Category Archives: JUNE 2015

All the posts created in JUNE 2015.

Never Say Never – The American River 50 Miler, by Shirley Fee

Never Say Never

One year or so ago after I had completed a few 50K races I was asked, are you going to do a 50 miler now? No! I replied with emphasis on the no.

Jump forward to a cold and dark April 4, 2015. What am I doing sitting on the ground,in a tent at Folsom Lake with my friend Anette Niewald and fellow ultra runner, Ted Watrous, plus a few hundred other runners? I must have mixed up my no’s with my yea’s. So here I am waiting for the start of my first 50 mile run. The American River 50 miler . I think I was tricked.

The American River 50 miler has become the second largest 50 mile race in the United States and is supposed to be a good course for first timers which is what Anette and I were hoping.

At five o’clock it was dark, the sky was full of stars and and the full moon shining on the lake created a shimmering diamond effect. There is something to be said about being up and about before sunrise.

As we were making a last trip to the porta pottie we were treated with a view of the eclipse of the moon. For once in my life I was able to see the whole eclipse from start to finish. It was an amazing and beautiful sight.

Start time is 6:00 am for the faster people and 6:15 am for the slightly slower runners. I’m feeling scared, excited, and filled with doubts as to whether I would be able to make the cut off times. Anette had similar thoughts especially since her husband was convinced that we both were going to die. He does not run and cannot understand why we do what we do.

Anette and I started together, we thought we had trained well, and felt good, but it was dawning on us, 50 Miles is a long way, a lot longer distance than we had ever run before. I say run but only the elite truly run almost all of it. We run as much as we can with walk breaks along the way. Our longest run was 31miles a few weeks before the race. My goal was to get to the finish before the cutoff time of 14 hrs. The first wave of really fast runners took off at 6 AM, it was still fairly dark so I watched the headlamps of the lead runners fly by and disappear into the darkness.

6:15 rolls around and off we go. I had a plan in my head and figured I would go out easy, warm up, settle down and be sure to drink and eat early on. The course started out on the road for a short distance then turned into a single track alongside the lake. I and Anette start out together with another woman I had met at a race last year, both reminding each other that we trained well and we could do this. We started slow, we couldn’t go faster because there were so many runners on the single track and dawn was just breaking. Lots of laughing, conversations and noise in general was going on. In the first mile a young man from Arkansas made a comment about not having rocky trails like this where he lived. I lifted my eyes from the trail to look back and make the comment that this was nothing, when Kersplat!! one of those little rocks caught me and down I went. I didn’t do my usual graceful three point landing, this time it more like a tree falling, down and bounce one side to the other. My left knee must have landed on a rock because it hurt, a lot, but I got up and walked a little bit thinking to myself this is not a good omen, I hope the day gets better. Note to self, keep eyes on trail.

We settled in with an easy pace, Anette got her groove on and went ahead. I continued to hold my pace hoping my knee would feel better soon. Talking with my other friend took my mind off my knee and it began to feel ok. The trail ran parallel to the lake giving us some beautiful views of the lake as the sun came up. After 4.97 miles we changed to the bike path to mile 12 then it was mainly bike path intermixed with a little fire road and short single track until we reached mile 24. I left my other friend a little before 12 miles, she was going to quit. She was not feeling very good so we said goodbye and I went on. By the time I reached Beals Point at mile 24 my legs were beginning to complain since I trained on trails and had done only one training run on bike path. My attitude was going down hill in a big fat minute. I kept thinking to myself “I didn’t sign up to do a road marathon, what the heck?” There is one great thing about ultra running though, that is the people you meet along the way. We know we have a long way to go so it gives us time to meet, greet, offer encouragement and support. Running an ultra gives you the opportunity to meet runners from all over the world and make new friends. The time flies by as you run along and chat with your new found best friend, no complaining allowed.

Finally we started up on a single track and the real views began, as we ran weaving in and out of trees with views of the lake and an abundance of wild flowers in blue, purple, yellow, white and one outstanding bush covered with brilliant red orange flowers, also, an abundance of poison oak. I’m sure many people who stepped off the trail for a break went home with a good case of the itchies. Itchies, is that a word? All the while all I could do is think how lucky I was to be able to see all the beauty surrounding me and enjoy the company of the other runners that shared one common goal, finish this race before 14 hrs.

