The Empire Runners have a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving XC/T&F 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 3 recipients a total of $ 3000 in scholarship awards this year. All clubmembers should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions
The ER SGF is substantially funded by the Kenwood Footrace as well and due to the Covid Status will not be receiving these monies for the 2021 scholarships. This year there is an Independence Day Weekend Challenge Virtual Race which is free if you sign up through the ER site and we are asking, if you choose, to give a donation which will be used for next years SGF Scholarships.
This group of 2020 recipients has had to deal with the most unique set of circumstances in generations- 2017 Tubbs Fire with entire sections of Santa Rosa burnt out impacting thousands, 2018 Camp Fire and being smoked out for weeks, Flood along the Russian River and this year Covid-19. They have missed more school, more training and more sports by far than any other class. And all 3 recipients were personally affected by these circumstances. Here is hoping their next 4+ years of University life and sports return to some sort of normalcy.
Our first recipient is a 4yr XC/Track & Field athlete. He was a 3 yr varsity performer, part of a league championship team and qualified for the California State XC Championships twice. His PR on the Spring Lake Course is 16:32 and his mile PR is 4:38. He has been an outstanding addition to his teams since freshman year with his upbeat personality initially and then developing excellent leadership and team building skills. He has been instrumental in bringing the new young runners into the team concept. Our first recipient’s coaches have thoroughly enjoyed their experience with him and will miss him as he leaves high school and begins his collegiate career.
Our first ER SGF scholarship recipient is looking forward to starting his collegiate career at Santa Rosa JC. As an athlete who has missed parts of 4 seasons he is still far from reaching his athletic and educational goals. While working extra hard due to a learning disorder he also made time for over 200 volunteer hours. His teachers and coaches will be following his progress closely, under the tutelage of Coach Wellman, as he embarks on his journey to be the best runner he can be and complete his prerequisites for transfer to a university and study Marine Biology.
Our first recipient is the former Piner Prospector and future Santa Rosa JC Bearcub, JEREMIAH CANO.
Our second ER SGF scholarship winner is also a 4yr athlete, in both Soccer and Track&Field. He has been accepted at the College of his choice and will be playing soccer primarily with the option of continuing in T&F if he can make it work. He has achieved at a very high level attaining All Empire in both Soccer and T&F, the highlight of qualifying for the NCS meet final in the 400 meters. He has been achieving at the highest level all 4 years as well with Alltime in Class Top 10s in the 400 meters- # 7 Freshman 51.84, #10 Sophmore 50.77 and #5 Junior 49.52. He also has PRs of 22.44 in the 200m and 1:57 in the 800m. Unfortunately our 2nd scholarship winner was unable to perform for his Senior season and continue up the Alltime Best Ladders.
Our 2nd recipient, too, has had to face many challenges during his high school career including the near total destruction of his school during the 2017 Tubbs Fire but that did not deter him. Even while playing Varsity Soccer all 4 years, T&F and performing significant community service(winning the Christian Gentleman Award) he has maintained an unweighted GPA of 3.9 in a College Prep course load with many AP classes. He also found time to participate in student council. Our 2nd recipient will take his talents, dedication and hard work to further his education in viticulture/agriculture. This scholarship winner will trade the cardinal & gold of Cardinal Newman for the blue & white of UC Davis in the Fall.
We are proud to announce our 2nd scholarship presented to the future Aggie from Cardinal Newman, JUSTIN PATTERSON.
Our final SGF scholarship winner began her high school career as an all star varsity volleyball and basketball player. She went out for the track team to put her in line for the Iron Lion Award(3 sports for all 4 years). To all who knew her it was a forgone conclusion she would go to college playing volleyball but she soon fell in love with the ‘throws’(Shotput and Discus) while scoring points in a variety of other events. Like the other recipients her education and athletic career was negatively impacted by fires, flooding and Covid but in addition she contracted a very severe case of Lyme’s disease and missed half a school year. She has worked very hard to get her physical level back and even improve it. This hard work was evident when after only 2 meets this year she improved her SP PR to 36’1.5”(50th AT RE) and her DT PR to 140’10”(#3 AT). Highlights besides many League championships, All Empire awards, multi event NCS qualifier peaked with a trip to the State T&F Championship for the discus last year. Our recipient was looking for a return trip this year with her 140+’ throw in March good for 5th in the state when the season was interrupted. She has been working fulltime improving her throws and adding the Javelin and the Hammer to her repertoire which she will be throwing in college.
Always an excellent student our final SGF Scholarship persevered through fires, floods, Covid and Lymes disease to maintain an unweighted 3.83 GPA in an AP College Prep track. She also made time to be a teachers aide in Math through high school, be a member of multiple clubs including Leadership and civic volunteering. This scholarship winner had multiple excellent Universities to pick from and decided on UC Irvine where she felt she had the best chance to meet her goals of being a D1 NCAA Champion and hopefully qualifying for the 2028 Olympic Trials. Considering what she has had to overcome so far I wouldn’t bet against it. This scholar athlete will be trading her Lion mascot to become an Anteater in the fall.
We are proud to give the ER SGF Scholarship to El Molino’s very own, KASSIDY SANI.
(From the author Michael Weddington: The following are some of my reflections on the Alec ‘Doc’ Isabeau I knew. Although I hadn’t spent much time with Alec at all over the last 15 years as I’ve moved from Santa Rosa with my family to first Sacramento, then Maui, Boulder, and now Folsom, the memories I have are vivid.)
It was a blazing hot Tuesday afternoon track workout at SRJC, circa summer of 1992. As I recall, the temperature was about 95 degrees, and well over 100 on the simmering cinder surface. A group of us less-than-intelligent Thirsty Boys were slogging our way through an interminable series of life-sapping mile repeats. It was one of those forever-workouts where just getting to the next lap without keeling over in ignominy was the principal goal.
When our Sisyphean labors were finally completed, I think I collapsed onto the boiling track into a pile of quivering, melting goo, oblivious of passing runners. A moment later, I distinctly remember a voice piercing my state of delirium—against all reason—with the following, utterly irrational sentiment: “Ahhh, isn’t it GREAT to be alive?” It was Alec. Vintage Alec.
