Category Archives: LOCAL RUNNING

Running areas in Sonoma County.

Student Grant Fund Awardees 2017

The Empire Runners have a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving student athletes of Sonoma County making the transition from high school to college. Made possible by dues and contributions from our members, we are giving our 4 recipients a total of $5000 in scholarship awards this year. All club members should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions through generous donations.

These four student-athletes will be formally introduced and awarded their scholarship checks at the Kenwood Footrace on July 4th. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young members of our running community.

Our first recipient comes from a large family of Empire Runners. He began his athletic career as a varsity soccer player at Windsor High. With the changing of the boys soccer season to the spring, the Fall 2016 became open to explore cross country, and through determination and hard work he made varsity his very first year. As a first year runner, his coach was very impressed with his positive attitude and hard work.

To just discuss this athlete’s athletic accomplishments would be a disservice to his academic career. This scholarship student is not only a 4.5+ GPA but also graduated #1 in his class and was the Salutatorian at Windsor HS. His teachers speak of him in glowing terms not just because of his GPA but rather the impact he has in the classroom, bringing the level up for his fellow students. Our first recipient will be continuing his studies at UC Irvine and continuing his running in intramurals and we are looking forward to him coming home and running more Empire Runner events.

Please join us in recognizing this future Anteater, from Windsor High School: Dylan Moberly


Our next recipient also began his running career later after playing soccer and basketball his first 2 years of high school, finding his way to cross country and track his junior year. In his first year of cross country his impact was evident as he was voted most inspirational and accompanied his teammate who had qualified for the State XC Championships in Fresno. He has been an outstanding track and field athlete for Rincon Valley Christian running the 400, 800, 1600, triple jump and discus. His true passion is the pole vault where in just 2 years he has already cleared 12’9” and qualified for the NCS Meet of Champions. He has a PR of 18:00 on the Spring Lake Course which he then matched on a more difficult course at the NCS XC Championships.

This fine multi talented athlete has also had a strong and varied scholastic career, carrying a 3.75 GPA and excelling in music and piano. What impressed the committee the most was his thought that the influence of cross country has made him a better student. In his own words, “by making running a lifestyle, running 5 miles will not phase the individual. When something difficult becomes familiar, then other concepts become easier. Therefore, after running 5 miles, a test or paper no longer appeared difficult”.

This talented scholarship athlete will be continuing his studies and furthering his athletic career at SRJC. Coach Wellman is looking forward to this XC and multi-talented track and field athlete staying local and perhaps developing his decathlon skills.

We welcome this new Bear Cub, from Rincon Valley Christian HS: Nicholas Dolan


Our third scholarship recipient is the classic story of a runner with no experience who joins the XC team mostly for its social aspects, gets comfortable, works hard, sets goals… did we say works hard? Then she finally achieves her goal to run Varsity and has her best 2 races of her life at NBL, then NCS. Through her 4 years with the XC and track families at Santa Rosa High it wasn’t all just a meteoric rise but rather peaks and valleys, failures and achievements. But overall it looks like this classic story is just the first part of a multi-part sojourn with the next sequel being able to run at her chosen university.

From a 9 minute miler in her first XC race to a PR of 20:39 at NBL her senior season, she followed with the same time at NCS on a notoriously harder course. Her best team finish ever fulfilled her goals for XC and with this new found strength led her to success on the track.

Yet metrics alone fail in comparison to her impact on team dynamics, her hard work, toughness and respect she both earns and gives.

An excellent student with a GPA above 4.4 in a dedicated all honors and Art Quest curriculum, this recipient also filled her spare time with volunteering at a variety of events including a 6 year commitment at the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.

With a plan to direct her college career at Scripps University in the area of literature and writing with a goal of becoming an author, our third scholarship recipient can very well write her own sequel to this memorable story.