I caught up to and was passing another runner so we had a short conversation, he had done this race before so told me to be sure and take it easy, as up ahead was about 5 miles of what they called the Meat Grinder. What? I tried to figure out what in the world he meant by meat grinder. In all my research about the course nothing was mentioned about the meat grinder. Ah, I thought, how bad could it be? We had trained on some pretty gnarly trails, it can’t be that bad. I continued on my way enjoying the views nature was providing until we got to Granite Bay. Wow! there are some very impressive homes on the hillsides of Granite Bay overlooking Folsom Lake. About that time my knee was beginning to ache after going up and down a few hills and going down hill was becoming painful. I had to slow down and be very careful how I planted my foot.

Also at that time I left the flowers, trees, and beautiful homes, to face great big boulders, little boulders, slippery boulders, granite boulders for crying out loud, with some areas that could qualify as mountain climbing because the trail was almost nonexistent. No shade, just bushes, not even poison oak, which had been plentiful earlier. In some places you had to step down two to three feet on more rock then step up two or three feet. I wondered, what do short legged people do? What do the Elite runners do? Do they run on this stuff? By then my left knee was not going to bend much so the going got tricky. I was alone, no other runners in sight. I sure didn’t want to fall, it was a long way to the bottom. That was the longest 5 miles of my life. All I wanted was to get off the boulders and on the trail to the next aid station which would put me at 40 miles. I caught up to another runner so we kept each other company and commiserated over the meat grinder.

Finally, back on a nice single track, soft easy trail in the shade I could start running again, except downhill, my new running friend noticed that I would slow down on the downhill, I told him about my knee and he gave me an Excedrin, yay for the traveling druggist. We continued on and after a short steep descent into the Rattlesnake Bar aid station, we were 9 miles from the finish. The Excedrin kicked in so I was feeling good. I grabbed some food and headed back up the steep incline back to the trail. It was a nice shady trail, winding around the hillside following the American River, up, down, over creeks, with an occasional small waterfall surrounded by big green frothy ferns thrown in for good measure.

I had been told about one last killer hill at about mile 37 or 38 called Last Gasp, so I held back and walked, jogged behind one group of men when I really wanted to pass them and keep running. I guess I didn’t trust my instinct that I could pass them and run and still have plenty of energy for Last Gasp and the 2 mile up hill finish. So I took my time and enjoyed the conversations. Earlier in the race another runner told me that all I had to do when I came to Last Gasp was put my head down and just count my right foot steps, when I got to 150 then I would be at the top. I could hardly wait to test that theory.

Finally, we came off the trail onto the fire road right down on the American River. Once we got off the single track and hit the road I decided it was time to take off, so I did. Eventually the road led to a power plant where it left the river and headed up. I’m alternating walking and slow running up the fire road waiting to come to Last Gasp because I know then, I’m just a couple miles from the finish. Anette and I had run part of the finish a few weeks before after we had done the Way To Cool 50K so I knew if I got past Last Gasp I had it made. It was 2 miles of uphill but it was not steep.

What is this?? I see an aid station ahead, I’m confused, the next aid station is supposed to be Last Gasp. As I get to the top I see the sign Last Gasp Aid Station. Darn! I didn’t get to count my steps. I had to laugh, in the description of the course you hear all about Last Gasp, nothing about the Meat Grinder. Sneaky.

As I start my last 2 miles I want to sing but figured I would not put that misery on the other runners, I just smiled really big and passed them. It was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I just traveled 50 miles and felt so good, much better than I thought I would feel.

Anette had finished ahead of me in 12:20:30, she and her husband Tom were at the finish line to greet me. I finished 12:39:07. We both said, well that is done, now we don’t have to do another. Ummm, well, a few days later, we were talking about our next one. We didn’t die and we beat the cutoff time. I won my age group, and what made it better, I was not the only one in my age group. There were two others.

I don’t have the words to describe what it is or how it feels to run a marathon or ultra distance on a challenging trail other than you get to know who you are and what you can do. Yes it is competition, mostly against yourself and the trail. It is a time to listen to your breath, your feet hitting the ground and pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do and succeeding. Never say never, it will come back and bite you.

A Slice of Pi, By John Harmon

On March 14th of this year, an older brother of mine turned 60. While his sexagesimum was cause enough for celebration, it is also a special date in that it was “Pi Day” – 3.14.15. This date (3.14.15) comes but once a century. Even with unforetold research, it would be a stretch to attend let alone participate in the next one.