Like many Empire Runners, I first met ‘Doc’ as a patient. I had recently moved to Santa Rosa from Davis in the Spring of 1986, and I think by that Fall or the following Spring I was dealing with some nagging running injuries. I soon discovered that we shared some interesting similarities; we were nearly exactly the same age, and we both had been told earlier in our twenties by so-called sports doctors that we’d likely never run again. In his typical laugh-in-the-face of adversity manner, Alec used this nay-saying as motivation to first heal himself, then others. I was of a multitude who benefited greatly from his chiropractic expertise.
In his friendly, low-key and folksy manner, Alec tried to recruit me into the Empire Runners then, but I was pre-occupied at the time with earning a teaching credential at Sonoma State and preparing for a teaching stint overseas. However, when I returned to Santa Rosa in 1991, I eventually found myself showing up at a Tuesday Afternoon track workout (during more temperate conditions) to see what this Empire Runner thing was all about. I had a whale of a time. Alec was there, as well as Larry and my good friend Peter Kirk, who made his Empire debut the very same day. I recall a grinning, convivial Doc back-slapping me into the club, before proceeding to rudely grind me into the oval rubber during the workout. I was hooked.
During the following decade, I had the privilege and pleasure of serving as club biographer, newsletter editor, president, event director, and unofficial historian. I estimate during that period of meeting up with ‘Doc’ at perhaps 500 or so workouts, races, club events, backpacking excursions, and so forth. And I found that, curiously, the more time I spent with Alec, the more enigmatic he became.
Like any complex individual, Alec was a study in contrasts. He could horse-play with the best of them in relaxed social situations, and his proclivity for rapid-fire repartee was legendary. He loved to exchange quips at settings like the Spring Lake parking lot before the commencement of an hour of lactic acid overload. However—unlike some habitual needlers—he was humble and secure enough to regularly engage in self-deprecation and wasn’t above playing the fool with a goofy expression or outfit.
As much as he keenly enjoyed and occasionally reveled with near-abandon in the company of kindred souls, however, Alec was prone to slipping into silence and contemplation depending on the situation. To my eye, he best recharged his energies in the solitude of his beloved forests and mountains with often nary a word spoken. During our shared backpacking trips, Alec could go hours without commenting on more than the route at hand, his innermost thoughts a mystery.
Unlike many individuals (especially males) of exceptional and well-rounded intellect, Alec was disinclined to show others how smart he was. Even when discussing topics of which he was especially versed (such as conservative healthcare), Doc was generally informative without being argumentative. Even as I discovered after a time that he could actually harbor some strong opinions on various matters, I found he largely kept them to himself and consistently conducted himself—as far as I could see—with geniune respect for others.
Lest one get the idea from my developing portrait that Alec was some kind of gentle, secular saint, he I’m sure would be the first to ridicule the idea. As gentle and welcoming as Alec could be around his patients at the office or in greeting a new member to the club, in his heyday he was one exceedingly tough S.O.B. out on the trail, track or road. Through sheer force of his magnetic presence and strategic cajoling, he often bent Thursday group training runs to his will, choosing contrarian routes and a punishing pace that suited his personal desires. And with a sadistic flourish, he had a knack of ending a brief group bathroom break and rest just as laggards (such as occasionally Peter Kirk and I) finally caught up to him on the slopes of some steep Annadel trail or another, only to taste his clouding dust as he and his fitter cohorts that day mercilessly blasted off once more.
Other than during some of his hosted Monday Night runs on Yolo Court or a Club Jingle Bell Run he might have frequented with me, I rarely saw him run or hike without it seeming like there was no tomorrow. For someone with a French family name who liked to sport his euro cycling cap in his garage at home, he was as quintessentially American as they come in a kind of John Muir meets Gary Cooper way. With his rugged embrace of the outdoors, irreverent humor, a constant drive to test and improve upon his physical and mental limits, his desire to help others, and a cool mustache, one could easily envision ‘Doc’ Isabeau serving as a roving country doctor on the fringes of the 1870’s western frontier.
Away from competitive track and trail, Alec’s leadership style underwent a remarkable transformation. When encountering him at our monthly meetings, races, social gatherings, or other organized settings, I found Alec to be a true servant leader. Humble, a careful and active listener, a deliberative and inclusive decision-maker who strove to blend wide-ranging consensus with a thorough analysis of the situation before proposing, supporting and executing policy decisions. He tended to let others most of the talking before jumping in. He avoided making any particular issue or problem become personal. He led, most of all, through example.
To those who got to know him, Alec could display another aspect of his multi-faceted persona; he could be quite the outdoorsman geek in a boyish way. He loved his trucks (‘rigs’, he liked to call them) and outdoor gear, and would endlessly debate and strategize with Mojo the wisest use of winches and cables, belay and rappel devices, topo maps and ice axes. If around, I’d have to eventually tune out from techno overload. On the other hand, I can understand very well how Doc would fade out himself when, Peter, Larry, myself and other track, football, & baseball nerds might start tossing around mile PRs, state meet performances, passing percentages, batting averages, and playoff records. Organized sports trivia didn’t really light Alec’s fire.
Assessing Alec’s legacy—particularly in relation to the Empire Runners—is daunting task. For over thirty action-packed years, he dedicated a considerable portion of his mind, body, and spirit to creating community through outdoor activity. Like other long-time club stalwarts such as Tori and Larry Meredith, Bob Shor, Tanya Narath, Doug Courtemarche, Pam Horton, Lisa Isabeau, John Royston, Vall Sell, Dale Peterson, Shelly Lydon, Jerry Lyman, Dan Preston, Al Tagliaferri, Cathy Dubay, Mike McGuire, Dan Aldridge, and Peter Kirk (please forgive me for excluding here so many other worthies; my mind momentarily draws a blank), as well as more recent club movers and shakers that I unfortunately lack knowledge of, Alec was essentially responsible for making Sonoma County a healthier, more interesting, and more welcoming place with his unflagging efforts and salutory attitude.
