Category Archives: DECEMBER 2015

All the posts created in DECEMBER 2015.


People talk about holiday stress and I feel sorry for them. The holidays do not stress me out at all. Other things stress me out; cooking, shopping, traffic, but not the holidays.

I actually love this time of year. When the days get darker and I have to wear gloves when I run and Starbucks cups turn red, I get really happy. This wasn’t always the case. I used to feel compelled to do it all. Decorate, bake, buy tons of perfect gifts, get the annual photo book completed, entertain and stay in shape. I was so busy trying to portray the life we see on the cover of holiday magazines, I would get to January 2 and realize I didn’t really enjoy the season at all! Then I got cancer one year and I was forced by chemo and surgeries to slow down a bit. I entered the holiday season with the perfect excuse to sit back and take in the season. My Cancer Christmas was about healing and celebrating life with family and friends. All the ideas on the covers of magazines that look so good and require so much work were not an option that year.

Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.
Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.

The decorations went up but not all of them. We baked but only when we really felt like it. I bought a few gifts but only if I saw something that had meaning or purpose instead of just because gift giving had to perfectly equal between both kids. Kids watch closely. At first they count to make sure they each get the same number of gifts. As they get older they start to calculate the value of the gifts to be sure an equal amount was spent on both kids. The cancer Christmas I bought gifts but my kids went easy on me and didn’t get too angry when they noticed an inequality. We entertained that year, but no one cared that my linens didn’t match or the food was from Oliver’s. They probably preferred this given my cooking!

It turned out to be one of my favorite holidays ever! I swore to myself that regardless of how much better I would feel the next year, I would not go back to my pre-cancer manic holiday state. For the most part I have not! Here is what I learned the Christmas I had cancer:

  • Gifts that matter: Buy 1-2 meaningful gifts for each child. Don’t bother with a score card. Life is not fair. Sometimes one kid will get a spectacular gift because you found something really cool for them and the next year might be a bust. My favorite gift as a child was the year my sister made me a ski outfit-yes, with a sewing machine! Pants and a jacket. I really wanted skis, boots and poles but our family couldn’t afford it. I loved that outfit and still can hear the sound of it as I skied down the mountain. Or better yet, spend a day with your kids. All day. No electronics. Ok, maybe half a day. They won’t forget it.
  • Demand some ME time. I like to run. I make sure to run throughout the holiday season. Some of my best runs are in December running through the neighborhoods looking at lights. Also enjoyable are runs/hikes in Annadel as it is much less crowded. Whatever your ME thing is, don’t sacrifice it this time of year! That quick errand instead of a workout can wait until AFTER your workout or your ME time. Stores open late this time of year.
  • Have Fun. Doing something with your family and friends should be a priority this time of year. That’s the true meaning of the holidays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Bowling is our family favorite. Holiday light tours are also fun. A family night hike on a full moon is wonderful and even better; this year there is a full moon on Christmas Eve.
  • Slow down you’re moving too fast…Breath. Relax and be in the moment. Blah, blah, blah…you have heard it so much but have you done it? Play a game with your family. Head’s Up (by Ellen) is a blast and everyone in the family can play. You just need your phone or iPad and 10 minutes. It lightens everyone’s mood and will make you smile.

Don’t wait for cancer or some other life crisis to slow you down and force you to enjoy the season the way it was meant to be. Do it this year. And put happy back into the Holidays.

Happy Holidays and Trails my friends.

Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.
Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.



Melody Karpinski: Member Interview

Dec15Melody_Murdoch03Question: The most important question first – what’s your favorite kind of coffee and roast? Medium roast Ethiopian Harrar? And what’s your favorite preparation – French press, pour over, drip? Do you add cream and sugar? Favorite coffee shop???

Answer: You must know me pretty well to know this is the most important question. My favorite roast is always anything dark and usually some kind of African/South American blend. My favorite coffee no longer exists because it’s a 2011 holiday blend made by Peet’s Coffee & Tea where I worked during my senior year of college. I generally prefer Americanos, but French press is my favorite for regular coffee prep. I always add a little cream. My favorite coffee shop is always whichever new one I discover during traveling.

How did you transition from being a journalism major at Point Loma Nazarene University, and working as a journalist, to working at a running store?

Dec15Melody_Murdoch06There is no short answer to this question! I originally  began as an English major because I’ve always loved reading and writing, but a journalism class at the JC sparked my interest. I balanced being the editor of the SRJC student newspaper, the Oak Leaf, while competing for Coaches Whit & Pat on the track team. I transferred to Point Loma to major in journalism, where I went through a wonderful program with excellent professors.