We’re pleased to recognize this former Panther and new Athena, from Santa Rosa HS: Samantha Baker


Our final scholarship recipient ran with the SR Express as a middle schooler but began his high school athletics on the football field. When he was recruited for the track team his running began in earnest. Natural ability led him to perform at an all-league level this first track year and continued well through junior year in XC and had him qualify to NCS. But that was not enough for this talented runner; his habit of setting “strong” goals drove him to improve his summer training regimen with the goal qualifying to State. He was a top area XC runner this last season with a PR of 15:32 (34th AT) on the SLC. A 9th place at NCS qualified him to State and his 11th place finish in his very first time on the difficult 5K Woodward Park course was evidence of his talent and commitment. It was more of the same in track with excellent times of 4:29 and 9:32 in the 1600 and 3200 respectively and a qualification to the NCS Meet of Champions. He was All Empire 1st Team in XC and Track.

Through all of this, our fine student athlete maintained a 3.6 GPA and worked at Fleet Feet as a shoe fitter. His outgoing nature, shoe knowledge and social ease makes him a top seller. His small team at Rincon Valley Christian often worked out with a combined group of Montgomery HS runners, to the benefit for all involved. He also volunteered regularly with Church events.

Commitment, strong goal setting and the determination to achieve those goals make this scholarship recipient attractive to a number of collegiate coaches. Those of us who follow College XC and Track will keep an eye out for him at Master’s University in Santa Clarita.

From Rincon Valley Christian HS we are pleased to present: Wes Methum


by Alex Wolf-Root

TRACK! If there’s a more exciting word in the English language I haven’t heard it.
After 2 years of injury (long story, but includes sacral stress fracture and a will-never-heal labral tear), I’ve finally had the chance to have a track season. Two track seasons, in fact!
At a personal level, I went from no track season since 2013 to (thus far) 4 meets and 7 races around the oval. Somehow included in that was a small (0.83) second PR (personal record) in the 1,500m. So that’s cool. But the other season has been a lot more fun.
The more important season is that of Santa Rosa Junior College (Go BearCubs!). Somehow former Maria Carrillo HS (Go Pumas!) teammate and Chico State standout David Wellman talked me into being his assistant distance coach this season. And it has been a blast. Helping others work hard to achieve goals is an awesome experience. And exhausting. I do not understand how those high school coaches with scores of athletes do it year after year. But major props to them!
(If you want BearCubs results, check out And to follow along everything local T&F, especially at the HS level, check out, run by the amazing Jim Crowhurst.)
Anyways, you didn’t open this article to read about my track or even about SRJC Track & Field, though you should (Go BearCubs!). You opened it to learn about how you (yes you!) can enjoy the wonders of racing around the oval!
Coming up tomorrow, Saturday, April 22nd, at Montgomery High School is the Viking Invitational. The Viking Invite is a huge track and field invite, but what makes it extra-awesome is that at 8:30am (be there by 8!) there is an open/community 3,200m. That’s right, you can burn up 8 laps of the track before watching some awesome HS T&F action. (Pro tip: Santa Rosa HS senior and Heart & Sole Co-Runner of the Year Luca Mazzanti has his eyes set on breaking 4:10 that day. You do not want to miss it!)
While you don’t have time to physically prep for this weekend, you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for summer. The Empire Runners Club hosts five all-comer meets over summer, every other week on Tuesdays, starting June 13th. These are truly all-comers; there are little kid 100m dashes, 80+ year old athletes running round the oval, fiesty HS student-athletes showing their speed, and everything in between. Each meet runs in the following order:
Distance Event*
*The Distance Event rotates throughout the summer, going from 3,000m to 2mile to 5,000m to 3,000m for the first four meets.
**The first four meets conclude with the 4x400m relay. Grab your friends and each run a lap around the oval! There’s no better way to finish a track meet! Well, except for the…
Distance Medley Relay! The final meet combines the Distance Event with the Relay, for the awesome, the amazing, Distance Medley Relay! The DMR is another 4-person relay on the track, but each runner runs a different distance. The first runs a 1,200m (3 laps), the second a 400m (one lap), the third an 800m (two laps) and the fourth a 1,600m (four laps). That is the best way to finish off a track meet!
Now one concern many have is that they aren’t “fast enough”, or some such silly worry. Again, these are all-comers; EVERYONE is welcome. Races will be divided by expected finish time, so you don’t have to worry about being a lap behind or anything like that. It’s a super supportive environment for all.
Want to start getting prepared now? You’re in luck! The Empire Runners host weekly track workouts led by Larry Meredith on Tuesday evenings. Specifics for each week can be found on the ERC Training Calendar.
If you’re getting excited (and really, who isn’t?!), then let’s talk a little bit about spikes. SPIKES! (That’s one of the top-5 words in the English language.) Spikes are your light-weight, responsive racing shoes. They aren’t for every-day runs, but for races and workouts. They are for going FAST! (Remember: Fast is relative!) They are something you have to work into, but they are so much fun. One of the greatest feelings in the world is doing a quick stride on a warm summer day after lacing up a pair of fresh spikes.
Not sure if spikes are right for you? That’s okay! Heart & Sole, Santa Rosa’s local, independent running store, has done the legwork to provide Saucony Vendetta spikes for anyone to use at each of the five ERC Summer Track Meets! More details to come.
Already aware of the above local T&F options? Check out the Pacific Association of USATF’s annual Track Meet. On Sunday, June 11th at College of San Mateo you’ll experience a professional-level track meet with some impressive competition. The PAUSATF also provides information on other open, competitive track meets throughout spring/summer for your veteran tracksters. And yes, they provide info for Master’s competition (40+ years old). Getting older does not mean getting away from the oval!
While nothing beats racing fast around the oval, watching athletes race fast around the oval is pretty dang awesome too. So put these events on your calendar:
Payton Jordan Invitational: Saturday, May 5th, Stanford University
USA Track & Field National Championships: Thursday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 25th, Sacramento State
TrackTown Summer Series: Thursday, June 29th, Stanford University
Alright, you’ve spent way too long staring at a screen while reading this article. Time to get up, lace up your shoes, and go burn up the track!