Alec was a superb runner. He came to racing relatively late from competitive cycling, and did not really have the track background that many of his elite competition possessed. Where Alec particularly stood out was on the trail. His top times in our club’s Loop and Loop de Loop events, in addition to the Ilsanjo 10 mile and—most notably—the legendary Dipsea race in Marin County (where Alec earned at least three prized ‘Black Shirts’, I believe), compared favorably to many racers who otherwise boasted 10K track or road times 2 to 3 minutes faster than Alec’s. Doc was simply fearless on the trail, and the more arduous, the happier he was. At his best, he had both the springiness of a deer and the agility of a big cat over hills and dales. But most of all, he possessed a nearly unmatched ability to suffer on the trail in relentless pursuit of his goals. I remember the time when I think he was at his fittest. He was under Danny Aldridge’s tutelege in preparation for I think the 1994 or 95 edition of the Dipsea, and it was a Tuesday at the SRJC track. Danny was tapering Alec for the big day with a Mile-1320-880-440 interval set. I remember Alec being in the zone. His workout times as I recall were an amazing 4:48 – 3:30 – 2:16 – 59 with a short rest in between. Not bad for an avowed trail runner!
Alec was one of the most integrative people I have ever met, across many different walks of life. That is to say, his vocation, avocations, and character were remarkably in harmony with one another across the vicissitudes of time. I did not know him to be one to spend much time on idle amusements that did not directly feed one of his passions: Outdoor activity, spending quality time with Lisa and/or some of his other good friends in the club and beyond, contributing at a club event, or engaging in his professional practice. He practiced what he preached, stayed remarkably true to his passions and goals, and consistently treated others the way I believe he generally wished to be treated. In other words, as Larry and others have so astutely noted, Alec made the most of his time in this life. His lifespan as measured by earthly orbits around our sun may seem tragic in its brevity, and yet he packed the experiences and exuded the infectious joie de vivre of multiple normal lifetimes into his alloted moment.
The late mythologist Joseph Campbell opined (to paraphrase) that it isn’t really that people are searching and grasping for the meaning of life. Rather, it is the experience of being fully alive that we truly seek and crave. In this sense, I think Alec lived more truly than many of us. It seems to me that he continually pushed his mind, body and spirit to the limits not so much for worldly reasons, but rather to brush up to the very razor’s edge of transcendence itself. Although anything but a proponent of organized religion, it seemed to me from afar (Lisa and Mojo, among others, would be much better judges) that Alec shared a spiritual orientation towards the great outdoors embraced and espoused by many of the great American transcendentalists, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Walt Whitman, John Muir, and Louisa May Alcott.
I read this quote by Muir, and I think of Alec:
Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses andgentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail (Our National Parks, 1901, Page 56).
In his ground-breaking studies of the archetypal hero across cultures and ages, Joseph Campbell often exemplified his insights with epic stories of legendary figures of days gone by. However, he also emphasized how every person—no matter how ‘ordinary’—has the potential to become an authentic hero in the mythological sense. The key was not only to courageously deal with the various challenges that arise within one’s evolving circumstances as a way to internally develop, but also to then bring one’s hard-earned insights to one’s home and community in order to serve others. And when one’s accomplishes this when also engaging in pursuits that nourish one’s deepest life passions, one is truly ‘following their bliss’, as Campbell said.
Alec Isabeau followed his bliss. And he will be sorely missed. I can only imagine what his beloved life partner Lisa Isabeau (nee Titus), surviving family members, and closest friends are experiencing in terms of loss. And what an enormous loss to our club and community it has been to also lose such long-time members as John ‘Mojo’ Royston, Bob Shor, Dan Preston, Ernst Bohn, George Urdzik, and now—as I literally just find out—Mike McGuire! as well as other Empire Runner’s Club luminaries who have passed on in recent months and years. As Larry Meredith so eloquently expressed in his recent memorium of Alec’s life, he (and Mojo) tragically left us far too soon, insofar as these things go. However, we can best serve their legacies—and of all those devoted club members who have come and gone before us—by giving back to our respective communities whenever we have the time and energy. Perhaps more than in living memory, our nation needs community-building of the kind that bridges difference and strengthens meaningful connections. Let us meet the challenge and continue this important task in our own, unique ways. R.I.P. Doc.
(Written by Larry Meredith. Photos from previous Empire blog articles)
Sandi McGuire has announced that a memorial for her husband, Empire Runners Hall-of-Famer Mike McGuire, will take place at Daniel’s Chapel of the Roses, 1225 Sonoma Avenue, Santa Rosa on Sunday, August 5 at 1:00 p.m. The services will be followed by a gathering at the Friedman Event Center, 4676 Mayette Avenue, Santa Rosa.
While much of Mike’s running history can be found on the Hall of Fame page of the Empire Runners website, a perusal through club history reveals a long timeline of his contributions to our running community.
Mike McGuire began teaching at Herbert Slater Middle School in Santa Rosa in the early 1970s and when the local junior highs added the sport of cross country Mike became the very first coach for the Spartans. Mike was a very popular teacher at Slater for many years before taking over as Principal at Hidden Valley Elementary School where he finished his career.
Mike joined Empire Runners Club in the winter of 1979. He was first mentioned in club results soon after for his performance in the Chico Half-Marathon. “Mike McGuire was the first Empire Runner to finish; he was 78th of 581 finishers with a 1:24:10.” His enthusiasm for racing showed up regularly in ER results later that year. At the Labor Day Races held on the roads near Piner High School, Mike ran both the 2-mile (15th) and 10-mile (8th). Two weeks later he doubled again at an event called Around The Mountain, placing 3rd in the 2.35-mile warm-up and then 12th in the 5.6-miler that circled Fitch Mountain out of Healdsburg.
Apparently coaching and teaching left Mike with too much time on his hands because his involvement with the running club was about to snowball into some serious commitments. Within a year of joining, Mike became newsletter editor. A few months later he had one of the best races of his life, a 1:16:17 half-marathon in Sacramento that placed him 21st among 1080 finishers.
