Category Archives: NEWS

Miscellaneous Empire Runners news!


People talk about holiday stress and I feel sorry for them. The holidays do not stress me out at all. Other things stress me out; cooking, shopping, traffic, but not the holidays.

I actually love this time of year. When the days get darker and I have to wear gloves when I run and Starbucks cups turn red, I get really happy. This wasn’t always the case. I used to feel compelled to do it all. Decorate, bake, buy tons of perfect gifts, get the annual photo book completed, entertain and stay in shape. I was so busy trying to portray the life we see on the cover of holiday magazines, I would get to January 2 and realize I didn’t really enjoy the season at all! Then I got cancer one year and I was forced by chemo and surgeries to slow down a bit. I entered the holiday season with the perfect excuse to sit back and take in the season. My Cancer Christmas was about healing and celebrating life with family and friends. All the ideas on the covers of magazines that look so good and require so much work were not an option that year.

Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.
Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.

The decorations went up but not all of them. We baked but only when we really felt like it. I bought a few gifts but only if I saw something that had meaning or purpose instead of just because gift giving had to perfectly equal between both kids. Kids watch closely. At first they count to make sure they each get the same number of gifts. As they get older they start to calculate the value of the gifts to be sure an equal amount was spent on both kids. The cancer Christmas I bought gifts but my kids went easy on me and didn’t get too angry when they noticed an inequality. We entertained that year, but no one cared that my linens didn’t match or the food was from Oliver’s. They probably preferred this given my cooking!

It turned out to be one of my favorite holidays ever! I swore to myself that regardless of how much better I would feel the next year, I would not go back to my pre-cancer manic holiday state. For the most part I have not! Here is what I learned the Christmas I had cancer:

  • Gifts that matter: Buy 1-2 meaningful gifts for each child. Don’t bother with a score card. Life is not fair. Sometimes one kid will get a spectacular gift because you found something really cool for them and the next year might be a bust. My favorite gift as a child was the year my sister made me a ski outfit-yes, with a sewing machine! Pants and a jacket. I really wanted skis, boots and poles but our family couldn’t afford it. I loved that outfit and still can hear the sound of it as I skied down the mountain. Or better yet, spend a day with your kids. All day. No electronics. Ok, maybe half a day. They won’t forget it.
  • Demand some ME time. I like to run. I make sure to run throughout the holiday season. Some of my best runs are in December running through the neighborhoods looking at lights. Also enjoyable are runs/hikes in Annadel as it is much less crowded. Whatever your ME thing is, don’t sacrifice it this time of year! That quick errand instead of a workout can wait until AFTER your workout or your ME time. Stores open late this time of year.
  • Have Fun. Doing something with your family and friends should be a priority this time of year. That’s the true meaning of the holidays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Bowling is our family favorite. Holiday light tours are also fun. A family night hike on a full moon is wonderful and even better; this year there is a full moon on Christmas Eve.
  • Slow down you’re moving too fast…Breath. Relax and be in the moment. Blah, blah, blah…you have heard it so much but have you done it? Play a game with your family. Head’s Up (by Ellen) is a blast and everyone in the family can play. You just need your phone or iPad and 10 minutes. It lightens everyone’s mood and will make you smile.

Don’t wait for cancer or some other life crisis to slow you down and force you to enjoy the season the way it was meant to be. Do it this year. And put happy back into the Holidays.

Happy Holidays and Trails my friends.

Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.
Photo by Mike McGuire at the 2014 Xmas Relays in San Francisco.



Top 6 Reasons to join Empire Runners Club over the Galactic Empire! by Trevor Swallow

New Year’s Resolutions are fast approaching and, of course, we know you were planning on joining the Empire Runners Club. BUT, in case you were being recruited to join the Galactic Empire due to the new Star Wars movie coming out, here are the . . .

Top 6 Reasons to join Empire Runners Club over the Galactic Empire!

You’re More Than a Number!


With tens of thousands of identical clones, it can be difficult to stand out in the Galactic Empire crowd. Awaken your individuality in the Empire Runners Club (ERC). Plus, wardrobe colors and styles are totally up to you! (Hint: More than just white)

Positive Motivation


It’s shocking, but motivation can be a powerful thing. Get more positive support and encouragement with the Runners Club. With weekly training options and social gatherings, it’s easy to plug in, get going, and stay on target.

