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.
Long before the fires I came up with a crazy moonshot to try to break 40:00 in a 10k one last time. I am 53 years old and since my 10k PR of 35:49 in 1999, my times have gradually slowed and hover around 42:00 these days.
Photo of Catherine DuBay by Paul Berg.
A sub 40:00 was going to take every little bit of everything I had so 2017 became a year of disciplined eating, hard training and lots of racing to keep me honest.
So, on October 8 as I toed the line at the San Jose Rock n Roll for my big attempt at sub 40:00, I had no idea what the next 24 hours would be like.
I managed a 39:30 10k good for 2nd overall and 1st Master and a few minutes of fame on the big stage.
As we drove home later that day we remarked on the incredible winds. A few hours later I would be packing valuable as we were forced to evacuate our home. My sister who had been evacuated hours before us and had lost her home was now at our house. I asked her what she had packed. She said her running shoes and little else. I grabbed my running shoes, looked at the trophy I’d won just 12 hours prior. It suddenly seemed so trivial and it was left behind as we left.
What a year! 2017 began with the return of a more normal much needed rainfall and a list of resolutions, none of which made much sense as 2017 closed. Who would have thought Donald Trump would become president. Well unfortunately that situation hasn’t gotten any better over the year. Initially the year was dominated by daily horrific ‘tweets’ and a myriad of ridiculous and antagonistic speeches. These were followed by complaints, excuses and firings of our government officials. The almost daily nature of these misgivings have numbed me beyond belief. Just hoping to live to a ripe old age has been my new goal and make it to 2018.
The second dominating feature of 2017 was the large number of friends and family that died this year. The year started with my Uncle’s passing and Bob Shor’s surgery. At this point there was much optimism but by April Bob wasn’t getting better. In the meanwhile ER pal, John ‘Mojo’ Royston was diagnosed with cancer as well. A number of house visits at Bobs and ‘Hamburger Wednesdays” with the ER group were both fun and comforting. But by the midyear it wasn’t going well for either of them; First Bob leaving us in July, then Mojo in August. Without much warning my Mother died in September followed by 2 former coworker/friends in October and November. So the Fall has been dominated with funerals, memorials and celebrations of life. The funerals have sucked but the memorials and life celebrations have been painful yet restorative. Then my son, Mike, moved permanently to South Carolina. Finally, the holidays arrived which I have tried to appreciate more than ever.
Resolutions 2018: Making it through the Holidays unscathed and hopefully re-energized is the first order of business. That being said, with the year I have experienced my resolutions will be few and simple:
1- Say ‘I love you’ as often as possible
2- Live more in the moment
3- Retire(sooner than later)
Left to right, Dale Peterson, Paul Berg, Brad Zanetti, and Val Sell . Photo courtesy of Paul Berg.
Looking forward and back on 2017
Not even considering the national political landscape, 2017 was a rough year for the Empire Runners family. We lost two beloved long-time members, Bob Shor and Mojo, then the October fires displaced so many while reminding us how lucky we are to have great places to run. The outpouring of community support was truly inspiring, plus club members turned in many standout running performances in cross country and throughout the year.
On the personal side, after running the Dipsea in June I needed to have hernia surgery which set me back a few months. Combined with several road trips in our truck camper, my training was haphazard at best, though I did get to see and photograph a lot of natural beauty in the western US.
Christmas brought me a gift of a fancy new Garmin watch courtesy of my thoughtful daughter, which I plan to use to more effectively track my training. At this bewildering age bracket, I realize that core strength is more important than ever, so I’m hoping to do TRX twice a week this year. I’m definitely enjoying the trails more than roads these days, so a longer trail adventure might be in the cards. New Years is a great time to reflect, reset and remember what I’m most thankful for; it’s a long list, including Empire Runners.
From Turns & Distances, a publication of the Officials Committee of the Pacific Associal USA Track & Field
Originally published July 27, 2015:
We were quite moved, a couple years ago, when the Pacific Association Youth Committee named one of their meets The Bob Shor-Charlie Sheppard Classic. The sixth* installment was held in El Sobrante in April. This honors two certified officials who are almost always there for Youth meets.
Sheppard created the youth committee’s original on-line registration system, while also working as back-up starter for many meets and serving as the youth committee’s records chair. He has done heroic work over the years, chairing PA’s Disabled Athletics Committee. (This lately has been renamed the Para Athletes Committee.)
Shor has been principal starter for club meets, association championships, Junior Olympics meets, both on the track and in cross country. He was Youth cross-country chair for many, many years. In addition, he represents the Empire Runners to the Pacific Association Board of Athletics; and will be the starter for the USATF National Club Championships in Golden Gate Park, in December. By all accounts, over several decades, he has never missed a meeting, whether of different Youth and LDR committees, or of the Board of Athletics…until a recent bout of ill-health. Awards he has received include the PA Officials’ Dick Barbour Meritorious Service Award (2001), the Pacific Association Service Award (2006), and PA Long Distance Running Committee’s Lifetime Service Award (2015). Certified since 1990, he is a Master official.
Bob sat down to breakfast with Turns and Distances at a café in Santa Rosa, in early May , and said he didn’t want to be paid for working track meets.
SHOR: It would be work and I don’t think I’d enjoy it. I don’t know. I’ve never tried it. I don’t want to try it. I just want to do it because I want to do it. Because I like it. I mean, I’ve worked, done pretty good. But it was work. I’ve never found out what I wanted to do in the way of a job that I really enjoyed the job. Never had it, just worked because I had to eat, had to pay rent.
But this track and field, after I started it, I don’t think I was doing it for two weeks after I started, all of a sudden I realized how great it was.
As a little kid, I was going to play for the Dodgers. Then I realized I wasn’t quite good enough, so there it was: track and field.
BC: So how did you start officiating?
SHOR: My first year in high school at the end of the track season, our sprinter made it to the state meet. And the guy from the next town over also made it to the state meet. So their sprinter and our sprinter were going to be at our high school just for practice, before they went to the state meet. And the coach asked me if I would just help them out. All of a sudden he had me starting for these two guys. I was a sophomore. And the coach just told me, when you say “set,” just wait before you fire the gun. So I started the races, just for the two of the guys, just for practice, not races. That’s where it started.
BC: Where was this?
SHOR: I’m from New York, I was born in Brooklyn, and at that time we were living out on Long Island, living in the town of New Hyde Park, going to Great Neck High School.
BC: So you basically started officiating even at the beginning of your running career.
SHOR: Yeah. When I was in high school, and the next year, my junior year, I was starting the dual meets, except for the mile. I used to run it. That was the longest race then, in high school, one mile. If you competed in anything from 440– which they used to call it, not 400–or longer, you could only be in one running event; that was it. So my junior and senior years, I ran the mile, and the rest of the time at our meets, I fired the gun for the other races.
BC: What kind of times did you run?
SHOR: In high school, I got down to four-forty-something, nothing spectacular. But I loved it. I just loved the sport, I loved the whole atmosphere. And cross-country, I liked cross-country a lot better than track. You weren’t running around in circles, you were out running in the hills, just mentally it was better.
BC: So you were born in Brooklyn, you grew up on Long Island, how did you wind up in Santa Rosa?