On November 16, 1980 the Empire Runners Club held the first McGuire’s Breakfast Run and Mike reported on the event he both directed and competed in:
“A brisk run or two before breakfast is the idea behind this 8:30 a.m. event. The weather was nice; the runners ready; and the neighbors quite surprised to see the street filled with 40 scantily-clad people. The potluck was enjoyable and many stayed to enjoy the warm and sunny afternoon.”
Mike finished 2nd to Jeff Parr in the 1.9-mile race and then took on the 5.6-miler, finishing 4th, just one second behind then-Analy HS coach John Anderson. Masters phenom Jim Bowers won the event by nearly a minute. Two weeks later Mike doubled in the Petaluma Turkey Trot, taking 2nd in the 2-mile and 4th in the 10-mile.
Empire Runners President Tom Crawford reported the minutes of the November 21, 1980 club meeting:
“The club held a general membership meeting at the Straw Hat Pizza Parlor on Farmers Lane. The meeting environment was very conducive to carrying out very important business. Between pizza orders being called out over a P.A. system, children playing the pinball machines, etc., etc. the following high level decisions were made:
MIKE MCGUIRE was elected Club President for a two-year term.
The club voted to allow merchant advertisement in the newsletter.
The club voted to buy 4 pitchers of beer and 1 pitcher of Coke to enhance the meeting.”
Mike had gone from new member to the club’s highest position in less than 2 years. It is interesting to read Tom’s final message to club members: “As Mike and Sandi take office they will need your help and consideration to meet an even more demanding, growing and changing membership.” A subtle reminder that spouses and significant others often serve by default and that Sandi and Mike were a team. That remained obvious throughout their lives together.
Mike continued to fill up his club resume when on January 10 of 1981 he hosted an Empire Runners Marathon Clinic to prepare for Chico’s Bidwell Classic Marathon. Mike listed the participation fee as “$31,874 with Mercedes; $2.00 without.”
Mike became involved in many races over the ensuing decades and, in recent years, took over the vital yet often thankless role of securing permits and insurance for our many club events. He performed this as he did all of his commitments: with dedication and precision.
Outside of teaching and running, Mike was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, was known to have enjoyed many a variety of beer, had a keen photographic eye and was an avid cyclist. He served as a board member for the Santa Rosa Cycling Club and, while in his 60s, Mike completed the famed Paris-Brest-Paris bike ride, a 1200-kilometer (746 miles) endurathon that must be completed in less than 90 hours.
When speaking with Mike he gave you his complete attention and would offer high praise for the smallest of achievements and offer sincere gratitude for anything you may have done to help him, the running club or the community. Mike made you feel important and worthy and that is certainly why so many of his past students and fellow club members have weighed in on social media with such emotion, admiration and, of course, heavy sadness at his passing.
On the first newsletter masthead that lists Mike as president his home address is on Aaron Drive in the Hidden Valley neighborhood. The very same neighborhood that last October was incinerated in the early hours of the horrific firestorm. Less than two months after the fires, for the 38th Annual McGuire’s Breakfast Run, Mike had us gather again at Hidden Valley Elementary School, spared from the flames by just a block or two, and we somberly toured the wasteland of ash and still-standing chimneys that he once called home.
Speaking to him about the tragic event one would never suspect that he had suffered any misfortune. Mike was as upbeat as ever, claiming that life was taking him on a new adventure and that he could finally stop fretting over all the junk stored in his house that he just refused to part ways with. Obviously he and Sandi lost much, much more but Mike was determined not to lose any sleep over things that were out of his control.
Just a few months before the fires Mike had been diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his neck. His energy and enthusiasm for life never seemed to skip a beat as he described his condition and expressed only optimism about his future. We all wanted to believe that he would get through this. That Mike and Sandi would rebuild their house and their lives and the sparkle in his eyes would captivate us for years to come. By the spring of this year cancer was taking Mike apart, piece-by-piece, but as fellow Empire Runner Tori Meredith reported just days before he passed, the sparkle was still there. It will long be remembered.
(Written by Larry Meredith. Photos courtesy of Paul Berg , Val Sell, and Tori Meredith)
Alec ‘Doc’ Isabeau, September 7, 1961 – June 23, 2018
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of long-time club member Alec Isabeau. An Empire Runners Club member since 1986, Alec “Doc” Isabeau has been a major contributor to the growth and direction of this organization for more than 30 years. In the beginning years he was an enthusiastic ambassador who encouraged every local runner he met to join forces in promoting a fun and healthy lifestyle through running, among other things. Alec soon took on more responsibility in club matters, holding the title of Director of Publicity in 1988 and was chosen to be president in September of 1989, a position he held for more than 2 years.
In the early 1990’s Alec met Analy High School cross country coach Lisa Titus through running club activities and they were soon married. Both have been dependable volunteers at hundreds of club events and activities ever since and both loved competing on the Empire Runners cross country team every fall.
It was also in the early 1990s that Alec met new club member John “Mojo” Royston and in 1993 that pair, sensing that our brutal Annadel Loop 7-Mile trail race was too tame for like-minded pain addicts, introduced the Loop-de-Loop 14-Miler to our club race schedule. In a newsletter introduction titled What’s Twice as Fun as the Annadel Loop?, the selling point was as follows:
“Tired of the hum-drum jog around the neighborhood? Bored with all those monotonous, paved, TAC-certified races? Still whining that the Annadel Loop is too short, too flat, too easy?” They went on to warn that “the course will NOT be marked or monitored! . . . though it’s likely to be strewn with clothes and muddy shoes afterwards. All participants will receive prompt psychiatric counseling; survivors are invited to the Isabeau/Garcia house afterwards for coffee, bagels, bandages, etc.” The event was “brought to you without remorse by Doc n’ Mojo Productions,” the first mention of the now infamous collaborative efforts staged by these two hilarious cohorts. The race lives on: the 26th edition of the Loop-de-Loop will take place this November 4.
