Category Archives: MAY 2016

All the posts created in MAY 2016.

An Unlikely Partnership, by Melody Karpinski

When I first sat down with my head track coaches from Montgomery and Rincon Valley Christian for our pre-season meeting and they broached the idea of combining practice, I was largely skeptical.

May16_Melody_04How would this work? Was it even legal? Could I keep track of both sets of athletes? Would I be able to remember all of their names? Would I still be able to help them achieve their goals? How was I possibly going to catch all of their splits when they ran together at invitationals?

Just the little things.

We don’t compete in the same league or in the same division. One school is public, the other private. One school is a little over 200 students, the other is just under 2,000.

The most distinguishing feature? One school has a track and the other doesn’t.

May16_Melody_05In February, we began combined practices. The kids didn’t know each other and I don’t think they were certain how they felt about the whole thing. I was acclimating to my new job as the assistant coach at Montgomery. On top of it, every day and every meet seemed wetter than the last.

At Big Cat, the wind blew a soccer goal post over and hit an athlete in the head. Some of my athletes ran their first 3200m race while the sky dumped unlimited bucketfuls of the rain everyone had been praying for.

“But it doesn’t rain in California,” complained one of my athletes during the Windsor Relays as both teams were huddling under our makeshift camp of three or four EZ-UPs vigorously strapped to the bleachers as if the apocalypse was coming. The wind howled, pole vault got canceled, but the heats went on.

May16_Melody_01When the meet got called off mid-way through the 100m after the timing tent blew over, everyone descended onto camp overjoyed. They began hi-fiving each other and delightedly gorging on the cookies I had made them promise not to eat until their races were over.

After a couple more meets of suffering together in the rain, the atmosphere at practice seemed to shift and the kids began to look forward to working out together. When practice was separate for a couple of days in March due to different meet schedules, they’d come up to me and ask why their friends from the other team weren’t there. Each invitational, the kids would warm up with each other before their events.

May16_Melody_07They’ve also teamed up to mess around, taking turns hijacking my phone and my Garmin (which is currently set to military time and commands in Italian after the latest venture). It’s also still unclear who had the best proposal for getting out of a workout (my favorites include three months of “professional chauffeuring” and sheer bribery in amounts ranging from $20 to $100) and who had the most honest food diary entry (entries included a “lame sandwich” and “burritos that weren’t as good as last night”). They have debates about who the greatest underrated distance runner of all time is (the conclusion was Rocky).

May16_Melody_06During meets, cheering emanates from our camp for athletes from both teams and each athlete’s success is celebrated with equal admiration regardless of uniform color. Intermixed prom couples are starting to pop-up. Friendly rivalries have formed. The kids are already looking forward to long trail runs in Annadel together during the summer.

The Viking Track Classic last week marked the last meet the kids would have competed against each other during the regular season. There’s a few things left unsettled though, and Friday they’ll all take the track for what we’ve affectionately dubbed the Red vs. Blue meet. Rumor has it the whole coaching staff from both schools will participate.

Post-season around the corner, the distance squads from both teams are asking me for a pool party together. All I can think of is that someone will jump off the diving board and pull a muscle the week of championships, but I’m tempted to let them have their fun anyway. They began the season as strangers and they will leave as family.

My split sheet, and my heart, are full.

Mudroom Backpacks, by Doug Murdoch

IFThe perennial problem for runners and athletes is simply the question, “What do I do with my shoes?”

You know the problem…you tie them together and sling them on your backpack and they are dangling around, or they are dirty so you don’t want to put them inside of anything…let’s face it, shoes are a pain in the ass to travel with sometimes.

Local Sonoma County entrepreneur and designer David Deioma has recognized this significant problem and created a new company called Mudroom. The backpack I tested is called the Small Quartible 18L.


Overall, this is an excellent travel backpack that provides a much needed solution for carrying your shoes. The 6” depth makes it easy to put under the seat of an airplane, or even in the small overhead of commuter jets, like CRJ’s. If I ever fly to a race, this would be the bag I take on the plane with all my critical stuff. The reason is that I want to have everything with me for my race, so even if my checked luggage is lost, I still have just what I need to get by. And it would easily hold your toiletries and other essential items.