I never settled into a specific career after college and for most of my life I’ve always worked more than one job at a time. The summer after I graduated, I worked as a freelance journalist for a number of different San Diego news outlets, as a copy editor for a jazz magazine, helped run a church home for women coming off of the street, served up lattes as a barista…..get the idea? When I returned to Santa Rosa, I continued more of the same tune, working as a freelancer for the Press Democrat, part-time as a barista, part-time at Fleet Feet and part-time as an administrative assistant.

Dec15Melody_Murdoch09I had the privilege of transitioning to full-time at the Press Democrat at one point a few years ago, and got to call some pretty amazing reporters and photojournalists my colleagues. While I was there the Boston Marathon bombing happened and it was quite surreal to sit at my desk surrounded by screens full of images coming out of the attack scene. I interviewed a customer of Fleet Feet’s who was in the race for our Press Democrat coverage of the story. Because of being part of the coverage, the Boston Marathon attack will always stick in my mind as a truly tough day more than other tragedies.

Eventually, I decided I didn’t want to just be writing stories – I wanted to be living one. Though I will always love and respect the news business, new doors were opening elsewhere. I left the newspaper, went full-time with Fleet Feet and then began coaching at RVC (Rincon Valley Christian).  I’ve enjoyed getting to learn a new kind of business, and couldn’t ask for a better boss or staff to work with at Fleet Feet. Coaching has always been a dream of mine and my athletes are some of my favorite people in the whole world.

Dec15Melody_Murdoch04What is it about running that you love the most? 

The way it clears my head like nothing else can. The way the trails speak to me amid the peaceful air and all the memories from high school and college Annadel carries for me. The way it serves as an outlet and becomes a tool to challenge myself. The way it creates a safe space for soul-searching. The way I see it mold and shape character in my athletes, my fellow runners, my fellow coaches and myself.

Tell us about coaching at Rincon Valley Christian – how do you think running has enhanced the lives of some of the kids that you have been coaching? Have you witnessed some major changes in their attitudes? Is running really just a conduit for a different kind of essential learning?

Dec15Melody_Murdoch02Everyday I get to see first hand how running molds and shapes character in my athletes, how it makes them understand the value of hard work and appreciate the effort it takes to achieve a goal whether individually or as a team. I wish I could tell you running has also magically curbed their smart aleck tongues, but those are still alive and well in all of them. The conversations that occur in my athlete carpool should be the subject of some kind of SNL skit. One day, I actually missed two different turns to Annadel on the way to practice because they were making me laugh so hard and we were nearly 10 minutes late. I’m sure it was just a carefully executed tactical attempt to get out of hill repeats.

Dec15Melody_Murdoch07Running is absolutely a conduit for learning life lessons, and the ability to have vision for your life goals. It also is a great place to see how you respond under pressure (managing stress), react to a loss (maintaining a good attitude), deal with an injury (overcoming disappointment), encourage your fellow teammates and competitors (practicing good sportsmanship) and achieve a goal (lots of hard work). As coaches, we have the opportunity to help cast that vision and give them the best tools possible to achieve their individual and/or team goals.

There’s never been a title I’ve been more privileged to carry than that of “coach.” Some of my greatest influencers in life were my high school/college coaches and the responsibility of this is the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night. It’s been an incredible privilege over the last year-and-a-half of coaching to watch how one season of cross-country or track can change someone’s life.

Dec15Melody_Murdoch08What is the one race your most proud of? Not the race where you got your best time, or had the biggest medal, but the one that challenged you the most mentally and physically? Is it really about the medal?

The race I’m probably most proud of (despite my time) was my first marathon last month. I did the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and it is an experience I will never forget. My hip flexors are still reminding me how unforgettable it was.

Before I left for DC, my high school coach Harry Skandera (who I coach with now at RVC) thought it might be really encouraging to me to share a story about how he hated running one of his first marathons so much that he crawled under a car in the middle of the race and just laid there for a while. He still got up, finished in a decent time and even ran a few more marathons later on I believe. It was pretty funny to think about my All-American coach, who took our high school to state multiple times, collapsed under a car in the middle of a race. It also wasn’t particularly uplifting, so one of my race goals became “don’t crawl under a car.”

It is definitely the most mentally and physically challenging run I have ever completed, and there were multiple times throughout the race I would happily have given up the finisher’s medal just to crawl under a car for a few minutes. I missed my time goal pretty severely, but I didn’t crawl under a car and I finished so that’s a plus.