In 1995 Alec served a second term as president of the Empire Runners while Mojo served as a highly successful Membership Director. Mojo would eventually follow in Alec’s footsteps serving two separate terms as president. Doc and Mojo were not through with their hijinks in club-related matters. In 2003 they came up with the Sugarloaf Summer Solstice Sunset Relay, a unique event in that it began on a Friday evening on one of the longest days of the year and included a post-race BBQ and group campout for all entrants. The course was relatively short but, as could be expected, routed over the roughest and steepest sections of Sugarloaf State Park. It proved the mantra of Doc n’ Mojo Productions: “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun!” The race eventually was moved to a Saturday morning event at Windsor’s Riverfront Park and included an elaborate post-race breakfast. Now the Riverfront Relay, the event is going on 16 years old.
A chiropractor by profession, Alec’s reputation as a remarkable healer of running-related injuries earned him the trust of hundreds of local runners over the years.
Alec battled cancer that began in his lungs more than 5 years ago. Lisa and his best friend, Mojo, were by his side as he appeared to be on his way to recovery. In a tragic example of how unfair and cruel life can sometimes be, Alec’s cancer reappeared and was more widespread this time. To make matters much worse, Mojo was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer last year and succumbed within a few months. Those of us who knew the two men and who have witnessed them struggle mightily in their final months were not surprised by their calm and courageous demeanor in facing their fate. We are left to question how two of the most health-conscious people we have ever known can be taken from us way too soon. We are left to wonder why two such pillars of our community were dealt such an unfair hand. We are left to try to emulate their love of life and take their advice to enjoy every minute you have on earth.
“So much was lost in these devastating fires, and yet the sense of community and camaraderie in Sonoma County has never been stronger. We’ve come together to form an alliance, and challenge ourselves to raise money to help rebuild our local parks – the parks that bring our community together and provide respite from this stressful and painful experience. We will be running in Tahoe this summer to raise funds for the parks and hope that other runners coming to Ragnar Trail Tahoe this year will be inspired to help us with our mission to raise at least $40,000 for the parks restoration effort. Join us to help our community remain #SonomaStrong.” -Justin Borton
It all started with Taylor Mountain Tuesdays. 3 years ago, Justin Borton and his small cohort of die-hard Sonoma County trail runners began meeting at 6:30 sharp every Tuesday morning to tackle the 1300-foot behemoth at the heart of Taylor Mountain Regional Park. Their goal is to make it up to the summit and back down before most Sonoma County residents have had breakfast, rain or shine.
The brutal climb hasn’t grown much over the years, but Borton’s network of Sonoma County trail runners certainly has. Ranging from weekend warriors to elite athletes, this group has formed the base of the#SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challenge.
Created in the wake of the most devastating wildfires in California history, the goal of the #SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challenge is to raise at least $40,000 to directly benefit the Sonoma County Parks. Borton hopes to build 10 relay teams, comprised of 75+ runners, to represent Sonoma County at Ragnar Tahoe this year, with proceeds being donated directly to Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation Wildfire Restoration Fund.
Taking place on July 20-21 at Royal Gorge, this event offers a different format than other relays. Instead of waiting your turn to run along the highway in a cramped van, this relay is centered around a base camp area with 3 routes originating and ending in the camp. Each of 8 team members runs the 3 loops consecutively over approximately 24 hours. The comfort and camaraderie of all the teams being in the same location will create a convivial yet competitive atmosphere. Details of the relay are at https://www.runragnar.com/event-detail/trail/tahoe_ca
Empire Runners is teaming up with #SonomaStrong Parks Restoration Challengeto increase awareness of the strength of our running community and raise money for the parks. Ragnar has agreed to turn over a large portion of entry fees to the cause, plus Borton and his crew are raising donations and schwag from sponsors. We plan to have a large camp area specifically for our Sonoma county group, plus lots of fun during and after the running. Some of the local health clubs and running companies are also fielding teams, so this is shaping up to be the event not to miss.
Here’s the link to sign up https://goo.gl/4pBZ3A. Register here instead of at the Ragnar site, and please make a note that you are registering to be on a #SonomaStrong Empire Runners Team. We need all speeds and abilities, we will assign teams as the date draws near. If you want to participate as a non-runner, as a crew helper or support staff, sign up as well and we’ll have a group meeting later.
(All photos courtesy of Sonoma County Regional Parks staff)
Editor’s Note: Empire Runner’s member Michael McGuire’s positive attitude about life “after the fire” has become an inspiration to others.
Quite early one morning . . . A rap on our door began an adventure that will play out over the next couple of years. A neighbor, living a half mile from our house, banged on our door about 2:00 A.M. to say a serious fire was moving toward our homes. Quickly picking up the dog and very few items we drove both cars to Safeway on Mendocino Avenue. There were several people milling around in the lot and the market had brought out a pallet of water for free distribution. Sandi and I determined we had time to return home. So taking one car and the dog we drove back to Aaron Drive in the Hidden Valley neighborhood. We probably stayed 15 minutes and made a couple of quick trips to the car – Sandi with her sewing machine and some clothing; me with my camera, hard drives, Mac Mini, some cables and two arm loads of clothes. We probably had more time, but never being in this situation before, we left sooner than necessary. Looking for important items under the glow of cell phone flashlights likely caused us to miss important belongings – Sandi’s many beautiful quilts, family treasures and most jewelry. I was sure, though, we would return to a house and neighborhood unscathed. Anything else was too improbable.
Our son and his family live in the Burbank Gardens Historical District and we let ourselves into his house about 3:00 A.M. He was quite surprised to see us. We shared what little information we had and I set out across town to see what I could learn. I walked and hitch hiked to the foot of Aaron Drive. Within a hundred yards of the street, there looked to be no fire destruction, although there was smoke (therefore fire?). I witnessed the full involvement by fire of houses at the bottom of the street and knew our home was also gone. After taking a couple of photos, a neighbor and I were able to hitch another ride to our respective safe zones. We got to ride in the back of a pickup truck with no fear of anyone stopping us. At this point it was about 7:30. I have no recollection of the rest of the day for us, but our daughter and her family were evacuated from their home near Fulton Road. Cell phones proved to be indispensable in the first two weeks of the fire.
