Category Archives: TRACK & FIELD

Updates on Empire’s track events, and news about members and former high school standouts running in college and beyond.

Running…visually impaired.

(Interviewer’s note: Branden Walton has run some respectable times as a Jr. at Windsor High School……..even though he is visually impaired (and legally blind). His goal is to attend the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, but he needs to qualify at the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. Please go to his fund-raising page here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0y631)

Question: Hi Branden, nice starting leg of the 4 x 400 meter race at the Redwood Empire Track finals at Santa Rosa High School! How was your season this year and what are your PR’s?

Answer: I have improved over the season. My PR’s are: 4:48 for the 1600, 2:07 for the 800 and 55.07 for the 400. I hope to set new PR’s next year.

Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.
Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.

When you gave your presentation at Fleet Feet, you had some goggles that people could put on to see what you see since you’re visually impaired. When I put them on, I could understand how you could run track. What I couldn’t understand is how you can run Cross Country! The Spring Lake course is pretty rocky by XC standards – how do you navigate the rocky terrain? What’s your PR?

I agree that the Spring Lake XC Course is very difficult, and even more so being visually impaired. I can’t see rocks so I preview the course multiple times so I know where to be careful and where there are spots where I can pick up my pace. My course PR is 17:20.

Because you’re visually impaired, are your other senses heightened compared to other people? How does that help you when you’re racing?

I don’t feel as if any of my other senses are heightened.

During your Fleet Feet presentation, you mentioned that before the Desert Challenge in Tempe, Arizona, you had to have your eyesight tested to qualify for the race. And then with a deadpan delivery, you told everyone you failed the test and therefore qualified for the race (laughter from the group). Do you often use humor to explain your situation?

I don’t always use humor to explain my situation but I sometimes do because I am very comfortable with my self and my vision. I also think I use humor to make people around me feel more comfortable.

Tell us about the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. What times in your events do you need to run to earn a birth on the US delegation to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio?

The National Championships in St. Paul MN will help me get a birth on the US National team. Making this team will help bring me to some other events, those being the Parapan American games in Toronto and World Championships in Doha. This will help get me noticed but I will still have to run in the Paralympic trials to make the 2016 Paralympic Rio team. To make the U.S. National team I have to run times that are 90 percent or better of the National A standard. The National A standard is 4:00 for the 1500, 1:53 for the 800, and 0:49 for the 400. The times I run in Minnesota will be calculated to a percentage and then they will decide whether or not I make the team.

Nice story on your FundRazr page! But I want to know something else…what is motivating you to try to go to Rio? I mean, you could be sitting at home eating jelly filled donuts and goofing around on the computer…but instead you’re training. Why?

There are a few things that motivate me, one is being able to compete and be as good or better than people with normal vision. This has motivated me throughout my life; it started with soccer and then basketball. When I started running in 6th grade I wanted to be as good as others and this pushed me to continue to get better. That want could only bring me so far. After my 7th grade season of track when I won every race but one I got the chance to go to World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was an initiation track meet for visually impaired athletes.  This opened my eyes up to the possibility of track – seeing seventeen countries with 1500 visually impaired athletes was amazing. Coming back to middle school and finishing up the 8th grade track season with only one defeat I got the opportunity to go to London to watch the 2012 Paralympics. I got to spend ten days in London and I watched track events for six of those days. I think going and seeing the respect the people had for the athletes competing was amazing, and that experience pushes me every day to get better and eventually make it to the Paralympics.

And now a very important question…what’s your favorite cuisine, in general? Do you have a favorite pre-race food? What about after race celebrations – anything special?

Nights before races I try to eat carbs and protein; sometimes I don’t get the carbs because I’ll eat a chicken salad. The morning of race day I always eat sourdough bread, lunch is the same lunch I get for school everyday, nothing special for celebration.

Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.
Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.

 

 

EMPIRE TRACK MEETS START JUNE 9TH !!

Empire Runners Club 30th annual Summer Track Series

click to  Register once for the whole season!

Santa Rosa High School Track

NEW START TIME!

Events begin promptly at 6:00 PM

Registration/Check in begins at 5:00 PM

Throwing events–9th grade & older only

Meet 1: Tuesday, June 9, 6:00 PM

Track events: mile, 100m, 800m, 200m, 400m, 3000m, & 4x400m relay

Field Events: long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus

All ages and levels of ability are welcome. Heats are separated by ability level and/or by age groups. All finishers (except kids 9 & under in the 100m and 200m) are timed and results posted on the Empire Runners Club website (www.empirerunners.org).

Past Results & Records

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click to  Register once for the whole season!

Click the blue link to the right – “Register once for the whole season!” – to sign up for the Summer Track Series. Registration is free for Empire Runners Club members and $10 for non-members. You must register online no later than the Saturday prior to your first meet or you will have to pay the $10 entry fee for that meet. (The un-timed 100m and 200m races for children 9 & under are free. Parents must register children for these events at the meet only.)