SHOR: For college I went to a military school.
BC: Are you from a military family?
SHOR: No, no, no, no military relatives whatsoever, from any side, just me, I was the outcast, in the military.
I went to Pennsylvania Military College, what it was called then, near Philadelphia. The name has been changed. Now it’s Widener University. Because of Vietnam, the enrollment kept going down and down and down, they had to do something, so they changed the name.
But the military attitude benefited me. I like to think it did, anyway. Then I went to law school, and after the first semester I dropped out, because one of my professors mentioned that if you’re gonna be successful in this business, you gotta get an A in ambulance-chasing. And I figured, no, that’s not my bag.
Then I went on active duty and I went to Vietnam, I was there in ’65 and ’66.
BC: What was your service in Vietnam?
SHOR: I was with the advisors, we were advisors to the Vietnamese infantry. When I went there I was a first lieutenant, when I left I was a captain. And I got hit and I had to get out because of the injury
BC: Where in Vietnam, do you remember?
SHOR: For the most part, it was just 60 kilometers north of Saigon, but you couldn’t go anywhere, you went anywhere, boom, you got shot at.
BC: Do you speak Vietnamese at all?
SHOR: Yeah, because we were advisors. I spent time at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, then eight weeks at Monterey, at the language school, and I learned how to speak Vietnamese, because the teachers couldn’t speak English, so you learned. And then when I got over there, because I was with the Vietnamese, I don’t think I’d been there too long, I realized, I don’t have to translate. They would say something and I could answer right away in Vietnamese. It shocked the heck out of me. How could this happen? I didn’t have to think in English. And I can still speak Vietnamese, a little bit, not as much, at a high school level, because we have a couple of Vietnamese kids in high school, but they were born here, and I can speak better Vietnamese than they can—their parents, no, their parents speak Vietnamese, and I can speak with them a little bit.
BC: After the service…
SHOR: When I got out, I got myself a job up in northern California. I was hired in New York for a company that owned a couple of lumber mills near Arcata and Crescent City.
I met a woman when I was up there in Arcata, Linda, and we married. Unfortunately, after ten and a half years, she died of cancer.
And I got married again, and I’ve been married ever since to another one, Alix. She worked for the county as a social worker. Different departments, different positions. She is now retired but helps out with a few different organizations. She has very little interest in sports. But she sticks with me.
We got married in 1980 and we had a daughter, born about a year and a half later, she’s now Adrienne Johnson. She, her husband, and their boys live in Quincy.
I was in the lumber business about a year and a half. I could see I wasn’t going to stick with that, so I worked for the newspaper in Eureka, selling advertising, and I’ve been in sales ever since. I worked for that newspaper, I worked for a very short time for the newspaper in Salem, Oregon, and then moved here, to Santa Rosa, and I was working for the newspaper here, selling advertising.
After about six years, I started working for a winery, Windsor Vineyards, hawking wine, with personalized labels, over the phone. That’s when I realized, sales is sales. No matter what you’re selling, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling yourself. People don’t buy the product, they buy you. That’s how I wound up selling wine. Not that I drank very much of it, but I sold it.
I worked for Windsor Vineyards for 13 plus years and then came retirement, and that’s the best part. I tell people, if I’d known retirement was so good, I would have done it years before. Now I’ve been retired about 17* years.
BC: You do a lot with youth. How many meets do you figure you work a year?
SHOR: Probably about 120. Like this week. Here I had a meet last Saturday, Sunday, then I had a meet on Tuesday and yesterday and I got one today and I got a youth meet this Saturday. And there’s no meet Sunday because it’s Mother’s Day and if we had a meet on Mother’s Day, it would be over. The parents would never come to a meet again.
BC: How did you get involved with Youth on the governance side? In fact, Joanne Camargo tells us that when she became Youth Chair, you and Charlie Sheppard constituted the entire PA youth committee.
SHOR: When Joanne became the Youth Chairman, Charlie Sheppard and I were quite active as officials and on the Youth committee, but there were quite a few other people as active as we were or more so.
The reason I got involved with the youth was my daughter. I didn’t even know youth existed until then, then I found out what it was, and I got with the local youth club, and I started helping them out, and I went to the meetings, for the youth committee. Come January we would set up the schedule for the year, and I’d just see what was going on, ask questions, and I got involved in it. In ’89 is when I got with the youth. It just grew from there.
BC: So, you’ve been officiating essentially your whole life.
SHOR: In Arcata, I used to start the meets up in Arcata. Everywhere. Even when I was in the service. When I was at Fort Polk, in Louisiana, we were doing basic training, every eight weeks we would rotate, eight weeks, then a new group. I used to start at the small high school track meets, in a small town. Kinda pathetic, but I liked it. It was just too small a town.
BC: You volunteer at Santa Rosa High School, is that right?
SHOR: I’m one of the coaches with the high school. On the list, I’m listed as the head girls’ coach, although there’s one person who coaches the whole thing, he’s actually the head coach, then it’s myself and we have a bunch of other people that do the coaching. The way they pay, they have a head boys’ coach, they have a head girls’ coach, and then they have assistant coaches, depending on the number of kids. So we’ve got two assistant coaches, but one person is listed as the head coach. I coach the hurdles and I help out on everything else, everything, whatever that has to be done. The only thing I can’t do is pole vault. That is not my bag.
BC: Understood! We’re our own little cult over there—athletes, coaches, officials. When we were talking to Mark Drafton, at Santa Rosa Express, he mentioned you working with Sarah Bei (2001 Pan Am Games steeplechase winner) and Julia Stamps (six-time All American in cross country and track at Stanford, six-time national team member) and Kim Conley (US Olympian at 5,000 meters in 2012 [and 2016]). That was through Santa Rosa High?
SHOR: No, Santa Rosa Express.
BC: Did you see something really special in them at the beginning?
SHOR: They have that something that you can’t read in the book. They don’t like to lose. There’s just something there, they just have it.
Like with Kim Conley, she didn’t have that at the beginning, but the other two girls did. They just Did Not Like To Lose and didn’t take ‘em long to realize if they want to win, if they don’t want to lose, they gotta work. And they put the effort in and you didn’t have to push. They would work. And they were a pleasure to work with because of that. And you wonder, how come the others don’t want to do that? Because that’s why there’s just those few, especially in distance running.
In sprinting, the way I look at it, you’ve either got the speed or you don’t have the speed. You can improve it, but you’re not going to move from the bottom to the top.
But in distance running, it hurts. And you just have to make it hurt more.
Like when I talk to the kids on this, I say, okay, in cross country, you’re going so far, now the faster you go, the sooner you get to the finish, the sooner it stops hurting. And they laugh. It’s not funny! It’s true! You gotta make it hurt, and some people can do it, some people can’t. It’s upstairs. It just says that. The light doesn’t go on and say, “that’s enough,” but that’s enough, you can’t go any faster. But other people just do it. And that’s what makes the difference between why some are better than others.
BC: Coach Drafton also gives you credit for teaching rules and especially etiquette to the parents and athletes with Santa Rosa Express.