As the weeks went on I tried to keep a diary of events. That proved very difficult for me. So many things were happening and so many conversations occurred that days became fractured. By the end of any day I was exhausted and could barely recall what had transpired. There were too many rumors and too few facts. Fortunately, our son secured housing for us the next day and we moved into a furnished cottage on the edge of downtown. Despite the problems and challenges of the fire loss, living downtown is proving to be terrific – three breweries, two bookstores, uncountable restaurants, a movie theater, library, police and fire department and wonderful shops within three blocks! And the new town square.
Despite the confusion and magnitude of the fires what happened next was impossible to foretell – the constant out-flowing of kindness, generosity, skilled helpfulness, professional competence and charity. The banners around town, the stories in the newspapers and on the radio, the witnessing and receipt of ‘good deeds’ being done will forever mark this community as one that willingly and seemingly easily demonstrates a strength of character rare in the world today.
Daily routines are still difficult to maintain. Too many small tasks that interrupt the need for more concentrated thinking and doing. There is still a bubble of curiosity and needing to share adventures and misadventures. Stories are becoming more compact with their repeated telling, but appointments must still be met, deadlines are still in force and the day still has a finite number of hours and minutes.
By the end of the days, weeks, months and years to come, I am confident we will be made whole with the benefit of new and strengthened friendships. SANTA ROSA STRONG and similar mottos are true in ways we never imagined.
Resolutions 2018 –
Interesting question. I am dogged by what I think is a slow recovery to my cancer operation in August and radiation treatment in September and October. Add to that recovery from the fire and planning for a new home in a bit of an uncertain future adds to an ‘iffy’ resolution: to get back to a state of health and confidence that allows me to see my life as still expanding. A better resolution is to continue to see the positive side of events over which we have little opportunity to control. We are dealt a hand and should learn to play it in a way that benefits and inspires others.
Editor’s Note: Empire Runner’s Club member Emil Shieh reflects on the Santa Rosa Firestorm of 2017 and how it effected his family. His posts on Facebook made us cry and laugh at the same time, and reminded us of the importance of a positive attitude and humor during times of crisis.
Cover Photo courtesy of Emil Shieh. Caption: “I posed like this before when our house was not transparent.”
With the fires, we suffered the loss of our home and belongings, but gained appreciation for the generosity of the community, in coming together to get us back on our feet. We were fortunate to have the police knocking door-to-door to warn us that the fire was coming and that we had to immediately evacuate. Little did we know that it was the last time we would see our house again. We left with ourselves and our pets and not much else. We stayed at a motel on Cleveland Ave, from which we could see the red glow of the fire and hear explosions in the distance, and the next day, even though the area was still blocked off, I headed up to our street in Fountain Grove with my friend who was a fire fighter to check on our homes. He had earlier been up to check his house and found nothing left standing but his concrete steps, and myself, what little hope I had that our house had survived was crushed when I got to our street and saw house after house completely flattened by the flames. There were still small smouldering flames and plenty of smoke around. Everything was flattened, and eerily I could see the back yard from the front yard. Nothing in the rubble looked salvageable except for nails and random bits of pottery. The backyard furniture was still intact, but was the only thing left standing.
After a short trip to target to get some toothbrushes and clothing essentials the next few days were a blur, meeting up with many friends and neighbors who were in the same boat as us. We learned our daughters school, Cardinal Newman HS, had also burned, but had only a few buildings standing. After days of living out of our car, couch surfing, and dealing with FEMA and insurance, the air started clearing out and we were trying to get some normalcy back in our lives. Off for 2 weeks, my daughter started up with a makeshift school at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Windsor. I found a rental house in Healdsburg and got it furnished thanks to our insurance.
Once the air cleared enough, my headache from breathing all the smoke also resolved, and I began itching to exercise from having all the time off, and as a way to de-stress. However even running requires some basic equipment. I had only my clothes I went to sleep in, a few things I had picked up, and fortunately, some workout clothing that I kept in my car. My wife always told me my car sometimes smelled like a locker, because I used it like a locker. Underneath the dog food, and other things I found a shirt, shorts, and the cap I kept in the car. But I had only Crocs, which I wore for several days. I went to Fleet feet and was surprised to see what was there. There were piles of shoes and clothes that had been donated by people, both new and used. I was able to find a pair to fit myself and my daughter. Thanks Rhonda, and also to New Balance and Hoka for the generous donations. I was nearly in tears to find such help. Even socks were much appreciated. But mostly it was great to find people willing to help us out, and to commiserate with, as many other people had found basics donated by so many people. Probably the last thing you want to do after such a disaster was to go shopping but it was a necessity. I found similar generosity at Healdsburg Running Company with donations as well. Thanks Skip! And at Bike Monkey and Echelon, I found some old cycling clothing and clip less pedals, though I did not have a bike yet.
My daughter, Natalie, eventually also began running again and her cross country schedule returned to semi-normalcy. Spring lake and the parts of Annadel still intact were again the sites of her practice. For her meets, the cross country team had seven varsity girls, 3 of whom lost their homes. Those girls had to wear older uniforms that were a different color but at least they were running again. The football team was unable to use the field and had to hold all practices and games away.
I replaced my bike, thanks to Kevin at Echelon, who also gave me some donated shoes. Every thing feels like another step towards normalcy. We have a long way to go, and have still not decided what to do yet. There are new running and biking trails to explore. Our family is still intact, and our home is where we are, not the house we live in. We are so thankful for all our friends and family, and the community, which has been so supportive of all the fire victims. We are grateful to live in a place that has such amazing people and spirit.
Emil (far left) at the 2 Tread Brewing/ Fleet Feet Run in Santa Rosa, Nov 30th, 2017.
An award to honor Empire Runners’ members who have given exemplary service and dedication to our club and to the running community in general.
At the club meeting on September 22, a proposal was made and approved by the board to create to annual award to honor members whose efforts have enabled the ideals of Empire Runners to grow and prosper over the forty or so years of its existence. Called The Spirit of the Club it will be earned by members whose volunteer work with the club and beyond has significantly benefited the running community through ongoing encouragement, motivation and demonstration of skills and behavior.
