Category Archives: AUGUST 2015

All the posts created in AUGUST 2015.

Rim to Rim, by Kenny & Kathy Brown

Last month 3 friends, Kathy and myself took a trip to the Grand Canyon to run the “Rim to Rim”. The Rim to Rim trail is 20miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim, give or take a mile, with 7,000 feet of gain/loss. Our intentions were to do one direction and then turn around the next day and go back.

Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, it was very impressive and then to think “we are running where, and we are getting there how?”


Our 4 am start the next morning came early. After Kathy dropped us off in the parking lot we put all of our gear on and found the trailhead. We probably ran about 100 yards on a paved path through pine trees. Taking up the rear, I wasn’t sure why we came to a sudden stop and then my light shined on the side, a small sign “South Kaibab” the arrow pointed straight but it should have been pointing down.

All of a sudden there was just wide open darkness in front of us. Mike decided to be the brave one and make the first move over the edge. After that none of us hesitated any longer.

Even though we had an almost full moon to give a faint glow to the rocks, most of the what we could see was with our headlamps. Except for the constant downhill, switchbacks and swirling winds and darkness if there was no rock to be illuminated we could have been on a night run on any trail.


Running in 4th on the dusty switchbacks I had to drop back because the swirling winds were picking up the dust that was being kicked up and making the illuminated trail seem hazy. Being about 30 yards back or so I could see the three headlights piercing the dark trail below. Slowly the sun started to give a faint glow illuminating the Canyon. We had been descending for about 20 minutes and finely we could see how far we had descended from the rim. We couldn’t see the bottom but based on our time and distance we were about a third of the way down.

The three of us came to an edge which had about 20 switchbacks below. Our first runner Scott Patty was out of site. Yelling his name startled me as I was not expecting to hear an echo let alone it bouncing off several walls.

After dropping for about 50 minutes we got our first glimpse of the Colorado River. It still looked a long way down. Another 30 minutes down and we were going a cross the “single track” suspension bridge.


The view on the bottom was completely different than our trip down. Lush plants and trees all around. As we made our way through the camp site. We could smell all of the breakfasts being cooked and saw everyone just waking up.

Leaving the Colorado river basin we were following a tributary up which had canyon walls that were hundreds of feet high with only about 40 feet in between.


Somewhere along the way we were told by hikers that one of our other runners, Scott Patty had fallen. We asked if he was still running and they said yes so we knew he was fine.


The final climb up to the North Rim is only about 5 miles but gains 7,000 ft and even though it was only 9 am the temperature was 90 degrees.

Cresting the North Rim I saw Scott who was all recovered by now and Mike Long who crested the top a while a head of me. After getting an infusion of cold coke I was back to normal as we waited for Scott Bice to finish up.

We were all grateful for the water fountains that were spaced about 3miles apart on the way up.


We knew it was going to be challenging. And it was. No matter how hard you try to image the canyon, until you actually attempt 8 miles at an average of 21% grade, in heat after all ready being on the move for 4 hours you don’t know really what to expect.

Due to my preparation and how I felt I (along with Mike Long and Scott Bice)  I opted to drive back around the canyon while Scott Patty was dropped of at the trailhead at 4am for his return adventure.

We all agreed that we need to go back in 2016 better prepared to make the return trip on the second day.


From Kathy Brown:

Although my only visit to the Grand Canyon was back in 1990, this visit my passport was being a driver to the North Rim. Even though the guys could have done it without me, being able to bring their gear to the North Rim after their 22 mile trek, made it more comfortable. We started early, I dropped them at the Trail Head, South Kaibab at 4:10, in the dark. I proceeded with our rental van on an almost 5 hour, 212 mile ride to the North Rim. The towns are small and not very populated. I reached the North Kaibab Trailhead right before 10. Parked the van, collected my things to do a short hike down the trail to meet the guys. As I got to the trailhead Scott Patty was already running up. Looking good I thought he probably could handle a return run, same day, he said no way! I continued down the trail seeking Kenny his friends Scott and Mike. Almost a mile down I ran into Mike and Kenny. Both looking ready to be back at the North Kaibab Trailhead. I asked what happened to Scott Bice. Mike said we have not seen him since Phanton Ranch. I said what? and he only had one water bottle. Oh no.. Some time later Scott Patty ran back and met him. They made him make a photo finish running up North Kaibab Trail. All back and safe.


