Category Archives: CROSS COUNTRY

Updates on the XC season from members.

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.


Mills, whose story was immortalized in the 1983 movie Running Brave, continues to be brave indeed, championing human-rights and celebrating the common bonds between diverse peoples across the globe.

Mills did not play it safe at the banquet either.  His talk, though held together by a running themed thread touched on his hard-scrabble childhood, his struggles with racism and bigotry and his own private demons.  At many points during his talk, he fearlessly touched on what were certainly uncomfortable subjects for many in the audience. When he finished he received a well-deserved standing ovation from the mostly white, economically comfortable audience.

The Empire Runners were well represented on this night.


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


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



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


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

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


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

Photo Essay – Anthony Rink, 2015 XC State Championships

(Local runner and photographer Anthony Rink went to the 2015 state XC championships, and here are some of his photos with captions.)

IMG_0003 copy 2

Sonoma Academy girls team post race at the finish line of the CIF state cross country championships. At this time all athletes have to remove the electronic chips from their shoes before leaving the finish area. Athletes Rylee Bowen, Mckenna Sell, and Kayja Mann.

IMG_0204 copy 2

Start of the division one girls race, just over a quarter mile from the start. This leads down the road to the entrance of woodward park where they take a hard left turn onto the park course.

IMG_9772 copy 2

Two leaders of the division four race. They are just past the two mile mark of the three point one mile course. On the left is athlete Morgin Coonfield who finishes second overall.

IMG_9826 copy 2

Just after the start of the division three boys race. As the runners begin to sort out their best position to be in for the race.

IMG_9849 copy 2

First place division three boys race. Athlete Austin Tamagno finishing in 14:45:9 as the second fastest overall athlete to compete.

IMG_9919 copy 2

Almost one mile into the division five girls race. The pack of runners begins to thin out as they get further into the race. Sonoma Academy athlete Rylee Bowen hangs onto the front pack of runners to pull her through the race.

IMG_9968 copy 2

This is the two mile mark of the division five girls race. As the front pack of the race thins out Rylee Bowen is positioned right behind the first runner. Bowen continues to move up and win the race.

IMG_0297 copy

Finish of the division one girls race. Athlete Delaney White on her final push to the finish line, placing 12th.


(An ode to the Montgomery XC team by Val Sell)

’Twas the night before practice and all through the house,             Every creature was running, including the mouse.                                    The singlets were hung by the chimney with care,                                         In hopes that fast times soon would be there.

The athletes were nestled all snug in their beds,                                        While visions of torture danced through their heads.                             And Karen with her Banjo and Brad in his cap,                                                  The coaches were ready, soon needing a nap.

When out on the track there arose such a clatter,                                                   I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.                                              Laced up my old shoes, and then ran oh so fast,                                                 The field I would go, like the youth from my past.

The moon on the breast of the up coming season,                                         Gave the light of mid-day, for all the good reasons.                                   When what to my wondering eyes should appear,                                             But the kids doing warmups, some chasing a deer.

With the boys at the lead, so lively and quick,                                                              I knew in a moment, it must be ole SLICK.                                                            More rapid than Pumas, his mates they all came,                                           He whistled and shouted, and called them by name.

Now, JAZZY! now, JESSIE! now PEETY and MAYO!                                            On, NOODLE! on, ACORN! on, SKIPPER and CHEETO!                               To the curve on the line, the start I will call,                                                          Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

With summer came Humboldt, hill training and more,                              Dorm slumber, hall dining, and talks while you snore.                                      The runs were a plenty and the stairs were a sight,                                                If you woke before Kevin, you would be alright.

 The miles now run, and the team looking good,                                                  Now surely was time, to return to the hood.                                                             So run as they might, as I stood all aglow,                                                                  The coach had high hopes, with her ducks in a row.

The season then started, with all the new faces,                                                   The oldies, the newbies, and all kinds of paces.                                                      The days they were hot, and through it high-n-low,                                              Our only retreat, was to swim Il-San-Jo.

The park was their friend, the place they would train,                                            At times they would fall, at times they would strain.                                        The trails there are many, roll up and then down,                                             The freedom was joyous, the laughter abound.

The coaches were there, with all kinds of wisdom,                                              To train them, fix them, and teach them of epsom.                                            What to eat, what to drink, and sleep we’d agree,                                               We gather, and lecture, remind of rule three.

Now it wasn’t all fun, our days in the sun,                                                            Some ran even faster, though others were done.                                                 The races were few, and gave each, time to shine,                                              Their goal was quite simple, a Duckie of mine.

The Finals upon us, the end was now here,                                                           Don’t worry, you’re ready, there’s nothing to fear.                                                 The friends here are many, and memories had,                                                Some stories don’t tell, or make Val really mad.

The time has now come, for the old coach to part,                                              For the last fifteen years, has brought to my heart,                                               A wave of fond moments, too many to mention,                                               I hope you had fun, for that was the intention.

Your story ends not here, this is just the start,                                       Wherever life takes you, and while we’re apart,                                              Think back to this team and the time that we had,                                                 Be happy, be joyous, be merry, be glad.