Variety of Terrain


Ever get bored seeing the same things over and over? Try living on a giant metal space station! No way! Explore beautiful natural landscapes with ERC at many different race locations throughout Sonoma County.

Run Together, but Race Yourself


Rather than duel your arch-nemesis in battle, the Runners Club culture fosters the inclusive community feel. ERC races feel like running with a group of friends. Search your feelings and you’ll know it’s about doing your best and having fun.

Lower Choking Hazard


‘nough said.

Slim Up for the New Year


This one is on almost everyone’s resolution list. Don’t let the Galactic Empire crush you into believing the newest fad diet, join ERC. Running burns calories, is good for cardiovascular health, and is proven to relieve stress. Don’t let your thoughts betray you, get running!

So there you have it. Search your feelings and don’t fall for the Galactic Empire trap. The Empire Runners Club is always looking for new recruits. Sign up during your next trip to Tosche Station! We would be honored if you would join us.

And remember, try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

Santa Rosa Express Youth Running Club, with Mark Drafton

Nov15_SRExpress010Question: This is the iPad generation. Is it difficult getting them to put down the screens and run wild like when we were kids?

Answer: In this day and age children use more technology in their daily lives than ever before. With that said, we invite the parents to join us in all of our activities. We try to make it a family affair.


Do parents primarily encourage their kids to join, or do some kids find the club on their own?

We have a little of both. Parents who encourage their kids to join have heard about us through current or former parents. We do have that group of kids who seek us out on their own because they want the training for other sports.


Who are your current coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Our current coaches include Dawit Tessfasilassie who was a track and cross country stand out at Piner High school,  Caroline Gonsalves, who is a local elementary school teacher with extensive marathon experience,  and the head coach Mark Drafton, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and former high school 400m specialist.


How do your coaches make running “fun?” Even a common comment from adults is that running is boring.

We try to make each practice an event by changing the routine often. And we invite parents to join in our workouts. We use games for the younger group with prizes and competition for the older kids.


Bob Schor can often be seen as the “starter” for both track and cross-country races in the north bay. What is his connection to Santa Rosa Express? And why is there a scholarship named after him?

Bob was a former Santa Rosa Express Coach and continues to be involved in coaching during track season. He was instrumental in keeping the club together and brought it back from the brink of fading away four years ago when the coaching support was no longer there. He reached out to me and with the help of Kelly Gaab and Caroline Gonsalves we were able to right the ship and it has grown exponentially every year.


Do you have any well-known alumni?

Julia Stamps, Sara Bei, Jacque Taylor, Jenny Aldridge, and Kim Conley.

What do you want to tell parents that are considering getting their kids involved?

The mission of Santa Rosa Express Youth Running Club is to encourage young athletes to learn and appreciate running in a fun, safe and healthy environment. Runners learn good sportsmanship, a strong work ethic, and self-motivation while receiving training and coaching from a team of dedicated volunteers. Our coaches believe in providing a dynamic environment in which our athletes can develop at a rate designed for each individual. Running is a great opportunity for young runners to get in shape, try new distances and build self-confidence. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. It doesn’t take long to feel good and see improvement, but it does take regular practice.




Turkey Trot Fever, Oh Yeah !!

Thanksgiving Wild Turkey Ramble Training Run!

When:  November 26, 2013   8:00 AM                                                                  Location: Cobblestone Trailhead, Channel Drive, Annadel State Park

Get down and do the ever so funky Turkey Trot at the Empire Runners Club informal fun run on Thanksgiving!!!

Why do runners love to attend such an event? Is it the guilt of consuming massive amounts of turkey and perhaps tofurky later in the day? Is it that you might see the Z man in the brightest orange colored sweatshirt ever created?

2014 Empire Runners Turkey Trot
2014 Empire Runners Turkey Trot

Is it the possibility you might see Hutch’s turkey fan and stories about turkeys in Annandel?  Note that Hutch will teach you turkey calls as well, if that’s what you’re into.

We highly suggest that you memorize these fun facts about Thanksgiving before you arrive, because there will be a scantron test before you can start running.

Thanksgiving Facts throughout History                                                        (source:

  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
  • Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
  • Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
  • The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920’s.
  • In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.
  • Congress passed a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
  • Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He “pardons” it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.running-turkey




Do Not Waste Good Time – My Reflections on Sarah Sumpter, by Chris Puppione

I am not sure life was ever going to be long enough for Sarah Sumpter.