2015 Empire Runners Scholarship Winners

The Empire Runners Student Grant Fund was established in the year 2000 with the goal of helping deserving high school student athletes go on to college by awarding monetary grants.  The Club awards a minimum of two grants of $500 each year, one each for a graduating male and female.  To qualify, a student must have participated in track or cross county at any Sonoma County high school and be planning to run on a college team after graduating from high school. These Grants are made possible in part through funding provided by Empire Runners Club membership dues. Additional funding is provided through donations by members and by a raffle held at the monthly club meetings. This years awardees are: 

Graham Herder – Sonoma Valley HS

Graham is an outstanding student with a GPA in access of 3.5 in a variety of honors and advanced placement curriculum. Throughout his high school career he participated in a wide variety of sports including football, baseball, track & field and cross-country, establishing himself as a varsity performer in football, cross-country and track. In track he ran sprints and performed the shot and disc in the field events. He also made time for multiple clubs including the Interact club. He volunteers for many community events including Relay for Life, coaches Little League and participates in the Nathanson Creek cleanup. His coaches and teachers have appreciated his hard work, positive interactions with classmates and his being an example to his teammates of what it means to be a true student athlete.

Graham is planning on continuing his education and athletic future at Cal Maritime Academy.

Angela Romero – Cloverdale HS

Angela is an excellent student with a GPA in excess of 3.75 while taking honors and AP classes. She has been running track since she was a freshman and cross-country for her junior and senior years. A self-described long-distance addict, she plans to continue her cross-country career in college. The number one runner on her team and a two-time all league performer in cross-country, Angela is driven to improve and work hard. Highlights for Angel this year included: 25th at the Viking Opener 2-mile in 13:49, 2nd place at NCL I finals, 6th place at Coastal Mountain Conf. finals. Her capacity for hard work, self-discipline and strong goal setting will aid her to succeed in her pursuit of becoming a teacher and coach.

Angela will be attending Concordia University in Irvine.

Anna Drake-Tripp – Healdsburg HS

Anna is an outstanding student athlete who started high school as a shy young girl with no real goals or expectations. Running changed that, especially after summer training for cross-country in her junior year. By working harder than she had at anything else in her life and gaining strength from the boy’s team and her cross-country family she attained her goal of making it to the State cross-country Championships. To say this young lady’s life is on an upswing is to minimize the point. Both her coaches and teachers have noted her strong leadership and teammate skills as well as her improvement as a student during these last 2 years. Coach Wellman at SRJC will be excited to get this proverbial ‘diamond in the rough’. She started the year with a 21:26 at the Super Septo (SLC) in September and just exploded to a 2nd place overall finish at the SCL finals with an excellent 19:22 at the Spring Lake Course. To complete her senior cross-country season, she went to the NCS finals and stunned many if not herself by finishing 9th in the D4 race in a mud-bath qualifying herself for the prestigious State cross-country championships, making her only the fifth female runner from her school to attain this level of excellence.

This former Healdsburg greyhound will be matriculating to SRJC to further her educational and running career. Look for this young lady to blossom under the JC coaching staff.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

Adam Harwood – Casa Grande HS

Adam has been called a great leader and teammate by his head coach. Adam was a teammate who stressed the importance of sportsmanship and effort to all runners whether new or experienced. He was the leader of team-bonding dinners and activities. Adan was literally the heart and soul of a championship quality team. This scholar-athlete is an excellent student who has found his path with a plan to become an elementary school teacher. In cross-country he has been a scoring varsity member for two years with a best of 16:36 on the Spring Lake course and a 12th place finish at the NBL finals this year to garner all league honors. He finished 35th at NCS on the first place D2 squad and qualified with his team to the State cross-country championships for the last two years. He had a best of 11:00 at the Viking Opener 2-mile. On the track he had a best of 2:07 in the 800M.

As impressive as his resume is, his love of running is even more so. He has enjoyed the natural running environment of Sonoma County some amazing races with a great team throughout California and the positive impact it has had on his life.

This former Gaucho will continue his cross-country and track life as a Bear Cub at SRJC under the watchful eye of Coach Wellman.

Sheena Blackwell – Piner HS

When you think of Sheena Blackwell think time management.  Sheena has been a top scholar-athlete with a GPA of near 4.0 in an honors/AP curriculum while taking multiple classes concurrently at SRJC. She was the MVP of her cross-country and track teams, an active member of six clubs and multiple volunteer efforts throughout the year and competed in six events in track with top times in the 100H (12th AT), 300H (#10 AT), HJ (1st League), LJ, 800 and the SP (5th League) plus relays all while working in her family’s group-home for developmentally delayed adults. Sheena does all of this without complaint or special attention from her teachers and coaches. In cross-country and track she is an inspirational leader and a knowledgeable coaching influence. This young lady has a PR on the Spring Lake Course of 20:01, 7th in the SCL finals, 38th at NCS XC. She is all league in XC and 4 times All Redwood Empire in track.