You have a fascinating blog called “thisloveitlookslikesomething”. I’m wondering if you have a Christian perspective of running, since running mirrors life in so many ways – hard work, patience, practice, sometimes real pain and suffering, and even jubilation.

Dec15Melody_Murdoch05I’m impressed you found my blog! I thought only my mom and best friend read it. My faith has always been an integral part of my running and vice versa. The first time I ever heard about the sport of cross-country was when Sara Bei Hall spoke at my basketball awards in junior high I think right after she won Footlocker nationals. During her speech, she spoke a lot about her faith being part of her running.

I went out for cross-country a few years later and started to understand what she was talking about. I used to carry this wrinkled old piece of paper with a couple of quotes on it around in my spike bag to read before races. On it was a Bible verse (Is. 40:31) and a portion of Eric Liddell’s speech from Chariots of Fire. It’s a much longer quote than this, but it ends with: “If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”

My blog posts are responses to the question of “What does love look like?” My life motto used to be pretty long and dramatic, but over the last five years or so I’ve whittled it down to this: love well and love more.

What do you think of this video? Have you seen it before?

Dec15Melody_Murdoch09AI had never seen it before, but I really liked it! I think the idea of doing something hard is starting to become foreign in today’s Western society. We’ve also started to develop a somewhat coddling culture where “every kid makes the team” and “everyone’s a winner.” I wrote an op-ed piece when I was the opinion editor at the PLNU student newspaper in response to a Boston Globe article about how teachers were switching to purple pens because red ink was “shown to have negative psychological effects.” I think this line of reasoning just sets you up to struggle so much more because it’s not real life. We will all face hardship and we will all have a dream we will have to work to achieve. Running is a sport where it’s pretty easy to see who worked out and who didn’t. The work isn’t easy.

Comparatively, the faith walk is not an easy task. It takes hard work. It’s easy to talk a big game and say you’re a certain kind of Christian. It’s not easy when hard things come, big questions pop up and you’re made fun of for your beliefs. It’s also easy to talk up a race and say you’re a certain kind of runner. It’s not easy when injuries come, goals aren’t met and people doubt your potential. You always have a decision – quit or keep on running?

What are your running goals for the future? Have you signed up for any races in 2016?

I think I’d like to change it up a little bit and do a lot more of my least favorite hard thing – speed work. I love the Summer Track series and got to coach an introductory youth track club for 6 – 12-year-olds through Fleet Feet last year where we trained to run the series so that was a blast. I started trying to chase down some of my college track times because I think I’m stronger now than I was then. Still have some work to do there, but getting to run with my high school athletes a few days a week is an easy way to push myself.

My first half was the Annadel Half so I’ve done that the last couple of years, and I’ll probably do it again this year. During the race this year I was on track to PR by around 10 minutes, fell down pretty hard around mile eight, and then got so upset about it that I PR’d by over 18 minutes! I’m sorry to say the Fall=PR Strategy worked multiple times in 2015, so I’m adamantly looking to improve my race strategy for 2016. You know, just to avoid further scars.







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.


Jingle Your Bells…..Run, Dinner, and Meeting – Dec 17th

Everyone gets very busy this time of year, so we’ve decided to combine two December events into one, a mash-up of sorts, with the Jingle Bell run potluck combined with the annual membership meeting and Board election.

Located in the cozy dining room in the “Who-ville” complex across from Whole Foods on Yulupa, we will be hosted by Andrea Guzman and her chef extraordinaire husband Arturo.

This is a family-friendly event, a great opportunity to bring your non-runner partner and/or kids to show them how much fun we can have.

Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015
Location: Yulupa Co-Housing Common House
1350A Yulupa Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95405

5:30 Jingle Bell Run (45 min) Bring your bells!

6:30 Socialize

6:45 Dinner

7:30 Club meeting and election of Board of Directors

8:00 Dessert

9:00 Bedtime

Chef Arturo Guzman, currently with St. Francis Winery, will prepare the main course.

If staying for dinner, please email an RSVP to Andrea ( and tell her who is coming. RSVP no later than Monday, December 14. Bring food and beverages to share.



(An ongoing series of interviews of redwood empire runners by Alex Wolf-Root)

Today we switch over to the men’s side, starting with Reesey Byers from Santa Rosa HS. Reesey was the first Redwood Empire prep to crack the 9-minute barrier for 3,200m, and then went on to set D1 school records at Sacramento State. Reesey is currently training in Sacramento where he represents SRA Elite.