Pi, that noble symbol for which we owe William Jones a debt of gratitude – lest we be referring to it as quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia is that irrational number which binds the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So to celebrate this unique confluence of dates, we embraced the theme.


Seattle, the town of my birth and youth and still so for the rest of my family, accommodated us by staging a fundraising fun run/walk at Magnusen Park on Lake Washington (formerly Sand Point Naval Air Station and close to my childhood home) – The (“There will be Pie”) Pie Day Dash. It was a 3.1415926 mile trek. The event began at 9:26….of course. The object of this fundraiser is to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma – both devastating afflictions. Its champion is one Holly Westerfield, whom I was told teaches High School Math (“I like a shower. I like a bath. I like a girl who teaches math.”*). She puts on different fundraising events every year for her cause and decided to make it a fun run/walk this time around. Affixing it to Pi Day seemed appropriate for a Math teacher. I have a fondness for such wit and for Math and its instructors. It seemed like something my favorite teacher, Sister Maureen Rose, would have done. How can it not provoke a smile?

I surprised my brother and the rest of the family with entries into the event. Five of my family joined me. I ran the race while they walked. The Birthday Boy was drawn away that day, sadly, for a funeral of someone very close to him. But one of his sons joined my two other brothers, one’s fiancé and our mother. The weather in the days preceding the event was beautiful – sunny with only a hint of wind. But this was Seattle, so rain crashed the party. 2000 foolhardy soles (well if I say that then it was really 4000) completed the event with smiles on their faces and pie in their bellies – a slice of pie was the finisher’s award.

Despite the rain, we and the horde all survived – including a double loop course with the slower runners and walkers commanding the entire footpath leaving the lead runners to dash and dodge on the edges which I’d love to use as my excuse, but I shan’t.


My intention was to test myself for the Carlsbad 5000 at the end of March. I finished with a somewhat disappointing 21:35 and only managed third in my age group – age group prizes were only to the top two places. But my mother, who walked the whole way despite hip replacement surgery last year, put on a furious kick at the end to edge ahead of the only other octogenarian female in the event (We practiced the Kim Conley lean just before the start which obviously paid off). In the evening, we convened at Mom’s to continue the celebration with libation, pizza pie and, now that you’re all following the theme, pie for dessert.

It was a great day for just family, for a milestone birthday and for the run – any way you slice it.

–john harmon

* As much as I’d like to, I cannot take credit for this little ditty. Dave Kneeshaw, a family friend, composed this – that story awaits another day.


When: 6:30am Tuesday morning every week… or whatever time and day you wanna get yourself a run-up!

Distance: 2.35 miles to the top. 1063′ of elevation gain.

Route: Start on the Western Route, follow the Pedestrian Connector, head up to the top on the Eastern Route.

MapMyRun link:


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For downtown Santa Rosans, the best panoramic views of your backyard and the most accessible steep mountain training run are at Taylor Mountain. Just a few minutes from downtown, this short mountain-climb brings you from the daily grind to classic west Sonoma county cattle grazing land. Beautifully soft green grass hangs around until late in the year, as this slope of the mountain is often shrouded in fog until late morning. A quick morning run-up brings out the sun as you clear the clouds to spectacular views of the soupy fog as it hangs over southern Santa Rosa.

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 Taylor Mountain Tuesday (#TMT) launches from the lower parking area every week at 6:30am. The route starts with a 1/4 mile of gravel road before it turns to something like a wide single track mix of path and trail. Then it starts getting steep. I mean really steep. This is no joke. Most runners can not run it the entire way the first time, not only because of burning lungs and legs but also due to the cows that often end up in your path. To stop your run to negotiate use of the trail with a couple of cows is downright charming. The trails are mostly smooth dirt with cow-pies about. During the rainy season the dirt here turns to very slick mud. There are some technical rocky stretches to keep you on your toes, but for the most part this is smooth, steep running. The climb gets steepest as you join the Eastern Route. Don’t quit because within about 10 minutes you’ll reach the top. The trail ends at an oddly climactic fence line. There you can have a seat on the rock wall and catch your breath while you soak in the views. And just in case you want to announce to the city that you are now urban mountain royalty… TMTers know that there is a little something hidden at the top so you can ring out loud your achievement. The run back down allows you a bit more time to reflect on the intensity of the slope you just climbed as you hit the brakes hard down the steepest sections. Towards the end of the run you can open up your stride for a few nice flat stretches, then you’re back at your car in under an hour. Not bad for a Tuesday recovery run!