Purpose: To honor Empire Runners Club members for significant contributions to Empire Runners of Sonoma County
and acknowledge long-time service to sports and athletics in Sonoma County.
active membership in Empire Runners for 10 years or more. Years of membership need not be consecutive.
significant contributions to the successes of the Empire Runners Club
significant contributions to the furtherance of youth or adult athletics through coaching or other activities that engage others in positive physical activities
There is no age limit to selection for the Spirit of the Club Award
All club members are potentially eligible for the selection of the award. Any club member may nominate any other club member.
Awards will be made annually at the club party
Prospective recipients must be nominated by another club member
Nominators are responsible for collecting information relevant to the prospective inductees’ consideration for the Award and forwarding it to the selection committee
Photos and news articles featuring the nominee will be appreciated
Nominations must be received by November 1 for consideration for the next year’s selections
Recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and a book containing the biographies and contributions of all Spirit of the Club Award members
A maximum of three Spirit of the Club Awards will be given each year
A Spirit of the Club committee will review all applications and will select the honorees
Suggested questions for Spirit of the Club nominators can ask of nominee: (Don’t forget to write the responses. They will be used in the selection process for Spirit of the Club.)
What motivated you to join Empire Runners and about when did you join?
What are some things you have done over the years to benefit Empire Runners? Include dates if possible. Include volunteer opportunities and club leadership roles.
What are some things you have done over the years to benefit youth and/or adult sports and fitness awareness? Include organizations with which you have been or continue to be affiliated with (formally or informally). Include volunteer opportunities and organization leadership roles. Include dates if possible.
What has inspired you over the years to continue providing help or guidance to others in the areas of youth and/or adult fitness and wellness?
In what ways do you believe the needs of youth or adults to participate in sports and/or fitness and wellness activities have changed over the years of your involvement?
What suggestions can you offer to encourage others to become involved in volunteer and/or leadership roles in activities that benefit youth and/or adults?
Pictured above L to R between ER Board members Peter Kirk and Chris Mason are the 2016 recipients Joshua Palmgren, Joshua Pine, Devan Becker, Travis Claeys, Jacob Hayes, Aimee Holland and Adria Barich.
This year the Empire Runners were proud to present scholarships to seven qualified student athletes. We are lucky to have a rapidly growing Running club (now well over
1,000 strong) and thanks to this growth and the generosity of selected members the club was able to give out $7250 in total scholarships this year. The seven student-athletes had a combined unweighted GPA of 3.67. In addition, most of these recipients took an all honors AP curriculum. But these were not just great individual athletes but also great teammates and team leaders. They spent their spare time performing community service and were members of many school clubs, participating in various activities. The Empire Runners are very proud of these seven extremely gifted all around student-athletes.
Joshua Pine of Montgomery was a four year runner whose freshman year was particularly difficult. Being brand new to running, he worked hard each day but had problems with his fitness. Undeterred, he came back his sophomore year and was greatly improved. It was the summer before his junior year though that he became not only a runner but also very interested in the science of running, including nutrition and hydration, becoming a team leader and taking new runners under his tutelage. He also had his best year in cross-country with a PR of 22 minutes on the Spring Lake course (Spring Lake course). During his senior year his hard work and leadership skills continued to drive him as a team captain for the JV boys and a further improvement of his PR (personal record) on the Spring Lake course, running 20:14 on a particularly hot day at the NBL finals. He also had a 45 sec PR at the HokaOneOne 2 Mile at SRJC.
His teachers and coaches are thankful to get to work with this hardworking, dedicated and responsible young man. We are looking forward to seeing where life takes him as he continues his running and education at SRJC. He plans to volunteer coach for Montgomery high school. With continued work his best running is still ahead of him and he will make a great coach.
Joshua Palmgren of Rincon Valley Christian began his running sojourn his junior year on the track. As with any new sport especially running there were some growing pains initially but he concluded his junior track season on a high note, trained hard all summer and readied himself for cross-country. He worked hard and became a team leader as well as immersing himself in the science and numbers of running. His coaches and teachers were impressed with his leadership and maturity. As good a runner as he has become it might be dwarfed by his scholastic achievements with nearly a 4.0 unweighted GPA and the NCS scholar-athlete award for cross-country. He completed his senior year with a huge PR at league finals in cross-country with an 18:48 on the SLC and another PR on the NCS Meet of Champions 3 mile course in 19:02. He competed in three events at league finals in track (800,1600,3200) and had a huge PR at the Redwood Empire 1A meet with a fine 10:47 in the 3200. In his spare time he managed a number of community service activities and he might fit you with a pair of shoes at his part time job with the Fleet Feet team.
this former Rincon Valley Christian Eagle will matriculate to SRJC and become a member of David Wellman’s Bearcub Track team.
Travis Claeys of Sonoma Valley has travelled all over the west coast and British Columbia on four missions with his church, has volunteered at the Sonoma Ecology Center, spent the summer of 2014 in France as a foreign exchange student and is an Eagle Scout. He is a very good student and an outstanding cross-country and track athlete. He was a baseball player first and came to running his junior year. At the finish of his senior season he became the #2 runner all time for his school on his home course and the SLC. He finished the cross-country season #2 at league finals in a PR 15:48 (SLC). He followed that up with an outstanding 11th place at NCS in 15:56 earning a trip to the State cross-country championships in Fresno. There he finalized a fantastic season with a 16:19 time on a tough 5K course finishing in 66th place out of over two-hundred runners. His track season was more of the same with a fine 9:52 at league finals and a 9:58 at the Redwood Empire meet. He was awarded 1st Team All league and All Empire cross-country his junior and senior years.
His Coach and teachers laud his maturity and leadership on the field and in the classroom and his ability to be a team player. These skills will allow him to go far as he studies environmental science and runs cross-country and track at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Because of his late start in running we feel his best times are still ahead of him.