Running Shoes


Each side of the backpack has zippers that open to hold running shoes, up to size 18 I am told. They fit in easily, and there is a stretch pocket on the inside that I was able to put two pair of socks or a pair of running shorts. And the top of the pocket is ventilated with mesh.

As a runner, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this feature. Being able to separate and carry my shoes with my other stuff is really awesome. And actually you can access the shoe pockets from the inside as well.

Laptop and ipad


I’ve never seen a backpack designed before that can hold running shoes, a full size laptop, and an ipad. David did a great job organizing this backpack and making it work.

The laptop can be put into the slot from the inside, but a really fantastic feature is the side zippered access to the laptop. The reason is that there are times when you need to cram your backpack full of stuff, and if you try to get it out from the inside, it’s difficult. With the side access, you can immediately get to it.

There is also an ipad pocket but this can also be used for other items like notebooks, books, etc.

Inside the Backpack


I was able to fully load this backpack on the inside with:

  • Running shirt
  • Running glasses and case
  • Jacket
  • Bottle of Whiskey
  • Mt. Tam map
  • Sonoma Coast map
  • Notebook
  • San Francisco map
  • Book: How Bad Do You Want It?  By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Bose ear buds
  • ipad
  • 13″ Mac Book Pro

Honestly I could have put a lot my stuff in the backpack but I thought that was a reasonable amount. I don’t normally drink whiskey, but for this product review, I thought I’d get a little wild. The wide front zippered opening makes it easy to access and organize your stuff.

Front Organizer Pocket


I appreciated how deep and side this pocket is, because I easily put my large cell phone in the front, passport, pens, as well as a USB, and phone cable.

Lower Front Zippered Pocket


This pocket was big enough for my keys, my running watch, and the charger. Since my watch is so important to me, I always like putting it in a separate pocket.



On the back of the backpack is a hole underneath the label that goes to the inside, where you can hang your hydration bladder. You have to make a choice – use a hydration bladder, or carry your laptop. It’s nice to have this feature in case you want to go hiking or biking and you can leave your laptop back at your place.

Side Pockets

The side pockets work for water bottles, energy bars, etc.

Other features include daisy chains on the front to connect carabineers or other stuff, reflective tape, an adjustable chest strap, and padded shoulder straps.

Kudos to David Deioma for recognizing the problem that runners and athletes have and coming up with a great backpack solution.

You can go see the backpacks in person at Fleet Feet Sports in Santa Rosa.

You can read about David’s company here:


Carlsbad 5000 – Short Race / Big FUN – by Dale Peterson and Larry Meredith

Brad (Zanetti) and Bobby (Rogers) were just a few feet ahead of me as I took my first steps.  Instantly I knew that something was very wrong.  My legs which had just served me so well down the Carlsbad 5000 course did not seem to be working right.  I felt almost like I had just finished a marathon instead of a 5K.  I knew I should stop but like so many other times in my life, I just couldn’t do it.  The only thing that kept me going was the thought of our hotel, a nice breakfast, the pool, hot-tub and a  micro-brewed IPA.


This was my fourth trip down to Carlsbad to run in the “World’s Fastest 5K” – so-called not due to the course but for the fact that after the several heats of age-division races, the elites put on an exhibition of speed.  They used to run on the same course as everyone else, but lately they do a couple of laps along the coast highway so everyone can get a good and really close look at them.