Viking Opener Alumni Cross Country: DuBay Still “Schooling” the Youngsters, by Larry Meredith

Cathy DuBay signing up for the race in the morning.

At age 51 Cathy DuBay is over the hill.  And the next hill.  And the one after that.  Before anyone else. While it’s true that DuBay can’t zip around the Spring Lake 2-mile cross country course as fast as when she was 30 (11:32, 3rd-best all-time) or when she was 45 (12:34, 3rd-best master all-time), her 12:44 effort this year gave her a 45-second victory in the 29th Annual Viking Opener Alumni Cross Country 2-Miler on September 29.  And the Piner HS grad (class of ’82) also broke the women’s 50+ all-time mark, set by Ukiah’s Holly Enzler in 2013, by an amazing 58 seconds.

Larry Meredith getting everything organized the morning of…..
Eva Stuart, Santa Rosa ’09, was the runner up this year, leading her group of Panther alumni to a 2nd-place team finish.  One of her SRHS coaches, Carrie Joseph (Centerville ’88, Ohio) came through the finish next, winning the women’s 40-49 division just ahead of Lower 47 Mix teammate Karen Teuscher (Central Kitsap ’94, Washington) as that team claimed top honors.  Empire Runner Tori Meredith (Branham ’75, San Jose) took second among the 50-and-over set and ninth overall.  Nancy Clary (San Rafael ’81) finished 4thoverall and claimed a spot on the all-time masters list at 13th with her 13:59.  Leona Bratcher (Piner ’79) put her name on the all-time 50+ list in 17th with a 17:46.
Vojta Ripa finishing in first place.

Youth would be served in the men’s race as Healdsburg High’s Vojta Ripa (class of ’08) ran away to a 24-second margin of victory, finishing in 10:49.  The home team celebrated a second place individual finish and masters title for Jason Selby (Montgomery ’93), who is now 15th-best ever for that division with his 11:13.  Jaime Silva (Piner ’13) took 3rd place, outkicking Empire Runner Gerald McCormick (Sela ’01, Washington) by one second.  The next two finishers were from the team Marin County Mix, Matt DeShazo (San Marin ’01, Novato) and Brad O’Brien (Terra Linda ’80, San Rafael) setting the stage for the team title. O’Brien was the top 50-59 finisher, tying his all-time #2 mark in that division set two years ago at 11:31. 

Jason Selby finishing in second, first in the 40-49 division.
 Although brothers Jeff (’00) and Chris Gardina (’03) for Piner HS took 11th and 13th, respectively, senior runner Andy Howard (Novato ’79) came in 15th to knot up the team score a t 27 apiece for Marin County and Piner HS.  The tie-breaker went to Marin County when Travis Reder (Novato ’13) finished 19th, far ahead of Piner #4, Quy Tran.  Montgomery’s men took 3rd, just 3 points back.
Besides O’Brien’s repeat performance in his 50-59 division, the most impressive run of the day was by fellow senior runner Tim Wallen (Ukiah ’81) who finished just one second back in 7th place and earned the #3 all-time mark for men in that group.  Another who notched a spot on an all-time list was Brian McSweeny (Holy Trinity, New Jersey) who ran 14:38 and is now the 11-fastest 60+ runner in this event’s history.

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?


Cross Country Starts July 1st, by Stephen Agar

While the fall cross-country season can be one of the most enjoyable racing experiences, combining the camaraderie of team competition with the diversity of trail running, it can also be the most challenging. Such is the depth of our cross county circuit that a performance that would rank in the top two or three at a local road race may not be enough for a top 30 finish. However, nothing can enhance your experience like PREPARATION, and the time to start is now. The club group training is a great opportunity to increase the volume and intensity of your running, while keeping things fun and social. Go to for times and locations. If you plan train on your own, here are some suggestions of what to incorporate into a typical week.

  • Try to run 4 – 6 days a week
  • One long run of 60 – 90 minutes
  • 5 x three minutes with one minute rest
  • 8 – 10 x one minute with one minute rest

Take at least one rest day or easy day between these efforts, and remember “train don’t strain.” Feel free to  email me with any questions. Stephen Agar – stephen.k.agar@gmail.comContactUsHeader

XC Finals – A Photographer’s Photo

It was the end of the race, and the last two runners of the men’s open were racing to the finish line. I was standing near the finish line to photograph runners as they came in. What I love about this photo is the story it tells about adult cross country. Even though they were the last two runners in the race, the crowd is enthusiastic, cheering them on, happy, and fully engaged in the race – they showed just as much enthusiasm for those that came in last as they did for those that came in first. And the crowd had a very strong reaction when both runners sprinted to the finish line, cheering them on, simply for the love of running and competition and for not giving up, even if you’re last. Just as this photo was taken, the runner on the left gave up and Empire runner Daniel Karbousky came through the finish line chute and collapsed onto the grass outside of the chute. I helped pick him up and got him walking again. I believe this is the best photograph I’ve ever taken of a cross country race because it shows the supportive community of adult cross country and the spirit of competition. And of course…..the Empire runner came in first!