Sheena is looking forward to furthering her education in Neurobiology and Behavior with a goal of being a Chiropractic Doctor, blending her talents to make a physical impact in the quality of her patient’s lives.

This Piner Prospector will be heading to UC Davis in the fall for school and competition utilizing her wide range of physical talents in the Heptathlon.

Allison Scranton – Petaluma HS

Allison Scranton has been involved in sports year-long throughout high school. She competed at the varsity level in volleyball, softball, basketball and track & field. In basketball she was all-league three times and MVP as a junior. She was also All Empire multiple years and plays on an AAU travel squad. In track & field she came on the scene as the area’s top shot-putter as a freshman which she has maintained and she has developed into the finest discus thrower in Empire history. Somehow she has found time to maintain a 3.8 GPA, a four-year CSF membership and remained an active member of her school leadership program. A leader – her highly competitive and athletic nature is tempered by her innate ability to get the best out of herself and her teammates alike.

Allison’s track and field career reads as:

Four time all league, four times all empire including athlete of the year last year, four times to MOC, #2 AT in the shot, #1 AT in the discus. This young lady qualified two times for State; finishing 6th last year in the disc. But this years state discus competition was how all athletes dream of finishing their career. Our scholar athlete had five throws greater than 145 feet, five throws better than the previous empire record, five PRs topping out at 149’4”. The college of her choice must be licking their chops at the chance to develop this talent. Her goal is to medal at nationals in college and become an elementary school teacher and coach. We look forward to following her development.

Now an Aggie and heading to Utah State University at Logan Allison is the female Empire Runner scholar athlete of the year!

David Eik – Maria Carrillo HS

David began his high school career as an undersized immature JV runner. But his effort was exemplary and it was clear that he would be an overachiever. His coach has stated that several rival coaches have asked him, “who is that kid”. Can I borrow him for a few days to show my kids what I want?” But David’s running is only part of the story. David is a winner in everything he does. He is a 4.0 student, as in no ‘B’s’ in an AP curriculum and multiple classes at the JC. He is an integral member of the Jazz Band, the Symphonic Band, and the Choir. He excels in cross-country, track and swimming. He is a finalist for the CIF Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He does all of this with aplomb and a smile and has left a lasting impact on his school’s historic program. He finds time to serve on the SOCO Climate Protection Youth Board and the ECOS club organizing activities to preserve the environment. Through hard work and consistent improvement this student-athlete worked his way up to varsity cross-country his senior year and wasn’t just happy to be on the top seven but excelled. He finished the year, #10 overall NBL, all league, 37th NCS to qualify with his team to State XC, a 16:29 PR at the SLC and All Empire. On the track he improved to an outstanding 9:57 3200. His high school goals complete, he is looking forward to matriculating to Colorado College in Colorado Springs to continue his education in Biology and run cross-country and track under the tutelage of Ted Castenada. We look forward to following his running career and his attack on the Boston Marathon.

David is a future Tiger and our male Empire Runner scholar-athlete of the year!

Brad Zanetti and the ER Blog Editors

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch


Wharf to Wharf…Santa Cruz style, by Sarah Hallas

My very good friend, Vojta Ripa talked me into registering for this race. Having finished the Montana Marathon just 6 weeks prior, I was a bit hesitant to compete again so soon. But as soon as I got to the start area, I had no regrets. Seeing so many familiar faces was worth the trip alone! The race course was absolutely amazing! There were 50 bands along the way, a ton of spectators and every mile had an arch of balloons to run through. The competition was fierce with everyone gunning for a top-100 spot to secure a top-100 finishers jacket (definitely a cool bonus)! I’m already looking forward to next year.  Here’s the link to the race!

BIB 296, SARAH HALLAS, F35, SANTA ROSA, CA, 36:51, 6:08/mi

BIB 198, VOJTA RIPA, M25, SANTA ROSA, CA, 32:39, 5:26/mi

BIB 19, REESEY BYERS, M23, SACRAMENTO, CA, 29:52, 4:58/mi


August15Hallas3_WTW COURSE





Today we chat with Sarah “Stump” Sumpter, a graduate of Healdsburg HS. Despite some major challenges on the way, Stump has had much success in the sport. She captured a California D4 XC title while in HS before going to UC Davis and earning some D1 Conference Titles for the Aggies. She’s now back in Healdsburg as she preps for her marathon debut this fall.