I was very excited to be here this time around, my training having gone very well leading up to the race.  I ran 23:01 – over twenty-seconds faster than my previous best in 2013.
This year our racing contingent consisted of Brad Zanetti, Larry Meredith, Bryan Porter and myself.  We were supported by Bev Zanetti, Bob Rogers and my sister Sandra.
Bryan Porter has been running the race annually for years now and Brad has done it now I believe seven years running.   This was Larry’s fourth Carlsbad 5000 in as many years.  There is a reason why we all keep coming back – it is FUN.
Here is Larry’s take on the race, Carlsbad and the overall experience:
“This was my fourth Carlsbad 5000 (in four years) and my slowest, by far.Editors Note: [Larry had a terrible cough]  I ran well in only one appearance, 2 years ago, but have not regretted making any of these trips.  Except for my performance in the race, this year was particularly enjoyable for many reasons.  The flight schedule to and from Santa Rosa (what a luxury to fly straight to San Diego from here!) was perfect for a long weekend vacation.  We arrived in San Diego just after noon on a Friday and did not have to return until late Monday evening.  That gave us a day-and-a-half of leisure both before and after the event.  With a seasoned brewery guide Brad and reliable designated driver Bev carrying out their essential duties, the whole weekend seemed like an organized tour.  Dale and I were along for the ride.
The hotel that we keep coming back to is just a half-mile from the beautiful Carlsbad beach, which stretches for more than two miles until it reaches the scenic little coastal town that hosts the races.  The temperature always seems perfect for a 5K, particularly for the masters men’s race that begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday.  While one year there was a stiff breeze to battle against on part of the course, this year was calm.  With the jacked up crowd in the race and along the course, it’s a great place to find out how fast you can run a 5K.  We made the mistake of arriving late to the post-race beer garden after a quick shower and breakfast back at our hotel.  The garden was packed and chaotic, with a line snaking through it to the dispensing stations.  It took 45 minutes but we collected our 2 pints of locally-brewed IPA and sauntered over to hear a very good live band play all of my favorite rock tunes from the ‘80s.  As always, that combination ends with Bryan and me groovin’ to the beat.  I’m tellin’ ya, we need some more ladies on this trip!  We then had to chug our brews so we could get back out on the course to watch some of the fastest 5K runners in the world, men and women, in their separate elite races.  For the second straight year, Bernard Legat set a masters world record for a road 5K.
Checking off local breweries is always on the agenda for Friday, Sunday and Monday.  Yes, we temper our thirst on Saturday in preparation for the race.  Since we had all of Monday on this trip we visited Balboa Park in San Diego, touring the natural history museum there.  A few minutes later we were downtown, eating great burgers at Hodad’s, a place that takes you back in time. And then we walked through the historic Gaslamp Quarter.  We nearly bought tickets to the opening day game of the baseball season but just couldn’t bring ourselves to cough up $80 each to watch the Dodgers destroy the hometown Padres.  So we went to another nearby brewery.  And a deserted Ghirardelli ice cream shop for desert.  As luck would have it, we were able to watch the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game at the airport.  The last-second game winning shot was made just in time for us to catch our flight.  What a weekend!
To those of you who think it’s not worth a weekend trip to run a 5K I say give this one a chance.  You can always take on the “All-Day 5K” which involves running each of the four 5K races held that morning.”
Carlsbad – The proto-typical “beach town” – Carlsbad is both quirky and upscale depending on your mood or pocket-book.  It is located 35 miles north of San Diego International Airport – straight up Interstate 5.
Carlsbad 5000 – the race is held the first Sunday in April in the town of Carlsbad.  Four Heats of the 5K or run the “All Day 20K” and do them all!  Youth 1 Mile races (and now adult too) are run on the previous Saturday.
Beer Garden – crowded but fun with live music for all adult entrants.
Elite Races – there is both an elite men’s and women’s race immediately following the last heat of the morning.
Flights – The best way to go is on Alaska Airlines out of Sonoma Co. to San Diego.
Airfare runs typically between approx. $110 and $250 one way depending on when you book your flight.
Car Rental – Rent a car from any of the many providers in San Diego and make the short drive up the coast to Carlsbad.
Hotel – We always stay in the West Inn about 3 miles south of downtown Carlsbad but within easy walking distance of the beach.  I give the hotel Five out of Five stars.  It is clean, well-appointed has a great breakfast, two restaurants a very nice pool and spa.  Rooms are approx. $165 – $185 per night and well worth it.
Eating – There are literally hundreds if not thousands of great places to eat in Carlsbad and the greater San Diego area.  One of our favorites and a post-race ritual is The Compass in the Carlsbad Village shopping center near downtown Carlsbad.  Great dishes ranging from high-end burgers to Cuban sandwiches, fish tacos and Macaroni and Cheese.  Fantastic beer selection as well.
Breweries – Again, there are hundreds to choose from.  From the huge Stone Brewery in Escondido to tiny Belching Beaver in Vista.  Coronado Brewing Company on Coronado Island and Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego (home of Sculpin IPA) are some favorites.

