Category Archives: BRAD’S CORNER

Book and Movie Reviews by Brad Zanetti

Movie Review: “RACE,” Brad’s Corner

April16BradsCorner02MOVIE REVIEW:   “RACE” (2015) 134minutes.  ‘A biopic of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics’

By Brad Zanetti

Where to start. Would I recommend this movie? And would I want to see it again? By the nature of its one word ‘double edged’ title the movie promises both a sport story about a specific race(s) and a more important story about worldwide race relations in the 1930’s. Does the movie deliver on both accounts?

The basic storyline is a couple of years in Jesse Owens career based around 2 specific events:

1- The Big Ten Meet in May 1935 where won 4 events with 4 world records(100y, 220y, 220y hurdles, Long Jump) over a 45 minute period(considered the greatest day in the history of track)

2- The1936 Berlin Olympics in August, where he got 4 gold medals(100m, 200m, LJ and 4 x100 relay) and singlehandedly refuted Hitler’s Aryan concept. There is an oblivious timeline and a number of side stories that either confuse or confound the known storyline.

During the 2 plus hour film the pace and rhythm waxed and waned. At times it moved very slowly and left one wondering where the story was going. Since the movie covered a very short specific time in Owens life I expected some great track scenes and the impact of race issues in is life. Some of the side stories were of questionable authenticity and perhaps not necessary. A fair amount of time was spent on a short term love interest of Jesse and the impact on his relationship with his future wife of 45 years. This added nothing to the story as the remainder of the movie even his relationship with his wife wasn’t very well developed. Speaking of the track scenes, I thought there were well done (thankfully no slow motion) and the athletes did look like athletes. As a runner that was appreciated. There were many scenes demonstrating racism in America from fellow student/athletes, other coaches, Avery Brundage and the Olympic coaches. These scenes were strong and impactful. I think the story of his post Olympic struggle would have made this movie more complete. A terse scene with Jesse and his wife having to use the waiter entrance to a party in his honor seemed a weak portrayal.

The section about Owen’s experiences in Berlin was pretty well done but there were still some inconsistencies. The high point was the representation of Jesse’s relationship with the German long jumper, Carl ‘Luc’ Long, which began as an athletic relationship but developed into a strong friendship. There was some questionable poetic license taken with the Leni Riefenstahl character that I find bothersome and inauthentic (hence unnecessary). And her relationship with Goebbels was questionable. Finally I think the time spent on the background of Avery Brundage and Goebbels relationship might have been better spent on Owen’s post Olympic life.

I think editing some of these mentioned problem areas could have improved the pace of the movie and by utilizing that time to clarify his post Olympic tribulations would have strengthened the racial impact of the movie. To answer my original questions; would I recommend seeing this movie. I can unequivocably say, probably. I think the running scenes are good enough to interest the hardcore runners as is the basic storyline. I would recommend this movie to the running fanatics in the group most definitely and to the rest of the readers with the caveat that some of the storyline and characters may not be accurate. That being said, after watching the movie and enjoying much of it I didn’t feel like I gained any new insight into the life of Jesse Owens so to answer the second question; would I watch it a second time? I would have to answer probably not.

Rating:       3.75 out of 5

Who Was Peter Norman? By Brad Zanetti

March2015Zanetti021968 was a very special year—an Olympic Year. By the time the Olympic Games started, I was 14 years old and ready to begin high school. Steve Prefontaine was entering the University of Oregon, although the nation’s #1-ranked high school runner had yet to captivate the attention of the running world. Pre’s coach, Bill Bowerman, had a nickname for him—“the Rube.” In many ways that was me. I did not have a world-wide view or much real life experience. I was raised by first generation Italian-American immigrants who had fully immersed themselves in American culture. My naiveté was further enhanced by the fact that I lived in the lily-white town of San Carlos, midway between San Francisco and San Jose.

To this 14-year-old boy, the Olympics epitomized the purity of sport. I knew nothing of how politics could enter the world of athletics. Certainly I was aware of the free speech movement across the Bay in Berkeley, the atrocities of the war in Vietnam, Communism and the Cold War, apartheid in South Africa, and the Watts riots, but there was no connection between politics and the Olympics, or so I thought. Maybe I just wanted life to remain simple. The Fundamental Principles of Olympism themselves state that “Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility, and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”



And Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” You could understand my confusion. The Olympic ideal didn’t match reality. In 1968 my simplified world view had been rocked; but it wouldn’t be until 1972, my first month of college, that I finally started to piece together the politics of our nation and our place in the world.

Sports have always been my way of separating myself from the realities of life. It was sports and the excitement of the Olympics that I hoped would give me a respite in 1968. All that was going on that year—student protests in Europe and Mexico, USSR invasion of Czechoslovakia, war in Vietnam, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King—left me needing an escape. I dreamed about how the US team would perform. I was confident in their talent—especially in the sprints, jumps, and middle distances. Many of our best came from San Jose State University (“Speed City”) just down Highway 101 from my home. I was fortunate to have seen these runners during the indoor season. By the early summer, the outdoor season was in full swing and excitement was building thanks to some excellent early season times. In June 1968, the US Olympic Committee staged a pre-Olympic Trial meet in Los Angeles, the results of which confused athletes and fans alike. They served not to give the winners a spot on the Olympic team, but rather to exclude certain runners. After this meet, the possibility of a boycott by black athletes was becoming more likely, most notably by sprinter John Carlos, who was not allowed to run the 100 m by the Olympic Committee.

The real Olympic Trials were run in September on a specially built track up on Echo Summit off Highway 50, above South Lake Tahoe. The track was built at altitude to mimic the conditions found in Mexico City (sans the poor air quality). The track was literally cut into the forest and was the Disneyesque backdrop to one of the greatest meets attended by arguably the best Track & Field team of all time. This Olympic training camp galvanized the team amid the swirling tensions of political unrest. The Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), led by Dr. Harry Edwards, was formed in order to protest the reinstatement of South Africa to the Olympics by IOC president Avery Brundage (the man who also delivered the 1936 Olympics to Hitler’s Germany in Berlin) as well as the conditions in the United States for black Americans. Despite all of this, the results of the Trials were unprecedented, with four pending world records produced. Unfortunately, they were not all ratified due to some question about the spikes being worn (specifically Puma’s “brush spike” technology). Even as a 14-year old, I began to smell a rat—how could shoes alone make you so fast? Still, I couldn’t wait for the Olympics to finally begin to see how well we would run.


Meanwhile, over in Australia, another young man was preparing for the Olympics. By his own account, Peter Norman came to track quite by accident, but then continued to improve through juniors and then up to the national level. By the time of the 1968 Australian Games (their Olympic Trials), Norman was his country’s top 100 m – 200 m runner. In the 200 m especially, Peter had improved to near-world-class status with a time of 20.6 seconds, and was known for a very strong finish. World- wide, though, he remained a virtual unknown and wasn’t on anyone’s list as a possible winner.

At the 1968 Olympics, the sprinters and jumpers were benefitting from Mexico City’s relatively thin air (witness Bob Beamon, long jump) and Norman was ripping through the preliminary heats, winning the first heat in 20.16, a new Olympic record (though short-lived). He won his quarterfinal and scorched out a 20.06 to place second to American John Carlos. (He yelled across to Carlos, “You can have this one,” whereupon John waved him off. “The gall of this guy…” per JC). This was the fastest time he would ever run—a new Australian national record and one that still stands today.

Coming into the finals on October 16th, just four days into the Games, the US was building up their medal count and Peter Norman recalls that he was already tired of hearing our National Anthem. He was driven to try and change that. Prior to the start of the 200 m race, he had tried to get into the heads of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but at the gun, it was Norman who got out slowly. Tommie Smith had been nursing a sore groin and also (by his own admission) got out poorly. It was John Carlos who answered the gun, blazing out of the blocks and around the corner to the lead for the stretch drive. At this point, Smith extended down the backstretch, catching and passing Carlos about halfway down the stretch and finishing in 19.83—a gold medal, a new National, Olympic, and a World Record. Carlos, looking to his left as Smith flew by, eased up in the final 40 meters. Suddenly, out of the bottom of the TV screen, came Norman. He flew past Carlos, who was unable to respond after shutting it down. Final result: Peter Norman, the silver medal in 20.06; John Carlos, the bronze medal in 20.10. I remember being totally upset at Carlos for letting that Australian guy get the silver. I was like a starving lion in front of a 10-lb T-bone for medals. I wanted total dominance and “we” gave one away only four days into it. I couldn’t possibly know what was to come.


I don’t think I need to go into great detail about the award ceremony. The picture of Tommie Smith, Peter Norman, and John Carlos on the podium—Smith and Carlos shoeless, with their black-gloved fists raised in a black power salute—remains perhaps the most celebrated photo in Olympic history. It came at a time when a gesture for Human Rights in front of the world was necessary. I was stunned and didn’t understand it. I was swayed by the commentators’ explanation. But most importantly, what would the officials do to them?

Unbeknownst to me and most of the world, Peter Norman was part of the demonstration. He was wearing the OPHR patch on his chest in solidarity with Smith and Carlos. (He remained in solidarity with them until his death in 2006.) The Australian Olympic Committee and IOC asked—no demanded—that he rescind his solidarity, but he would not. The three athletes’ lives were forever entwined. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were kicked off the team, removed from the Olympic Village, and barely survived death threats as they were flown back to the US. Once home, their lives were not much better. Neither man could find gainful employment at a time when a gold medal was the only realistic way to get a windfall during the “amateur” days of track and field. (See Wheaties Box). Money and glory were not theirs, nor was the adulation of the sporting community for simply being the best in the world. They traded this reward for a more important message.

For my part, I was mad that they were not available for any relay duties. It didn’t matter; the US got gold in both relays. It was at this point I was beginning to understand that there might be something bigger than the Olympics as I struggled with THEIR explanation of the shoeless entry, the black gloves, and raised fists.

There will be a Part II to this article, but until April, here is a list of videos/articles of interest:


Peter Norman 1968 Olympics


  • Peter Norman Australian for Human Rights
  • The story behind the white guy in this historic photo


  • The forgotten story of Australian Olympian Peter Norman


The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World by John Carlos and Dave Zirin (book)




“QUICK STRENGTH FOR RUNNERS, 8 Weeks to a Better Runner’s Body”, by Jeff Horowitz, Velopress, Boulder, Colorado, 2013. Pp 198

Speaking from a pure runner’s perspective, I ask you, would you rather go on a nice run in Annadel or spend 45-60 minutes in a (smelly) gym pounding the weights, running on a treadmill or busting the exercycle? I don’t know about you but I would pick the run seven days out of seven, no question. The problem with doing so much running and so  very little pre and post-run training is that it often will result in injuries (especially as we increase mileage, intensity and as we just age).  And usually the injuries are not quickly healed. So for those of you (us) that think you don’t have time or don’t want to make time for pre and post run training think about how many injuries you have had over the last couple of years. Now think about how much time you were unable to run due to those injuries. If you are like me and have had multiple injuries and been off running for up to 2-3 months at a time (sometimes even longer) an extra 60 minutes a week In the gym might be time well spent. As well, I feel a regular strength training program will not only minimize your injuries but will also improve your training and racing times/consistency.

198 pages may seem like a lot of reading for a training guide.  It could just as easily have been in formatted simply a guide and would still have been very good. The first 45 pages are background and simple running physiology. If you have a background in physiology or have read any of the previously reviewed running physiology books you could easily bypass the first 45 pages or read it later (in lieu of watching the final season of ‘American Idol).

The next 85 pages are a well written explanation of 40 exercises and the minimal amount of equipment needed to perform them. Each exercise is also differentiated into easy and advanced styles. There is also a TIP which will clarify proper technique and a COACHES NOTE which explains the why and/or an ‘attaboy’(‘-girl’).

The next 50 pages are dedicated to the training sessions delineated by the week (weeks 1 through 8). Depending on your physical strength you can choose easy or advanced but the guide is setup to start easy on week 1 and get progressively more advanced and more intense with each week. If that seems like just too much there is no reason not to go at a slower, less advanced rate and with 40 exercises to choose from you could develop your own ever changing program.

The training is 2-3 20 min sessions per week so everyone should be able to make that time available to improve overall fitness and your running with a minimum of equipment (dumbbell, balance ball, medicine ball and a balance/bosu board) as your strength improves and you want to try the advanced exercises. The book finishes with a small chapter on continuing the program while travelling.

This is a great book and guide that if followed 2-3 times per week will definitely improve your strength, running and overall health.

Rating:   4.8/5             Usefullness:   5/5

A NOVEL WISH (BOOK) LIST for Christmas, by Brad Zanetti

It is that time of year when you may be having a hard time deciding on a Christmas gift for your runner friends or family members. Hey this year a fruitcake, gift card or those gift baskets from Costco may not say how much you really care. You may be looking for something special, something that says, “I understand your lifestyle and love of literature” . This might be the year a great running book is just the ticket.

Over the last 2 years I have reviewed 20-30 books, many of which I really enjoyed as literature, biographies or investigative journalism. I was hoping this could develop into a shared library of running books, a veritable running book of the month club. Although this idea is still in development I have received some positive feedback about the reviews as well as some sharing from others regarding a few of the choices included here.

So if literature is the gift of choice this season I have compiled a list of the Top 10 books; in no particular order. These are not only good reads but also look good on the coffee table or the bookshelf:

1A.  ONCE A RUNNER, John L Parker

1B. AGAIN TO CARTHAGE , John L Parker (there is a third sequel book, “RACING THE RAIN” which I haven’t read yet)

2. BORN TO RUN Christopher McDougall(I know; Who doesn’t have this book?)



5. PRE, Steve Prefontaine, Tom Jordan

6A. OUT OF NOWHERE, How Nike Marketed the Culture of Running, Geoff Hollister

6B. SWOOSH, The Unauthorized Story of Nike, J.B. Strasser and Laurie Becklund.


7. DUEL IN THE SUN, John Brant


9. THE SILENCE OF GREAT DISTANCE, Women Running Long, Frank Murphy

  1. HUNT FOR WOLF-EYES, Ty Strange

I know, I said 10 books, but a few books are direct sequels although each stands on its own, a few are directly related, again standing on their own. And although #10 is not exactly a running story, it is written by our very own local Empire Runner, Ty Strange and the Redwood empire plays a role in the story. Looking forward to a running story from him soon.

Hope this helps making Christmas shopping easier.   Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Brad’s Corner: “100 MILES to DESTINY”

“100 MILES to DESTINY”, Willis B McCarthy, Hignell Book Printing, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2007, pp. 285

This is a total work of fiction but based in the running world realm. The author, Will McCarthy, is a long-distance runner with an impressive log of 100 mile ultras including, the Western States 100, Leadville and others. When I met him he was the coach at Serra High School in San Mateo (my alma mater) and selling this book literally out of his car (at his Crystal Springs Invite). It was interesting to talk to the author about his thought process and premise.

The premise came about after his experience at the 1984 Western States. It is the fictional story of an Olympic event, a 100 miler, on the Western States course. It is a story of running, ultrarunning, nationalistic pride and maybe a bit stereotypical. I think the premise of an Olympic 100 miler is novel and the fact that it follows the Western States map and the author’s experience really makes you feel like you are watching the event unfold in a very realistic way.  However, not having run an ultra myself, this is pure speculation.

The writing, in itself, is not spectacular but the storyline was intriguing and the pace was very good. I think it will be an interesting read because of the author’s running experience. Overall it is an easy read and the story kept me captivated from beginning to end. The protaganists are mostly from Europe, Mexico, Russia, Japan and the U.S. The lack of African participants is due in part to the fact that it is set in 1984 and from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s, European, American, Japanese and Russian runners were dominant in the distance events. This was also the period that preceded the end of the Cold War and that plays an obvious part of the storyline.

I think all runners will enjoy this book in the continuing quest for good realistic fiction about running and a running book written by a runner. (still looking forward to the next novel by Empire Runner Ty Strange). 100 MILES to DESTINY is a worthwhile and entertaining read although not on the level of the John L Parker series(“ONCE A RUNNER”, etc).

Not sure how one can get a copy although I think I saw it advertised in Running Times and/or Trail Runner mags. I, of course, have a copy which I am willing to loan out but would like back.

Rating:   Story :   4.5/5     Writing: 3/5

The Destination Race Soliloquy, by Brad Zanetti

When was the last time you had a destination race experience? Has it been awhile or are you wondering what is he talking about? Well for those new to racing or those just happy to get it over with and on with your life already, the destination race includes some travel and some pre and/or post race timeframe hopefully with some other like minded runners. Living in Sonoma County we are so lucky as Empire Runners with 12 FREE races a year and another race available weekly within a 25 mile radius. Add in the PA racing schedule for XC and Road racing and there are more races to run in close proximity than any sane man or woman should consider running.

The beauty of the destination run is there isn’t such a hurry to get there, race and go home. The beauty is you can take your time getting to the destination, make the race your priority then take your time heading home maybe visiting other points of interest on the way. In essence the race though important is secondary to the experience of the destination and/or the group whom you share the experience.

In past blogs and issues there have been many stories of destination races some lasting a week or more, most a weekend or long weekend. Some of them have been to exotic locals like Boston(marathon), Carlsbad (5000), Ashland and Vietnam (half marathon) others more local like Auburn (Blood, Sweat and Beers), Dipsea and Lake Tahoe (Decelle Memorial).

These mentioned destinations have had some great history amongst many of the Empire Runners. Ask around and you might be surprised how many people have gone to these and other destination races alone or with groups as many of these have been multiple destinations over many years. Ask yourself if  this is something that interests you or would be willing to try. If so, ask around (races), show up at the group runs or show up at the ER meetings (third Thursday each month). For more info you might ask the famous 2008 Boston Marathon group who spent a week near Boston in the ‘Mansion’, multiple groups who have attended a 4 day weekend in San Diego/Carlsbad in a boutique hotel (cookies and milk at bedtime) or many teams who have spent the long weekend in Lake Tahoe circumnavigating the great blue lake.

Some upcoming trips ALREADY in planning for 2016 include:

1- Carlsbad 5000, 4/1-4/4 – brew tours, Sea World, SD Zoo, Legoland and the fastest 5K in the world.

2- Dipsea Race- Mt Tam- June 2016 one of the classic courses in the U.S. (World?)

3- Olympic Trials – Eugene , OR, 6/30-7/11plus age group miles on the historic Hayward Field track or the Butte to Butte 10K.

Some ideas for future trips. Let me know what you think.

Lilac Bloomsday 12K Race, Spokane, May

Falmouth 7 mile Race, Falmouth, MA, Aug

5th Ave Mile, New York, NY, September

If this is all too much planning or just plain TOO MUCH then how about this. If the planets align like this year, how about the San Bruno Mtn 5K, followed by an afternoon of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. This could be stretched into 3 days of music festival with a beautiful 5K thrown in….It Boggles the Mind!

Brad’s Corner – “One Man’s Journey to the End of His Life”

Oct15Zanetti02This is really a two book review and in essence a full circle review of his life from his height of popularity to his final profound statement and ultimate demise to cancer. The first book, “Running & Being, The Total Experience” was written in 1978 at the age of 59. Dr. George Sheehan was coming off over a decade of masters running culminating in his 4:47 mile at the age of 50 (a national record) and becoming the ‘medical’ expert and the voice of the running boom of the 1970’s, imploring everyone to get off the couch and take to the streets (running/jogging that is). Although a national level runner thru his 50’s his message (and Bill Bowerman’s as well) was to get out and run no matter how fast. The goal was life-long fitness and because of that a better life. George was a fitness guru, medical consultant, psychologist and a bit of a fanatic. The hook in his message I feel is that this running thing has to be ‘PLAY”. It should be fun and there are many ways to make it so: from where you run (the beauty) to how you run(pace change/fartlek) to whom you run with(group runs/hash house runs/post run socializing). By making each day’s run your playtime it instills a fun element that draws you back the next day.

The second book I am reviewing and also his last, “Going the Distance” concerns the last years of his life and reviews his fight with cancer (while remaining a runner). The first book was written when running was his life (he had quit his medical practice) and although in his late 50’s was at the top of his game mentally and physically (at least his perception). Like many of us just over middle-agers, in our minds, we are very much younger, so too was Dr George. He proselytized that aging was just a mindset and (in his mind) he proved that by running a 3:01 marathon(his PR) at the age of 61 and ran over 60 marathons and 21 straight Boston marathons.

The first book has an overall feeling of extreme confidence, maybe even arrogance. It is written by a man at the height of his popularity, an expert voice. He is the face of a nation of newbie runners all thirsting for the answers of how and why to run. He was more than happy to be that voice, those answers.   His one word chapter names begin: Living, Discovering, Understanding, Becoming, Learning which give the feeling of a transactional analysis self help group(remember the 1970’s? Est?). These morph into: Running, Training, Healing, Racing, Winning, Losing, Suffering… are more of what you might think a running book would be about. The information in the book is a bit dated but much running data has not really changed dramatically (contrary to the shoe industry literature) so I found it interesting at the very least as a historical perspective. About his writing style especially in the first half of the book- I found it a bit painful as he quotes every philosopher known to mankind and kind of takes the ‘play’ out of the actual point he is trying to make. The second part, the running chapters I enjoyed more. Again I didn’t find this book a scintillating read but as a historical and insightful view of the Voice of the running boom (of the ‘70s) I think it is indeed worthy of the time spent reading it.

The second book is an entirely different animal. A man, not entirely broken, but viewing the end of his life and still fighting yet not with the same fervor of his beginning fight with cancer. I think the book would have been entirely different if he had started it at the beginning of his fight. The overall tone is much softer, I think his goal is to leave something more to his children. His interaction with them(and in the book, “Chasing the Hawk” reviewed previously and written by his son, Andrew Sheehan) are now full of a man sharing his emotions and wanting his children to share time with him. As a younger man, as a father, he was aloof and solitary. In fact his running, writing and lecturing continued to separate them as a family. In this book, as well, he used quotes from many philosophers. Yet here I found the quotes helpful, instructive even enlightening as I felt they fit the story George was telling.   At the end of one’s life I would expect to be more philosophical and Dr Sheehan indeed is and is writing his goodbye and passion for his children. I enjoyed everything about this book. (Dr Sheehan wrote six other books which I have not read.  One might see a change in his style as a progression or perhaps it is just his emotion plainly written).

As an aside, I felt Dr Sheehan’s son’s book (Chasing the Hawk) was the best of the three but together they made an interesting trilogy of the story of the somewhat dysfunctional Sheehan family. I can recommend them individually and as a trilogy if you think you can take that much information about one family. If I was to do it again I would read Dr Sheehan’s first book ‘Running and Being’, then Andrew Sheehan’s book ‘Chasing the Hawk”, finishing with ‘Going the Distance’. I have these books available if someone wants to borrow them.

  1. “Running & Being, The Total Experience”, by Dr. George Sheehan, Rodale, Inc., New York, NY, pp. 255
  2. “Going the Distance”, by Dr. George Sheehan, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, pp. 185.

Brad’s Corner – Everything you wanted to know about Porta-Potties


Are you kidding me? You’re probably saying to yourself.  Has the Zeeman truly lost it? Is it old age? Have I run too many midday scorcher runs and self-induced some brain damage? Lord, I hope not. Usually you can expect a monthly running book or movie review in this blogspot but I had a recent 9 hour flight back from North Carolina via Houston and took that time to read a couple of running magazines, ‘Competitor’ and ‘Runners World’.

The ‘Competitor’ is a free magazine found in our local running shops. As a free magazine I didn’t have many expectations. I thought it would mostly have advertisements and maybe a couple of short articles and race ads. Seriously what caught my eye was the cover photo of Emma Coburn (top US Steepler) in full stride. On closer examination the cover notes: Get New Kicks (15 shoe reviews), Get Fit Get Faster, Elite Advice on Recovery,  and Beer and Running implored me give this rag a chance. And I was favorably impressed. I found ‘Competitor’ magazine to be a rather nice little magazine. Photos were of high quality, the writing was good and the articles were complete when necessary and brief when the subject matter was to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed the feature article on Emma Coburn. The shoe reviews have a fair amount of data though the are not critically reviewed. The Beer and Running article was particularly good and reminded me why I enjoy the Thursday night runs at Howarth Park.  The social run is the hallmark of a well rounded running program.

Not expecting much from a free magazine I was pleasantly surprised at the content of the ‘Competitor’ and will search it out in the coming months. If you are in need of some easy reading or you’re at one of our local running stores trying on shoes or clothes take a moment and grab yourself a free ride.

Knowing the nine hour trip would need something to fill the dead time I pursued the shops at the airport and only found Runners World in this genre. Normally, I don’t follow Runners World any longer as I don’t find it a good value ($4.99 each or $1 monthly with an annual subscription) or a great read. I am more of a ‘Running Times’ and ‘Trail Runner’ fan but being a shoe buyers guide sucker, and that being the cover headline,  I was all in for this choice.

A quick flip through the September issue displayed an article on adult XC (yeah), ice bath and other recovery treatments, power foods and recipes, strength training for runners and the aforementioned shoe buyers guide; certainly enough to keep me interested. After reading these interesting articles, some peanuts and a ginger ale, I awoke from a nap and thumbed through the Runners World again whereupon my eyes picked up the headline- Everything You Wanted to Know about Porta-potties… This is exactly why I don’t routinely read RW anymore ! Come on…porta-potties? Though I got quite a laugh as I reread the headline and did read the article anyway it stymied me that a major running magazine would stoop to this. I thought it would be funny and a joke, but no, a timetable of porta-pottie development (A Tinkle in Time!?) – COME ON!  Toilet paper information as well: quality, quantity, standards, amenities, the smell, Le ‘Bleu’ stuff, User to Potty ratios, ……. Unbelievable!. Yep Runners World  may have hit a new low. All anyone needs to know about porta potties when you get to the race is where they are, if there are any alternatives nearby,  and if possible get in there early and often. I think Runners World  may have left the proverbial toilet seat up on running articles.



This update on 3 Hoka shoes I have been reviewing over the last year has taken an interesting twist that I certainly did not expect. To begin, my first Hoka, the original royal blue Clifton gave me over 350 miles of fabulous service. If you go back to my original reviews of this shoe you will find I waxed enthusiastically about this shoe; some may say even ‘romantically’.  I called it a ‘game changer’ and a must try for anyone over 40, with or without chronic injuries or those that spend a lot of time in the steep climbs of Annadel or other local hilly trails. As I said, after 350 miles or so I moved these shoes to yard shoes and bought a second pair, the red version(1B?) and as much as I have liked these there was something just a bit off with this pair, I currently have put on nearly 200 miles on these and they have worn very well. I am very happy with them but they just have never had that ‘sweet spot’ that the original pair had. My only complaint with the Clifton has been wet trail traction (you remember that ONE time it rained in the last year?!).

So I went and bought a pair of Hoka Challenger ATV. I had hoped the ATV would be a CLIFTON with better traction, but after 100+ miles on the ATV it has not been so. The rugged sole has made the overall feel seem stiff and non-compliant compared to the CLIFTON. After a hilly uphill-downhill trail run the impact is significantly more in the ATV compared to the CLIFTON. In my case it is significant enough that I am not excited to wear the ATV on a more regular basis. As well, I am still awaiting some significant rain (can you say ‘El Nino’) so I can test out the lug pattern. So at this point I am still excited about the CLIFTON. A new CLIFTON-2 model is now available. The changes have been significant and those changes have added over an ounce to each shoe and per the reviews I have read has been a major negative. I have not slipped on a pair yet so you may buy a pair before I do.

And now the interesting and very unexpected twist to the CLIFTON story begins. About 6 months ago I felt the original blue CLIFTON after 350+ miles had seen better days and as is my practice those shoes moved right into double duty as ‘landscaping’ shoes. Thanks to the lack of rain and my dead lawns, the CLIFTONS haven’t gone through the normal destruction my post running shoes usually achieve. The twist is that about a month ago I did something I have never done in over 40 years of running. I took a pair of shoes that have been (forever) removed from my active stable and put them back on for a run. I don’t have any idea why I would or did attempt this(blasphemy?!). But lo and behold 6 months of little usage seems to have rejuvenated them. I don’t have any explanation for this, but as quickly as you can say ‘Voila’ I have re-fallen in love with my original CLIFTONS and will keep you updated on how many more pleasing miles I am able to enjoy before I come to my senses.

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