Hey Stump, thanks for taking time out of your busy marathon training schedule to chat! Let’s start with that; what’s the plan for the debut, and what was your inspiration for running a marathon in the first place?

I’m geared towards debuting some time in the fall, with my eyes on a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier-worthy time (between 2:37 and 2:43). I’ve dreamed of running the marathon since I was a freshman in high school when I caught a televised women’s world championship marathon on ESPN. It sounds incredibly corny, but I remember watching the competitors complete the final lap of the race inside a huge stadium, some nearly flailing as they ground out that last 400m, and I was nearly in tears. I had only recently discovered my love of running long as well as hard, and seeing the kind of heart and commitment it took for those women to pull through…I just said to myself “that’s it; that’s what I want to do.” I’m more than a decade older now, but I still get chills every time I think of that 26.2.

 While I’m sure you’re going to crush the marathon, you’ve unquestionably had success in the shorter distances as well, including your State Championship for Healdsburg HS. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience, both as far as the race itself was concerned, but also more generally about running for Healdsburg HS?

Without mitigating the importance of it (it was a big step up from even just qualifying for state for the first time the year prior), it was more the journey to that state championship race and the opportunities it presented to me afterward that defined that experience for me. That entire season I had only just developed an instinct for competition and where my strengths were in a race or in running in general, so it was both exciting and a little overwhelming to have so much success so late in my high school career. I was a total underdog and while I enjoyed winning (who doesn’t) the truest test for me was pushing myself faster and harder in every successive race that I ran. I didn’t just want to come through the finish line first; I wanted to come through better than I had started. I was blessed enough to have coaches who, though they let me loose come race day to follow those instincts, made sure that day-to-day training during competition season had enough structure and a clearly explained purpose to rein me in a bit and foster those skills.

To John Linker and Carlos Quiroga, I owe you more than you know, and I can always find a little bit of your wisdom in the back pocket of my stubborn Stumpy brain when I am facing a challenge, either in training or in life. And Coach Q, you were right. Running really is “one of the most honest sports there are”– you get from it what you are willing and able to put in, no more and no less.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

 Unfortunately, not everything in HS went smoothly, specifically with regards to your eating disorder. When did you know something was amiss, and what helped you overcome your illness?
The tricky nature of eating disorders is that they create a very warped perception of body and self in general – I was so convinced that what I was doing in terms of food restriction was simply proper discipline for someone dedicated to my sport – and that it was working for me (after all, I had all of this new-found success to validate it, right?) that it took a serious slap in the face (in my case, a hit to the thing that I was so determined to “stay disciplined/fit” for – my running) to make me come to terms with the fact that I had a problem. I was weak, constantly cold and tired, and the one thing that had given me so much joy, empowerment, and such a powerful sense of self in so many ways (again, my running) had become a chore that I dreaded and only further drained me, rather than an experience that I thrived off of. Something had to be wrong for something so beautiful to turn so sour, and I knew I had to get help. Some people have tried to point to running as the springboard for my disorder, when in reality it was my sport that, while it became entangled in the web of my illness ultimately, as in so many ways then and now, saved me and motivated me to tackle the demons in my life.

 Well we’re all very glad you were able to overcome that illness and be able to share your story with others who may be suffering from something similar. And you’ve proved you were able to come back as you achieved much while at UC Davis. What are some of your highlights from your Aggie career?

I will never forget coming through the finish chute at the 2009 Big West Cross Country Conference Championship race. Beforehand, I’d given our had coach, Deanne Vochatzer, a good-luck hug, looked at her, and said “I’m gonna get it.” And I did, I won the damn race, and the satisfaction of being able to give that to her, let alone prove it to myself… it was beautiful. The feeling was similar if not bigger than being a part of the Women’s Cross Country team’s first Conference Championship win in 2011 and the UCD Women’s Track & Field team’s first D1 Conference title in 2012, especially after myself and two of my teammates swept the podium for the 10,000m on the first night of the competition, and took first and second in the 5,000m the following evening. Shared joy is the best joy, and it was certainly true then.


 As many know, there was more difficulty lying ahead while at Davis… Can you tell us about first finding out about your cancer, and how that impacted, well, everything?

