards normalcy. We have a long way to go, and have still not decided what to do yet. There are new running and biking trails to explore. Our family is still intact, and our home is where we are, not the house we live in. We are so thankful for all our friends and family, and the community, which has been so supportive of all the fire victims. We are grateful to live in a place that has such amazing people and spirit.

Emil (far left) at the 2 Tread Brewing/ Fleet Feet Run in Santa Rosa, Nov 30th, 2017. 

 

DuBay, Zanetti, Berg: Reflections and Resolutions, 2018

Editor’s Note: Three long time Empire members express their thoughts and feelings about the new year. 

Cover photo courtesy of Jeremy Olsan, Nov 23, 2017. Caption:  We are family. — with Ann DuBayDebbie GayaldoDustin EngelAndrew EngelJeannette EngelMark MathewsonCarol DuBay and Catherine DuBay.

Catherine DuBay: 

Long before the fires I came up with a crazy moonshot to try to break 40:00 in a 10k one last time. I am 53 years old and since my 10k PR of 35:49 in 1999, my times have gradually slowed and hover around 42:00 these days.

Photo of Catherine DuBay by Paul Berg. 

A sub 40:00 was going to take every little bit of everything I had so 2017 became a year of disciplined eating, hard training and lots of racing to keep me honest.

So, on October 8 as I toed the line at the San Jose Rock n Roll for my big attempt at sub 40:00, I had no idea what the next 24 hours would be like.

I managed a 39:30 10k good for 2nd overall and 1st Master and a few minutes of fame on the big stage.

As we drove home later that day we remarked on the incredible winds. A few hours later I would be packing valuable as we were forced to evacuate our home. My sister who had been evacuated hours before us and had lost her home was now at our house. I asked her what she had packed. She said her running shoes and little else. I grabbed my running shoes, looked at the trophy I’d won just 12 hours prior. It suddenly seemed so trivial and it was left behind as we left.

Truly a bittersweet day.

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Brad Zanetti: 

What a year! 2017 began with the return of a more normal much needed rainfall and a list of resolutions, none of which made much sense as 2017 closed. Who would have thought Donald Trump would become president. Well unfortunately that situation hasn’t gotten any better over the year. Initially the year was dominated by daily horrific ‘tweets’ and a myriad of ridiculous and antagonistic speeches. These were followed by complaints, excuses and firings of our government officials. The almost daily nature of these misgivings have numbed me beyond belief. Just hoping to live to a ripe old age has been my new goal and make it to 2018.

The second dominating feature of 2017 was the large number of friends and family that died this year. The year started with my Uncle’s passing and Bob Shor’s surgery. At this point there was much optimism but by April Bob wasn’t getting better. In the meanwhile ER pal, John ‘Mojo’ Royston was diagnosed with cancer as well. A number of house visits at Bobs and ‘Hamburger Wednesdays” with the ER group were both fun and comforting. But by the midyear it wasn’t going well for either of them; First Bob leaving us in July, then Mojo in August. Without much warning my Mother died in September followed by 2 former coworker/friends in October and November. So the Fall has been dominated with funerals, memorials and celebrations of life. The funerals have sucked but the memorials and life celebrations have been painful yet restorative. Then my son, Mike, moved permanently to South Carolina. Finally, the holidays arrived which I have tried to appreciate more than ever.

Resolutions 2018:  Making it through the Holidays unscathed and hopefully re-energized is the first order of business. That being said, with the year I have experienced my resolutions will be few and simple:

1- Say ‘I love you’ as often as possible

2- Live more in the moment

3- Retire(sooner than later)

Left to right, Dale Peterson, Paul Berg, Brad Zanetti, and  Val Sell . Photo courtesy of Paul Berg. 

Paul Berg: 

Looking forward and back on 2017

Not even considering the national political landscape, 2017 was a rough year for the Empire Runners family. We lost two beloved long-time members, Bob Shor and Mojo, then the October fires displaced so many while reminding us how lucky we are to have great places to run. The outpouring of community support was truly inspiring, plus club members turned in many standout running performances in cross country and throughout the year.

On the personal side, after running the Dipsea in June I needed to have hernia surgery which set me back a few months. Combined with several road trips in our truck camper, my training was haphazard at best, though I did get to see and photograph a lot of natural beauty in the western US.

Christmas brought me a gift of a fancy new Garmin watch courtesy of my thoughtful daughter, which I plan to use to more effectively track my training. At this bewildering age bracket, I realize that core strength is more important than ever, so I’m hoping to do TRX twice a week this year. I’m definitely enjoying the trails more than roads these days, so a longer trail adventure might be in the cards. New Years is a great time to reflect, reset and remember what I’m most thankful for; it’s a long list, including Empire Runners.