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Empire Women All-Stars: Lauren Wallace, by Alex Wolf-Root

(Lead photo courtesy of Zach Hetrick,

In the second edition of Empire Women All-Stars, we touch base with the Redwood Empire’s most recent National Champion, Lauren Wallace. Lauren captured a historic 1,000m indoor title earlier this year, despite beginning her T&F career as a sprinter while at Ukiah High School. We chat with Lauren about the move up in distance, her journey as a professional, and what lies ahead.

Despite being the Redwood Empire’s most recent middle-distance star, you took a different trajectory than many others. Can you tell us a little bit about your introduction to the sport?

I owe my beginnings of the sport to three people –  my mom and dad, Lisa Cortina and Scott Wallace, who both ran high school track and cross country, and my high school coach and mentor Dan Jurado. My mom and dad laid the foundation, and Dan helped develop me as a sprinter. My parents always knew that I would eventually gravitate towards the distances,  both being long distance runners. But I loved the sprints, and Coach Dan encouraged me to develop as much speed as I could in those early stages.

2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships Boston, Massachusetts  Feb 28 - Mar 1, 2015 Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET
2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Boston, Massachusetts Feb 28 – Mar 1, 2015
Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun

 Despite having success in the shorter distances, including being the 2008 NBL 100m/200m Champion, things changed when you went to UC Davis. How did that transition happen?

The transition happened at the end of my freshman year in college. My coach at the time, Deanne Vochatzer, pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested in running the 800m. I was a walk-on for the program and probably would have done anything they asked, so long as I stayed on the team. I obliged and my mother was thrilled (laughs).

 In 2013 you made the jump to the national level, competing at NCAA’s and the US Championships. What was it like performing at such a big stage in such a (relatively) new event?

Both of those events were such incredible opportunities for me. The NCAA championship didn’t end exactly how I wanted it to. I placed 8th but ran away with a personal best. The US Championships were on an entirely different level.  I had never raced against women that I had looked up to for so long. To toe the line against those incredible women solidified that I wanted to live this life for some time to come.

2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships Boston, Massachusetts  Feb 28 - Mar 1, 2015 Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET
2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Boston, Massachusetts Feb 28 – Mar 1, 2015
Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun

 What would “high school” Lauren say if you were told that one day you’d be a National Champion – in the 1,000m?

I wouldn’t have believed myself. High school Lauren didn’t envision herself running after college. I didn’t know what the NCAA regional meet was until I was a sophomore in college (the year that I qualified). High school Lauren wanted to join the Peace Corps.

 How has this breakout year changed things for you?

Earning the US National Indoor title did change some things for me both on and off the track. Oiselle re-signed me through 2016 and expanded my contract. They made it possible for me to no longer have to work my part time job and instead allocate my time to training and recovering full time.

Despite that 1,000m victory, you’re primarily an 800m runner. The United States is arguably the best country in the world at 800m. How has that depth helped you, and how is it a challenge?

It is an honor to be able to compete with the best in the world right here in the United States. Having this much depth in the 800m always keeps you hungry for more. It’s really easy to refocus during a tough track workout or long run when I think about all the other talented women I get to toe the line with. It definitely is challenging as well though. It’s going to be extremely tough making World and Olympic teams in the coming years when really anyone in the final could run away with a top three spot.

 You’ve dabbled in the 1,500m, including a nice PR just this week. Any thoughts on eventually moving up, or at least adding it as a more serious secondary event?

I don’t know if I’ll ever move up permanently, but I wouldn’t write it off by any means. I am already starting to consider it a more serious event for myself. I’d like to be nationally competitive in both the 800m and the 1500m. It’s always nice to have options.

Well, you’re unquestionably competitive at that 800m, and you’ll prove it yet again at the USATF Outdoor Championships coming up in Eugene on June 25th.  What should your fans expect to see there?

My preliminary goal is to earn a lane in the final.  As we talked about earlier, any woman in the final has the ability to contend for a spot on the team.

Lauren Wallace runs professionally for Oiselle and the NorCal Distance Project, and is the reigning USATF Indoor National 1,000m Champion. Personal bests include a 2:01.13 800m and a 4:13.47 1,500m.