Amie Holland of Santa Rosa HS came to running from another sport; soccer. After a series of concussions derailed her promising soccer career, this athlete resiliently gave up her sport for another – running, starting on her track team and then becoming a member of the cross-country team. It was obvious to her coaches and teachers and is obvious to anyone who has had the fortune of watching her run or working with her in community service that this ball of energy is indeed very gifted but more importantly she has the intangible of grit, accepting all challenges, testing herself and the ability to give all of herself. Her list of honors and awards both running and academic fills over half a page yet they are dwarfed by her other extracurricular and community activities. She has not only maintained nearly a 3.6 unweighted GPA in an all honors curriculum she also excels in the Art Quest program.
This natural track athlete excelled in the 800 but also ran in both sprint relays. She was the two-time defending NBL 800 meter champion winning this year in 2:17.5, 2nd at the Redwood Empire meet and 8th in the finals of the Meet of Champions with a PR of 2:16.4. She was also this years Viking Track Classic 800 winner. In cross-country her grit and determination was obvious as she sometimes willed herself around the Spring Lake course. She finished 5th overall at the NBL finals with an outstanding PR of 18:51 to finish 1st team All League and honorable mention All Empire cross-country and All Empire 1st Team in track.
This scholar-athlete’s coaches and teachers praise her leadership, her passion and her ability to bring her classmates and teammates with her on her journey of excellence. That is high praise indeed for a young lady whose first year of life was spent in an impoverished orphanage in China. Her goals seem so simple: run to the best of her ability and have fun while doing it and to become a Registered Nurse and make a difference in the world. She will be running and studying at Winona St University in Minnesota.
Jacob Hayes of Piner came to running his freshman year just because his friends did. At that point he had not run before nor had he been on a team. His freshman year he was a middle of the road JV runner until league finals where he finished with a 90 second PR, 17:31 on the Spring Lake course. That race forever changed not only how he thought of himself as a runner but also his position in life. He continued to improve and mature as both a runner, as a teammate and leader; becoming the MVP and team captain in cross-country after junior year. A serious injury curtailed his early season preparation and results this year but after working hard on his physical therapy he came back and helped lead his team to a league championship, a 3rd place finish at NCS and a trip to the state championships in Fresno. Although he had his best times during his junior year (16:25 on the Spring Lake course) his ability to come back from serious injury and support his team is more telling of his true worth as a teammate and leader. His track PRs are 2:08 (800), 4:40 (1600) and 10:22 (3200).
But statistics alone do not tell the true story of this scholar-athlete. He graduated third in his class with a 3.97 unweighted GPA in an all honors course load. He was a CSF member, president of the Math club and Christian club, created lesson plans and taught basic science class for special-needs students and is one of six students working on a level 3 STEM certificate. His STEM research involves analyzing geographic earthquake and city emergency response data which will be presented to the city of Santa Rosa.
A leader, a teammate, a teacher and by his cross-country coaches assessment a great friend, this outstanding student will be taking a gap year with Torchbearers International in Costa Rica and Albania doing mission work prior to matriculating to either Biola, Corban or George Fox Universities where he plans to major in kinesiology and physical therapy.
He will be greatly missed by his coaches, teachers and friends in the Piner Family and he will be welcomed and appreciated at the University of his choice.
Devan Becker of Montgomery began his running career as a self proclaimed mid pack runner in middle school. In a decision he now says is one of his biggest regrets he first came out for cross-country his junior year and NOT his freshman year. But from the start he committed himself to two years to cross-country and in its essence that is his story: dedication, determination and commitment, to give nothing less than his best on a daily basis. If you ask him, he will say he is not physically gifted but that is because his essence of hard work dominates his results. His inner confidence is bolstered by this gift and he shares that gift with teammates as an effective leader and as his coach’s voice on those long workouts.
His two years had an incredible impact as demonstrated by the results – 4 min PR 16:48 on the Spring Lake course, 10:27 2nd in his heat at the Hoka 2-mile Madness, 2015 NBL All league) and by team effect (Coaches Award, Leadership Award, Steve Prefontaine Award. With an unweighted GPA of 3.92 and a top Varsity member of NBL Champion, Montgomery HS Golf team this athlete was his school’s Scholar Athlete of the Year for the Redwood Empire. His teachers laud this young man’s commitment, focus and maturity as well as the respect he garners from his peers. Those skills as well as his incredible personality will serve him well as he continues his education in the math field with a goal of teaching high school math (preferably at Montgomery) and Head cross-country coach. We would not bet against that. This former Montgomery Viking will continue his running and education at SRJC with Coach Wellman.
Adria Barich of Casa Grande has achieved great things both scholastically and athletically since her first day of her freshman year even though, as she says, she joined cross-country on a whim, more as a social event often slowing down during workouts to run with friends. As a freshman this recipient made it on to the varsity cross-country team that begin a run of four trips to Fresno and the state cross-country championships while in track she was already one of the top 800 runners in the NBL. In her sophomore year there was continued improvement dropping a minute in her Spring Lake course time and a four second improvement in the 800. In fact, in a rarity in female high school distance running, this athlete had significant improvements all four years to become one of the best combination cross-country and 1600 runners in the history of her school and the Empire. Her final cross-country season left her with PRs of: 17:57 on the Spring Lake course (#19 AT), 17:52 at NCS (12th AT), 18:19 at Woodard Park (#17AT-5K) and on the Track 2:21.5 in the 800 and 4:57.9 in the 1600 (#11 AT). She is three times All Empire in cross-country and track, three time Heart & Sole Athlete of the Week and at least half a dozen team awards.
That is impressive indeed but running accomplishments are not the whole story. This young lady has excelled in the classroom with a 3.97 GPA unweighted. Her teachers and coaches remark on this scholar athlete’s ability to set goals, formulate a plan and achieve. They laud her ability to perform the hard work necessary both individually and in a group effort along with her leadership skills. Her maturity is evident as she finds time to give back to the running community that she feels an integral part of; coaching elementary school track, volunteering for local races including Empire Runner events and numerous fundraisers for her school’s all weather track. Our final scholarship recipient’s achievements have landed her a scholarship at the University of Nevada Reno.
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.
How 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.
In 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.
When 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.
They’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).
During 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.