Hello Vietnam, by Doug Murdoch

Vietnam is going through a running revolution…based on the number of running clubs popping up and races being offered, thousands of Vietnamese are running recreationally, for their health and for fun.

I had the pleasure of running with the Sunday Running Club for the first time a few weeks ago, and everyone was quite enthusiastic about running, despite the fact it was evening and still in the nineties.  But I survived and we all hung out afterwards and had some coconut juice.

In the last five years multiple running clubs have sprung up across Vietnam, and numerous races as well. Races span everything from 5K’s to hard-core trail runs, like the Vietnam Victory Challenge 50K in DaLat, and the Mountain Marathon in Sapa.

Here is a full list of races.

When I first started running in the city of Ho Chi Minh in 2011, I was unable to find any running clubs, or any runners at all. And there were no regular races that I could find. And when I checked the Internet, there was a lot of discussion about how difficult it was to run in Vietnam, and specifically Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon.

I decided to create this running map of Ho Chi Minh in 2011 to help visiting runners. Ho Chi Minh can be a bit shocking for first time visitors, especially for runners, given the motorbikes, traffic, and questionable sidewalks. I’m proud to say that the map now has over 5000 views!


Doug’s running map.

Now I am the first to admit that running in Vietnam is like “urban cross country.”

You constantly have to be on the lookout for variations in the sidewalk, motorbikes, and other obstacles. You have to pay attention. You can’t just zone out because there are too many people and things that you might run into. As a runner, no one will stop for you or give you the right of way – this includes motorbikes, cars, and even other pedestrians.

But actually I think what foreigners experience is a variation of “culture shock.”

If you have never been to Asia before, just the sight of so many people, motorbikes, and cars can be overwhelming, which can lead you to believe that running is impossible.

But just like anything else, you can adapt as a runner. If you go out every day, as usual, you will soon find that the things you thought were significant before no longer bother you and you can easily run.

And of course it helps to run with a group.

In Ho Chi Minh: Sunday Running Club, Viet Runners, and Run Club.

In Hanoi: Chay 365

In DaNang: DaNang Runners

I have found that the Vietnamese running clubs are very friendly…just check their Facebook pages and show up for a scheduled run! Don’t worry about the fact you don’t speak Vietnamese…normally there is always someone who speaks some English.

If you do come to Ho Chi Minh and want to run, you can also always contact me at I commute back and forth between Vietnam and Santa Rosa for work.


Who Was Peter Norman Part 2, by Brad Zanetti

March2015Zanetti06Peter Norman was born June 15, 1942 near Melbourne, Australia. He was raised in a strong Christian family by parents that were Salvation Army missionaries. His parents were poor and growing up there wasn’t enough money to afford the gear necessary to play his favorite sport, Australian Rules Football. As a teenager Peter’s father was able to find used track spikes. Peter was elated and began his track career.

Peter’s Christian upbringing was essential in the development of the man he became. A little background on the doctrine of the Salvation Army is essential. In 1865 William Booth took his version of Christianity to the streets, the poor, the destitute. By 1878 his East London Christian Mission was noted as a volunteer army. Not liking the sound of that he penned salvation in place of volunteer and the Salvation Army was borne. The mission statement of the Salvation Army is 3 fold:

1- message is the Bible

2- ministry is motivated by the love of God

3- mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs without discrimination.

March2015Zanetti05Peter had developed into a fine runner, the finest in Australia prior to the 1968 Olympics. He was the top 100/200 runner in Australia but felt his best event was the 200m with a time of 20.6 at the Australian Olympic trials. However, he was not well known on the world stage and not even in the discussion for a medal. But when he arrived in Mexico City at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Peter ran consistently good times through to the finals. He exploded in the first heat winning with a 20.17(setting a national and short lived Olympic record). He won his quarterfinal heat in 20.44 and was second to John Carlos in the semis in 20.22. In typical Norman fashion he yelled across to Carlos, “You can have that one!” Carlos just waved him off indignantly. The final was a phenomenal race with a late surge by Peter, squeaking by Carlos at the tape in 20.06 for the Silver medal(and a national record that still stands today). Tommie Smith ‘jetted’ down the backstretch to the Gold in a new Olympic, National and World record in 19.86. John Carlos content with what he thought was a Silver shut it down a hair early and accepted the Bronze.