SHOR: Track etiquette, well, it’s not so much the rules, it’s the attitude. Maybe I’m being as biased, as prejudiced on this as possible, but I like to think people in track are just a step above people in other sports. In this sport, there’s no contact. It’s you, it’s an individual. One thing we don’t have in this sport is a bench. Nobody sits on the bench. Everybody plays. That’s a different attitude. And with the parents, all of a sudden, parents realize what this has done for their kids. And all of a sudden, parents want to get involved in it. It’s just a different attitude.
There are no time outs in this sport, nobody sits on the bench, it’s a different attitude, it’s you. And if you’re content to come in last, that’s fine, but most of the kids don’t want to come in last, so they work.
Also, in other sports half of the people clap and the other half boo. In our sport nobody boos. Well, I guess the only time they boo in our sport is after a false start when they blame the starter. One person breaks, seven don’t, but it’s the starter’s fault. Oh well.
BC: We get a bit of that in field events, too. And umpires! Miss steps on the line or a baton exchange out of the zone by 10 centimeters, and you’ll hear about it. But, let’s talk about the qualities or skills that a starter should have, in your opinion, especially to work with youth.
SHOR: You’ve got to have confidence in them, they’ve got to have confidence in you, that when you say “on your marks,” that they’re not going to mess it up for you, you’re not going to mess it up for them. Get ‘em in there, just so they know, when I say “on your marks,” get in position. When I say, “set,” come up immediately. And what I find, you’ve got to hold them. You can’t just say, set-go. Sure, it’s a legal start, because nobody breaks, but it’s not a fair start because they don’t get out even. Get them set, and when they’re all still, boom!, then, the gun goes off, and all eight of them get out even. After all eight are out of there, then as a starter, I’m done. But to get them out even, that’s the whole thing.
And it’s just something. I remember when I first started doing this, 62* years ago, I was scared stiff and all of a sudden I realized that, hey, if I can do it, they can do it, and I could feel it, you just know that you’re doing it right. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Youth or it’s a high school, or it’s college, or whatever.
I do a lot of the LDR, the cross country and road running, both starting and refereeing. See, there’s another thing. I used to run. And if I was supposed to run at 9 o’clock, upstairs, in the head, I was ready to go, and I had to sit there and wait and wait and I would go crazy, I had to go to the bathroom, nothing came out, but I had to go to the bathroom. It’s nerves! So I figure, these runners, they have to be thinking, most of them are thinking the same way, maybe all of them, I don’t know. But I figure we’re going to start at 9 o’clock, we start at 9 o’clock, period, on the button, and I’ll go to the nearest second, so everybody knows, that’s the way it’s going to be. And it makes me feel good, sometimes people come over and say thank you.
BC: What is your advice for a new official, just starting a career with us?
SHOR: Go out there and have a good time, and so far as learning, no one thing is difficult, if you’re trying to get it all put together, that takes time. But if you can go out there and take care of one thing and make sure it runs right, and you’re out there to make it right for the athletes, you’re not out there to make it right for you, it’s for the athletes. And if you’re doing that, it makes you feel good.
That’s what the sport’s all about. We don’t get paid for doing this, we’re out there to help them; they’re not there to help us.
But there are always details to take care of, sometimes a lot of them.
It’s like a couple years ago, when they had the World Masters Championships in Sacramento, I was on the technical end, and for the steeplechase, we had to get a trellis, that’s what the rules say, so when the runners come up they can see it’s a water jump, they know that there’s something there.
So I go out and I get the trellis, make sure I’ve got a 30 inch high trellis to put across, because that’s what it is for the women. And I put it down and all of a sudden, it sticks up above the top of the barrier. And I think, maybe I got the wrong trellis. And I measure it and it’s 30 inches. Then I realize the water jump barrier is too low.
I did the measurement again and saw it just happened to be the thickness of a 2×4, an inch and a half. So I just took the caps off and put a piece of 2×4 in there, drilled the holes and set it in there, and every way this is legal, so now, it’s at 30 inches and when you raise it six inches for the men, it’s 36 inches.
I just happened to catch it. But if the trellis hadn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have realized it was too low. I like things to be done right.
BC: What do you see as the best outcome for an athlete coming through the PA youth program?
SHOR: Starting with the youth, what you gotta realize is you can take kids born the same day—physically, not mentally but physically—some are way ahead of others. And some that are down at the bottom end, as they grow older, they catch up and they go ahead of the other people and they’re the ones who end up being successful. The ones that start doing it at the top, it’s too easy. And then when the others catch up with them, they don’t want to do it anymore.
BC: This is going back to Julia and working hard, isn’t it?
SHOR: But she worked hard and she kept going.
They’re special. Julia Stamps and Sarah Bei, it just so happened that they were four years apart, so they never competed against each other, not in high school, because one graduated and the other started.
We had another girl from around here, right in between, Trina Cox. She never won a league championship, but she won the state meet. But in the league, she had Julia Stamps for the first two years and Sarah Bei for the last two years. But she won the state meet in cross country and she made it to the state meet on the track, but nobody knows who she is because she was beaten by these other two girls. But she was also one of the top girls we’ve had around here, also came through the Santa Rosa Express.
BC: What’s the best individual athletic performance you’ve been part of?
SHOR: Oh, my god. There are so many spectacular races that I’ve seen. I’ve gotta say with Kim, making it to the Olympics, that was just her race, that was just unbelievable, the way she pulled that one out, by far.
I’ve seen many spectacular races, not just with the Youth, but going all the way back, even when I was in high school, my idol was a guy who won the Olympics in ’56 at 1500 meters, happened to be an Irishman, but he was going to Villanova, Ron Delany. He was my idol in track, and just seeing him in some of these indoor meets, where he would hang back and then take off. At all levels, a race is a race is a race.
Somebody jumping 29 feet. You can’t imagine how far 29 feet is. You look at your house, you don’t have a room that’s close to 29 feet. And you wonder, when Bob Beamon cleared 29 feet, how high up did he have to go? Everybody thinks, boom, you take off and you go straight. But there’s gravity. If you’re going to go straight, you’re going to come down right away. How high did he go? I can remember when Beamon set the world record, that’s back in ’68 in the Olympics and I’m thinking, that will never ever happen again, it’s impossible. But it’s happened. Not very often, but it’s happened again, it’s just unbelievable.
It’s the same thing when somebody has high jumped 8 feet. You look at 8 feet, go in your house, and measure from the floor to the ceiling, that’s not eight feet! And someone has actually cleared that. That’s unbelievable.
And in the pole vault. Over here at the JC, one time I just wanted to show somebody what twenty feet is like. Up in the bleachers, I got up on top and I let a tape measure hang, and I realized it wasn’t 20 feet high! That’s high! How can they do that? It’s amazing.
BC: Tell us something personal, that people might not know about you.
SHOR: When my daughter was about 5, for whatever reason I cannot remember, she went riding at a stable just up the hill from where we still live and my wife, Alix, and I were hooked. That summer we spent a week at a dude ranch in Quincy and figured out how to ride a horse. Our daughter really got good at it, my wife and I took some lessons at the local stable and for some reason or other we bought a horse for our daughter. For quite a few years after that we would spend a week each summer and/or winter at a real live cattle ranch north of Susanville or at a ranch north of Pyramid Lake in Nevada. That all came to an abrupt end when our daughter went to college. I think I’d have a tough time riding a horse now.