Happy New Year! 2017 Resolution Run – by Brad Zanetti


It was a beautifully foggy and cold morning when the Empire Runner volunteer staff began filing into Place to Play Park in Santa Rosa off of W. 3rd Street for the set up of the 35th Annual Phaby-Gray Resolution Run. Visibility was so poor you couldn’t see much more than 100 yards ahead but that didn’t impede course marking, start/finish line and ER tent setup much by the energetic staff.

7:30 AM seems devilishly early on the first day of the new year to be out picking up last minute food items, unloading food and prizes, setup and prepping a race course for a 10AM race start, but that is what is necessary for this very special event. Course monitoring, registration, finish chute and food prep was provided by Luis Rosales’ Piner HS XC/Track squad. For this the 35th running of the Phaby-Gray NEW was the word of the day: New race director, new timing crew, new starter. The new race director taking over from longtime RD, Val Sell was Brad Zanetti. Yes, for the first time in forever our beloved starter and finish line setup star Bob Shor was unavailable. Even while Bob was rehabbing at home he called to make sure I was aware of the “specifics” of the finish line setup. Our timing czar, Chris Mason has moved on to greener pastures so timing was taken over by Jerry Lyman with his hardworking group: Larry Meredith, Kate Papadopoulos, Solomon Leung and Steve Agar. Tag retrieval was in the always capable hands of Tori Meredith and Scott Ames.

In an effort to add a bit of a facelift but still maintain the excellent race it has been, I was fortunate to have our local running stores presence at the race this year. As well, Saucony came to town with a choice of 2 shoes to be tested and/or raced in. So our tent encampment at the start/finish area included: Saucony, Heart & img_0293

Sole, Healdsburg Running Company, Fleet Feet and Empire Runners. They provided prizes, coffee, hot chocolate, OJ and sparkling apple juice and injury prevention tools to consume or use. So a special thank you to Alex Wolf-Root(H&S), Skip Brand (HRC), Melody Karpinsky (FF) and Gil Moreno(ER)is in order. They brought a wonderful energy to the race.