It is not so much that she died too young or that the cancer moved too quickly for her. Sarah’s life—regardless of time spent, friends made, miles run, or runners inspired—could never satisfy her. There was just so little time…

When I first met Sarah, it became immediately apparent that the road before her was always going to be too short. Every finish line would be far too near. However, she also believed that the thrill of the race was not in its completion, but in the struggle. If it was up to her, the run would never end. She loved the grind.

2007 FootLocker Finals Balboa Park, San Diego, Ca December 8, 2007 Photo: Victah Sailer@Photo Run 631-741-1865 www.photorun.NET
2007 FootLocker Finals
Balboa Park, San Diego, Ca December 8, 2007
Photo: Victah Sailer@Photo Run

I began recruiting Sarah to run at UC Davis back in 2007, and it was that fall in which she torched courses, shattered records, collected championships, and became a sensation. It was just months later in early 2008 when she publicly shared her struggle with disordered eating, and she had to begin all over again.

She would have several new beginnings over the remaining seven years of her life, and these victories and challenges have been documented ad nauseam, and by far better writers than me. Suffice to say, Sarah did as Rudyard Kipling challenged all of us—runners especially, I believe—she met with Triumph and Disaster in her life and treated those two impostors just the same. There was no vertical oscillation in her emotion regardless of occasion—simply forward motion—a tireless pursuit of something untouchable for most of us in this life. It is something beyond courage that outranks any nobility, and believe me, there is nothing valiant in the death of someone so beautiful. For lack of a better term, it was Grit, and she was its most precious vessel.

Sarah Sumpter did not beat her cancer back with fists balled in rage. Instead, she loved her place as its opponent and ran toward it—she ran through it—and she did this with a heart full of faith and spirit of indomitable passion for the community of people she held most dear—her fellow runners. She truly filled “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” She welcomed the struggles set before her and those that bombarded her body as simply the demands of the race in which she was entered. There was nothing else to do but to keep going.

2007 FootLocker West Regionals Walnut, Ca December 1, 2007 Photo: Victah Sailer@Photo Run 631-741-1865 www.photorun.NET
2007 FootLocker West Regionals
Walnut, Ca December 1, 2007
Photo: Victah Sailer@Photo Run

So when Sarah called me back in May and said we needed to talk, I could feel the intent in her voice. By this time, she was back home in Cloverdale and nursing herself through a nagging injury that kept her running restricted. We met the next day in Healdsburg.

“I need to do the marathon now, Pup.”

At the time, the doctors were pleased with where she was with her cancer, so this was not a notion prompted by any outward indications of what would come to pass in short time. However, they do say that the great ones have a nose for the finish line, and in Sarah’s case, it seemed that she could sense the line accelerating toward her even then.

“Will you coach me?”

It was in this moment that I became aware of a piece of coaching I had never considered before.

Through the years, I have always been concerned with getting the athletes in my charge to the finish line as quickly as possible. In its crudest light, the idea was to build them up, callous them, sharpen them and set them in motion. To the finish line or bust.

With Sarah, in this pastoral setting outside the coffee shop on the square in Healdsburg, I realized our goal was to just get her to the starting line. The running would be the easy part, I recall thinking. If we could just give her a chance to start the one thing she always wanted to finish…

That is when the words of the great Kenyan cross country champion, John Ngugi, pooled in my mind before they spilled from my tongue.

“Don’t waste good time,” I mumbled.

“Good or bad, I can’t waste any of it,” she said. “It’s time.”


We would adopt this as our training philosophy moving forward—before we knew about the offer from the New York City Marathon—before she won at Kenwood on July 4th despite a nasty fall—before we discovered why she fell in the first place and never ran again just three weeks later. We would remind each other over and again…if you feel good, go.

There were long runs, hill sessions, tempo runs, long intervals, blended sessions, special blocks, strides and recovery runs—all the usual menu items for your marathoner, and Sarah devoured them in her typical understated fashion. There was also the stifling sickness brought on by each round of new treatment—an overwhelming lethargy rooted in her disease—a battery of unpredictable days Sarah fended off with whatever she could muster for that day…even walking. If she could go, she would go, and go hard.