Dec15Byers_Alex005Let’s start with your record-breaking 3,200m. Was sub-9 expected? How did it feel accomplishing such a goal?

I definitely wanted to break 9 minutes, though I was very disappointed with my end result. My proudest race was when I ran 8:19 in the 3,000m and that indicated that I was ready to run low or sub 8:50, but the race did not go as planned at Arcadia. It was still a great experience.

And how does it feel having that record broken just one year later?

I expected Luis [Luna] to break it. I knew he had the talent and the drive. It was great to watch him beat it live. I was happy for him.

Well you certainly had talent and drive as well. You were a stud at SRHS from the start. How did your time as a Panther turn you into the standout runner you are today?

Dec15Byers_Alex002The better I got, the more driven I became. One person I definitely give credit for my success today is Rory McLeod. He was my inspiration and a great teammate. I looked up to him so much and watching him run I thought “Wow, I would love to be as fast as him one day!” I had other great teammates as well and we pushed each other day after day. Also I had amazing high school coaches. They invested a lot of time in me and helped me grow each year.

In your mind, what are the highlights of your Panther career? What, if anything, did you not accomplish that you thought you could, or should?

Dec15Byers_Alex003My highlights were definitely when I ran 8:19 in the 3,000m and 4:11 in the 1,600m. Those were my favorite races by far and also my best performances. They really gave me a lot of confidence. Also making it to state for the first time my junior year in the 3,200m. It was my first time running at that level, and that year I had nearly a minute drop in my best time (despite running 9:06 in lane 3!). As stated before, I definitely think I could have run a faster 3,200m, as well as going sub 4:10 in the 1,600m, but I’m not complaining. I am very happy with my career as a Panther.

And due to it being such a great career, some were a bit surprised that you chose to go to Sacramento State instead of a “bigger” athletic power. How’d that decision come about?

I know, a lot of people were confused, but I knew I would be much happier at Sac State. The decision was between UC Berkeley and Sac State. I felt a stronger team bond with Sac State’s team, and the coaches really showed a lot of interest in me and promised to give individual help as well. I don’t regret my decision to go to Sac State at all.


Well that decision certainly worked out! What was it about that program that brought out the best in you?

My teammates definitely brought out the best in me. I made some of my closest relationships through Sac State’s XC and track teams. I became a better person from the people I met while on the team. And Sac State had a very good track team. We were conference champions across many seasons.

From my point of view in the stands, one highlight was your 5,000m win at the 2013 Stanford Invite. Tell us a bit about that barrier-breaking moment.
Dec15Byers_Alex008It was definitely a mixed feeling. From the workouts I knew I was fit enough to break 14, but actually doing it and winning the race was unbelievable. It was the greatest feeling ever. Although many think I was in 13:30’s shape that year (having closed mile repeats in 4:10-4:15 etc),,,

Despite some great accomplishments, especially your first two years, you had a rough second half of college. Can you tell us a bit about those struggles?

There were several factors that played a roll in the rocky end to my collegiate career. Right after my sub-14 season, I found myself undergoing a coaching change that was very difficult on me mentally, especially right after a very successful season. I then had a life changing illness in the fall of my last year. I had a staph infection that was in the bones and disks of my lower back and in my blood stream. It was literally killing me from the inside, and it was misdiagnosed for six weeks. Eventually I had to be rushed to the emergency room and was hospitalized for about a week. I was then given a central line for another few months and was without exercise for 4 months. Once I was healthy, I tried to save my last track season but, due to missing 4 months of base, I did not have the strength necessary to run very well. I also suffered from a slightly torn hamstring and am still dealing with it to some extent. It’s been a rough ride since last year.

Dec15Byers_Alex006But things seem to be smoothing out now that you’re running post-collegiately. After first running for Strava you’re now with SRA Elite. What’s the post-collegiate journey been like so far?

I knew a few friends that ran for Strava and they really were interested in me, so I joined Strava and loved it. Unfortunately I did not have the immediate access to the support I needed. Being in Sacramento made it difficult for me to take advantage of what they had to offer. I then realized it would be much more beneficial for me to join SRA Elite. I would have immediate access to the support they provided and I would have a team to train with. I am really loving it so far and they take great care of their athletes. I am currently getting some coaching guidance from them and it is working well. I am just getting over my hamstring injury and getting back into great shape.

Going back to the Redwood Empire, we’ve had quite the history of distance runners. Why do you think this small area has turned out so many solid athletes?