At 10AM, with the fog lifting just a touch yet still thick as pea soup, an ‘On Your Mark’ preceeded the blare of a marine air horn and the 35th Annual Resolution Run was on the way. As the leaders returned from the first loop around the soccer fields, UC Santa Cruz Dante Capone was setting the pace followed by high schoolers Lucas Chung and Paden Collard. Just off the leaders ran Patrick Lynch, Vojta Ripa and Nick Spector. The first woman was UC Davis and El Molino’s Nicole Lane followed by Patricia Bender and Rebekah Skandera. The group then disappeared west back into the fog and around the holding ponds past the 1 mile mark and then presumably out onto the Santa Rosa Creek Trail heading east past the 2 mile mark to the turn around just past Malibu Circle. While the leaders were flying around the course the fog lifted and the sun shone brightly. First back into the park was Nick Spector(Sonoma HS and Chico State) about 30 yards up on Dante Capone(Analy HS). Another 60 yards back was a Daniel Pride siting(Santa Rosa HS). In 13th place overall was Nicole Lane.

There were a lot of spirited finishes with the Top Three men being: Nick Spector (15:45), Dante Capone (15:49) and Daniel Pride(16:21). The Top Three women finishers were: Nicole Lane (18:19), Eva Stuart of Santa Rosa HS and Cal Berkeley (20:02) and Patricia Bender (20:27). Nearly 250 runners of all ages and abilities finished this years race.

The Top Three Men and Women received beautiful, screen printed Saucony long sleeved and zippered winter shirts provided by Heart and Sole. The top person in each age group and a random/handout received prizes from H&S, HRC and FF as well as bottles of beer from another sponsor, Lagunitas and champagne from Korbel. In total well over 100 items were given out. The plan for next year is a better designed raffle, so make you sure you wait around for your chance at a nice prize.

By noon on the first day of the new year the last remnants of runners, sponsors and clean up volunteers were getting into their cars and heading out of the park to recover, nap or continue their new years celebration. Four and a half hours to put on a race that lasted under 16 minutes for the fastest runners. And that could not be done without a significant amount of volunteer help. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who helped break down the event and those that participated in any fashion. To those that have run many of our races and have yet to help out consider volunteering for a future event(our next one is Feb. 19, Valley Ford Relays (VFR).

Cloverdale Vineyard Races 2016 by Dale Peterson

On Sunday October 23rd a number of Empire Runners participated in the Cloverdale Vineyard Races – Overall half marathon winner Sarah Halas (1:26:17) Nuvit Salz, Tanya Narath, Darryl Beardall and I among those I recognized.

We got lucky with the weather and it ended up being a perfect Autumn day in northern Sonoma County.

I was not quite sure what to expect when I signed up for the race and then later discovered that the entire course whether you were going 5K, 10K, Half or Full Marathon would be run entirely within the confines of the vineyards surrounding the Asti winery just south of Cloverdale.  I guess that is why they call them the “Vineyard” races!

Also, there were to be no course maps or mile markers.

Still, the morning dawned cold but clear and beautiful as we lined up at the start facing west.  We ran down the road, crossed under the freeway and immediately turned onto the groomed gravel and dirt vineyard road.  Once we got a short distance from the freeway and the scenary opened up the course revealed itself to be absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was just starting to come up over the autumn-tinged hills and valleys and the views were stunning.   I quickly realized that this was the most beautiful course I ever ran on.

The lack of mile markers was a bit odd, but since my plan was to run rather conservatively anyway, I did not mind too much.  While it was strange not knowing quite how I was doing, I felt good and I actually kind of enjoyed not dealing with the stress of counting miles.


There were abundant aid-stations throughout the mostly rolling course.  There were many broad sweeping turns and a few significant hills.  The course was not fast but not quite like a trail run either.  There were enough runners on the course to keep you company but it was not crowded.   The Full and Half Marathons started at 7:30am with the 5K and 10K starting later in the morning.


With what I think was about 3 miles remaining in the Half we crossed back over to the east side of the freeway (the Full Marathoners continued for a repeat lap).  Here is where things got a little convoluted.  We soon merged with the 10K and 5K runners and passed through multiple confusing intersections, many of which did not have course monitors.  The signage was accurate but you really had to stay on your toes to avoid getting lost.  I understand that quite a few did get lost and either ran too far or too short and that some people were disqualified as a result.  Hopefully next year they can figure out a way to avoid some of this confusion and simply the course to some degree.


