Category Archives: EMPIRE RACES

Reviews of local races.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Age Group Results:

Male                                             Female

12 and under

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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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


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


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

80 and over

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


2016 Ilsanjo Classic Race Report, by Eric Walker

May16Ilsanjo16_005Pounding rain fell all week leading up to the 44th annual Ilsanjo Classic races.  And rain continued to fall Sunday morning.  Not only was this good news for our local reservoirs but it was good news for trail runners who appreciate an old fashioned trail racing mud-fest.

May16Ilsanjo16_003The Ilsanjo Classic has always been positioned smack in the middle of the rainy season—and we were due for something other than the near concrete trail conditions that have persisted through the recent drought.  Runners in all three races were immediately soaked, with a strategically placed, though entirely natural, mud bog spanning much of the starting area at Howarth Park.  Concerns about the race ranged from flooding at Spring Lake, to a significant downed tree on Spring Creek trail, to fast moving water at the Lake Ilsanjo spillway, to mass attrition due to the rain pouring down in the early hours Sunday.  Turns out none of that mattered as the flooding receded, the tree was almost magically cleared by the Sonoma County Trails Council and more than 200 runners and volunteers showed up to take on the trails.

May16Ilsanjo16_001Having previewed the courses on Saturday, the race director crew expected slow times in the sloppy conditions.  Turns out, we were very wrong!  45-year old John Litzenberg lit up the trails, breaking one hour by eight seconds (59:52) and defending his 10 mile win from 2015.  He was quite literally chased over the final miles by 42-year old Todd Rose, who finished one second behind John in 59:53.  In all, 15 men broke 1 hour 10 minutes—four more than last year in much better conditions.  Eight of the 15 were 26 years old or younger, which bodes well for local trail running’s future.  Todd Bertolone ran a noteworthy race, running1:07:04, a sub-7 minute mile pace, in the slop at 53 years old.  In the women’s race, Andrea Guzman (1:17:52) outlasted Erin Kaspar (1:18:37) for her first win at The Classic.  Kerry Hanlon was first master’s woman, and third woman overall, crossing the line in an impressive 1:20:03.  No one tell Kerry that mud is supposed to be a slower running surface, as she ran the exact same time in 2015 on much firmer trails!

May16Ilsanjo16_006In the Ilsanjo Neo-Classic 4 Miler, Brandon Day held off Mike Wortman 23:17 to 23:33 for the win.  Both were comfortably below 6-minute mile pace, which is no small achievement in those conditions.  55-year old Andy Howard hammered out 6:41 miles for a 26:45 for the master’s win.  In the women’s race, Kate Papadopoulos broke 28-minutes (27:51) for a comfortable 91 second win over Celeste Berg (29:22).  Kate won the 10 miler in 2015, a race in which Celeste Berg was also second.  11-year old Sarah Skandera placed third in a very impressive 30:43, 48 seconds in front of her 10-year old sister Rebekah.  The Skandera’s are a formidable group of young runners and will bear watching for years to come.  The unstoppable Tori Meredith ran a quick 32:16 to take the women’s master’s title.

May16Ilsanjo16_007Nine Newt Scooters 10 years old and under braved the rain and mud in the 1k.  Nine year old Sarah Kam outran the rest of the Newts with a strong time of 4:16.

The race director team would like to sincerely thank all the runners who braved the conditions, as well as the volunteers who came out to work with us in cold, wet conditions.  Standing or sitting for hours in those conditions can be utterly miserable.  Without all the support at registration, the finish line, food tables and out on the course, this race could not happen.

We’ll see you back at the Ilsanjo Classic next year!


McGuire’s Breakfast Run 2015, by Mike McGuire

Since 1980 McGuire’s Breakfast Run has been held in the neighborhood around Hidden Valley School. Originally it conflicted with the New York Marathon, but we came to an agreement with them, moving to different Sundays, to the satisfaction of all involved.

Jan16_McGuire003Our Breakfast Run is an actual 3K course and a close-to-10K course that gives runners a chance to build up an appetite for the pot luck that follows. This year we probably had the biggest turnout ever. The club policy of free entry to club members has added incentive to runners who want to challenge the steep ups and downs of the longer run. Despite a couple of misdirects, we had 43 finishers in the 3K and 33 in the 10K. Complete results are posted on the club website, for the 10K and the 3K.


Many finishers and family members were able to stay for breakfast which included a wonderful selection of hot and cold items. Expectations ran high when awards were given out. The traditional choices are lottery tickets or large chocolate bars. The gambling spirit was in the air as the lottery tickets were snapped up before the candy. We had our biggest ever winning ticket – $20! Lots of people stayed for quite a while to chat and enjoy the post event cool down.


But with the stellar help of several volunteers, the gym at the school was cleaned better than before we arrived and everyone was soon on the way to a warm and bright Sunday afternoon. Thanks to all who attended the run and who were able to join us for breakfast. We’re on the calendar for next year, November 27. Come by to give it try. Who knows what your lottery chances might be?


We Ran Like Turkeys, by Doug Murdoch

ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015

The most surprising thing at this year’s Turkey Trot was not Hutch’s turkey fan… this year he brought a turkey-call! After we all lined up for a group picture, and then lined up for the start of the training run, Hutch sent us off by using the turkey-call and making turkey sounds. This is what it sounded like:

ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015

By Santa Rosa standards, it was cold, in the low 30’s. But the happiness of the day allowed us to smile even though we were shivering, knowing that later in the day, we would be warm and probably eating turkey, tofurky, or some other celebratory gastronomic feast.

ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015
ERC Turkey Trot 2015

Duck, duck, ……dolphins? The Salmon Creek race report, by Heidi Cusworth

Duck, duck, ……dolphins?

This year’s Salmon Creek Beach run was full of fun surprises! Along with a great bunch of Empire Runners, we were delighted by a pod of playful dolphins, a ton of surfers, some boogie boarders, and a few stand-up paddlers. To round out all of these sightings, there was a drone flying around capturing all this ocean activity. The drone prompted some interesting discussions about its use in public areas, and how it can effect one’s time in nature.


This year 61 runners came out to run in the 2 or the 5 mile beach course. The 2 mile is denoted by “the stick” in the sand at the one mile mark, monitored this year by Bill Cusworth. The 5 mile runners have to tag the rocks at the end of the beach before heading back. Running in the sand is quite different than running up in Annadel or in town. Some prefer to run barefoot, while others stick with shoes. This isn’t a race so much for speed, as it is for the unique experience. Upon finishing, each runner is awarded a rubber ducky, each one lovingly picked out and presented to the tired runners as they crossed the finishing line, to hopefully make them smile.


This year the 2 mile run was dominated by the Skandera family, with Nehemiah and Abraham finishing 1st and 2nd overall. Dave Sell came in strong to round out the top 3. The first female, Sarah Skandera, was quickly followed by her sister Rebeka for 5th and 6th overall. The 5 mile race was won by Nicholas Rauch, with Andrew Gaidus close on his heals for second, and Gerald McCormick coming in third. The first female was Kate Papadopoulos, who came in 9th overall, Celeste Berg was second and Tori Meredith was third.


At the end of the race, everyone gathered around the potluck tables to swap stories. The awards were announced with prizes including beach towels, kites, saltwater taffy, beach balls, pinwheels, and bubbles. Perfect for hanging out at the beach!   Thank you to all of the volunteers that helped make this race happen: Eric, Karen & Ernie Bohn, Bill & Heidi Cusworth, Jerry Lyman, Don & Roisin Lindsay, Mike McGuire, and Larry & Tori Meredith. Hope to see many of you out at Salmon Creek Next Year!



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?


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!


THE LOOP DE LOOP By Lyman and Tagliaferri

March 29, 2015

In 1993, fifteen self-proclaimed idiots doubled the trouble of the Annadel Loop course to complete the first annual Loop de Loop – you’ve got to be kidding trail race. This was originally intended to be a one-and-done mental health stress test, but so much fun was had not having fun that the event has gone on and on, over and over, year after year, ad nauseam. Famous people ran that first Loop de Loop, among them Doc, Mojo, Coach, Mad Dog, Iguanadon, Legendary Darryl, 409, and Dale the Last Man Standing Peterson (21 Loop de Loops and going strong). Rumor has it the first Loop de Loop was timed with a sun dial. For years the event was orchestrated by Doc’n’Mojo Productions. Despite a decline in the quality of management, the race continues to thrive.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club        2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

The Loop de Loop offers handicap head starts based on a complex algorithm factoring age, gender, and contributions to the race directors’ retirement funds. Older people deserve every break they can get, including discounts at IHOP and movie theaters and powerful lobbyists persuading Congress not to waste money investing in the future. We get tired of younger, faster runners showing us up, so we concoct events such as the Loop de Loop to put youth in its place.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

Cathy DuBay was smart enough in 1993 to steer clear of the Loop de Loop, but with age comes dementia tinged with desperation. Cathy, now age 50, showed up for this year’s 23rd annual Loop de Loop and absolutely kicked butt, running negative splits, finishing well over 2 minutes ahead of second-place Kate Papdopoulus (36), and leaving Downtown Kenny Brown (45, third, first male), Deanna Rossini (49, fourth), Adam Wolf (37, fifth), and everybody else…in the dust.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club  May15Lyman

Without handicap starts, the results would have been different, but who cares? Well, some people might, so here are some stats: Fastest actual running time, Adam Wolf, 37, 1:40:35. Fastest female: Kate Papadopoulos, 36, 1:53:13. Youngest male: Julian Heaps, 18. Youngest female: Addie Salomon, 24. Oldest female: Diana Teeter, 61. Oldest male: Hans Schmid, 75. For times, check the 2 x 7-Mile Relay Results, and the 14-miler Results. 

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club   2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

The 2 x 7 Relay

Last year, Bradford Bryon’s teammate naively assumed the course would be well-marked, missed a turn, and spoiled what might have been a team victory. This year, Bryon’s new teammate, Don Lindsey, inexplicably stayed on course and helped provide team “Starsky & Hutch” a well-deserved victory. Second place, weighing in collectively at 168 pounds with a combined age of 23, was team “168 Pounds,” starring Sarah and Job Skandera. Third was “StarBobas,” Ashlee and John Staroba.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club  2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

Factoring out handicaps, the fastest team was “Smooth and Relaxed,” featuring Hugo Yescas, 36, and Andy Howard, 54. Sarah Skandera, age 11, was the youngest relay runner overall. Her brother, Nehemiah, running on team “Big Bear, Little Bear” with yet another brother, Abraham, was the youngest male runner. Nehemiah is 12. The oldest team, comprised of the oldest male and oldest female relay runners, was team “Notorious Grey Wolf” (Tori Meredith and Kevin Teuscher, 120 years).

The weather this year was miserably dry and sunny. Peter Tapia, the EMT, was delighted to have something to do, administering to at least 3 banged up bodies.

Co-directors Al Tagliaferri and Jerry Lyman threaten major changes next year.

Many thanks to our numerous club volunteers, the JC XC team, and Camelbak and Heart & Sole Sports for assorted swag.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club   2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club    2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club    2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club