by Alex Wolf-Root
by Alex Wolf-Root
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 &
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).
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.
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
Tuesdays – 6:30 am – Taylor Mountain Tuesdays/ Justin Borton
Tuesdays –5:30 pm – Empire Runners Club
Tuesdays – 5:30 pm – Heart & Sole Sports Retail Store
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
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
Sundays – 8:30 am – Empire Runners Club
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.
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.
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!
Join us Saturday mornings for a 3 mile, 6 mile, or longer run along Santa Rosa Creek! Everyone is welcome!! We meet at 8:30 am on the north side of the Aroma Roasters parking lot in Old Redwood Square. If you click on this link you can zoom in on the map to see the starting point and the route. See you there!