That’s a good question. I think part of it is because there are so many good places to run. Running is a popular sport in that area as well. There are many races that are put on in that area that encourage people of all levels to go out, test themselves and have fun.

Dec15Byers_Alex004What would you tell the HS athletes reading this now?

I would tell them to be patient, not to give up, and just have fun. Running takes a lot of hard work but it’s important not to think of it as a job. Have fun with it. Go places that interest you. Chase your dreams. If you want it bad enough, it will come in time. Just keep plugging away, day in day out. There is always room to grow in the sport. Do the little things. To be a successful runner, it’s important to take good care of your body.

What should we expect from Reesey Byers in the future?

I definitely am very driven. My goal is to make the Olympic Trials in the 5,000m. That is my dream. Expect a fast 5,000m this year. Now that I am healthy and taking the right steps to be the best I can be, I think I can really do something special.

Anything else that you want to add?

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me in my journey to be a successful athlete. It has been a bumpy road but it’s how you deal with and get through the adversities of life that make you a better person, both athletically and in general. I have gone through a lot but my drive and determination keep me going. It is also important to stay hungry and stay humble, because there is no telling what life will throw at you, but as long as you are determined enough, your body will achieve what your mind believes.

Thanks again Reesey, and we can’t wait to see what you do this season, especially come Independence Day!


The Long and Short of HS Runners in the Park

Living in Santa Rosa we are blessed with an abundance of fine parks and trails. Our local X-Country team coaches are obviously well aware of this and you will often find their teams training in one of these parks. Living on the east side of town and less than a mile and one-half from Spring Lake I often will literally run into the kids and their coaches.

Windsor's Lucas Chung works his way up a hill on the Spring Lake course during the first NBL center meet, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.   (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Windsor’s Lucas Chung works his way up a hill on the Spring Lake course during the first NBL center meet, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.
(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Recently I have been having these kind of run-ins with Piner HS and their great coach Luis Rosales near the Oak-Knolls picnic area in Spring Lake Regional Park.

I will often stop to wave and sometimes chat briefly with Luis. His enthusiasm is infectious and I always enjoy talking to him about running and his team.

What really gets me going however is the palpable energy coming from his runners.

I typically get off work around 4-4:30pm, ride or drive home and quickly change into my running clothes and shoes and head over to Spring Lake. Although I almost always look forward to my run, I will often be mentally tired and less than 100% motivated when I arrive at the park.

Casa Grande's Adria Barich races in the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.  Barish finished second in the varsity girls race. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Casa Grande’s Adria Barich races in the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015. Barish finished second in the varsity girls race.
(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Once I see Luis and his runners or any HS runners my mood starts to change. It’s not always easy to tell what school the kids represent, especially the boys who seem always to be shirtless, but it is easy to see that they are young and full of energy.

Most of the time the kids I see up in the park are pretty focused but even when they are obviously goofing off (and I can actually match their pace for a short time) they are just so full of life it’s hard not to feel some of it rubbing off on you.

Casa Grande's Matt Salazar runs comfortably in fourth place during the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.   (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Casa Grande’s Matt Salazar runs comfortably in fourth place during the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.
(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Without exception the kids I see are friendly and respectful. As I look at them and realize all the things that they will experience in running and in life and all of their incredible potential I also imagine that they might think it is pretty cool that an “old man” is still out there doing something that they can do.

One of the biggest and best changes in running since I was in HS, is the rise of the female runner. I see the boys and girls running together and interacting as team mates and can’t but help feel a little envious of the easy and natural banter between them. What a great thing.

There is a tendency to think that all kids are lazy and obese, bad students and poor citizens. These kids I see training at the park are none of those things. They for the most part seem to embody ambition, fitness and discipline. With those traits nailed down, they almost certainly must be good students and good future leaders and citizens.

Cardinal Newman's Kasey Braun finishes in third place during the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.   (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Cardinal Newman’s Kasey Braun finishes in third place during the first NBL center meet at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.
(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

When I see these kids in the park, my pace quickens and I become briefly somewhat younger and less cynical and I feel good about the future.

Top 6 Reasons to join Empire Runners Club over the Galactic Empire! by Trevor Swallow

New Year’s Resolutions are fast approaching and, of course, we know you were planning on joining the Empire Runners Club. BUT, in case you were being recruited to join the Galactic Empire due to the new Star Wars movie coming out, here are the . . .

Top 6 Reasons to join Empire Runners Club over the Galactic Empire!

You’re More Than a Number!