I’ll be brief about it, because it’s something I’ve talked about publicly many times (and it gets boring hearing myself talk about it, haha). It was terrifying, maddening, frustrating, and depressing in different intervals at different times, but ultimately I was not and am not willing to take a backseat to life (running, school, or otherwise) because a giant wad of angry cells decided to take up non-leased residence in my brain. I’m too damn stubborn to go down without a fight, and true to my namesake, I’m hard to uproot.

What’s the status of the cancer at the moment?

Unfortunately, after having a recurrence in January of last year and some precarious periods since, I’m still undergoing chemotherapy. With patience, balance, and communication between myself, my doctors, and my coach, however, I’m able to run a decent amount (and well!) while making progress my doctors are thus far very pleased with. It can be wearying at times, for sure, and there are times where I have to make peace with being more conservative than I’d like, but so far so good.

Well you have a great outlook on this, and will certainly get through this rough patch as you’ve gotten through so many others!

To cap us off, and given that this is a series about the badass women of the Redwood Empire, I should ask, in virtue of what do you think the Redwood Empire has produced so many amazing athletes?

I think the Redwood Empire fosters a great sense of pride and support in its athletes that extends beyond our time in high school jerseys. Years after the fact, I still have as much an advocate in Bob Padecky, Val Sell, “Starter Bob” (Shore), and any number of coaches (of runners or otherwise) as I did when I first put on a pair of spikes. It makes us humble, and perhaps above all else grateful and motivated to pursue excellence for the sake of those who have given so much to make our careers possible.

Thanks for taking the time to chat Stump. Any last advice for the next crop of Empire runners or your fans world-wide?

Live what you love. Don’t waste your time doing anything short of that, because time we have to live is just that – short.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

The Long and Short of North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park

Every runner gets stale.  We all get tired and have times when runs seem more like a chore than the joy that they should be.  Sometimes all that is needed to refresh your running is a little change of scenery.

Recently I was feeling very flat, beat up and literally run down.  Some of this was due to little nagging injuries.  Some to the general bone-tired feeling you get in the middle of marathon training before the body adapts to the mileage, but most of it was due I think to doing the same run in the same place over and over again.

I’d been thinking about returning to the new North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park ever since Robin and I did a run there in early spring but I never seemed to make it.  This past weekend I finally got back and boy was I glad I did!

If you have never been there, it is time you went.  North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park is located off of Sonoma Mtn. Rd. not far from the Pressley Rd. intersection.

The trails are true single-track, mostly shaded and uncrowded.  The best thing is that the main trail takes you up a series of steep but manageable switchbacks revealing fantastic views of Bennett Mtn. and Bennett Valley on your way to Jack London State Historical Park.


On my run Sunday I made it well into Jack London but apparently far short of the storied Beauty Ranch and Wolf House.  My run was over 2 hours in length overall (seven minutes faster coming down than going up).  You can definitely get a nice long run there.  I did not see another human-being for the first hour and forty-five minutes which is the way I like it.

Legs and spirit that had been feeling old and sluggish felt young and energized right from the first step.  When running becomes work, turn it back into an adventure.

The Marin Miracle Mile, with Reesey Byers

The Marin Miracle Mile is a USA Track & Field certified course and part of the USA Track & Field Pacific Association Grand Prix racing circuit, which took place July 12th in San Rafael. We wanted to get Reesey Byers take on the Men’s Open race!

Question: This was your first road race mile – how where your expectations different than the reality of the race?

I didn’t put any expectations on myself for this race. I just wanted to go out there, have fun and represent Strava well. I was a little surprised to be the first Strava member, I was really happy I could make an immediate impact to the team. Having just done a bunch of mileage lately I just wanted to come in and run as hard as I could and contribute.

The course was 400 meters down hill with two ninety degree turns, then 600 meters uphill with a 180 U turn at the top, then about 600 meters down to the finish line – what did you think of the course?

I really liked the course. It made the race a little bit more interesting adding some inclines and down hills. For time purposes I kind of wish it was just a flat Road mile to see what I could run but it was all about having fun and competing.

How was the competition – did you know any other guys in the race?

The competition was really good. I actually knew most of the top guys in the race. A bunch of us warmed up and cool down together before and after the race, we were all joking with each other about who beat who. It’s always fun when you can have friendly rivalry.

The Miracle Mile, Sunday July 12, 2015, San Rafael, California. Full results here:
The Miracle Mile, Sunday July 12, 2015, San Rafael, California. Full results here:

We noticed in the photo of you coming into the finish line your grimacing – what was going on mentally at that moment?