You can follow Lauren on twitter @lmwallace800 and on instagram: lmwallace800

2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships Boston, Massachusetts  Feb 28 - Mar 1, 2015 Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET
2015 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Boston, Massachusetts Feb 28 – Mar 1, 2015
Photo: Andrew McClanahan@PhotoRun

Can trail running help your road racing? By Mike Wortman

From time to time I’ll meet someone who is looking for a place to run in the area. Of course my first response is “you have to check out Annadel. It’s this great park with miles of trails and great scenery”. I am surprised when some of them look at me and respond that they are training for a road race, so they would never touch a trail because it is not what they are going to race on, and there’s no telling them different. Sometimes I just want to loudly silence their ignorance by proclaiming all of the benefits that they are missing out on by simply running on the roads. I admit that there is something to be said to doing workouts on the road or track if you’re training for a track race or road race, but there are so many reasons to jump on the trails from time to time.


Mental fatigue – Running day-in and day-out on the same roads, however convenient, may start to wear on you psychologically. It is good to get away to a new location from time to time, and you might as well mix it up somewhere with a view. Getting out somewhere new will help refresh the mind and help reduce the chance of mental staleness. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are delicious, but do you really want to eat them for lunch every day? Same thing with running, changing routes up once in a while can keep your favorites fresher and more enjoyable.

OCD – With the invention of GPS, people are becoming so obsessed with the speed and distance of every run. On the trails, you’re up in a rolling terrain, so you can start to psychologically get away from the grind of having to hit a specific pace all the time. On the trails you can relax and enjoy the run. If you normally do 7 miles in an hour on the roads, go for an hour run on the trails at a similar effort. This will help you in your recovery; sometimes we get so wrapped up in the numbers we forget to listen to our body. If you’re not feeling great running free of pace gives you the opportunity to back the pace off and actively recover before the next workout.

Muscle stability and imbalances – Running on the roads is very predictable which is good for workouts because you can approach each one with consistency and gradually watch yourself improve. When you run on the roads every day, your body begins to get very acquainted to firing very specific muscles in a very specific sequence to help with your running efficiency. However, with some muscles firing more than others, it will cause some muscles to become proportionately stronger than others. This disproportioned state of muscle activation and strength is called an imbalance. Usually, it is the stabilizer muscles that are the ones that get neglected the most in this situation. These are the ones that keep the joints strong and stable, when these are neglected and become weaker as does the joints they stabilize. By getting on the trails, where it’s uneven, your body has to react and change with each step. This can help get those stabilizer muscles firing more and help reduce those imbalances and in turn help reduce injuries.

I would also like to mention that I want this blog to be something that you all want to read. So please feel free to leave a comment below with what you thought about the blog as well as future topics that you would like to hear about.


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 Long and Short of Bi-Focal Running Glasses

Do you wear glasses? Do you wear non-prescription sunglasses when you run? Is it getting harder to see the numbers on your running-watch?

You may be interested in the running-glasses I recently bought online.

Until recently I could still see my running-watch well enough to fake it wearing non-prescription sunglasses. Now I’ve owned a couple of pairs of prescription sunglasses over the years, but I have found them to be quite expensive and worse – they are not always fully covered by my insurance. Consequently I recently found myself without a decent pair to use while being reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars to get a new pair. My close up vision has gotten so bad however, I knew I would have to either get prescription sunglasses, a bigger watch or a longer arm!

One day while surfing the ‘net I strayed upon “bi-focal reading glasses” and finally “bi-focal running glasses” and found the SunCloud Zephyr bi-focal “readers” which are styled like a classic pair of running sunglasses. In addition they are polarized and offer UV protection. You can get the bi-focal “reader” portion of the lens in a variety of powers to suit your eyes (mine are +1.50).

SunCloud is one of a number of companies offering these type of glasses. I got mine at LL Bean for about $79 after shipping.

As soon as I first tried them on I liked them. I was afraid the bi-focals would be a distraction or a safety hazard but these fears have proven to be unfounded. The bi-focals are placed low enough on the lens that you cannot easily accidentally look through them, but when you hold your watch up to check your splits the numbers come magically into focus.

I wore them at the Loop de Loop after only using them for about a week with no issues.

I love them. You might want to check them out yourself.

DM Peterson

Running…visually impaired.

(Interviewer’s note: Branden Walton has run some respectable times as a Jr. at Windsor High School……..even though he is visually impaired (and legally blind). His goal is to attend the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, but he needs to qualify at the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. Please go to his fund-raising page here:

Question: Hi Branden, nice starting leg of the 4 x 400 meter race at the Redwood Empire Track finals at Santa Rosa High School! How was your season this year and what are your PR’s?