I still have lots of friends back east from college, and I still can’t figure out how come when I went back for my 50th college reunion, all the other guys there were old, I was the only young guy there, I can’t figure that out.
BC: What would you like your legacy to be, here in the North Bay?
SHOR: Just so they don’t call me a bum, basically that’s it, just be nice.
There’s other people who are putting as much effort or more.
I just want to do this as long as I possibly can.
Bruce Colman thanks the following individuals for helping to prepare this interview: Joanne Camargo, Mark Drafton, Irene Herman, George Kleeman, Margaret Sheehan, and Dave Shrock.
How Youth feels about Bob Shor
Joanne Camargo tells a story about a Pacific Association Youth championship when it was 110 degrees on the track. Bob had problems with the heat—passed out, Joanne says—and was sent back to the hotel. One of the Bantam boys came up to her, and said, “Where’s Bob?” He’s back at the hotel, resting. “I can’t run if Bob doesn’t start me. Will he be here tomorrow?”
*Note: The years were updated to reflect today, 2 years after the original interview.
A memorial gathering for Bob Shor will be held tomorrow, September 16, 2017, at 2 p.m. in Santa Rosa High School’s auditorium.
“On Sundays We Go Long”, A Novel by, Ty Strange, BeachLife Books, Santa Rosa, CA, 2017, pp 485
This is the second novel of the Empire’s very own Ty Strange. His first novel a few years ago (2014), “Hunt for Wolf_Eyes”, was a good first book and as previously reviewed was not a running book. As I stated during that review it was and still is a very worthwhile read. But what I (we) are always looking for is a great fiction running book (probably should be written by a runner). Some previous positively reviewed fiction running books have included: The John L Parker, Jr trilogy (“Again to Carthage” et al) and “100 Miles to Destiny” by Willis B McCarthy. Even before reading his first novel I asked Ty if a fiction running book was in his future and he assured me there was. Well three plus years later here it is.
With great excitement I began reading, “On Sundays We Go Long”. Unlike any other book I have read in recent history I had an inkling of what the book would be like or at least I thought I did. I knew it was a book about running (an activity we readily do), about a group of age group racers (kind of like us), who run regularly in the hills and trails of Santa Rosa (again like us) and whose lives are intermeshed outside of running (sound familiar?). And unlike many of those other books my first readings of “On Sundays We Go Long” were difficult, slow and frankly not what I expected.
In fact it took me about 100 pages before I had fleshed out the characters and got my mind wrapped around the storyline. I say this because in no other book have I been so insistent on trying to figure out exactly who each character IS in relation to one of the many characters who reside currently in the Empire Runner Empire. I also say this because this is a fiction book and my insistence hindered my getting involved in the story line. If you read the book allow yourself to read it for what it is and immerse yourself in the storyline. After fleshing out the characters I thoroughly enjoyed the ride; a season of Cross Country (XC) racing in the PAUSATF NorCal circuit, specific workouts (felt like I was running in the races, trails, etc) and the relationships of this “fictional” band of brothers.
I think this is a very worthy read. The author has a lifetime of running history to draw on and it shows yet it is not just a story of 5 guys running around in shorts. It is much more than that with some twists and turns to keep the reader interested. By the end it was a very good running story, written by a runner for runners. Though I think it shouldn’t be relegated to just runners or local readers. I think the story line is more global than that. Yet I did definitely lose myself in what was familiar and so I think this is a story for runners everywhere but a must read for those who live and race locally or on the circuit. I think it is a great addition to any runners library and although I am not sure who else will be reading this review, enjoying “On Sundays We Go Long” shouldn’t be limited to just us runners.
July 14, 2017, Happy Bastille Day. To those of you not interested in the history of France evert your eyes for a couple of paragraphs. This national holiday originated with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This action was a major turning point of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a fortress-prison often holding political dissidents and authors whose writings angered the Nobel class. As such, the Bastille was a symbol of absolutism of the Monarchy. As it turns out, the Bastille was also a storage facility of guns, ammunition and gun powder. So quicker than you could say, BAM – ZOOM, the peasant/working class had made their mark and statement to the ruling class and the trajectory of the French Revolution was forever changed.
But enough of my simple version of history, Bastille Day for me marks the midpoint of the Tour de France bicycle race. And the big question is; Will this be the year a French rider wins the Bastille Day Stage (14 this year)? For those of you who have been following this years version of the TdF, it has definitely been interesting and remarkably close this deep into the event (8 stages left). From the rain slicked opening stage (Prologue) with a myriad of crashes and crash outs through multiple stages of intense heat and more slick roads and even more bad crash outs this years Tour has had a fabulous storyline. In contrast to most of the tours this century, the race is very close with 4 riders within 35 seconds of the leader (yellow jersey wearer-maille jeune) and the top 10 all within 5 minutes of the podium.
Today’s race continued this story of close racing, multiple attacks, riders taking chances on downhills and tightening of the general classification results. In fact just today, the top 10 riders overall ended up in the top 10 of the day’s stage, and for the first time since 2005, a Frenchman (Warren Barguil) won the Bastille Day Stage. Not only was Barguil brought to tears but so was most of France (or maybe the tears were from Trump’s visit – I don’t know 🙂
The results of Stage 14:
Warren Barguil (France)
Nairo Quintana (Colombia)
Alberto Contador (Spain)
GC results (total of 14 stages): (Over 1500 miles)
Fabio Aru (Italy) Yellow Jersey
Chris Froome (RSA) 6 seconds back
Romain Bardet (France) 25 seconds back
Rigoberto Uran (Colombia 35 seconds back
Yellow (1st Place) – Fabio Aru
Polka Dot (climber) – Warren Barguil
White (top under 25yo) – Sean Yates
Green (sprinter) – Marcel Kittel
Top Team – Sky
So maybe you are wondering why the TdF update. Well I thought:
1- A fair amount of runners also follow the TdF.
2- It is Bastille Day.
3- A book review will be coming soon including a mention of the book, “The Secret Race”, by Tyler Hamilton.
For those of you who remember of the Pre-2013 TdF you might remember a guy named, Lance Armstrong, who dominated the tour for about 10 years, tried to cure cancer and then came clean(?) on how he cheated the whole time on Oprah. Well not exactly entirely clean, but it was a start. Frankly I never met anyone who didn’t back Lance for most of this tenure and many didn’t believe it even after the Oprah interview. But now years later (anybody know where Lance is, anybody care?) does having more answers to how far he went to cheat and keep from getting caught interest you? Well if it does, consider this book by Tyler Hamilton a must read. It is informative, I believe accurate (if you followed this closely I think you will agree) and well written. It has the pace of a mystery adventure novel and I highly recommend it. I will leave the reader to write their own review.
Also coming soon will be the review of 2 running books:
1- “The Longest Fall”, by, Lee Krinsky
2- “On Sundays We Go Long”, by, Ty Strange (fellow ER member and XC National teammate(2011)
I will begin the review this weekend, but a here’s a teaser line:
“I enjoyed it and everything from the book cover to the storyline itself will be familiar to many Empire Runners who have run the PAUSATF XC Circuit and our many trails in Annadel and Santa Rosa Creek. You might even recognize some of the characters.”