Empire Women All Stars: Julia Stamps, by Alex Wolf-Root

In this first installment of Empire Women All Stars, we chat with Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa HS, arguably one of the greatest HS XC runners in U.S. history. While there are many applicable titles for her – CA XC Champion, National Champion, Spring Lake course record holder, etc – the most fitting may be simply “Trail Lover”.

Hey Julia, thanks for taking the time to chat! There’s no question that Sonoma County has a great history of fast females, and many wonder why. Any thoughts?

We have Annadel State Park. How can you not get in shape running the trails of Annadel?! Also, we have a phenomenally supportive community. We’re not telling people not to run hard. Lots of others say don’t run hard, don’t over-train – they focus on over-training while forgetting that you need to train! I think the bar is set higher in our community in terms of what is good and what is not. Eventually the females just realized “oh wait; that’s totally attainable. So and so did it. I know her. She did that run. I did that run. I should be able to do it!”

You’ve clearly accomplished a ton during your prep career. In your mind, what are some highlights?

One is probably my freshman year when I qualified for the Junior World Cross Country Championships after I ruptured my appendix. I was facing adversity, going through not being able to run for several months, and then getting myself to qualify for the World Championships. Such an injury becomes a real pivotal point in anyone’s career, whether you’re going to give up or whether you’re going to focus on getting in shape and give it everything. And that was my first World’s experience, which was really quite entertaining Another would be Footlocker National Champs when I won my sophomore year. It was probably the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life. It just felt easy to click off the pace. Obviously it was a big moment. It was just an easy race, and really, really fun.

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What would your competitors think if they heard winning a national title was easy?!

They weren’t all easy! I passed out the next 2 years in a row! Of course I gotta brag about the one that was easy. I don’t remember if I even finished or not the next two years. The tough ones make you appreciate the easy ones. My third highlight would be coming in 9th in the Junior World Championships in the 3,000m my junior year. I PR’d in the trials and then again in the finals. That was pretty exciting because at the time the U.S. wasn’t as competitive as it is now, so making finals was a big deal.

Well those are certainly some impressive highlights! To what would you attribute such success?

I love the park. I love Ananadel. It makes it easy to go out there for a 10 mile run; all those trails and beauty makes time go by fast. You have a connection between nature and yourself. I lived in Annadel growing up. If I wasn’t running I was hiking, if not hiking I was playing in streams, and if doing none of those I was bike riding. Weekends I would only come home to shower and sleep; the rest of my time was in the park. The park was my home. It’s easy when it’s fun and the park to me is fun. Also, I had phenomenal support having Danny (Aldridge) and Doug (Courtemache) as my coaches. They have a well-rounded perspective of the overall health of the athlete. Having coaches who see you as an individual and want the best for you as a person is key. That’s truly what we have in Sonoma County.

What advice would you give to all the current young runners who may be reading this?

Just love it. Love the sport. It’s a sport that if you love it then it’ll love you and you’ll have it for a lifetime. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you have the sport for the rest of your life. Love the sport and it will love you.

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Julia Stamps at Santa Rosa High School: Spring Lake course record holder, former Woodward Park (state) course record holder (2nd all time as of this writing), Footlocker National champion,  Three-Time State D1 champion, 3rd all time 800m, 1st all time 1,600m, 2nd all time 3,200m,  Three time 3,200m state champion (2nd one), One time 1600m champion.

KIDS RUNNING TRACK! By Sarah Martin

Is there a better way to spend a summer evening? Outdoors, with your kids, getting in some exercise and soaking up the excitement of a race environment? We look forward to Summer Track Series every year.

My favorite part of track night is watching the kids line up. Their tiny bodies bump and jostle as Tori Meredith warmly sorts them into heats. The littlest ones first, some still mastering walking. Then the preschoolers. “Are you 4 or 5?” they ask each other before swapping positions. The 6-year-olds know the drill by now, and the 7-year-olds stand, casually stretching. Behind them are the bigger kids, the high-school track stars, the college-level athletes, the adult running fanatics, and the casual participants.

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This is how our kids fall in love with running. By being a part of a running community.

My son George first started running the summer track series in the summer of 2013 when he was 3 ½. He ran the 100m smiling all the way. In the 200m, he learned how to stay in a lane. In the 400m, he discovered what it was to be winded. In the 800m, he walked a lot. But being a part of a running community means that you are judged based on your attitude, not on your times.

After George had run a few individual races, a group of three Montgomery high school kids approached him and asked if he’d be available to anchor their 4 x 400m relay team. George didn’t know what a relay team was, but he was definitely game. They walked him through the event and showed him how to hold a baton. And when it was his turn to run, they ran right alongside him the whole way, cheering him on even as he was being passed by all the other teams. As he crossed the finish line, the entire crowd applauded him.

That’s some community.

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