Answer: I have improved over the season. My PR’s are: 4:48 for the 1600, 2:07 for the 800 and 55.07 for the 400. I hope to set new PR’s next year.

Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.
Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.

When you gave your presentation at Fleet Feet, you had some goggles that people could put on to see what you see since you’re visually impaired. When I put them on, I could understand how you could run track. What I couldn’t understand is how you can run Cross Country! The Spring Lake course is pretty rocky by XC standards – how do you navigate the rocky terrain? What’s your PR?

I agree that the Spring Lake XC Course is very difficult, and even more so being visually impaired. I can’t see rocks so I preview the course multiple times so I know where to be careful and where there are spots where I can pick up my pace. My course PR is 17:20.

Because you’re visually impaired, are your other senses heightened compared to other people? How does that help you when you’re racing?

I don’t feel as if any of my other senses are heightened.

During your Fleet Feet presentation, you mentioned that before the Desert Challenge in Tempe, Arizona, you had to have your eyesight tested to qualify for the race. And then with a deadpan delivery, you told everyone you failed the test and therefore qualified for the race (laughter from the group). Do you often use humor to explain your situation?

I don’t always use humor to explain my situation but I sometimes do because I am very comfortable with my self and my vision. I also think I use humor to make people around me feel more comfortable.

Tell us about the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. What times in your events do you need to run to earn a birth on the US delegation to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio?

The National Championships in St. Paul MN will help me get a birth on the US National team. Making this team will help bring me to some other events, those being the Parapan American games in Toronto and World Championships in Doha. This will help get me noticed but I will still have to run in the Paralympic trials to make the 2016 Paralympic Rio team. To make the U.S. National team I have to run times that are 90 percent or better of the National A standard. The National A standard is 4:00 for the 1500, 1:53 for the 800, and 0:49 for the 400. The times I run in Minnesota will be calculated to a percentage and then they will decide whether or not I make the team.

Nice story on your FundRazr page! But I want to know something else…what is motivating you to try to go to Rio? I mean, you could be sitting at home eating jelly filled donuts and goofing around on the computer…but instead you’re training. Why?

There are a few things that motivate me, one is being able to compete and be as good or better than people with normal vision. This has motivated me throughout my life; it started with soccer and then basketball. When I started running in 6th grade I wanted to be as good as others and this pushed me to continue to get better. That want could only bring me so far. After my 7th grade season of track when I won every race but one I got the chance to go to World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was an initiation track meet for visually impaired athletes.  This opened my eyes up to the possibility of track – seeing seventeen countries with 1500 visually impaired athletes was amazing. Coming back to middle school and finishing up the 8th grade track season with only one defeat I got the opportunity to go to London to watch the 2012 Paralympics. I got to spend ten days in London and I watched track events for six of those days. I think going and seeing the respect the people had for the athletes competing was amazing, and that experience pushes me every day to get better and eventually make it to the Paralympics.

And now a very important question…what’s your favorite cuisine, in general? Do you have a favorite pre-race food? What about after race celebrations – anything special?

Nights before races I try to eat carbs and protein; sometimes I don’t get the carbs because I’ll eat a chicken salad. The morning of race day I always eat sourdough bread, lunch is the same lunch I get for school everyday, nothing special for celebration.

Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.
Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.




Empire Runners Club 30th annual Summer Track Series

click to  Register once for the whole season!

Santa Rosa High School Track


Events begin promptly at 6:00 PM

Registration/Check in begins at 5:00 PM

Throwing events–9th grade & older only

Meet 1: Tuesday, June 9, 6:00 PM

Track events: mile, 100m, 800m, 200m, 400m, 3000m, & 4x400m relay

Field Events: long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus

All ages and levels of ability are welcome. Heats are separated by ability level and/or by age groups. All finishers (except kids 9 & under in the 100m and 200m) are timed and results posted on the Empire Runners Club website (

Past Results & Records

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click to  Register once for the whole season!

Click the blue link to the right – “Register once for the whole season!” – to sign up for the Summer Track Series. Registration is free for Empire Runners Club members and $10 for non-members. You must register online no later than the Saturday prior to your first meet or you will have to pay the $10 entry fee for that meet. (The un-timed 100m and 200m races for children 9 & under are free. Parents must register children for these events at the meet only.)