Prior to the Olympics there was much rhetoric and public fighting over a possible boycott of the Olympics by the black athletes. A combination of the deaths of Rev Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and a lack of solidarity of all of the Black athletes led to them not boycotting the Olympics. This allowed each athlete to express themselves individually. The significance of Carlos and Smith display goes as follows: the gloves were for Power(Black) and Unity. The shoeless entry(stocking feet) was for poverty. The beads they wore represented lynchings(‘Strange Fruit’). Carlos entered with an unzipped jacket(against Olympic protocol) as a tribute to blue collar workers.

March2015Zanetti02Just prior to the walk up to the Olympic podium, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made Peter Norman aware of their plan. They asked him if he believed in human rights. Peter answered that he did and that he believed strongly in God. Peter said, “I will stand with you, how can I participate?” They asked him to wear the Olympic Project for Human Rights(OPHR) badge. Remembers Carlos, “ I expected to see fear in Peter’s eyes, but instead we saw love.” Norman reached for Carlos’ badge but he said, “this is mine but we will get you one.” Paul Hoffman a Harvard and Olympic crew team member offered his to Norman. Just prior to the walk in to the dais, Carlos realized he had forgotten his gloves. It was Peter who suggested that Tommie and Carlos each wear one, which they both agreed. The three men, united, walked to the dais…and history was soon to be made.

“I couldn’t see what was happening, Norman said, but I knew they had gone through with the plan when a voice sang the American anthem but then faded to nothing. The stadium went quiet; what followed was a shower of boos”. As the threesome walked off the crescendo of boos turned to vicious racial slurs; their lives forever changed and forever linked.

As you are probably aware Tommie Smith and John Carlos were stripped of their medals, kicked off of the team and sent back to the US. Their lives were ruined as they were not allowed to race again, received numerous death threats, fired from their jobs and found it difficult to get substantial jobs for decades. What you may not know is that after the Olympic medal ceremony, when asked about the Americans demonstration by reporters, Peter Norman responds, “I believe that every man is born equal and should be treated that way.” He was then reprimanded by the Australian Olympic committee, banned from racing for 2 years and finally not sent to the 1972 Olympics in Munich even though he was the 5th rated sprinter in the world in the 200m and qualified in the 100 and 200m. He was torn to shreds by the Australian press and returned to apartheid Australia not a star or hero but rather a pariah. He, too, faced a daily challenge of acceptance and any opportunity at all. Even after Australia renounced their apartheid philosophy and long after Carlos and Smith had been forgiven in the U.S. Peter Norman was still persona non grata at home and was not invited in any capacity to be part of the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. At that late date they still wanted Peter to renounce his part in the 1968 demonstration. He of course would not. In fact, Peter was invited to be part of the US Olympic group reuniting with Smith and Carlos, whereupon Michael Johnson introduced himself to Peter and said, “Peter you are my hero”. Peter said, “I didn’t know you even knew who I was. Michael responded, “Of course I know who you are”.

Over time the disruption of the status quo by the 1968 Olympic demonstration has been seen in a different light(change is slow). Nearly 4 decades later in 2005 a heroic 23’ tall sculpture of the medalist podium moment was erected at San Jose St University. Curiously, Peter Norman’s place is vacant so that visitors can stand in accord with Smith and Carlos. It was Norman’s choice to leave his spot vacant since the sculpture is in America, on the duo’s college campus. Per Peter, “ It wasn’t about me. All I did was wear a button of support. That platform is for anybody across this world to stand up for justice and equality.”

The trio have remained close throughout the years. In fact, Peter was at the unveiling of the statue and presented and introduced John Carlos. Tragically, Peter had a variety of medical and chemical issues and died of a heart attack on Oct 3, 2006. Both John and Tommie were pallbearers at his funeral and eulogized him and consider Peter’s mother their “Australian mom”. They often tell Peter’s story, their story at their speaking engagements. Peter remains a friend, a brother, a hero to them and to all who know his story. Carlos about Peter Norman) unveiling with Peter Norman introduction) was pete norman by the young turks-TYT)–lzACn0aZ8(200m final race)


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!