When I finally came within sight of the finish-line I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been running about 15 seconds per mile faster than I thought!


I waited at the finish-line for Nuvit and Tanya and spent a bit of time talking to Chris Mason who was diligently performing the timing duties.


Somehow I missed Nuvit who finished close behind me, but once I connected with Tanya we found her sitting under an umbrella eating breakfast with Christina Royston who ran the 5K.

Here is what Nuvit had to say about the race:

“Started our freezing, thinking I was going to warm up after the first mile, wrong! It took about 5 miles to finally feel comfortable. But what a spectacular view through the vineyards. Wherever you looked, colors were just breathtaking, literally! Or maybe it was because of the hills! Hills were challenging, both up and down, hurt bad enough – the money you spend was worth it! Then, last three miles came, in a different vineyard. I didn’t feel this was enjoyable, no hills but very bumpy! Also in a couple of turns, I wasn’t sure if I took the right one! Over all, with just few glitches, it was a great course and I would do it again.”


The race provided a great breakfast and Bear Republic was on hand with a choice of beers for all finishers.

Race results were available almost immediately after you finished and you could look up your time and place on one of the laptop computers set up under an awning for that purpose.


In addition to the food and drink, there was a live band and several booths hawking various miracle cures for the runner.


Besides awards for the overall winners in each race, all finishers received a very nice medal (at least in the Full and Half..) and there were three-deep awards in the five-year age divisions.

Nuvit and I finished first in our respective 50-59 age groups (Dale 1:53:51 / Nuvit 1:54:57) and bagged ourselves a nice bottle of red wine to prove it!

Over all I thought it was a great event and I would do it again for sure.  Of course I did not get lost in which case I might have a different opinion.  Here is hoping they can make some improvements and simplifications to what could become a classic event in the coming years.


Run in a Herd ! Group Runs

Here is a listing of group runs in Sonoma County! If there are more, let us know!

Mondays: No training runs currently scheduled

Tuesdays – 6:00 am – Athletic Soles Retail Store 

  • Location:  Petaluma High School Track
  • Meeting Time:  6:00 am year-round
  • Phone:  (707) 763 0700
  • E-mail:
  • Session Description:  Work with one of our team members to do some speed training in the morning before your work day begins. All skill levels are encouraged to come and work with us towards their goals.
  • Who Should Attend:  Runners of all abilities are welcome.

Tuesdays – 6:30 am  – Taylor Mountain Tuesdays/ Justin Borton

Tuesdays –5:30 pm – Empire Runners Club                                            

  • Location:  3390 Princeton Drive, Santa Rosa (unless an alternate site is listed on the ER calendar)
  • Meeting Time:  5:30 p.m., year-round
  • Host/Leader:  Larry and Tori Meredith
  • Phone:  (707) 526-4536
  • Email:
  • Session Description:  A wide variety of interval sessions designed to improve or maintain racing speed.  The total distance of the workout is almost always between 5 and 6 miles.  Most of the workouts between March and October take place on the Montgomery High School track.  Late summer sessions often focus on cross country running that include repeats on grass or hills.  Winter sessions are typically on well-lit streets in surrounding neighborhoods and can range from short sprints to hill repeats.
  • Who Should Attend: Runners of all ability levels that can comfortably cover 6 miles in a workout. This is a good group for beginning racers who want to get faster and also for veteran racers who enjoy running intervals with a group.

Tuesdays – 5:30 pm  –  Heart & Sole Sports  Retail Store                                         

  • Location:  Heart and Sole Sports, 65 Brookwood, Santa Rosa
  • Meeting Time:  5:30 p.m., year-round
  • Host/Leader: Kenny Brown
  • Phone:  (707) 545-7653
  • E-mail:
  • Session Description:  We will explore different routes; both loop and out and back runs. On the streets of Santa Rosa. Distance is usually 4 to 5 miles. With options for shorter distances.
  • Who Should Attend:  Runners of all abilities are welcome.