I just wanted to get to the finish line as quickly as I could. I had already been passed by two guys and I wanted to make sure I didn’t get passed by anyone else.

What was your time and where you satisfied with that as your first road race mile?

I ran 4:19. Timewise I wasn’t really pleased I was hoping to run much closer if not under 4:10. It appears that this year was much slower than last year so based off place I was pretty happy. It felt good just to be able to compete in the front and go for it.

Would you recommend this race?

I would definitely recommend this race especially as a first road mile because although it is competitive it’s also a lot of fun. Runners from all ages and talent levels come out to this race and see what they can do.

Since you graduated from Sacramento State, what you’re your post collegiate running plans? And tell us about Strava.

Strava is an elite development group. They are sponsored by brooks (which is good for me) and they are not location exclusive so we have many athletes all over California. What I liked about Strava is that they are very team oriented. We participate in PA cross country championships and club nationals as a team and many other cross-country, road and track races as a team. I knew a few people in the group and they really made me feel like I’d be an important member of the group and we are very supportive of each other. Most if not all of the members have part-time or full-time jobs so we aren’t making a living from Strava but we do get a great amount of support. Ex: entry fee coverage, travel fee support, gear, potentially hotel bookings, stipends are some ways that Strava support us.

The Miracle Mile, Sunday July 12, 2015, San Rafael, California. Full results here:
The Miracle Mile, Sunday July 12, 2015, San Rafael, California. Full results here:

What are some of your races in the near future?

My next race is the wharf to wharf six miler in Santa Cruz. I’ve never done this race before so I’m really excited. I got into the elite section so I’ll be running up there with those Kenyans (will try to anyway). After that I’m not going to be racing for a while, just building a good base for a few months and will probably start racing late September early October.

Reesey got 5th place with a time of 4:19 at the Marin Miracle Mile. Full results here:

Link to the event:


Question and Answer with Paul Berg, currently our club President, and beer aficionado.

Question: What is your theory about the connection between distance runners and beer drinking? Why do runners love beer?

Answer: In addition to the cold refreshment factor, we can imagine that the barley and hops are liquid carbs, somehow beneficial in replenishing our depleted energy stores. But bottom line, alcohol is the world’s most popular painkiller.

The most important thing Empire members want to know is what’s your favorite beer, and why? Please get specific with the details – the aroma, taste, after taste……Do you like specific beers after you run, as opposed to other times, like during dinner?

Lately I’ve been getting into the slight citrus-y thing in the Sculpin Grapefruit IPA, or the other night someone brought a Firestone “Easy Jack IPA” to our Thursday night run. That’s the best part of beer drinking for runners, it’s social. We used to have a Thursday night rule that whatever we tasted had to be from a can, but that sort of fell by the wayside. Not we at least try to pour it into those sneaky red cups. But bottom line I’m a hoppy IPA guy, so my desert island brand would have to be Lagunitas, so much great variety.


You’re currently the Empire Runners President.  What do you find is the most satisfying part of this experience?

I hadn’t really planned to be president, so was a bit surprised that evening in December when the new Board got together and I was selected.

There is a vast storehouse of institutional memory in this club, people who have been making it happen for a long time behind the scenes. I’ve only been around for 12 of the 40 years, so a lot has happened that takes some time to absorb. I think if the club was to be run like a business, which I am NOT advocating, things would be done differently for efficiency, but hey- we’re all volunteers here. There’s a certain quirkiness that has served us well, and we don’t need to take it too seriously if it’s working.

I am surprised at how much  junk email I get weekly from companies selling shirts, medals, timing systems and racing schwag.


 How has your running “experience” changed over the decades, like when you turned, 40, 50, and 60? Has your mental experience of running stayed the same or changed?

I didn’t start running seriously until I was 48, so I have had a lot of catching up to do in terms of training and racing. On the positive side, I don’t have any college age PRs to lament never again achieving.  I just turned 60, so I’m excited about a new time slot for the XC season.

Of all of your “destination” races, what’s been your favorite race and why?

I have to say that the race I most look forward to (heresy for the ER president to say) is the Dipsea. The energy, grueling course and crazy finish make for an unbelievable experience. The fact that very few people win it consecutive years proves that it’s a wide-open race with good handicapped starts.


In the Empire club, we have had a massive increase in the number of kids participating in races and track meets – what’s your take on the club’s changing demographics?