In mid-June, when she heard from the New York City Marathon, Sarah was offered two things—entry into the professional women’s field for the greatest American race and a promise that her acceptance of the offer would remain private until we could be certain she would make it to the start. She finally had her marathon and it was just four short months away.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

The next day, her newest chemo drugs arrived. Two days later, her body was “a toxic waste dump,” she said. Two weeks later, she won the 10k at Kenwood in a new course PR. She would not run for another week, but when she did, she closed her run with miles so fast that we really began to see her goal of a 2:37 marathon as a real possibility. Three days later, the chemo took her away from training yet again for another 48 hours. By the 19th of July, she had lost feeling in her left foot, calf, and hand.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

The very next day, on July 20th, despite the loss of feeling on her left side, Sarah said she decided to go the Ngugi route and ran 100 minutes “because I can,” she said. Despite closing the run with several successive miles just a shadow over six-minute pace, Sarah felt it was slow.

“I needed to do something, so I’ll take it.”

It would be the last run of her life.

Not all of life’s miles are completed on the road or trail, and while Sarah Sumpter logged thousands of miles under the power of her own two feet, the distance covered by her story has not been measured because it has not yet reached its conclusion.

Sarah’s nickname, “Stump,” came to her initially by folly—a misspelling in a list of meet entries. In time, however, this name became a fortuitous moniker—a testimony to her ability to not be uprooted.


I never called her Stump because I used to think it meant “cut down,” and that was not how I knew her. To me, she was too big, too much–a giant wrapped in a feisty pixie shell. Now, however, in the wake of her passing, I find myself examining the nature of this nickname.

Stubborn. Tough. Unwavering. Of course, she was all of these things. However, she was not just these things.

A Stump marks the passing of time with an open face and honest rings. A Stump shows its scars because those scars are what created it in the first place. A Stump stands as a monument to the great heights of the past. Most importantly, a Stump is the source of new life. Its deep roots provide the means for new sprouts to grow into new trees.

What Sarah has done is leave us the gift of herself. Her death is not an ending because I don’t believe she ever finished. She is leaving us not to finish the race, but to begin anew. And each time we lace up our shoes and put foot to pavement or tread to trail, we celebrate Sarah Sumpter. We are the keepers of her legacy.

The run continues. We champion the grind. I promise you, Sarah, we will not waste good time.


(Editor’s note:  Chris Puppione, the former head cross country coach at UC Davis (2004-2008), is the head cross country coach at Cardinal Newman High School. He continues to coach professional athletes and develop corporate fitness programs for local Sonoma County businesses.) 

(Lead photo courtesy of Sarah Sumpter-formerly of Healdsburg HS and pictured above and UC Davis coach, Drew Wartenburg and his twitter account: )

Sacramento del Corredor (Sacrament of the Runner), By Sarah “Stump” Sumpter, 2014

Sacramento del Corredor (Sacrament of the Runner)                                            By Sarah “Stump” Sumpter, 2014 

The road is a cruel mistress, but she rewards earnestly those of earnest and diligent heart.

Be warned, for her demands are steep, and her sacrifices are best received in blood and sweat and the weariness of limbs. What she gives, however, is the sweetest of ecstasies. What you pay in blood she returns thrice-fold – strength of mind, strength of spirit, strength of flesh and bone and breath. Make yourself naked to her, and she will bare before you the faces  of death, the marrows of courage, the dark crevices from which hope is born.

She is fickle with man, but bears for him a certain affection, for it was man who made Her, and pays homage to Her daily.

She requires no chapel and no prayer save the open air and the cadence of flurried feet. A desperate breath is as pure as any verse or hymn. The world is her altar and Her laws are made known not by stoop-backed scholars/scribes/wise-men but by address to her alone. There are no mediums, no prophets or seers or psychopomps. You must ride the Mount yourself, and venture all the layers of heaven and hell without compass.

Pay no mind to what others see or do not see, for she always sees, and you may share the thrill of the hunt and of victory with Her even when the mob has turned its back. She will teach you who and what you are, and no one can deprive you of that lesson/knowledge.

Do not think to rule Her. No crown or title makes you any less vulnerable to her might. There is no royalty, no classism on the road as there sits in the human thought-bubble. You must put yourself above the rest, you must prove it in the moment. There is no throne set aside just for you. If you must rule, you must prove yourself fit to conquer, and to hold that reign, if only for the day.

(Editor’s note: thanks to Sarah’s mother, Shawn Sumpter, for allowing us to publish this.)

Clo-Cow Lovers run the Half Marathon

The 5th annual Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K took place on September 13 in Petaluma.  Winning the challenging half marathon was Empire Runner Vojta Ripa, along with Sarah Hallas – who both won the inaugural race in 2011.  Tyler Harwood (also an ERC member) won the 5K, along with Petaluma’s Shannan Salvisberg. (results here)

The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.