Tuesdays – 6:00 pm – Healdsburg Running Company Women’s Group – Retail Store 

Wednesdays – 5:30 pm –  Fleet Feet Sports Retail Store 

Thursdays – 5:30 pm –  Empire Runners Club 

  • Location:  Howarth Park, Santa Rosa, upper parking lot near start of bike path
  • Meeting Time:  5:30 p.m., March through October; 4:30 p.m., November through February
  • Host/Leader:  Larry Meredith (when in attendance)
  • Phone:  (707) 526-4536
  • E-mail:
  • Session Description:  Trail running through Howarth Park, Spring Lake Park and Annadel State Park.  Published workout sessions tailored to fit club racing schedule.  Attendees can choose to run the published workout or break into smaller groups for a basic trail run.  Workouts include tempo runs (elevated effort over 2 to 4 miles), repeat intervals, hill running.
  • Who Should Attend:  Runners of all ability levels.  Those who wish to participate in the published workouts should be able to comfortably cover 8 miles in a workout.

Thursdays – 6:00 pm –   Healdsburg Running Company Retail Store   

Fridays: No training runs currently scheduled

Saturdays – 8:00 am – Healdsburg Running Company Retail Store Trail Run –  (TBD) – 8:00 am (check website for location)   

Saturdays – 8:30 am –  Empire Runners Club 

  • Location:  Railroad Square, Santa Rosa (meet at West Sixth and Wilson Streets)
  • Meeting Time:  8:30 a.m., year round
  • Host/Leader:  None
  • Session Description:  An out-and-back run on the dirt-and-gravel path alongside Santa Rosa Creek that flows west from downtown Santa Rosa.  It’s 5 miles to Willowside Road so runners can cover any distance up to 10 miles on this workout.  Runners choose their own distance and pace and typically break up into pairs or small groups.  After the run, some adjourn to the nearby A’Roma Roasters Coffee & Tea for socializing.
  • Who Should Attend:  Runners of all ability levels.

Sundays – 8:30 am –  Empire Runners Club 

  • Location:  Parktrail Drive at Summefield Drive or Channel Drive at Cobblestone Trailhead in Santa Rosa (unless an alternate site is listed on the ER calendar).  See ER calendar for location.
  • Meeting Time:  8:00 a.m., year-round
  • Host/Leader:  None
  • Phone:  For information, call Larry Meredith at (707) 526-4536
  • E-mail:  For information, e-mail Larry Meredith at
  • Session Description:  Trail running in Annadel State Park.  The longest run of the week for most who attend.  Runners choose their own distance and pace and typically break up into two or three small groups.
  • Who Should Attend:  Runners of all ability levels.

The Long and Short of North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park

Every runner gets stale.  We all get tired and have times when runs seem more like a chore than the joy that they should be.  Sometimes all that is needed to refresh your running is a little change of scenery.

Recently I was feeling very flat, beat up and literally run down.  Some of this was due to little nagging injuries.  Some to the general bone-tired feeling you get in the middle of marathon training before the body adapts to the mileage, but most of it was due I think to doing the same run in the same place over and over again.

I’d been thinking about returning to the new North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park ever since Robin and I did a run there in early spring but I never seemed to make it.  This past weekend I finally got back and boy was I glad I did!

If you have never been there, it is time you went.  North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park is located off of Sonoma Mtn. Rd. not far from the Pressley Rd. intersection.

The trails are true single-track, mostly shaded and uncrowded.  The best thing is that the main trail takes you up a series of steep but manageable switchbacks revealing fantastic views of Bennett Mtn. and Bennett Valley on your way to Jack London State Historical Park.


On my run Sunday I made it well into Jack London but apparently far short of the storied Beauty Ranch and Wolf House.  My run was over 2 hours in length overall (seven minutes faster coming down than going up).  You can definitely get a nice long run there.  I did not see another human-being for the first hour and forty-five minutes which is the way I like it.

Legs and spirit that had been feeling old and sluggish felt young and energized right from the first step.  When running becomes work, turn it back into an adventure.


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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