Getting kids involved in running has always been the focus in my volunteer efforts with Empire Runners. As co-director of the Summer Track series, I’m heartened to see the number of kids, especially in the 8-18 range that we’re getting out. We’ve had some press coverage this year that gave us a big boost, and it’s really become a fun summer thing that families can do together. I’ve also been co-chair of the Student Grant fund for several years, and I’m encouraged by the member support for these high school kids going off to college. The teachers’ recommendations and personal statements from these students are truly heart-warming in how they explain the effect that running has on their lives. Most of them may never even settle in Sonoma county as adults or run another ER race, but I believe that running can set them on the right path for a healthy life. The support for the high school running programs in exchange for their helping out at our races has been going on long before my time, but I think it’s a real win-win arrangement.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

We know that you’ve experienced some injuries, and have had some time off, but you have come back and continued to run. What advice to you have for older runners about working through injuries and continuing to run? (we are looking for some pearls of wisdom from our fearless leader here)

Core strength. In early 2014 I took a 3-week trip to Cuba and Mexico, during which time I made the serious blunder of sitting on busses and planes and not running or doing any other exercise. When I came back and tried to resume my normal routine, I found that my hips were seriously out of alignment. Several rounds of doctor visits weren’t helping, but at the suggestion of trainer extraordinaire Shelli Main I tried TRX. A patented system developed by the US military for soldiers to stay fit in remote outposts in Afghanistan, it employs a set of adjustable straps that work on body weight resistance for hundreds of exercises. After a year of group classes, instructor Nan Hall calls me her “miracle case” for the improvement I’ve made concentrating on core strength.

I’m back now running with new resolve, incorporating stretching and core training in my weekly routine.


“Representing” the Empire Runners at USATF Masters Nationals, by Doug Murdoch

If you’re an Empire Runners Club member, you may not realize how unique our club actually is.

Last year when I ran in the Pacific Association USATF track finals, I was wondering why there were so many people from other clubs at the event, and in comparison so few from Empire at the track meet. So I went online and checked out all the websites for the other bay area running clubs and found out the answer.

The Empire Runners puts on an astounding 17 races during the year! That’s including our five track meets. And we participate in up to 10 Cross Country meets by traveling  to a number of places including San Francisco, Hayward, Folsom, Martinez, San Rafael,  and Sacramento!!!

The vast majority of the other running clubs encourage their members to participate in races, but either they don’t put on their own running races, or only a couple. The only exception is the Tamalpa Runners, our southern neighbors, whom  I believe also put on approximately 17 events as well!

I’m proud of the club and I don’t take what we do for granted. And I’m proud of the increasing participation were getting in our Summer Track Series, boasting over three hundred participants at our Track Meet #2 which was also our Olympic Day celebration.

One of the greatest joys I receive from the club is simply running with kids, teenagers, college students, thirty somethings, and people of all ages. Experiencing this energy from other club members  is really remarkable.

And of course there is the incredible support that we all receive from other club members, who are amazingly positive and supportive, despite the litany of injuries and the trials and tribulations of life that we all go through.

So when I toed the line at the start of the Senior Men’s 50-54 division of the 1500 meters, it meant something to wear that Empire jersey. I was truly representing an exceptional club with a long-standing tradition now almost forty years old. A club that has amazing competency and experience putting on races for the whole extended running community to enjoy, and participating in the PA USATF Cross Country program.

The short story of the race is that I was in third place most of the race and with three hundred meters to go I surged and moved into second place, and then finished .9 seconds behind the leader for second place, in 4:23.12.

But this blog post is not about my race. It’s about “representing” the club by wearing the racing singlet in a track meet, a road race, or a cross country meet, and being proud of that.  And trying to expand our members perception about what we do as a club.

Speaking for myself, I totally took for granted all the races the club puts on,  and participates in, and in ignorance I thought all running clubs did the same. I’ve been an Empire Runners member now for five years, and it took me four years to realize that the core competency of our club is putting on races.

It’s so easy just to show up at a race and run, and not be aware of the organizational zeal it takes to put one on. But now having had some exposure to the behind the scenes organization of the races, it’s A LOT OF WORK. And the Empire Runners Club has a dedicated core group of people that put these races as well as organize our cross country program  that deserve recognition.

So I encourage our club members to wear the Empire Runners jersey proudly, to not only represent an extraordinary club with a long tradition of dedication to the running community, but also to appreciate what the club has done for you personally.