In this exclusive interview, we chat with Clo the Cow to get the scoop!

Q: What is your secret for getting in shape for a half marathon?
A: Staying mootivated is the key!  I have found that moo-ving about the pasture and climbing hills can be udderly exhilarating.

The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.

Q: Top three reasons to run the Clo-Cow Half Marathon?
A: 1.) Cowbell medals! 2.) Run alongside moo cows 3.) Finisher photos with yours truly

The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.

Q: What is your favorite post-race recovery drink?

A: Clover chocolate milk, of course!  Did you know that more than 20 studies support the benefits of recovering with the high-quality protein and nutrients in chocolate milk after a tough workout?  Find out more by going to

The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.

Q: Do you prefer to run alone or with a group?
A: I love to run with a herd of friends; it makes me want to be a clover-achiever and work out those calves.

The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5K, Petaluma, CA, Sept 13, 2015.

Q: Has running affected your work in any unexpected ways?
A: Being Sonoma County’s best-known spokescow can be demanding work, so running is a great way to reduce stress and keep feeling young.


Q: How was it hugging all of those sweaty runners?
A: It was definitely a Clo’s encounter! But seeing those smiling faces made it all worth it!

Q: Any other races you recommend?
A: You can’t go wrong with the Urban Cow Half Marathon and Davis Moonlight Races.


ERC Vineman Aid Station Wins!!!

On Jul 30, 2015, at 7:02 AM, Michelle Pool wrote:

Hello fellow ERC Vineman volunteers,

I want to THANK YOU again for taking time out to help support the athletes in the Vineman races. I know they appreciate your efforts very much. I really hope you consider joining the ERC volunteer team for next year’s race.

Sep15Vineman4     Sep15Vineman6     Sep15Vineman7

It was really a pleasure to meet you all. What a great team!

So………. not only do we think we’re the best,  but apparently so does the Vineman Race Team. Our Aid Station #3 was voted best Aid Station of the Vineman races!!!

Not only do we hold the title but they gave us a load of swag to share as well.

Mike McGuire has kindly put together a list of the items we have to share but he has also come up with a way to get them fairly distributed. Please see his instructions below.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Michelle Pool


2015 Empire Runners Scholarship Winners

The Empire Runners Student Grant Fund was established in the year 2000 with the goal of helping deserving high school student athletes go on to college by awarding monetary grants.  The Club awards a minimum of two grants of $500 each year, one each for a graduating male and female.  To qualify, a student must have participated in track or cross county at any Sonoma County high school and be planning to run on a college team after graduating from high school. These Grants are made possible in part through funding provided by Empire Runners Club membership dues. Additional funding is provided through donations by members and by a raffle held at the monthly club meetings. This years awardees are: 

Graham Herder – Sonoma Valley HS

Graham is an outstanding student with a GPA in access of 3.5 in a variety of honors and advanced placement curriculum. Throughout his high school career he participated in a wide variety of sports including football, baseball, track & field and cross-country, establishing himself as a varsity performer in football, cross-country and track. In track he ran sprints and performed the shot and disc in the field events. He also made time for multiple clubs including the Interact club. He volunteers for many community events including Relay for Life, coaches Little League and participates in the Nathanson Creek cleanup. His coaches and teachers have appreciated his hard work, positive interactions with classmates and his being an example to his teammates of what it means to be a true student athlete.

Graham is planning on continuing his education and athletic future at Cal Maritime Academy.

Angela Romero – Cloverdale HS

Angela is an excellent student with a GPA in excess of 3.75 while taking honors and AP classes. She has been running track since she was a freshman and cross-country for her junior and senior years. A self-described long-distance addict, she plans to continue her cross-country career in college. The number one runner on her team and a two-time all league performer in cross-country, Angela is driven to improve and work hard. Highlights for Angel this year included: 25th at the Viking Opener 2-mile in 13:49, 2nd place at NCL I finals, 6th place at Coastal Mountain Conf. finals. Her capacity for hard work, self-discipline and strong goal setting will aid her to succeed in her pursuit of becoming a teacher and coach.

Angela will be attending Concordia University in Irvine.