The 2015 Jackrabbit Derby X-Country in May!

By Race Director Dale Peterson

106 people (23 kids in the Bunny Hop) showed up at Spring Lake Park in Santa Rosa on may 3rd to participate in the 23rd running of the Jackrabbit Derby.


The skies were gray and temps were slightly cool on what would prove to be another great day for racing on the fabled high school cross-country course.

John Staroba (36) won for the men in a time of 17:38 holding off Brad O’Brien (53) 17:48 and Job Skandera (13) 17:59.


Candy Owens (33) was the first female in 19:54 followed closely by Sarah Skandera (10) 20:03 and Carrie Peterson-Kirby (41) in 20:08.

Top Masters for the men were Brad O’Brien (53) 17:48, Guy Schott (52) 18:21 and Bill Cusworth (47) 18:28.

Top Masters women were Carrie Peterson-Kirby (41) 20:08, Sandra Frost (43) 21:48 and Kerry Hanlon (43) 22:07.


Sarah Skandera (10) improved her 1st All Time place for girls 12 and under to 20:03 and her sister Rebekah Skandera (9) moved up to 2nd All Time for girls 12 and under with her time of 20:56.

Brendan Hutchinson (72) improved his 2nd All Time place for men 70-79 with his time of 24:20.

Kathleen McPherson (75) became only the second woman over 70 to ever complete the Jackrabbit Derby.


There was a record turnout for the “1K” Bunny Hop – the kids showing their usual boundless energy and good cheer.

It was another great day at Spring Lake thanks to all of the volunteers. A special thanks to Carl Triola and the Casa Grande HS cross-country team and parents for all their help!


Empire Women All Stars: Julia Stamps, by Alex Wolf-Root

In this first installment of Empire Women All Stars, we chat with Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa HS, arguably one of the greatest HS XC runners in U.S. history. While there are many applicable titles for her – CA XC Champion, National Champion, Spring Lake course record holder, etc – the most fitting may be simply “Trail Lover”.

Hey Julia, thanks for taking the time to chat! There’s no question that Sonoma County has a great history of fast females, and many wonder why. Any thoughts?

We have Annadel State Park. How can you not get in shape running the trails of Annadel?! Also, we have a phenomenally supportive community. We’re not telling people not to run hard. Lots of others say don’t run hard, don’t over-train – they focus on over-training while forgetting that you need to train! I think the bar is set higher in our community in terms of what is good and what is not. Eventually the females just realized “oh wait; that’s totally attainable. So and so did it. I know her. She did that run. I did that run. I should be able to do it!”

You’ve clearly accomplished a ton during your prep career. In your mind, what are some highlights?

One is probably my freshman year when I qualified for the Junior World Cross Country Championships after I ruptured my appendix. I was facing adversity, going through not being able to run for several months, and then getting myself to qualify for the World Championships. Such an injury becomes a real pivotal point in anyone’s career, whether you’re going to give up or whether you’re going to focus on getting in shape and give it everything. And that was my first World’s experience, which was really quite entertaining Another would be Footlocker National Champs when I won my sophomore year. It was probably the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life. It just felt easy to click off the pace. Obviously it was a big moment. It was just an easy race, and really, really fun.


What would your competitors think if they heard winning a national title was easy?!

They weren’t all easy! I passed out the next 2 years in a row! Of course I gotta brag about the one that was easy. I don’t remember if I even finished or not the next two years. The tough ones make you appreciate the easy ones. My third highlight would be coming in 9th in the Junior World Championships in the 3,000m my junior year. I PR’d in the trials and then again in the finals. That was pretty exciting because at the time the U.S. wasn’t as competitive as it is now, so making finals was a big deal.

Well those are certainly some impressive highlights! To what would you attribute such success?

I love the park. I love Ananadel. It makes it easy to go out there for a 10 mile run; all those trails and beauty makes time go by fast. You have a connection between nature and yourself. I lived in Annadel growing up. If I wasn’t running I was hiking, if not hiking I was playing in streams, and if doing none of those I was bike riding. Weekends I would only come home to shower and sleep; the rest of my time was in the park. The park was my home. It’s easy when it’s fun and the park to me is fun. Also, I had phenomenal support having Danny (Aldridge) and Doug (Courtemache) as my coaches. They have a well-rounded perspective of the overall health of the athlete. Having coaches who see you as an individual and want the best for you as a person is key. That’s truly what we have in Sonoma County.

What advice would you give to all the current young runners who may be reading this?

Just love it. Love the sport. It’s a sport that if you love it then it’ll love you and you’ll have it for a lifetime. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you have the sport for the rest of your life. Love the sport and it will love you.


Julia Stamps at Santa Rosa High School: Spring Lake course record holder, former Woodward Park (state) course record holder (2nd all time as of this writing), Footlocker National champion,  Three-Time State D1 champion, 3rd all time 800m, 1st all time 1,600m, 2nd all time 3,200m,  Three time 3,200m state champion (2nd one), One time 1600m champion.