Here is the race video:

Got Hills? It’s XC Season, by Paul Berg

At the July 23 club meeting, the Board of Directors voted to increase financial support for the upcoming Cross-Country season to the tune of $6,000, an increase of over $2,000 from last year. The Empire Runners will now pay race entry fees for any member to participate in up to seven races in the upcoming fall season, regardless of whether the race is designated as a team race by your age-group team. There is no minimum number of races you must run in the season, and the club will provide the new stylish singlet to any member who participates. Adding extra excitement to this 2015 season is the fact that the National Championships will be held on our home turf, Golden Gate Park, on December 12. The club will also pay entry fees for approx. 60 ER members to participate in this national event.

USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,
USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,

Regardless of you age and ability, racing XC is all about participation. The camaraderie of meeting up for the carpool on race day, warming up with your teammates, strategizing the race and supporting each other is what it’s all about. Seeing a sea of ER singlets powering up a hill in a blur of runners is a sight to behold.


If you’ve never run XC or have dropped out the past few years, I encourage you to go to and check out the definitive and thorough guide that John Harmon has prepared. You won’t regret it.


Dipsea, by Frank Cuneo

Dipsea 6/14/2015

It’s 5:20am, and I’m up before the alarm goes off after rousing a couple times earlier. Now following everything I had laid out, Empire singlet, running shorts, breakfast, feed the cat, backpack, I go meet my friends at the park-n-ride. Empire Runner friends riding together included Kate Papadoupolos, Paul Berg, Brad Zanetti and I.

Looking forward to the Dipsea had become a good pastime. We made a few practice runs, including a double-dipsea practice that had me puffing and aching, and an awesome one-way practice that ended up with a nice lunch in Stinson Beach with our drivers, Greg and Tim. (The best way to enjoy a beer is to run for it.)

We arrived and went through the usual run preparations: put the car key where the sun don’t shine, (Not there!), bib number, warm up. They have shuttles take bundles of belongings to the finish area. More preparations: porta-potty line with friendly people, adjust shoes. This race has staggered starts, arranged by age and gender, with a group starting each minute for quite a while. Maybe that’s another reason I like this race, as an old guy like me still has half a chance!

Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti
Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti

Paul led Brad and I on a warm-up run among houses surrounded by redwoods. We were impressed by the Mill Valley neighborhood. We were running in the “Invitational” group, which gets to have their staggered starts first. Kate was running her first Dipsea, so she had to run in the “Runners” group, which follows the invitational. If Kate could still finish within a certain number, (I think about 750), she would qualify to be in the invitational next year. We had no doubts that she would.

This was a big day. The 105th running of the Dipsea Race, from Mill Valley up over part of Mount Tamalpais to Stinson Beach. This race goes up hundreds of steps, then down into Muir Woods, then up for about 2.5 miles for a net elevation gain of about 3000 feet. One goal is to get to the top of the “Cardiac” trail, where runners have installed a water fountain. This is followed by some gentle rises and drops with beautiful scenery, before the trail begins a steep decline, as in watch your step with an extra “eeee!” down towards the beach. Some of the paths are rocky, some over rustic steps turning this way and that, then up again at “Insult” hill and down the “Swoop” which used to be a secluded short cut, but now taken by most shooting down a dirt trail with bushes at each elbow, while some runners are hoping to pass. (I think a run-on sentence is appropriate in this case, as run on is what’s on everyone’s mind.) Still, there were some parts of the race where I so enjoyed flying over humps around trees, over rocks, and down the gravel path getting close to the finish. Such fun, and still appreciating the view, and all these healthy happy people, well most anyway.

For me, it involved a lot of concentration, watching each step, telling myself to be up on your toes, keeping your feet under you. I feel it in my stomach muscles/gut, as this race works my body core.

There were many onlookers and supporters at points on the trail, even more as the course levels toward the finish to the park in Stinson Beach. This race is well organized. Then you turn and see the finish line and squeeze it out. (Didn’t know I could be so graphic. 🙂

At the finish, I met Paul, who finished ahead of me after we passed each other during the race. It’s good to have running buddies. Then Brad, and Kate came in with a time about 5 minutes faster than the rest of us. We were greeted by Paul and Brad’s families. More and more runners kept coming in, including our famed Darryl (Beardall), who told us this was his 60th Dipsea!

The trophies, plaques, photos and stories on display for the historical race filled several tables. And then there was the stack of black shirts for the first 35 finishers.

From my point of view, it was awesome.

Also, I really appreciate the people of the Empire Runners, who are so supportive of each other.

So we run. Run as we enjoy it. Run as we were made to do.

Back home now, feeling good and smiling, smiling on my face and deep inside.

Thank you to all of you who share this. Hope to see you at the next run, maybe the next Dipsea?