Anna Drake-Tripp – Healdsburg HS

Anna is an outstanding student athlete who started high school as a shy young girl with no real goals or expectations. Running changed that, especially after summer training for cross-country in her junior year. By working harder than she had at anything else in her life and gaining strength from the boy’s team and her cross-country family she attained her goal of making it to the State cross-country Championships. To say this young lady’s life is on an upswing is to minimize the point. Both her coaches and teachers have noted her strong leadership and teammate skills as well as her improvement as a student during these last 2 years. Coach Wellman at SRJC will be excited to get this proverbial ‘diamond in the rough’. She started the year with a 21:26 at the Super Septo (SLC) in September and just exploded to a 2nd place overall finish at the SCL finals with an excellent 19:22 at the Spring Lake Course. To complete her senior cross-country season, she went to the NCS finals and stunned many if not herself by finishing 9th in the D4 race in a mud-bath qualifying herself for the prestigious State cross-country championships, making her only the fifth female runner from her school to attain this level of excellence.

This former Healdsburg greyhound will be matriculating to SRJC to further her educational and running career. Look for this young lady to blossom under the JC coaching staff.

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch

Adam Harwood – Casa Grande HS

Adam has been called a great leader and teammate by his head coach. Adam was a teammate who stressed the importance of sportsmanship and effort to all runners whether new or experienced. He was the leader of team-bonding dinners and activities. Adan was literally the heart and soul of a championship quality team. This scholar-athlete is an excellent student who has found his path with a plan to become an elementary school teacher. In cross-country he has been a scoring varsity member for two years with a best of 16:36 on the Spring Lake course and a 12th place finish at the NBL finals this year to garner all league honors. He finished 35th at NCS on the first place D2 squad and qualified with his team to the State cross-country championships for the last two years. He had a best of 11:00 at the Viking Opener 2-mile. On the track he had a best of 2:07 in the 800M.

As impressive as his resume is, his love of running is even more so. He has enjoyed the natural running environment of Sonoma County some amazing races with a great team throughout California and the positive impact it has had on his life.

This former Gaucho will continue his cross-country and track life as a Bear Cub at SRJC under the watchful eye of Coach Wellman.

Sheena Blackwell – Piner HS

When you think of Sheena Blackwell think time management.  Sheena has been a top scholar-athlete with a GPA of near 4.0 in an honors/AP curriculum while taking multiple classes concurrently at SRJC. She was the MVP of her cross-country and track teams, an active member of six clubs and multiple volunteer efforts throughout the year and competed in six events in track with top times in the 100H (12th AT), 300H (#10 AT), HJ (1st League), LJ, 800 and the SP (5th League) plus relays all while working in her family’s group-home for developmentally delayed adults. Sheena does all of this without complaint or special attention from her teachers and coaches. In cross-country and track she is an inspirational leader and a knowledgeable coaching influence. This young lady has a PR on the Spring Lake Course of 20:01, 7th in the SCL finals, 38th at NCS XC. She is all league in XC and 4 times All Redwood Empire in track.

Sheena is looking forward to furthering her education in Neurobiology and Behavior with a goal of being a Chiropractic Doctor, blending her talents to make a physical impact in the quality of her patient’s lives.

This Piner Prospector will be heading to UC Davis in the fall for school and competition utilizing her wide range of physical talents in the Heptathlon.

Allison Scranton – Petaluma HS

Allison Scranton has been involved in sports year-long throughout high school. She competed at the varsity level in volleyball, softball, basketball and track & field. In basketball she was all-league three times and MVP as a junior. She was also All Empire multiple years and plays on an AAU travel squad. In track & field she came on the scene as the area’s top shot-putter as a freshman which she has maintained and she has developed into the finest discus thrower in Empire history. Somehow she has found time to maintain a 3.8 GPA, a four-year CSF membership and remained an active member of her school leadership program. A leader – her highly competitive and athletic nature is tempered by her innate ability to get the best out of herself and her teammates alike.

Allison’s track and field career reads as:

Four time all league, four times all empire including athlete of the year last year, four times to MOC, #2 AT in the shot, #1 AT in the discus. This young lady qualified two times for State; finishing 6th last year in the disc. But this years state discus competition was how all athletes dream of finishing their career. Our scholar athlete had five throws greater than 145 feet, five throws better than the previous empire record, five PRs topping out at 149’4”. The college of her choice must be licking their chops at the chance to develop this talent. Her goal is to medal at nationals in college and become an elementary school teacher and coach. We look forward to following her development.