This is Ty’s second novel and one runners have been looking for: A novel written by a runner for a runner.
The Empire Runners have a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving 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 4 recipients a total of $5000 in scholarship awards this year. All club members should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions through generous donations.
These four student-athletes will be formally introduced and awarded their scholarship checks at the Kenwood Footrace on July 4th. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young members of our running community.
Our first recipient comes from a large family of Empire Runners. He began his athletic career as a varsity soccer player at Windsor High. With the changing of the boys soccer season to the spring, the Fall 2016 became open to explore cross country, and through determination and hard work he made varsity his very first year. As a first year runner, his coach was very impressed with his positive attitude and hard work.
To just discuss this athlete’s athletic accomplishments would be a disservice to his academic career. This scholarship student is not only a 4.5+ GPA but also graduated #1 in his class and was the Salutatorian at Windsor HS. His teachers speak of him in glowing terms not just because of his GPA but rather the impact he has in the classroom, bringing the level up for his fellow students. Our first recipient will be continuing his studies at UC Irvine and continuing his running in intramurals and we are looking forward to him coming home and running more Empire Runner events.
Please join us in recognizing this future Anteater, from Windsor High School: Dylan Moberly
Our next recipient also began his running career later after playing soccer and basketball his first 2 years of high school, finding his way to cross country and track his junior year. In his first year of cross country his impact was evident as he was voted most inspirational and accompanied his teammate who had qualified for the State XC Championships in Fresno. He has been an outstanding track and field athlete for Rincon Valley Christian running the 400, 800, 1600, triple jump and discus. His true passion is the pole vault where in just 2 years he has already cleared 12’9” and qualified for the NCS Meet of Champions. He has a PR of 18:00 on the Spring Lake Course which he then matched on a more difficult course at the NCS XC Championships.
This fine multi talented athlete has also had a strong and varied scholastic career, carrying a 3.75 GPA and excelling in music and piano. What impressed the committee the most was his thought that the influence of cross country has made him a better student. In his own words, “by making running a lifestyle, running 5 miles will not phase the individual. When something difficult becomes familiar, then other concepts become easier. Therefore, after running 5 miles, a test or paper no longer appeared difficult”.
This talented scholarship athlete will be continuing his studies and furthering his athletic career at SRJC. Coach Wellman is looking forward to this XC and multi-talented track and field athlete staying local and perhaps developing his decathlon skills.
We welcome this new Bear Cub, from Rincon Valley Christian HS: Nicholas Dolan
Our third scholarship recipient is the classic story of a runner with no experience who joins the XC team mostly for its social aspects, gets comfortable, works hard, sets goals… did we say works hard? Then she finally achieves her goal to run Varsity and has her best 2 races of her life at NBL, then NCS. Through her 4 years with the XC and track families at Santa Rosa High it wasn’t all just a meteoric rise but rather peaks and valleys, failures and achievements. But overall it looks like this classic story is just the first part of a multi-part sojourn with the next sequel being able to run at her chosen university.
From a 9 minute miler in her first XC race to a PR of 20:39 at NBL her senior season, she followed with the same time at NCS on a notoriously harder course. Her best team finish ever fulfilled her goals for XC and with this new found strength led her to success on the track.
Yet metrics alone fail in comparison to her impact on team dynamics, her hard work, toughness and respect she both earns and gives.
An excellent student with a GPA above 4.4 in a dedicated all honors and Art Quest curriculum, this recipient also filled her spare time with volunteering at a variety of events including a 6 year commitment at the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.
With a plan to direct her college career at Scripps University in the area of literature and writing with a goal of becoming an author, our third scholarship recipient can very well write her own sequel to this memorable story.
We’re pleased to recognize this former Panther and new Athena, from Santa Rosa HS: Samantha Baker
Our final scholarship recipient ran with the SR Express as a middle schooler but began his high school athletics on the football field. When he was recruited for the track team his running began in earnest. Natural ability led him to perform at an all-league level this first track year and continued well through junior year in XC and had him qualify to NCS. But that was not enough for this talented runner; his habit of setting “strong” goals drove him to improve his summer training regimen with the goal qualifying to State. He was a top area XC runner this last season with a PR of 15:32 (34th AT) on the SLC. A 9th place at NCS qualified him to State and his 11th place finish in his very first time on the difficult 5K Woodward Park course was evidence of his talent and commitment. It was more of the same in track with excellent times of 4:29 and 9:32 in the 1600 and 3200 respectively and a qualification to the NCS Meet of Champions. He was All Empire 1st Team in XC and Track.
Through all of this, our fine student athlete maintained a 3.6 GPA and worked at Fleet Feet as a shoe fitter. His outgoing nature, shoe knowledge and social ease makes him a top seller. His small team at Rincon Valley Christian often worked out with a combined group of Montgomery HS runners, to the benefit for all involved. He also volunteered regularly with Church events.
Commitment, strong goal setting and the determination to achieve those goals make this scholarship recipient attractive to a number of collegiate coaches. Those of us who follow College XC and Track will keep an eye out for him at Master’s University in Santa Clarita.
From Rincon Valley Christian HS we are pleased to present: Wes Methum
In the spirit of classic running novels, Ty Strange has imagined a story about five thirty-something men bound by running talent and living in Sonoma county who juggle relationships, careers, heartaches, and technology’s pervasive reach, all the while training and racing together, pursuing cross-country club championship bragging rights. The following excerpt picks up where the guys christen the start to their season long pursuit.
Saturday Afternoon Annual XC BBQ
“Robyn, sweetie, this is Dillon and his dog, Miles,” Jake says to his eight-year-old daughter when a man and his siberian husky enter the homestead’s backyard, his arms full of banana bread, a serving dish filled with roasted potatoes, and a case of Allagash White.
“Very nice to meet you,” she says. “I’m Robyn, spelled with a y because y is the best letter in the whole alphabet.” She takes out her Agent Carter notebook and jots in it. “I shall call you Dilly and Miley.”
“WooooowooowoooWooooowoooo,” Miles says.
“Oh, that’s a funny noise,” Robyn says, scribing another entry.
Miles tilts her head up toward Dillon.
“If I can live with Dilly, you can live with Miley,” Dillon whispers.
“And this is my lovely wife, Linda,” Jake says as she walks up to them. “This is Dillon.”
“Hello, Dillon. Let me take some of that off your hands.” She offloads the food items. “I’m sure the guys can help you with the beer.”
“Mom, it’s Dilly.”
“Yes, sweetie, I forgot the y.”
Linda laughs. “You’re right, Jakey.”
“Mom, Dilly’s dog barks funny,” Robyn says, wrapping her arms around Linda’s legs.
“You know it’s not nice to make fun of others,” Linda replies.
“I mean it’s different,” she says, now playing around Jake’s legs as if they were a jungle gym.
“That’s not a bad thing,” Jake says.
“She’s talking, not barking,” Dillon says.
“Oh, then we have things to discuss, Miley. We must go!”
Miles eyes Dillon, who nods, and trots alongside Robyn, moving away from the trio, talking a mile a minute.
“Here, let’s find a home for that beer, and I’ll introduce you around,” Jake says, giving Linda a kiss afterward.
“Nice meeting you, Dillon,” Linda says.
Jake walks Dillon around the spacious backyard hidden from view out off Willowside Road, a patchwork of green and brown grass owing to the drought engulfing the region, that plays host to a dozen wooden picnic tables loosely clustered around a large BBQ pit. Around the perimeter of the property tall eucalyptus trees sway to a gentle breeze. Through the trees Dillon watches two horses saunter around a dusty corral, grinning when he spots a pair of donkeys in the same corral, one nudging and chasing a large plastic ball while the other chases the first, nipping at its hindquarters.
“It’s amazing,” Dillon says.
“What’s that?” Jake says.
“How much your place, and mine, makes you feel so out in the country and away from everything, yet we’re only ten minutes outside town.”
“That’s what makes this area special: a little heaven on Earth . . . and a trail always within reach,” Jake says, approaching a lively group sitting around a pair of picnic tables pushed together. “And this motley crew collectively represents the founding mothers and fathers of the club.” He gestures to the consortium of senior-division-and-up female and male runners sitting in various modes of running shirts from years gone by. “Founding mothers and fathers, Dillon; Dillon, founding mothers and fathers.”
A chorus of hey greets Dillon. “Founding mothers and fathers,” Dillon says. “Hey, Dale.”
“The shower working in the Tokyo Room?” Dale says, the club’s most senior of senior members and Dillon’s handyman at his Bed, Run & Breakfast Inn.
“Like a waterfall.” He hands Dale a beer.
“Ooookay, we’d better keep moving,” Jake says, turning and moving on, “or you’ll be employing the entire table for beer.”
Various forms of “But Jakey” fade behind them as Jake walks Dillon over to where the Sunday crew has staked out a table and several lawn chairs. “This is more our demographic.”
“Dillon,” Chase says from his seated position, shirtless.
“Chase. Guys,” Dillon says, setting the case of beer down. It is instantly emptied and placed into the oversized cooler.
“Maggie couldn’t make it?” Jake asks Spencer, referencing his longtime girlfriend.
“She’s on a writing tear.”
“What’s she working on now?” Chase says.
“She doesn’t let me read anything until the second draft.”
“She says I’m too literal.”
“Nooooo,” Jim says.
Spencer gives off a distinctive clearing of the throat, aka “Spence-speak.”
“Who’s the hottie,” Chase says, gesturing across the way.
Dillon turns toward the hottie, a woman with short black hair and shorter running tights conversing with Robyn and Doris (Jim’s fiancé) on the other side of the fire pit.
“Terri,” Dillon says. “She works for me, helps with breakfast and housekeeping.”
“Hmmm,” Chase says, sipping his beer. “I think I saw her out at the JC track last week.”
“She teaches a class there a couple days a week,” Dillon says.
“You two . . .” Chase gives Dillon the inquisitive eyebrow treatment, shifting his eyes back and forth between employer and employee.
“Nope. I don’t mix business with pleasure.”
“Or trouble,” Jake says, popping the cap off an Allagash White. Doris’s cackle catches his attention and he watches his daughter take notes like a journalist as she and Doris converse with Terri.
Dillon scratches his chin.
“What’s her story?” Chase says.
“She’s working on her master’s in human sexuality—”
The beer that reaches Jake’s lips sprays outward in all directions. The guys standing directly in front of him take quick cover.
“Smooth, Jakey,” Chase says, chuckling along with the others afterward.
The commotion catches the attention of Terri, Doris, and Robyn, as well as others in the vicinity, and all are staring in the guys’ direction, scrambling to cover up their shared embarrassment. Robyn marches over to her dad.
“Dad, I have questions for you and Mom.”
“Lord love a duck,” Jim says.
“That’s my dad’s words, Jimmy.”
“I’m sure you do, sweetie,” Jake says. He composes himself and successfully takes a sip of his beverage. “But not now, okay?”
“Chasey, why are you ’fraid of commitment?” Robyn asks.
More beer spews out from its intended palate, this time from Chase, spawning raucous laughter. “Whaaaaaat?”
“My new best friend, Terri—spelled with an i, though I wanted to change it to a y, but she said she preferred i and I agreed because she’s pretty smart—said you were checking her short shorts out, but if she went out with you—and she said she thought you were cute with your little dimple and blue eyes so it could be a possibility—you’d only sleep with her, then find something wrong with her and tell her goodbye.”
Chase sits stunned. Dillon hangs his head. Jim is about ready to say Jake’s patented catchphrase again, but stops short. Spencer tries to suppress laughter but fails.
“It’s not funny, Spencey.” Robyn glares up at him. “You’re not married, and you’re living in sin.”
Spencer clams up, smirk wiped clean.
“And you thought Doris was going to be your worst problem today,” Jimmy whispers to Chase.
Chase gives Jim the stink eye and turns toward Robyn. “It’s complicated, Robyn with a y.”
Robyn fixes her tiny hands on her hips and juts her head forward. Chase flinches, bracing for the unbridled scorn of a young girl. “No, it’s not, Chasey,” she says. “Grown-ups always say things are complicated. That way they don’t deal with them. ‘It’s complicated. . . . ’ If it’s complicated, then you talk about it more!”
Jake adjusts the 2008 Pikes Peak Ascent cap on his head. “Sweetie, let’s discuss this another time, okay? Why don’t you go ask Mom what she wants for her birthday?”
“You already know what she wants, and this is wayyy more important.”
“I’m sure it is but—”
“Okay, moving on to my next topic,” Robyn announces, setting down her notebook.
Everybody within earshot holds their breath, drinks far from their mouths.
“These are my new shoes.” Robyn bends over as if stretching her short hamstrings, pointing to her new red Crocs that have sunflower stickers across the tops.
Relief, smiles, and nervous chuckles spread over the group.
“Yes, sweetie, the guys think your new shoes are very nice,” Jake says. “Now, go find Daddy a napkin to clean up with.”
“Yes, you are very messy . . . and scruffy!” she says as she turns away, jotting again in her notebook. “We must work on that!”
Jake lets out a sheepish chuckle. “Trouble. Lord love a duck, trouble.”
“Hmmm,” Chase mutters. “I don’t find things wrong with women.”
Dillon grins as groans, guffaws, and a Spence-speak besiege Chase.
“How about the one who insisted on wearing socks during sex?” Spencer says.
“Who wears socks during—”
“Or the one that ate like a wood chipper?” Jim says.
“Chomp, chomp, chomp . . . sharks eat slow—”
“Or the one with the intense eyebrows?” Jake chimes in.
“Hey! She looked serious all the time, especially when she smiled. In fact, when she smiled, she looked fanatical, and when she laughed . . . holy cow!”
Belly laughter brings more attention their way.
“Pfft . . . Spencey’s the one living in sin,” Chase says, sucking down beer.
“Lord love a duck,” Jake concludes, raising his bottle and toasting the group. “To another fun cross-country season ahead.”
Many of us had the pleasure of running with Brian on Thursday evening at Howarth Park for his first Empire Runners training run. Sure, he’s done a handful of races, but nothing could prepare him for Larry’s one-liners or Zanetti’s, well…Zanetti. Just kidding, the guys and gals are always extra pleasant around first-timers.
How long have you been a member of the Empire Runners?
I’ve been a member for 5 months now.
Why did you join the club?
I became a member to be part of a running community and motivate me to make time for exercising. Plus you get to run in a bunch of local events for free. What’s not to like?
How did you enjoy your first club training run?
It was great and I’ll definitely feel it in the morning. The group was inclusive and the runs allowed you to participate at your ability. There was beer at the end too!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I once did a 2,200 mile National Parks road trip with my sister in under 3 days.
TRACK! If there’s a more exciting word in the English language I haven’t heard it.
After 2 years of injury (long story, but includes sacral stress fracture and a will-never-heal labral tear), I’ve finally had the chance to have a track season. Two track seasons, in fact!
At a personal level, I went from no track season since 2013 to (thus far) 4 meets and 7 races around the oval. Somehow included in that was a small (0.83) second PR (personal record) in the 1,500m. So that’s cool. But the other season has been a lot more fun.
The more important season is that of Santa Rosa Junior College (Go BearCubs!). Somehow former Maria Carrillo HS (Go Pumas!) teammate and Chico State standout David Wellman talked me into being his assistant distance coach this season. And it has been a blast. Helping others work hard to achieve goals is an awesome experience. And exhausting. I do not understand how those high school coaches with scores of athletes do it year after year. But major props to them!
Anyways, you didn’t open this article to read about my track or even about SRJC Track & Field, though you should (Go BearCubs!). You opened it to learn about how you (yes you!) can enjoy the wonders of racing around the oval!
Coming up tomorrow,Saturday, April 22nd, at Montgomery High School is the Viking Invitational. The Viking Invite is a huge track and field invite, but what makes it extra-awesome is that at 8:30am (be there by 8!) there is an open/community 3,200m. That’s right, you can burn up 8 laps of the track before watching some awesome HS T&F action. (Pro tip: Santa Rosa HS senior and Heart & Sole Co-Runner of the Year Luca Mazzanti has his eyes set on breaking 4:10 that day. You do not want to miss it!)
While you don’t have time to physically prep for this weekend, you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for summer. The Empire Runners Club hosts five all-comer meets over summer, every other week on Tuesdays, starting June 13th. These are truly all-comers; there are little kid 100m dashes, 80+ year old athletes running round the oval, fiesty HS student-athletes showing their speed, and everything in between. Each meet runs in the following order:
*The Distance Event rotates throughout the summer, going from 3,000m to 2mile to 5,000m to 3,000m for the first four meets.
**The first four meets conclude with the 4x400m relay. Grab your friends and each run a lap around the oval! There’s no better way to finish a track meet! Well, except for the…
Distance Medley Relay! The final meet combines the Distance Event with the Relay, for the awesome, the amazing, Distance Medley Relay! The DMR is another 4-person relay on the track, but each runner runs a different distance. The first runs a 1,200m (3 laps), the second a 400m (one lap), the third an 800m (two laps) and the fourth a 1,600m (four laps). That is the best way to finish off a track meet!
Now one concern many have is that they aren’t “fast enough”, or some such silly worry. Again, these are all-comers; EVERYONE is welcome. Races will be divided by expected finish time, so you don’t have to worry about being a lap behind or anything like that. It’s a super supportive environment for all.
Want to start getting prepared now? You’re in luck! The Empire Runners host weekly track workouts led by Larry Meredith on Tuesday evenings. Specifics for each week can be found on theERC Training Calendar.
If you’re getting excited (and really, who isn’t?!), then let’s talk a little bit about spikes. SPIKES! (That’s one of the top-5 words in the English language.) Spikes are your light-weight, responsive racing shoes. They aren’t for every-day runs, but for races and workouts. They are for going FAST! (Remember: Fast is relative!) They are something you have to work into, but they are so much fun. One of the greatest feelings in the world is doing a quick stride on a warm summer day after lacing up a pair of fresh spikes.
Not sure if spikes are right for you? That’s okay! Heart & Sole, Santa Rosa’s local, independent running store, has done the legwork to provide Saucony Vendetta spikes for anyone to use at each of the five ERC Summer Track Meets! More details to come.
Already aware of the above local T&F options? Check out the Pacific Association of USATF’s annual Track Meet. On Sunday, June 11th at College of San Mateo you’ll experience a professional-level track meet with some impressive competition. The PAUSATF also provides information on other open, competitive track meets throughout spring/summer for your veteran tracksters. And yes, they provide info for Master’s competition (40+ years old). Getting older does not mean getting away from the oval!
While nothing beats racing fast around the oval, watching athletes race fast around the oval is pretty dang awesome too. So put these events on your calendar:
Payton Jordan Invitational: Saturday, May 5th, Stanford University
USA Track & Field National Championships: Thursday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 25th, Sacramento State
TrackTown Summer Series: Thursday, June 29th, Stanford University
Alright, you’ve spent way too long staring at a screen while reading this article. Time to get up, lace up your shoes, and go burn up the track!
The Spirit of the Club award has been developed to honor the Empire Runner recipient(s) who have given exemplary service and dedication to our club and the running community. The nominee’s efforts shall have a major impact on the success of the Empire Runners Club and further contribute to youth and/or adult athletic activities.
Photo above: Mike McGuire accepting the award for Bob Shor along with the other 2017 winners Val Sell and Larry Meredith.
Spirit of the Club Awardee Bios:
Larry was born and raised in a small town near Muncie, Indiana.
He had a rather normal childhood sharing the household with 2 sisters and a brother. He got his start in running as a middle school sprinter(didn’t we all) but when success wasn’t imminent he tried the mile. By the eighth grade he finished 5th in the county meet which led him to being a 4 year member of the XC and track teams at Wapahani HS. Larry finished Jr and Sr year as the County Mile Champion with a PR of 4:38 and his senior year XC team finished first as well. He matriculated to Purdue majoring in engineering but finished his studies in PE at Ball State. It was during his time at Ball State that Larry began coaching high school track and realized how much he enjoyed coaching and the kids. Larry continued his love of running college intramurals at Ball State which coincided with the running boom of the 70’s and then marathoning (running 3 in 1 year! 1979) with a best of 2:52.
After a cross country bike trip to the western states and looking forward to being a PE teacher, Larry came to Sonoma County in 1981. PE teaching positions were few and far between so Larry took a position at OCLI and while checking on PE positions spied a notice for a Cross Country coaching position at Montgomery HS. In 1982 he got the job just days before the season opener, a first calling began. As a fledgling coach, unsure of himself and exactly how do get things done, Larry was touched by the sportsmanship and encouragement of Piner’s Jim Underhill. Larry coached for 18 years at MHS beginning with a second place league finish for boys in his inaugural season and winning league in only his second year. Highlights of his coaching career include but are not limited to: winning league for boys 5 straight years (12 total), 2 NBL titles for Girls, sending many individual boys and girls and boys and girls teams to the CIF State XC championships. Larry noted the girls program really took off when Tori became the girls coach. The boys best result was 7th overall at State. Larry’s XC coaching career culminated in 2000 with the Girls, led by Sara Bei and a precocious freshman, Kim Conley following their #1 NCS finish with a Division 3 State Championship. As head and co-head coach in track and field, Larry sent many individuals to the State championships over his 16 seasons again culminating in championship gold.
In 1987 Larry joined the Empire Runners, looking for a place to develop group training to better his personal running goals. He brought his coaching and training skills to the group as training director. He also quickly became involved in many aspects of the club, first as newsletter editor. He was instrumental in developing the Valley Ford Relays with Doug Courtemarche. He also started the high school support program during his 3 year presidency. He has been a major contributor and volunteer for a variety of races to the betterment of the club. As a racer he has produced many outstanding results individually and as an Empire Team Captain at such events as: Hood to Coast, Decelles Lake Tahoe circumnavigation, Xmas Relays, etc. One of his highlights was the 2008 trip for 23 Empire runners at the Boston Marathon. Finally he has grown the Empire Runner XC program (along with John Harmon) to the 60-80 annual participants we now have.
Larry has always loved the social aspect of the club and his competitive nature keeps him running in health and injury. His dream has always been to be an athletic “star” and as such has been driven to excel at every level of our sport to be the best he can be. To truly appreciate his impact you just needed to be at the 25th Annual Viking Opener when over a hundred of his former athletes descended on the Spring Lake course in the coaches race and raised the level of each race that followed. Following that, over 200 athletes and their families spent the rest of the day at Doyle Park sharing food, a beverage (or 2), stories, laughter and no end of tears. As a coach myself, it answered the question is the time spent worth it? As a fellow runner, teammate and friend is the time spent worth it? As an active volunteer in every aspect of our club’s production and improvement has that time been worth it? I know Larry would say a resounding YES… and I would too! – Brad Zanetti
November 1993. The young mother of four finally got a break for herself, and headed over to the SRJC track for a workout and a chance to clear her head. The track was crowded that day with a large group doing a speed workout. She caught up to them and asked what was going on. A nice woman, Pam Horton, answered that they were members of the Empire Runners club, and would she like to join them. And she joined in a big way. Her first real run with the club was a few weeks later, Thanksgiving Day, back in the day when that was a macho over-the-hill 12 miler, none of the “turkey trot in costumes” of today. She hadn’t run in Annadel before then and it showed. She fell twice, broke a toe, and didn’t return for several months.
Thus began a special relationship of Val Sell with Empire Runners. She has become one of our most stalwart advocates, serving as club president, vice president and secretary at various times as well as race director for the Resolution Run for 15 years. Her greatest volunteer impact has been in the growth in popularity and efficiency of the Kenwood Footrace, our major fundraiser, that allows us to be fiscally solvent the rest of the year. With the help of countless others, her natural inclination has been to improve the race every year for the past 10 years, which now includes chip timing, instantaneous results for 1200+ runners, sponsorships and the festive 4th of July event that it has become today.
Despite Val’s formidable volunteer efforts for Empire Runners, her proudest accomplishments have come from coaching high school runners. Here’s how that came about: She was assistant coach to Danny Aldridge at Maria Carillo for the 2001-2 XC and track seasons. Larry and Tori Merideth had just retired from their storied stint at Montgomery HS, and Josh Dorris who took over for Larry was looking for an assistant with his intent of stepping down in a year. Val, not intimidated by the idea of taking on the program so quickly, jumped at the chance. She served as head XC and track coach for the next 12 years, until she turned over that job in 2015. The results in competitive success and social and emotional growth of her athletes are well known.
Val’s advice for would-be volunteers who think they don’t have enough knowledge: Just do it! Don’t be afraid. You don’t need to know everything about the sport to get involved. Everyone has a specialty that is useful, maybe a bit of nutrition advice, a secret way to tie a shoe, or just being good with numbers. Helping time a track workout, volunteer to run a race with newbie at Girls-on-the-Run. The time you spend is incredibly rewarding and will make a huge impact on kids’ lives.
Val’s coaching motto can be distilled to “Be your best no matter how good you are”. She hopes to instill in teens a life-long love of participation that will have a positive impact on their busy lives. She gets to know her athletes personally, and enjoys being a fly on the wall at practice and traveling to meets. Val feels that today’s over-scheduled and digitally connected kids need running now more than ever. The chance to be connected to your body, with a team and with a positive outcome is an important outlet and a chance to unwind.
One of Val’s greatest rewards is to see her countless former athletes continue to thrive and participate and compete long after high school. She vividly remembers sharing a hotel room in 2003 with one of her athletes on a Montgomery team trip to Hawaii. One evening this athlete shrieked as she plucked the first gray hair from Val’s head, followed by a ritual of flushing of the hair down the toilet. That memory is a bookend to the highlight of her coaching career as she witnessed that same athlete’s surreal finish at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, our local Olympian Kim Conley.
Some of us are convinced that Val is the energizer bunny or her world contains a different sort of clock. Besides coaching, she somehow finds time to raise chickens, design kitchens, grow copious amounts of vegetables, be a mom to a teenager and study French, all the while training well enough to have won the Empire Runners Grand Prix 10 years in a row. We acknowledge Val for her extraordinary efforts and success with our club and our sport. She is an easy selection for the inaugural class of Empire Runners’ Spirit of the Club. – Paul Berg
Bob Shor has been a fixture in local, regional and national running events longer than many people can remember. His presence has been a positive and steadying influence for organizers, participants and spectators for more than 30 years. Track and field and cross-country participation and achievements have boomed during those years, partly due to the contributions of those like Bob.
While in high school, Bob noticed the starting position of a runner while in the starting blocks. The poor position caused the sprinter to slow start. When Bob pointed out the faulty ‘set’ position, it was corrected and the runner quickly improved his performances. Bob saw that mechanics, self-discipline and dedication could pay great dividends.
In 1989-90 Bob and Doug Courtemarche became involved with the Santa Rosa Express, a youth running club, started in 1975 by John Gash from Rincon Valley Junior High. The program eventually moved to Santa Rosa High School where runners from eight years old through high school could compete in track and field events. The program offered a chance for young girls and boys to learn about running, training and the value of individual effort. Many stayed with the program for years. The Express was pretty equally divided between male and female athletes which gave team members an opportunity to appreciate a wide range of athletes in various events.
Bob likes the way youth sports builds character, the appreciation that winning is not the only goal of competing, and the ultimate value of individual effort. Athletes progress largely through time spent and self-motivation. Bob stressed that team members need to want to come to practice and put in the effort in order to get better. Fortunately these sports generally allow all interested participants to become part of a team. There is always an event for anyone willing to try.
Within and outside of Empire Runners, Bob is well known and highly respected as a race starter and general organizer. He makes certain procedures are followed so no complaints or challenges arise out of events he oversees. His count downs to race starts are clear and booming so everyone can move to the start in good order.
Like many volunteers, Bob started small with helping to set up the Kenwood race, then as local Pacific Association Cross Country chair for Youth. Events became bigger and travel farther as Bob’s reputation for skill became known. He has served for many years as a PA board member and continues to oversee many events. It is a comfort for runners to see Bob at the start or finish of an event, giving confidence the race will be properly conducted. Locally, Bob almost always attends Empire Runner club meetings and always has a positive productive comment or reaction about events under discussion.
Bob Shor is a worthy entrant into the inaugural class of Empire Runners’ Spirit of the Club.