With tens of thousands of identical clones, it can be difficult to stand out in the Galactic Empire crowd. Awaken your individuality in the Empire Runners Club (ERC). Plus, wardrobe colors and styles are totally up to you! (Hint: More than just white)

Positive Motivation


It’s shocking, but motivation can be a powerful thing. Get more positive support and encouragement with the Runners Club. With weekly training options and social gatherings, it’s easy to plug in, get going, and stay on target.

Variety of Terrain


Ever get bored seeing the same things over and over? Try living on a giant metal space station! No way! Explore beautiful natural landscapes with ERC at many different race locations throughout Sonoma County.

Run Together, but Race Yourself


Rather than duel your arch-nemesis in battle, the Runners Club culture fosters the inclusive community feel. ERC races feel like running with a group of friends. Search your feelings and you’ll know it’s about doing your best and having fun.

Lower Choking Hazard


‘nough said.

Slim Up for the New Year


This one is on almost everyone’s resolution list. Don’t let the Galactic Empire crush you into believing the newest fad diet, join ERC. Running burns calories, is good for cardiovascular health, and is proven to relieve stress. Don’t let your thoughts betray you, get running!

So there you have it. Search your feelings and don’t fall for the Galactic Empire trap. The Empire Runners Club is always looking for new recruits. Sign up during your next trip to Tosche Station! We would be honored if you would join us.

And remember, try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

Destination Central Vietnam, by Doug Murdoch

11226081_1060325203991763_8806700421101960724_o copy copyGoing to a foreign country for a destination race can be fun, but you need to make sure there are plenty of things to do besides just running at your location if you want to have a good time.

DaNang is located right in the center of Vietnam, with the ancient citadel of Hue and Bach Na National park to the north,  and the Japanese / French city of Hoi An to the south, along with My Son, which is a sacred place from the Cham culture dating 400-1400 AD.

Laguna Lang, which is a resort area north of Da Nang, offered a marathon / half this year, so I decided to run the half marathon and then explore the surrounding area. I spent about a week and a half in the area, but I could have easily spent two weeks since there was so much to do.

CentralVietnamDHM2015_003 copyIt was a small race with about two hundred people total – 80 in the marathon and 120 in the half marathon.  It was well organized and enjoyable, with almost all of it on even paved roads with no traffic and plenty of aid stations. It was out in the countryside but all the streets were still blocked off to traffic.

CentralVietnamDHM2015_004 copyAfter the race, I travelled about an hour north to Hue, the ancient city and capital of Vietnam.  The ancient citadel still has a wall and a moat that goes all the way around it. I ran the internal perimeter for fun and it’s about 5 miles. I also took a boating trip, went to ancient tombs, and ate some river snake (which did not taste like chicken).ế

Here’s an example of a typical training run I did there:

CentralVietnamDHM2015_005 copyAfter exploring Hue, I hired a driver to take me to the top of Bach Ma National Park, which is about five thousand feet, and spent the day hiking.  It’s interesting to be near the beach and then immediately go up to five thousand feet, in a completely different environment.ạch_Mã_National_Park

That same day my driver dropped me off in Hoi An, a beautiful little city south of Da Nang with both Japanese and French influences. One of the most famous attractions there is a traditional and authentic Japanese covered bridge.  The cost for an all day driver/ tourist guide in a private car was eighty dollars, and one way was about one hundred miles. I could have done it for less than ten dollars on a bus but then I would not have been able to go hiking.ội_An

CentralVietnamDHM2015_006 copyEven though I did the typical tourist stuff,  I ran every day from 6 -10 miles which is always an eye opening experience. The main photo for this article, seen to the right,  is from one of the small islands that I ran to and around in Hoi An. This is my actual run in Hoi An where I took the photo:

CentralVietnamDHM2015_010 copy 2I also went to My Son, which about two hours by bus to the south. My Son is a collection of Hindu temples that were built between 400 – 1400 AD.ỹ_Sơn

This is a good reference for what you can do in the area:

If you want to stay at a beach resort before and after your race, the race that I ran in is quite good but in a remote beach area:

CentralVietnamDHM2015_013 copyAnother popular one, which I might do next time, is called the Da Nang Marathon (and half, 10K, etc).  It is in Da Nang, which is still on the beach, but the hotel prices are much cheaper and there is more to do.  It is a much larger and international event.

Although it’s not in Central Vietnam, perhaps the most adventurous race in Vietnam is the Sapa Mountain running series, in north Vietnam. It’s on my bucket list.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Vietnam so if you have any questions about traveling and running in Vietnam, feel free to leave a comment!



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