Now an Aggie and heading to Utah State University at Logan Allison is the female Empire Runner scholar athlete of the year!

David Eik – Maria Carrillo HS

David began his high school career as an undersized immature JV runner. But his effort was exemplary and it was clear that he would be an overachiever. His coach has stated that several rival coaches have asked him, “who is that kid”. Can I borrow him for a few days to show my kids what I want?” But David’s running is only part of the story. David is a winner in everything he does. He is a 4.0 student, as in no ‘B’s’ in an AP curriculum and multiple classes at the JC. He is an integral member of the Jazz Band, the Symphonic Band, and the Choir. He excels in cross-country, track and swimming. He is a finalist for the CIF Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He does all of this with aplomb and a smile and has left a lasting impact on his school’s historic program. He finds time to serve on the SOCO Climate Protection Youth Board and the ECOS club organizing activities to preserve the environment. Through hard work and consistent improvement this student-athlete worked his way up to varsity cross-country his senior year and wasn’t just happy to be on the top seven but excelled. He finished the year, #10 overall NBL, all league, 37th NCS to qualify with his team to State XC, a 16:29 PR at the SLC and All Empire. On the track he improved to an outstanding 9:57 3200. His high school goals complete, he is looking forward to matriculating to Colorado College in Colorado Springs to continue his education in Biology and run cross-country and track under the tutelage of Ted Castenada. We look forward to following his running career and his attack on the Boston Marathon.

David is a future Tiger and our male Empire Runner scholar-athlete of the year!

Brad Zanetti and the ER Blog Editors

The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th,  2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch
The Kenwood Footrace, July 4th, 2015. Photo by Douglas Murdoch


“Representing” the Empire Runners at USATF Masters Nationals, by Doug Murdoch

If you’re an Empire Runners Club member, you may not realize how unique our club actually is.

Last year when I ran in the Pacific Association USATF track finals, I was wondering why there were so many people from other clubs at the event, and in comparison so few from Empire at the track meet. So I went online and checked out all the websites for the other bay area running clubs and found out the answer.

The Empire Runners puts on an astounding 17 races during the year! That’s including our five track meets. And we participate in up to 10 Cross Country meets by traveling  to a number of places including San Francisco, Hayward, Folsom, Martinez, San Rafael,  and Sacramento!!!

The vast majority of the other running clubs encourage their members to participate in races, but either they don’t put on their own running races, or only a couple. The only exception is the Tamalpa Runners, our southern neighbors, whom  I believe also put on approximately 17 events as well!

I’m proud of the club and I don’t take what we do for granted. And I’m proud of the increasing participation were getting in our Summer Track Series, boasting over three hundred participants at our Track Meet #2 which was also our Olympic Day celebration.

One of the greatest joys I receive from the club is simply running with kids, teenagers, college students, thirty somethings, and people of all ages. Experiencing this energy from other club members  is really remarkable.

And of course there is the incredible support that we all receive from other club members, who are amazingly positive and supportive, despite the litany of injuries and the trials and tribulations of life that we all go through.

So when I toed the line at the start of the Senior Men’s 50-54 division of the 1500 meters, it meant something to wear that Empire jersey. I was truly representing an exceptional club with a long-standing tradition now almost forty years old. A club that has amazing competency and experience putting on races for the whole extended running community to enjoy, and participating in the PA USATF Cross Country program.

The short story of the race is that I was in third place most of the race and with three hundred meters to go I surged and moved into second place, and then finished .9 seconds behind the leader for second place, in 4:23.12.

But this blog post is not about my race. It’s about “representing” the club by wearing the racing singlet in a track meet, a road race, or a cross country meet, and being proud of that.  And trying to expand our members perception about what we do as a club.

Speaking for myself, I totally took for granted all the races the club puts on,  and participates in, and in ignorance I thought all running clubs did the same. I’ve been an Empire Runners member now for five years, and it took me four years to realize that the core competency of our club is putting on races.

It’s so easy just to show up at a race and run, and not be aware of the organizational zeal it takes to put one on. But now having had some exposure to the behind the scenes organization of the races, it’s A LOT OF WORK. And the Empire Runners Club has a dedicated core group of people that put these races as well as organize our cross country program  that deserve recognition.

So I encourage our club members to wear the Empire Runners jersey proudly, to not only represent an extraordinary club with a long tradition of dedication to the running community, but also to appreciate what the club has done for you personally.

Here is the race video: