Write 2 The Top


Headshot of writer and columnist Angela Young

Finish Line

Angela Young is a sports columnist.

One of her columns is called "Finish Line".
It runs in the South Valley Newspapers:
The Morgan Hill Times, The Gilroy Dispatch,
The Hollister Free Lance, and The Pinnacle.

Another column is "Go The Distance" in
Out & About The Valley magazine.

Angela has also published sports articles in The Gilroy Patch

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A wild and bumpy ride Live Oak, Sobrato, Salinas race
The Race for Survival South Valley runners turn out for the Mission 10
Springing into Step at Wildflower Bay to Breakers 2006
Mushroom Mardi Gras Race 2006 Honoring Live Oak's Sports History
Doc on the Run The Big Race of Life and Bill Flodberg
Running For Freedom Reek & Run
The South Bay Triple Challenge Fun Runs
Mt. Madonna Challenge
Endurance is the Key to Running
Ready to Rock
Rock 'N Roll Marathon
Silicon Valley Marathon
New Times Columnist on a Mission to Run
Kicking it Zumba style
Surgeon General's 'vision for a healthier nation' Run and Smell the Wildflowers Sunday
Taking part in another big turnout
Running for a good cause
Mushroom Mardi Gras fun run for all
Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k and 1-Mile Race
Hot summer fun running in Morgan Hill
Run for the Stinkin' Roses
Local runners honor San Jose man
Spelunking and Rappelling
Norcal event is warmup to Morgan Hill races
Get Fit Morgan Hill!
MH Fitness Fair and Open House fun for all
MH Marathon returns; get ready to rock
MH Marathon sets PR
Warrior Dash all about mud, fire, and fitness
Mission 10 a winter classic
Stay fit and help a good cause
Mayor Tate still runs
Annual Big Sur Marathon rocks the coast
Ranch Romp Mud Run not for the wimpy
Mardi Gras Fun Run draws runners of all walks
Mt. Madonna Challenges You To A Race!
Runners at Mt. Madonna Challenge
Annual NorCal Race: Fast & Furious Fun
Backward Running Man Arrives in Gilroy
San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Morgan Hill Marathon Around the Corner
Morgan Hill Marathon A Hit With Runners
Mt. Madonna Challenge
8th San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon
Morgan Hill Marathon: A fall treat
Morgan Hill Marathon: A gorgeous ride

5th annual Morgan Hill Marathon: A Gorgeous Ride

A 26.2 mile tour of the South Valley

This is the post-race article. Click here for the pre-race article.
This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance, The Gilroy Dispatch, and The Morgan Hill Times
on 07 November, 2014

Morgan Hill Marathon article by Angela Young, page 1

Morgan Hill Marathon article by Angela Young, page 2

Runners start the Morgan Hill Marathon
Racers bolt from the start of the MH Marathon

The course of the Morgan Hill Marathon
The course offers hills for your enjoyment

Running the Morgan Hill Marathon
Stalwarts ready to roll for miles

Bihama Vedaste winning the Morgan Hill Marathon
Bihama Vedaste wins Morgan Hill Marathon in 2:49

Winners of the Morgan Hill Marathon
Author poses with winners: Sean Curry and Shannon Hoyle

Finishers at the Morgan Hill Marathon
Moms Run This Town chill after the race

In this season of the San Francisco Giants dominating major league baseball with a third World Series title, another fall classic delighted sports fans in the south valley.

The 5th Annual Morgan Hill Marathon didn't disappoint the hordes of athletes who ran the marathon, half and 5k that chilly Sunday morning on November 2nd.

The 3.1-mile competition seemed innocuous but The Hill lurking in the middle of the course surprised many a racer. Sprinkled among the pack were young girls decked in yellow tees with the words Mini Mermaid Running Club festooned on the front. These miniature whirlwinds of energy zipped up the hill, encouraging folks with their zeal.

San Jose's Randy Tanaka, 32, won the 5K with 21:12 trailed by John Vu, 20, in 21:25 and Nick Froumis, 36, who took third with 21:30.

Morgan Hill's Shannon Hoyle, 16, from Live Oak High won the women's division in 23:20; Katelyn Chu of Los Gatos, 12, followed in second with 23:36 and Gilroy's Kelly Ramirez, 52, rounded the top three with 23:43.

Hoyle remarked, "It was cold so I had to push myself a little harder . . . there was this little girl like in purple and she came pretty close to me and I just said 'don't let her pass me' and I kept running as fast as I could."

Ramirez said, "It was a lot of fun. I like watching the little mermaid girls come out and run. I think it was a great opportunity to show how they are choosing to live a healthy lifestyle."

The half marathon was no wimpy ride. Hills a plenty awaited the wary racer; mercifully the route flattens out after Mile 9. San Jose's Nick Scalfone triumphed in 1:15:09; Robert James, 30, of Santa Cruz arrived second in 1:22:01 and Morgan Hill's Tom Roberts, 47, got third in 1:23:24.

Hollister's Abel Bedolla, 38, chased his buddy Sean Curry, 46, of Salinas for miles. They both crossed the finish in 1:25:16 and placed in the race. "Sean is a beast like a machine," Bedolla joked. "He's always pushing me. Today was awesome!"

Curry ran the Zombie Marathon in Los Gatos the day before while sick. He said, "The whole weekend was good. I'm happy. Kicked this flu in the butt I came back stronger."

Gilroy's Gar Chan, 60, ran this event since its birth five years ago and finished in 1:55:27. "Great race, good support, fantastic fans and runners were wonderful. I love the finish and burritos at the end."

The women excelled too. Obstetrician Kari Bertrand, 43, of Gilroy smoked the competition with 1:28:00. Sarah Meyer of Santa Cruz, 33, got second with 1:29:54 and Sacramento's Tamara Torlakson, 28, earned third with 1:31:48.

"It was challenging because it is a hilly course. Overall I felt okay but I felt my age . . . " Bertrand chuckled. "I still enjoy running but it's hard knowing your fastest times are behind you." She ran in the 2004 U.S Olympic Team Trials Women's marathon in St. Louis, Missouri.

The big 26.2 not only featured hills galore but the distance itself was daunting and the finishers earned bragging rights.

Bihama Vedaste, 24, of San Jose who originally hailed from Rwanda Africa conquered the beastly course in 2:49:49 winning the race. Joshua Grub of San Jose took second in 2:57:41 and Gilroy's Jose Cruz nabbed third in 3:00:23.

Vedaste said, "Physically I was strong but when these two guys showed up and I had to decide to take off ahead or I'll end up losing." He referred to Grub and Cruz who trailed him from Mile 3. Vedaste is shooting for the Olympics in 2016.

Morgan Hill resident Zachary Abrams, 20, took second in his age group with 3:08:57. He said, "I did ten minutes faster than I expected. Going out on the first half is really nice because you're out by Uvas Reservoir. They have a good start time at seven in the morning so that it's not very hot when you're out by Mile 20."

Sarah Hallas, 35, of Santa Rosa seized the women's title with 2:54:00. Morgan Hill's Tiffany Pereira, 40, snagged second with 3:25:11 and Fremont's Sarah Joe, 45, grabbed third in 3:45:39.

A popular athletic group-Moms Run This Town arrived with thirty members. Several from Morgan Hill raved about their experience at the race.

"I PRd, it was awesome!" Briana Monaco, 34, who ran the half in 2:09:50 said. "It's a beautiful course . . . the hills could kind of get you but just stick with it and you can make it through."

Anita Azevado, 34, finished in 1:57:46. She explained, "Was a good run . . . mile 9 to 11 on Hale Avenue was straight tough but we trained on this course so I knew that."

Naomi Herrera, 35, covered the distance in 2:03:02 chimed, "The weather was perfect not too hot. Friends and family we saw on the course was a good motivator."

 "All the volunteers were wonderful and the pacers were amazing," said San Martin's Maggie Stukas, 33, who covered 13 miles in 2:07:50.

Alicia Julian, 33, also from Morgan Hill ran the race in 2:19:48. "Running keeps us healthy and active so we can chase our kids around," she said with a smile.

Photos courtesy of Alheli Curry and Angela Young

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Morgan Hill Marathon: A fall treat

This is the pre-race article. Click here for the post-race article.
This column ran in Out & About the Valley magazine in October, 2014

Cover of Out & About Magazine with article by Angela Young

Morgan Hill Marathon article by Angela Young, page 1

Morgan Hill Marathon article by Angela Young, page 2

Morgan Hill Marathon article by Angela Young, page 3

Crossing the finish line at the Morgan Hill Marathon
Happy half marathoner at the finish

Summer is behind us with all its picnics, parties, vacations and visits to Santa Cruz Beach and fall racing season is here.

What better way to shed the unwanted pounds of potato salad, Tri-tip sandwiches and Coca Cola adorning our middles as fat than a gorgeous run through the countryside?

It's time to dust off our running shoes and gear up for the Morgan Hill Marathon on Sunday, November 2nd.  Racemine Inc. will host again footraces in varying distances: The full marathon, half, and 5K plus a Kids Run on Saturday, November 1st.

From elite runner to the newbie they all toe the line ready to experience the thrill of the run.

The breathtaking scenery and hills, which are plenty, emboss an indelible memory for all participants. The organization of race directors Greg and Debbie Richards and their crew at Racemine make the event a smooth ride every year. The friendly volunteers add the icing on the top.

For the last three years the marathon was held in October but to avoid the typical Indian summer heat and competing with the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco, Racemine switched the race to early November. The cooler temps make running easier especially for a hilly course.

After going the distance you will receive a cool custom medal once you cross the finish line. Race champions can look forward to taking home a special treat. Race Director Richards says, "Strike brewing company is a new sponsor and has designed special bottles for Morgan Hill Marathon winners, along with Morgan Hill Cellars that provide custom Champagne bottles for the first place winners."

Don't miss the opportunity to run or walk the beautiful course by signing up ahead of time because there isn't any race day registration.

You can register at the Lifestyle Expo on Friday or Saturday.

It's free and open to the public at the Morgan Hill Centennial Center. The hours are Friday October 31st from 1 pm to 6 pm and Saturday November 1st from 10 am until 5 pm. Participants will also receive a tech race shirt with unique logo commemorating 5 years as a premier long distance race.

You may also register at http://www.mhmarathon.com or go on Facebook.

The Morgan Hill Marathon is a family-friendly event attracting athletes far away as England, Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya. Be a part of this special south valley tradition and you won't regret it.

Mile marker 6 of the Morgan Hill Marathon
Hilly section of half marathon at Mile 6

Runners at the start line of the Morgan Hill Marathon
Runners dash from the start of the marathon

Runners start the 5K at the Morgan Hill Marathon
Author looking forward to a fun run

Winners of the Morgan Hill Marathon
Good time had by all at MH Marathon '13

Photos taken by Alheli Curry

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8th Annual Rock 'n Roll San Jose Half Marathon

This column ran in Out & About the Valley magazine in September, 2013

Cover of Out & About Magazine, September 2013

Scan of page 1 of article by writer Angela Young

Scan of page 2 of article by writer Angela Young

The start of the 2012 half marathon
The start line on Almaden
Boulevard at the
Rock N Roll San Jose
Half Marathon 2012

Runners pass under the inflatible rocker in 2012
Runners stream underneath
rocker inflatable on race course

Sergio Reyes winning the Rock N Roll marathon
Sergio Reyes of Palmdale
sprints through downtown

Runners in the 2012 race
Daniel Tapia leads in 2012 race

Writer Angela Young
Chillin' with 49ner Roger Craig
and elite runner Daniel Tapia
after race

Get ready to bust a move with thousands on the streets of downtown San Jose in early October at the Rock 'N' Roll San Jose Half Marathon and Mini Marathon.

Competitor Group, Inc.'s event offers a 13.1-mile rockin' ride or a 5-miler for those who aren't ready for the half marathon distance.

If you're hankering for a race with fanfare, music and costumed folks in Elvis outfits then this is for you. There's a band every mile and cheerleaders along the course giving high fives to racers.

What set this event apart from other races are the crowds. Hearing the roar of the masses as the runners bolt from the start line catapults the experience to a stratospheric level. I'm talking non-stop, rock concert frenzy. The energy carries runners all the way to the finish line.

Last year former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig, three-time Super Bowl champion and race co-founder said, "I'm really excited about this race because it's been the largest ever out of the seven years I hosted this race. It's growing, which is great."

In 2012, the Mini Marathon debuted and sold out. The five-mile distance is a great way for people to whet their feet in racing. They get the perks of a big race including a cool medal at the finish. 

Timothy Vego, 43, of San Jose won the Mini Marathon in 29:53 and Mariana Rivera, 38, also a resident of San Jose, won the women's division in 36:49.

Justin Baraona, 13, from San Jose ran the Mini Marathon. He took second in his age group with 37:20."It was pretty fun how you run through block after block in downtown. I do pretty well in the flats," Baraona said.

Carmen Santoya, 47, of Morgan Hill ran five miles in 51:16. Santoya said, "It was my first race. I didn't know what to expect. The bands were entertaining; they kept me going, and I never stopped running."

Simon Bairu, 29, from Oregon won the half marathon with 1:03:28

"It was a great course," Bairu said. "The competition was tough from the get go, which was what I wanted. For me it was really getting ready for the New York City Marathon at the end of the month."

Sergio Reyes, 30, of Palmdale snatched second in 1:03:31 and Scott Bauhs, 26, from Danville took third with 1:04:29.

Bauhs explained, "It was kind of tough. I didn't feel very good out there, but I toughed it out. Both Sergio and Simon were pushing the pace pretty hard."

Daniel Tapia, 25, from Prunedale, took 6th overall with 1:05:44. Tapia said, "I felt really good coming into the race; my training is better than ever. I thought I was in good shape to run a fast time."

Clara Horowits Peterson, 28, from San Anselmo was the top female finisher in 1:12:52.

The fun doesn't stop after crossing the finish line at Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park. The headliner group Atlas Genius plans to rock the masses at the post-race concert.

Photos by Alheli Curry

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Mt. Madonna Challenge: Not for Wimps

This column ran in Out & About the Valley magazine in July, 2013

Out & About the Valley magazine, July 2013 cover

Article in Out & About by writer Angela Young

Page 2 of Out & About article by writer Angela Young

Runners waiting at the start line
Runners ready to tackle the hills
at Mt. Madonna Challenge
in 2012

Photo of the 6K course
Scenic 6K course at
Mt. Madonna Challenge

Bihama Vedaste
Bihama Vedaste won the
Mt. Madonna Challenge 30K
in 2:26:10

What do you get when mixing dirt, sunshine, hills, trees, sweat, joy, and a great workout? The triumph of conquering a mountain! The 38th Annual Bill Flodberg Mt. Madonna Challenge beckons you to push beyond your physical limits on Saturday, August 24th.

The late Bill Flodberg, an avid runner, spearheaded The Challenge with his group Gavilan Joggers and Striders but then passed the baton over to the South Valley Running Club six years ago. Race director Kim Moyano and crew are gearing up for another successful turnout this year.

Athletes will prove their manliness in the hilly distances: 6K, 12K, 18K and 30K. Many devoted trailblazers are ready to tackle the hills this summer. The Challenge is also part of the Trail Runner Trophy Series.

Although the 6K is only 700 feet in elevation gain, it certainly isn’t a wimpy ride. The bumpy terrain kicks butt just like the longer trails in the race.

Despite the calf-killing climbs, the mist covered mountains and panoramic views make the trip enjoyable. The circuitous terrain of the 3.7-miler tested the mettle of each runner. The top winners made this look easy.

Andrew Walgren, 15, of Santa Cruz shot through the finish in 30:24.

“It was really hard, I tried to ease my way up the hill and hammer the last part.” Walgren said.

Karlie Hemeon of Gilroy, 24, won the women’s division with 36:05. “This was my first time running this course. I thought it was really fun.”

Now let’s double the distance, add 1,100 feet in elevation gain and you get the 12K.

Modesto’s Michael Singleton, 42, won the 12K in 1:00:16. Singleton remarked, “I totally forgot how those uphills were. They killed me.”

Nina Giraudo, 45, of San Jose nabbed the girls’ top spot in 1:16:31.“I would do it again next year. I love the trails,” Giraudo remarked.

You think that’s arduous try the 18K monster with higher elevation gain of 1,800 feet. These tough dudes conquered it.

Eric Palmer, 28 of Monterey won in 1:30:27. “I like hillier races in general. This was one of the hardest races I ran.”

Kate Flexer, 40, of San Jose blazed the trail for women in 1:59:29. “It was great. I was thinking, take a hike and run a little bit,” she explained.

The Big Kahuna distance—30K with 2,900-foot elevation gain debuted at last year’s race. These stalwarts slew this beast with impressive gusto. 

Bihama Vedaste, 22, from Rwanda, Africa, won the Mt. Madonna Challenge with 2:26:10. Vedaste said, “My goal is to do the best I can. I’m preparing for a career as a professional marathoner.”

Jennifer Hsiaw, 24, of Los Altos snagged gold with 3:48:51.“I thought I was going to quit after the first 12K but I regained my energy on the downhill.”

Will you be there to challenge the defending champions at Mount Madonna at Sprig Lake this year? We dare you!

Photos by Alheli Curry

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3rd Annual Morgan Hill Marathon A Hit With Runners

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 02 November, 2012

Scan of page 1 of article by writer Angela Young

Scan of page 2 of article by writer Angela Young

The start of the Morgan Hill Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Marathon and half start
at the CRC

Runners at the start of the Morgan Hill Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Runners take off in the 5K

Mile marker one of the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Mile 1
Morgan Hill Marathon,
Half & 5K

Street blocked off for the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Streets were blocked

The course of the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Beautiful scenic course

Amazing volunteers at the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Mana Fit aid station 15
on Main Street

Angela Young with winners of the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Author with Bihama Vedaste
and Sean Curry
winners in the marathon

Marcia Ribiero with her husband Carlos at the Morgan Hill Marathon
Marcia Ribiero with her husband
Carlos after running the half

Fall is in full swing with the San Francisco Giants sweeping the World Series and the 3rd Annual Morgan Hill Marathon blessing the south valley with another successful race. South Valley Endurance hit a home run with this competition last Sunday.

Runners from far away as Great Britain toed the line at the Centennial Recreation Center (CRC) at 7:30am just as dawn broke. The weather wasn't chilly. Instead the temperature became balmy, soaring to the low 80s during the race.

The hilly, scenic course makes the suffering worthwhile plus the delicious Super Tacqueria chicken burritos waiting for hungry races at the finish line festival. A new distance made its debut in 2012, which was the 5K. The route wasn't flat and had a baby hill in the middle.

The winners of the 3.1-mile race bolted toward the finish at the CRC with Andrew Bergholz, 38, shutting out the rest in 20:45. San Josean Nick Froumis, 34, grabbed second in 20:54 and San Jose's Justin Baraona, 13, took third in 21:00.

"It was a beautiful race, great venue, very well organized," Bergholz said. "It's cool outside, the sun is shining, and it's Sunday morning you can't go wrong there."

Baraona added, "It was fun and interesting. There was only one hill, it was an easy hill. Most of the course was flat."

After Baraona zipped past the finish, Amanda Williams, 26, also from San Jose won the women's division in 21:14. Annie Bergholz, 37, of Morgan Hill got second in 21:26 and Molly McNamera, 35, of San Jose won the bronze in 24:55.

"This was a great morning to run. I didn't feel it this morning. I didn't run as fast as I wanted. I'm just out here to have fun." Bergholz said.

The leaders of the half marathon blazed their way to the end of the race with King City's Jesus Campos, 27,dominating the pack with 1:10:29. He didn't expect to win the race. Campos said, "It was a tough course, I'm getting ready for the Fresno Marathon next weekend. I didn't have pressure in the race. I just came to get a good workout, a tempo run."

Ivan Medina,26, of Hayward grabbed the silver in 1:10:57 and San Jose's Chris Smith, 26, took third in 1:15:40.

Zach Abrams, 18, of Morgan Hill took 8th overall and first in his age group with 1:27:57. "I did really good. I wasn't expecting to go that fast. Near the end I surprised myself by pushing it. It was a struggle-the last two miles. The flat part gets to you after you've done the downhill; your legs are destroyed."

His father Allan Abrams was a pacer for the 2:00 group and finished in 1:59:40. Abrams remarked, "I paced the 2 hour-half marathon, we came under at 1:59:40. And we brought a group of eight or ten runners, they all made it under two hours. I really enjoyed it."

The women blazed the path in the 13-miler with amazing times as well. Carrisa Jacomini, 24, from Rocklin won the gold in 1:34:33. Calina Snyder, 44, of Pacific Grove took second with 1:36:34 and Saratoga's Kathy Claus, 60, took home the bronze in 1:37:43.

"This is my first half marathon ever. It was amazing. I met some friends on the trail, it was awesome," Jacomini said. "I love hills. I train on them."

Marcia Ribiero, 45, of San Jose crossed the finish line in 2:26:15. Ribiero shared, "I felt like I was going to be the last one getting in here at the finish. What most impressed me was the fresh smells of wood burning from chimneys, the sun rising above the hills, and the shady parts on the course. It reminds me of my childhood home in Brazil."

Morgan Hill's Maria Bruhns, 38, was happy with her 13-miler finish in 2:41:19. "I did great. This is my second year doing the half. I did five minutes faster than last year. I was thinking to walk up the hill on Oak Glen and Willow Springs but I cruised through those pretty easily," she said.

Running the marathon is tough; imagine adding hills and heat to the mix. Yet Tony Torres, 43, of Cedar Glen made running 26 miles look like a sprint. He won the race overall in 2:33:49. "

San Jose's Bihama Vedaste, 22, originally from Rwanda, Africa, nabbed second place overall with 2:49:16. This was his first marathon. "I'm thankful to God for a good finish. The first half was tough, my feet was tight. But in the second half I felt good. At mile 9 my legs are tired, oh let me shut down for a few seconds but in my mind: 'Sean Curry is behind you man' so I took off again." Vedaste joked.

Scott Reisdorf, 32, of Livermore completed the marathon in 2:56:00 thus rounding the top three in the race.

Sean Curry, 44, of Salinas won second place in his age group with 3:23:09. He ran with a pinched nerve in his back. "As I was going up the hills, I said, 'Oh that hill isn't so bad and I think it's the top.' But I kept repeating myself a lot. None of them were too bad by themselves but there were a lot of them. I figure because of my hip injury that 3:15 would be my best time today but I got 3:23 instead."

Chris Jones, 40, from San Francisco ran 26.2 miles in 3:09:17. This was his 50th marathon in less than 52 weeks. "I have a few injuries, I think I got a major issue with going on with my foot. Even if I have a hairline fracture, it's not going to stop me from running. You can run through a broken bone. I have a friend who finished a 100-miler with a broken foot and did it in a boot. It's about how bad you want it and your threshold for pain," Jones explained.

The top three female winners of the marathon were Farmington's Jasmine Sessions, 31, who nabbed first place with 2:56:18; Monica Zhuang, 39, of Livermore got second in 3:13:44, and Mary Nguyen, 17, from San Jose snagged third in 3:19:53.

Volunteers at the finish line party and on the racecourse are extremely important in making the athletic competition a success. How can people run these long distances without aid stations along the way? Aid Station 15 manned by Mana Fit near mile 24 handed out food and energized the straggling runners with zippy Latin music as they climbed upward on Main Street.

The Morgan Hill Marathon, half and the 5K is a winner with runners and walkers alike. It's definitely a fall classic that will be with us for years to come.

Photos by Alheli Curry and Angela Young

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3rd Annual Morgan Hill Marathon Around the Corner

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 12 October, 2012

Scan of an article by writer Angela Young in the Morgan Hill Times

The halfway point of the Morgan Hill Marathon by Angela Young
Runners zip past Mile Six
during last year's Morgan Hill
Marathon and Half
(All photos by Angela Young)
Photo by Alheli Curry
Author with Mayor Steve Tate
 before the race

Photo by Alheli Curry
Author with John Munene,
3rd place marathon winner

Photo by Alheli Curry
Britons Dave Pearson and Lesley
Fisher after running 26 miles

Photo by Alheli Curry
A good sign: 26 Mile Marker

The fall racing season is in full swing. People are gearing up for the upcoming 3rd annual Morgan Hill Marathon and Half on October 28th. Because we live in a beautiful, scenic area training for this special event is a privilege. The crisp fall weather is ideal for long runs on weekends and track workouts during the week.

What is new this year is the 5K race added to the race menu for those who haven't trained for a full marathon or half or is a newbie for running. Whatever the reason, the 5K is perfect for folks who don't have time to run or walk more than three miles or so.

The start line for all distances is at the Centennial Recreational Center. It's best to get there pretty early since parking is limited at the CRC due to the set up of the race. The 26.2 and 13.1 races begin at 7:30am and the 5K at 7:45. All distances finish at the CRC near the dog park.

South Valley Endurance is working hard with the City of Morgan Hill to make the Morgan Hill Marathon a wonderful experience for everyone. I did the 13.1-miler last year and loved the bucolic backdrop mile after mile. My favorite part was running the hills near the reservoir. SVE picked a great course; it beats a city road race any day of the year!

One of the nice features of the Morgan Hill Marathon is the crew of volunteers. Without them the race would be a disaster. Behind the scenes the volunteers make the experience enjoyable for both the race director and the runners. Morgan Hill resident Jody McRoberts is the volunteer coordinator and a member of the South Valley Running Club.

"It's rewarding to know that the work I am doing is helping to make this big event run smoothly.  It's great to see everything come together on race day," McRoberts said. "South Valley Endurance does a great job with their events! They treat the runners and the volunteers well. (Even the volunteers get food on race day! Once again, it will be yummy burritos.) They don't cut corners, and I think the runners really appreciate that."

The Morgan Hill Marathon is part of the CA Marathon Series so if you ran either the Pleasanton Half Marathon, Norcal Half Marathon and 5K or both and plan to do the marathon, half or 5K you need to register with SVE to let them know so they can give you a special medal for doing more than one of their events out of that series.

Many fun things are planned for this race including the finish line festival with delicious hot Mexican food and other healthy goodies for the participants. The slots in all distances are filling up so don't wait until the last minute to sign up. Go to www.mhmarathon.com to register.

Last year Jose Morales of Turlock won the 26.2 in 2:29:59 and Suet-Fei Li from Hong Kong was the top female finisher in 3:14:27. Miguel Nuci also of Turlock won the half in 1:07:51 and Lindsay Nelson took the gold in the ladies' division with 1:20:21. Who will be the reigning champs this year? The prize money is pretty good.

Below is the schedule for the Morgan Hill Marathon. See you bright and early on Sunday, October 28th!

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Runner rock in San Jose

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 09 October, 2012

Start of the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon 2012, photo by Alheli Curry
San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half
Marathon & 5-Miler
Photo by Alheli Curry

Justin Baraona, John Baraona, Angela Young, Carmen Santoya
Left to right:
Justin Baraona, John Baraona,
Angela Young, Carmen Santoya

Lead Runners of the 2012 San Jose Rock ' Roll Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry, Sean Curry in the lead
Elite runners race in downtown
Photo by Alheli Curry

Photo by Alheli Curry: 2012 San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon by writer Angela Young
Downtown San Jose
Photo by Alheli Curry

Angela Young with winners of the 2012 San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Angela with 49ers Champ
Roger Craig and elite runner
Daniel Tapia
Photo by Alheli Curry

Last weekend packed a wallop of entertainment - San Francisco Giants postseason baseball at AT&T Park, Fleet Week, 49ers football and the seventh annual San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in downtown San Jose.

Perfect weather for the half marathon and the debut of the mini marathon five-miler attracted 14,000 to toe the line on Santa Clara Street. These devoted fans of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series loved the 13-mile party.

The sea of runners waited for the gun to go off. The spectators roared as we ran down the street and the energy from them fueled us for the entire race. Each mile featured a band with a different flavor of musical style, while cheerleaders gave many a runner a high-five or shouted encouragements.

The half marathon and mini marathon course split at mile four with the shorter distance runners streaming toward the left and the others toward the right.

The festive atmosphere and food at the finish made it all the more sweet. Nearby, the headliner Matt Nathanson rocked the masses at Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park.

The 5-mile top male finisher was Timothy Vago, 43, of San Jose, who won the mini marathon in 29 minutes, 53 seconds. Mariana Rivera, 38, of the same city won the women's division in 36:49.

Justin Baraona, 13, from San Jose ran the mini marathon. He took second in his age group and 16th overall with 37:20.

"It was pretty fun how you run through block after block in downtown. I like how there aren't any hills. I do pretty well in the flats," Baraona remarked.

His aunt Carmen Santoya, 47, of Morgan Hill ran the same distance and finished in 51:16. Santoya said, "It was a new experience for me and my first race. I didn't know what to expect. The bands were entertaining; they kept me going, and I never stopped running."

In the half marathon, the elite male racers zipped past the finish with Simon Bairu, 29, from Portland, Ore. winning the race overall in 1:03:28.

"It was a great course, great atmosphere," he said. "The competition was tough from the get go, which was what I wanted. For me it was really getting ready for the New York City Marathon at the end of the month."

Sergio Reyes, 30, of Palmdale snatched second in 1:03:31 and Scott Bauhs, 26, from Danville took third with 1:04:29.

Bauhs explained, "It was kind of tough. I didn't feel very good out there, but I toughed it out. Both Sergio and Simon were pushing the pace pretty hard."

Clara Horowits Peterson, 28, from San Anselmo took first place as the top female finisher in 1:12:52.

Daniel Tapia, 25, from Prunedale nabbed 6th overall in the 13-miler with 1:05:44.

Tapia shared, "I felt really good coming into the race; my training is better than ever. I thought I was in good shape to run a fast time; I was a leader for five miles then they started to move along a little bit farther from me."

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig, three-time Super Bowl champion and race founder said, "I'm really excited about this race because it's been the largest ever out of the seven years I hosted this race. It's growing, which is great."

Alan Simmonds, 49, from Morgan Hill ran the half.

"My wife and I run four or five half marathons every year and this is always our favorite, with the Morgan Hill half running a close second." Simmonds said, happy about his personal best of 1:37:11.

"I have run this race every year since it started seven years ago, and fully intend to continue," his wife Bernadette, 51, added. She ran it in 2:29:37.

Beth Deloria, 46, from Greensboro, N.C., ran 13 miles in 1:59:14 with the Allard USA leg brace.

"My condition is basically having paralysis of the ankle and partial paralysis in front of my leg. Without this on, my foot just drops. Anytime I get to the starting line I feel like I won the race. I loved every minute of it, because of the crowds, because of the bands, which takes my mind off the pain of running."

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Backward Running Man Arrives in Gilroy, Talks with Patch

This article ran in The Gilroy Patch on 04October, 2012

Shadrack Anderson, photo by writer Angela Young
Shadrack Anderson takes a
pit stop along his route

Shadrack Anderson and writer Angela Young
After my interview with Shadrack

Shadrack Anderson, James White, and writer Angela Young
Left to right:
James White, Angela,
and Shadrack Anderson

(All photos by Angela Young)

The warm, garlicky breezes embraced the exuberant but calm Shadrack Anderson and his faithful friend and crewmember James White on Wednesday afternoon.

Anderson, 65, is at the tail end of a 500-mile journey running backwards from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Originally from Hawaii, Anderson relaxed after running from Prundale to Gilroy on Wednesday. They camped overnight in their Cruise America RV in the Plaza Gas Station parking lot near Monterey Road and Highway 101.

He shared stories of his amazing journey with the Gilroy Patch from his resting place on Wednesday.

Gilroy Patch: What was your itinerary for today?

Shadrack Anderson: I started in the city of Prunedale this morning. Seven o'clock this morning I started running and I stopped at 3:10. That's a full eight-hour day.

Patch: What is your typical breakfast during your run?

Anderson: This morning I had a bowl of oatmeal, two bananas. I had what I call scrambled yeggs, which are onions, tomatoes and tofu. I had a piece of gluten free bread with some almond butter on it and some apricot jam.

Patch: What do eat when you're running backwards?

Anderson: I don't eat when I run but I use shots by one of my sponsors - Cliff Bar shots and Dr. Niedermaier antioxidants. I drink 9.7 PH water from Essentia. I actually run on spirit.

Patch: What do you mean running on spirit?

Anderson: When truckers pass me and blow their horns, it makes me feel energized just for another person to acknowledge that someone has saluted them and I get to salute back. So the spirit is between two people. It's an exchange between two people. You make me feel good, I acknowledge you. I acknowledge you, you make me feel good. That's basically what I run on.

Patch: So that's what keeps you going mile after mile after mile.

Anderson: I had a guy in Prunedale come out of a bar. He watched me for half a mile. He came out of the bar with a cold bottle of water and a cold towel. It was very hot yesterday. This man handed me the cold towel and said, "I like what you're doing." That's the kind of thing that energizes me.

Patch: Where do you run?

Anderson: I run on the side of the freeway. You got a white line that separates the two lanes. Basically that's a bike path. It gives me ten to twelve feet where I can run legally. The CHP has been absolutely great. They always know I'm there because they phone ahead and the CHP knows I'm coming. I take the side roads they tell me to take until I'm outside of town.

Patch: Do you ever look back when you run?

Anderson: I always observe, constantly looking to the right and to the left. To observe my terrain, to observe if there's any obstruction. I have to be constantly aware what's behind me because it could change any moment.

Patch: Do you ever run at night?

Anderson: On the freeways and interstate highways only during the day. I get up at sunrise so the truckers can see me, otherwise I'd be road kill if I didn't do that. I do run at night when I'm in the cities on the city streets. I have to do that when I get to San Jose and San Francisco.

Patch: Do you plan to do more of these runs after San Francisco?

Anderson: I chose this run to begin a beginning. It's not going to end. When I get to San Francisco it just begins. I do have more planned. It's going to happen around the globe, actually. It's amazing how resilient we can be as human beings.

What do you think of Anderson's backwards run? Pretty amazing that he's doing this at 65, right? We're happy he made it to Gilroy and had time to talk with us. Tell the Gilroy Patch what you think in the comments!

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Annual NorCal Race: Fast & Furious Fun

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 18 September, 2012

Start of the Nor Cal Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry

Nor Cal Half Marathon and 5K
Photo by Alheli Curry

Runners in the Nor Cal Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Author runs in Nor Cal
Photo by Alheli Curry

Runners in the Nor Cal Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Near the finish line
Photo by Alheli Curry

Mile marker 13 in the Nor Cal Half Marathon, photo by Angela Young
Mile 13 in the race
Photo by Angela Young

Sean Curry wins the wine at the Nor Cal Half Marathon, photo by Alheli Curry
Sean Curry holding his prize wine
Photo by Alheli Curry

Racemine of Morgan Hill hosted the 2nd annual Nor Cal Half Marathon and 5K in downtown San Jose on Sunday. Everyone toed the line on Santa Clara Street near the HP Pavilion at 7:30 am in the cool weather.

Construction and logistics in downtown prevented a full marathon this year. However, a new distance--the 3.1-mile was added. Next year endurance athletes will get to enjoy the 26.2-miler again.

The miles flew by on the flat course. For some reason I expected another mile, and there was the finish line. The race ended right when I warmed up!

The 5K winners blasted their way to the finish at the Arena Green area with Austin Hallahn, 37, of Santa Clara winning overall in 20:49.

"I moved over to America three months ago . . .. I would take up the running and this is my third 5K," remarked Hallahn who emigrated from Ireland. "It was perfect cloudy-people are calling it cold, I find it a good Irish summer."

Sonora's Camden Wilson, 16, came in second with 21:01.

Matt Kucera, 22, of the Czech Republic grabbed third in 21:47. "The conditions were great. I loved it. The people here are amazing," Kucera said.

Gabriel Ramirez of Salinas, 38, nabbed second in his age group with 22:16. "It was wonderful. I've been at other races and the weather was too hot for me," Ramirez stated.

Elizabeth Ramirez, 42, also from Salinas, was the first 5K female finisher in 22:48. "It was really easy," Ramirez said. "I encourage anyone to give running a try. It's always a nice challenge and you feel good afterwards."

Unbeknownst to me, I won second in my age division in 33:00 and missed the announcement while I was talking to the other winners. Adult age division winners took home a bottle of wine and the younger ones got a Sports Basement certificate.

The racers of the half arrived at the finish. Andrew Demas, 28, of Los Altos shut out the pack in 1:15:25 conquering the 13.1-miler.

"About mile 9, after the big hill, I started getting tired. It was harder to sustain a 5:45-6:00-minute mile pace. My toe started whacking into the front of my shoe and I tried to ignore it. My foot got so bloody and it was very painful," Demas shared. I shifted my gaze to his feet. Bright reddish stains were spreading from the tip of his white shoes. I sent him to the medical tent.

Second place winner, Casey Strange, 48, of Campbell breezed through in 1:17:12. "I really like the course. My first race of the year. I was pleased with my performance," Strange added.

Adam Little, 38, won the bronze in 1:17:30.

Salinas resident Sean Curry, 44, took second in his age group with 1:23:12. "I feel really good today. I watched the leaders and knew I was in the top ten. I conserved a little bit of energy for the end. I tried to stay ahead of Stephanie Kato."

Stephanie Kato, 24, of San Jose tailed Curry and was female overall winner in 1:23:19. "I was not expecting to win at all. I was actually hoping for at least a 125. It was a PR. I was excited about that," Kato said.

Jessica Wittmayer, 37, won second overall.

Kiyoko Ikeuchi, 35, of Mountain View was third female overall in 1:32:51. "I'm with the running addicts (a pacing group), the other pacers cheered for me," she enthused.

Fremont's Rebecca Yi, 38, achieved third in her age bracket with 1:36:36. "This is all part of my training. I'm aiming for fast times in the Chicago Marathon in two weeks," she explained.

Manuel Haro, 33, from Gilroy enjoyed his race and completed the half in 1:53:53. "It was nice, flat and fast. It wasn't crowded as other races."

Morgan Hill's Zachary Abrams, 18, won silver in his age category with 1:28:47. "I did really good. It was way easy. No hills, just little bumps. Nothing serious," he said.

His father Allan, 55, pace leader for the two-hour group finished in 1:59:17. "I ended up with about six or eight runners at the end. We all got under two hours," Abrams explained. "It was successful."

For race results go to http://www.svetiming.com.

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Runners experience it all at Mt. Madonna Challenge

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 28 August, 2012

Page 1 of the article in the Gilroy Dispatch by writer Angela Young
Page 1 of the article in
The Gilroy Dispatch

Page 2 of the article in the Gilroy Dispatch by writer Angela Young
Page 2 of the article in
The Gilroy Dispatch

Page 1 of the article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young
Page 1 of the article in
The Morgan Hill Times

Page 2 of the article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young
Page 2 of the article in
The Morgan Hill Times

Finishers at the Mount Madonna Challenge; Photo by Alheli Curry
Bihama Vedaste wins the
Mount Madonna Challenge
Photo by Alheli Curry

Vidaste, Hsiaw, Abrams; Photo by Alheli Curry
(L-R) Bihama Vedaste,
Allan Abrams RD,
and Jennifer Hsiaw
Photo by Alheli Curry

Andrew Walgren; Photo by Alheli Curry
Andrew Walgren wins 6K
Photo by Alheli Curry

Justin Baraona; Photo by Alheli Curry
Justin Baraona
won his age group
Photo by Alheli Curry

Eric Palmer; Photo by Alheli Curry
Eric Palmer wins the 18K
Photo by Alheli Curry

Sean Curry; Photo by Alheli Curry
Sean Curry conquers 30K
and takes second
Photo by Alheli Curry

Jennifer Hsiaw; Photo by Alheli Curry
Jennifer Hsiaw bolts to finish line
Photo by Alheli Curry

Mount Madonna Challenge 12K start; Photo by Alheli Curry
Racers charge steep hill
Photo by Alheli Curry

Runners waiting for the Mount Madonna Challenge; Photo by Alheli Curry
Ready to rock the hills
Photo by Alheli Curry

Singleton Giraudo; Photo by Alheli Curry
Winners of the 12K: Michael
Singleton & Nina Giraudo
Photo by Alheli Curry

Angela Young; Photo by Alheli Curry
The author runs
toward the finish
Photo by Alheli Curry

Grueling hills, sweat, joy, tears, bees, dirt, gorgeous scenery, mist, cool temperatures and fresh mountain air greeted 177 hardy runners Saturday at Sprig Lake in Gilroy during the 37th annual Bill Flodberg Mt. Madonna Challenge.

The event grabbed the attention of athletes from around the area, including a refugee from Africa. Overall winners in the 6K, 12K, 18K and 30K received unique ceramic vases instead of the traditional trophy.

Before the 8 a.m. start, winds swirled around the shivering participants as race director Allan Abrams and Bill Flodberg's widow Sheila shared a few encouraging words.

At the start, despite the freezing weather, I was more concerned about the monster hill awaiting us in the tree-lined trail. I ran this course before and knew what to expect so I chose the 6K route with the shortest elevation gain. It was only 900 feet.

"A wimp run. No biggie," I lied to myself.

When Abrams shouted "go," everyone bolted forward sending dust into the air.

The mountain goats in front charged up the hill like it was flat. Not so for some, including me who struggled on the steep grade. This was the first slope of many during the race.

Despite the calf-killing climbs, the mist-covered mountains and panoramic views made everything enjoyable. The circuitous bumpy terrain of the 6K tested the mettle of each runner but the top winners made this look easy.

Andrew Walgren, 15, of Santa Cruz shot through the finish in 30:24.

"It was really hard. I tried to ease my way up the hill and hammer the last part," Walgren said. "The downhill was steep. I fell once or twice."

Gilroy's Karlie Hemeon, 24, took first place in the women's division with 36:05.

"This was my first time running this course," Hemeon said. "I thought it was really fun."

Justin Baraona, 13, of San Jose took first place in his age category with 34:01.

"It was fun," he said. "There were a lot of hills."

Imagine, doubling the distance with more inclines. That's what the stalwarts in the 12K faced. Modesto's Michael Singleton, 42, won the 12K in 1:00:16.

"I totally forgot how those uphills were," Singleton said. "They killed me. It was strategic racing, you didn't want to go out too fast."

San Jose's Nina Giraudo, 45, nabbed the top spot for the women with a time of 1:16:31."I would do it again next year," she said. "I love the trails."

The robust competitors in the 18K deserve kudos as well. Eric Palmer, 28 of Monterey, blazed the trail in 1:30:27.

"I like hillier races in general," he said. "It started on a hill. Right away, I was tired. This was one of the hardest races I ran."

San Jose's Kate Flexer, 40, despite suffering stomach cramps during the race, was the first female to finish with a time of 1:59:29.

"It was great . . . I was just running for fun. I was thinking, take a hike and run a little bit," Flexer said.

Morgan Hill's Zachary Abrams, 17, who got his running gene from his father the race director, took second in the 18K with 1:42:09.

"Running is really fun, really awesome," the younger Abrams said. "It's a good way to get rid of stress. To be out in the wild, trail running. Everyone should try it."

The 30K distance, with its impressive 2,900-foot elevation gain,  debuted at this year's event. The toughest of the tough conquered the mountain during this race.

Bihama Vedaste, 22, from Rwanda, Africa, won the Mt. Madonna Challenge by finishing with a time of 2:26:10.

"My goal is to do the best I can," he said. "I'm preparing for a career as a professional marathoner ... On a road race, my average (mile) pace is 5:05 to 5:10."

Salinas' Sean Curry, 44, took second, finishing with a time of 2:38:10.

"That guy (Vedaste) passed me in the first 6K," he said. "I did get to see him a little bit on the downhill. He made me feel like I was going down like an old man," Curry joked.

Structural engineer Jennifer Hsiaw, 24, of Los Altos took first for the ladies by finishing with 3:48:51.

"It's good to get out of the office," she said. "I thought I was going to quit after the first 12K but it helped to regain my energy on the downhill. I could keep going."

• For complete results go to http://www.svetiming.com.

Angela Young is a free lance journalist for South Valley Newspapers and is passionate about the running world. She's been a runner for over a decade and loves to write stories on seasoned athletes, weekend warriors, newbies, races of all distances on paved roads and off the beaten path. She likes to include the wild and crazy and as well as the most serene in her stories. Send her an e-mail Angela @ The Fathers Art . com.

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Mt. Madonna Challenges You To A Race!

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 21 August, 2012

Photo of the 6K course of the Mount Madonna Challenge by Angela Young
The 6K hilly course

Photo of a tree lined path on the Mount Madonna Challenge by writer Angela Young
Shaded paths at Mt. Madonna's Sprig Lake

Click for post-race article

The summer is more than halfway over and school is in session. That means the autumn foot racing season draws nigh. A Gilroy tradition-The 37th Annual Bill Flodberg Mt. Madonna Challenge beckons hardy racers to toe the line in the dirt on August 25.

The late William Flodberg, a passionate runner, spearheaded the race. Then he handed the event over to the South Valley Running Club five years ago.

"Bill Flodberg and his running group from Gilroy used to organize the race. There are only two members left and they keep to running the flats.  However Flodberg's widow Sheila is at the start of every race and is an active volunteer," said Allan Abrams race director and member of South Valley Running Club.

"I've only run this event once and that was about 15 years ago.  I remember running the 12K and it kicked my butt!"

Due to the nature of the location, the capacity for all fields is between 250 to 300 participants. Parking at Sprig Lake is limited, so get there early. However, Fortino Winery offers shuttle service to the start for overflow parking.

This race isn't for the cowardly. If you like steep terrain, manzanita and oak lining the unspoiled mountain paths then this athletic challenge is for you. The race features a 6K, 12K, and 18K but recently added a longer distance for those who can't get enough hilly action.

"Trail running is trending towards longer and longer distances. Most of the races around the bay area include at least four distances from 5K up to 50 miles.  Runners are looking for bigger, greater challenges. With miles of excellent trails at Mt. Madonna we decided to add the 30K and see what level of interest we have," Abrams explained.

These are the winners from last year's race. You may run (pardon the pun!) into them at the challenge coming up:

6K Male - Hector Figueroa, 27:47

6K Female - Natalie Mazaud, 37:33


12K Male - Raymond Rodriguez, 59:53

12K Female - Linda Rosenband, 1:14:06


18K Male - Sean Curry, 1:27:54

18K Female - Tracy Christensen, 1:57:49

The challenging terrain attracts hardcore trailblazers of all abilities. The elevation gain in all distances is as follows: 6K-700 feet, 12K-1200 feet, 18K-1900 feet and 30K-3100 feet. But don't let these gently rolling hills freak you out.

Abrams added, "Even though all four courses are challenging the trails are wide, soft and mostly tree covered.  So when it's 90+ degrees in Gilroy, the race starts off with a low, cloudy mist surrounding the hills and we usually do not see the sun until about 10 am.  I encourage everyone regardless of their skill level to come out for a morning outing in one of our most treasured and little-known county parks."

Register at http://www.svetiming.com/SVRC/events/2012/37-Annual-Bill-Flodberg-Mt-Madonna-Challenge or race day on Saturday at 7am.

Packet pickup is from 3pm to 7pm at Road Runner Sports in Campbell on Friday, August 24th.

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Annual Mardi Gras Fun Run draws runners of all walks

This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance, The Gilroy Dispatch, The Morgan Hill Times,
and The Pinnacle on June 1, 2012

Scan of Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras article by writer Angela Young

Scan of Mardi Gras article page 2 by writer Angela Young

Ken Oliver, Photo by Alheli Curry Ken Oliver. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Morgan Hill's Ken Oliver, 51, won the
Mushroom Mardi Gras fun run 5K.
Photos by Alheli Curry

Kendra Oliver, Photo by Alheli Curry
Kendra Oliver
Photo by Alheli Curry

Annie Bergholze, Photo by Alheli Curry
Annie Bergholze, Photo by Alheli Curry
Annie Bergholze, 37, of Morgan Hill won the
women's division of the Mushroom Mardi Gras
5K in 21:53 on Saturday.
Photos by Alheli Curry.

Andrew Bergholze, Photo by Alheli Curry
Andrew & Annie Bergholze, Photo by Alheli Curry
Andrew & Annie Bergholze
Photos by Alheli Curry

Sean Curry. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Sean Curry, Photo by Alheli Curry.
Sean Curry, 10K winner
Photo by Alheli Curry

Rebecca Yi, Photo by Alheli Curry
Rebecca Yi, fastest 10K woman
Photo by Alheli Curry

Marti Menz, Photo by Alheli Curry
Marti Menz
Photo by Alheli Curry

Jody McRoberts, Photo by Alheli Curry
Jody McRoberts
Photo by Alheli Curry

Yvonne Ducket & Lynn Mito, Photo by Alheli Curry
Yvonne Ducket & Lynn Mito
Photo by Alheli Curry

Lead runners in the Mardi Gras 5K, Photo by Alheli Curry
Lead Runners in the 5K
In front are Ken Oliver and
Andrew & Annie Bergholz
Photo by Alheli Curry

Olina Burke, Photo by Alheli Curry
Olina Burke and her dad.
She was a tough competitor.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

Angela Young, Photo by Alheli Curry
Angela Young enjoying the race
and trying to stay ahead of Olina Burke.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

While most people were relaxing on Saturday morning, athletic addicts showed up at the Coyote Creek Trail for the Mushroom Mardi Gras Fun Run in Morgan Hill.

The race is sponsored by the Live Oak Athletic Boosters to benefit all sports at the high school.

What better way to prepare for the Memorial Day holiday weekend than sweat, pain, and good old-fashioned calorie burning? One hundred and sixty-one competitors toed the line in the dirt on the scenic out and back course.

The overall winners of both the 5K and 10K received an Amazon.com $100 gift certificate and a Mardi Gras court jester crown.

The serene backdrop plus gray skies were the perfect combo for decent times in both distances. Morgan Hill's Ken Oliver, 51, and his daughter Kendra,14, members of the South Valley Running Club (SVRC) ran the 5K.

Oliver dominated the race in 20:25.

"The weather was cool, overcast, which is great running weather . . . I went out strong and ended up catching the person who was in first place at mile 2, so from then on, I put the hammer down and to see if I can hold it to the end and I was able to pull it out."

Andrew Bergholz, 38, also from Morgan Hill took second in 20:44. "The race was fine. We've run this trail so many times," Bergholz said and pointed at Oliver. "That guy with the funny hat passed me at mile 2."

"This is my running partner," Annie Bergholz, 37, gestured to her husband Andrew. "I only run twice a week, I wish I can train more but I have work and kids." She won overall in the female division with 21:53.

The younger Oliver, 14, grabbed first place in her age group with 25:26. "This is my second 5K. I'm proud of what I did. It's fun running with my dad. It's our thing," she said.

I ran 3.1 miles at an easy pace in 34:17, drinking in the countryside and cheering fellow runners along the way. I kicked it in gear on the gravel near the finish, not realizing ultra marathoner Sean Curry, the winner of the 10K, was right behind me.

Curry, 44, of Salinas, triumphed 6.2-miles in 39:34. He planned to log 17 more miles on Sunday as part of his marathon training.

"I'm ecstatic. I wasn't expecting to get first in the race. It was really exciting from the start. Everything came together. I ran 9 miles the night before; I thought it might take away my energy a little. But I felt good."

Fremont's Rebecca Yi, 37, won gold overall for the women in 42:58. Yi said, "I've done a 103 marathons. This is my first Mushroom Mardi Gras race. It's very low key and very friendly. People are very supportive."

Marti Menz, 56, of Morgan Hill and a member of SVRC, took first in her age division with 49:47. "The weather was perfect, nice crowd here, fun time, it was great. I had a very good race. "

This was the first 10K for Jody McRoberts, 45, and her daughter Shannon, 20. They live in Morgan Hill and are also members of SVRC.

"It was tough but not as tough as I thought it might be. My knee has issues, but the Lord strengthened me and I ran the whole 10K. The last mile was the longest," McRoberts said. She finished in 1:06:44.

Yvonne Ducket, 54, of Mushroom Town, did the 10K in 1:33.44. "We're going to have some cool down bacon. That's why we do this. We run for the breakfast. We go over to Betsy's and have bacon afterwards," explained Ducket. Because her friend Lynn Mito, 52, was behind schedule, Ducket didn't begin the race with the other 10K runners. "We started at the 5K. I couldn't run without my partner."

Mito finished the 10K in 1:34:38. "It was fun, nice weather, it wasn't too hot."

 "We are just getting started in our running careers. You'll see us at a 50K in our wheel chairs and canes," Ducket joked.

The younger McRoberts ran 6.2-miles in 1:07:20. "I'm glad I did it. I proved to myself that I could do a 10K. It was awesome."

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Ranch Romp Mud Run not for the wimpy

This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance, The Gilroy Dispatch, The Morgan Hill Times,
and The Pinnacle on 18 May and 22 May, 2012

Scan of article by writer Angela Young

Scan of article by writer Angela Young

The mud pit of the Ranch Romp Mud Run, photo by Alheli Curry
Racers try to enjoy cooling down
in the Mud-tastic Mud Pit prior to
finishing the inaugural
Ranch Romp Mud Run at the
Pepper Tree Ranch in Hollister
on May 5.
The event drew 1675 racers.
Photo by Alheli Curry

The Cargo Climb of the Ranch Romp Mud Run, Photo by Alheli Curry
Ranch Romp Mud Run racers
tackle the Cargo Climb obstacle.
Photo by Alheli Curry

Angela Young in the Ranch Romp Mud Pit. Photo by Alheli Curry
Angela Young crawling
under the barbed wire.
Photo by Alheli Curry

Ranch Romp Mud Run

The inaugural 5K Ranch Romp Mud Run debuted last Saturday at the Pepper Tree Ranch in Hollister. On Saturday, May 5th, 1675 foolhardy athletes conquered ten obstacles on the vineyard's premises.

The sun baked our backs as we bolted up steep grades throughout the challenging course. Just because it was a 5K it didn't mean it was a wimpy run. The hills and the heat got to most people.

I didn't mind the hills at first because I prefer a rolling course rather than a flat, boring one. After five obstacles, I faced the Great Warrior Wall. The ten-foot wooden barricade wasn't bad. I climbed over it without difficulty.  Ha! The rest of the 3.2-mile competition would be a piece of cake!

However, by the end of the race I was lagging from dehydration and in pain from the 150-foot vertical Slide For Your Life obstacle where an Amazonian woman slammed into my back near the bottom.

I limped my way over more steep hills to the Over and Under obstacle: five 4-foot walls with barbwire in between them. No race will kick my butt! I resolved to hoist my battered body over them puppies with machismo. As I was going through the motions, I noticed a 20-something racer stare at the walls and then run past them when the two red-shirted volunteers weren't looking.

Coward, I thought as I rolled on the dirt underneath the barbwire.

 The thermostat continued its ascent as I fought hills, pain and thirst. Two more obstacles were between the finish line and me. The Cargo Climb was easy and I swam through the Mud-Tastic Mud Pit thankful for the cool down and finished in 46:46.

The winners of the Ranch Romp Mud Run got beautiful belt buckles--an idea inspired by the Western States 100. Salvador Garcia, 32, of Los Banos was the overall winner in 20:19.

Salinas resident, Corina Medina, 39, won the ladies division in 23:03.

Jorge Zamora, 37 of Hollister came with 30 others including his sons to play in the mud. He took silver in his age division with 23:33.

Jeff Gerberick, 51, of Gilroy grabbed first place in his age group in 29:15. "It was pretty tough; a lot of steep hills, and the obstacles were really fun. I liked the waterslide because it was easiest. The hardest one was jumping the walls and going under the barbwire at the end. I was tired at that point," Gerberick said.

Several nursing students from Gavilan College came to test their mettle. First timer and student Silvia Madera, 36, from Hollister finished in 1:04:03.

"We figure we give ourselves a try and just accomplish another obstacle that we figure would be a good one for us to try for fun and motivation," Madera remarked. "Now that my body is cooling down, I'm feeling the aches. The race was good overall."

San Juan Bautista resident Lisa Scott, 41, loved her first mud run and conquered the 5K in 52:11. "It was fantastic. I'd do another one. The slide got a little scary and it got fast toward the end. I still haven't showered," She glanced at the dirty, huddled masses near the bathing area and said with a chuckle, "I may not shower."

Sean Curry, 44 from Salinas decided to do race for kicks and finished in 40 minutes. He ran 13 miles earlier in the morning. "My favorite was the waterslide. Totally out of control, jumped headfirst and prayed. I collided with a few people in front of me at the bottom. I've been itching to do something like this and enjoyed it." He said.

Harry Trembley, 44, from Kenwood wasn't prepared for the race. However, he walked away with a bronze for his age group in 30:38. "Friends from King City told me about it. Ranchers, believe it or not. They are avid runners," Trembley said. "My farming friends told me this was a marathon and didn't tell me it was a mud run until the end. If I see them I'll going to make sure their heads get buried in mud."

Josh Mendonsa, race director was happy with Saturday's race. "We enjoyed watching people accomplish their goals of entering a mud run and finishing!"

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Annual Big Sur Marathon rocks the coast

This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance, The Gilroy Dispatch, The Morgan Hill Times,
and The Pinnacle on 08 May, 2012

Scan of newspaper article by writer Angela Young

Photo of the course of the Big Sur Marathon by Alheli Curry
Runners on Highway 1 during
the 27th annual Big Sur Marathon
on April 29
Photo by Alheli Curry

Photo of Adam Roach by Alheli Curry
Adam Roach
Photo by Alheli Curry

Photo of Nuta Olaru by Alheli Curry
Nuta Olaru
Photo by Alheli Curry

Photo of Angela Young by Alheli Curry
Angela Young
Photo by Alheli Curry

What is the ultimate dream race? Throw together the Pacific Ocean, cool temperatures, emerald green mountains, a major California highway without traffic, and you get the Big Sur International Marathon.

Once you've experience running on the edge of the western world you'll be ruined. This is my favorite race.

This year 8, 667 people signed up for Big Sur in all distances, which includes the marathon, 21-miler, 10.6 and 9 milers, and a 5K.

Athletes from 50 states plus Washington, D.C. set foot on Highway 1 along with visitors from 25 countries to test their mettle on the hilly course.

Renowned ultra marathoner and best selling author Dean Karnazes, 49, came back to Big Sur for the seventh time. He gave humorous talks at the race expo on Saturday and signed copies of his latest book "Run!". Karnazes ran the marathon Sunday-twice. Everyone else rode buses to the start but not Karnazes. He began his run from downtown Monterey.

"I left at 2:30a.m.  It usually takes me between 4:00-4:15 to run from the finish to the start, but this year I had some stomach problems and it took 4:30, " he explained. "I put Big Sur as the top scenic marathon that I've run in the world." Karnazes finished again with the crowd in 3:42:40.

The two top winners of the race are newcomers to Big Sur.

Pacific Grove's Adam Roach, 28, won the race in 2:32:25. Roach said, "It was my best race but the course was so hilly, and the wind definitely slowed me down. I wanted to pace myself and make sure I had energy for Hurricane Point and the rolling hills after that. I went out easier than I normally do and it paid off."

2004 Olympic marathoner, Nuta Olaru, 41, from Longmont, Colorado won in 2:50:08. She remarked, "This is my favorite because the coast is so nice. I like the cold weather. I'm used to a hilly course because I live in Colorado."

Mark, 49, and LaRene, 45, Green of Morgan Hill ran the marathon and finished at the same time in 4:11:52. "This was my third time running the Big Sur Marathon. I love the spectacular scenery. I loved the picturesque views, especially at Bixby Bridge. It was extremely windy and many hills were a big challenge . . . the race was well organized," she said.

Mr. Green added, "I had remembered the road was windy, but had forgotten about how hilly it is!  So it was a tough marathon, especially with the wind and the hills beyond mile 20. But it was fun nonetheless, and the ocean views along the coast were spectacular."

For the third year, Boston to Big Sur (B2B) was a success. Runners must run the Boston Marathon and then Big Sur shortly afterwards. First timer Sean Curry, 44 from Salinas did the B2B and took 5th place in his age division with 3:10:33.

"It was awesome. I never ran it before. It was a wonderful surprise. My time was pretty good. I felt like I did slower at Boston. I wasn't used to the heat.  So this time I made up for it," Curry shared. In Boston he finished with 3:45:41 during a heat wave.

Betty Ronces of Lafayette, 47, did the B2B as well. She ran 26.2-miles in 4:04:39. "I loved every minute of it. I find myself thanking God for every mile for the privilege of being in nature. This is the marathon that I'm committed doing for the rest of my life as long as God allows me to be on this earth," Ronces said.

Felipa Harer, 73 of Gilroy is a 21-miler veteran and finished in 5:34:04.

"I walk more than run. I have arthritis and my knees bother me but since I started walking and running, it seems to be better. I am turning 74 this September, so pain seems to go with age. I had planned on this being my last year but my friend says that I have to go again next year, as training for summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro on my 75th birthday."

I ran the 10.6-miler in 2:15:36 and can't wait to beat my time next year.

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Outside of election, Tate still runs

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 24 April 2012

Scan of newspaper article by writer Angela Young

Scan of newspaper article by writer Angela Young

Scan of newspaper article by writer Angela Young

Photo of mayor Steve Tate by Angela Young
A happy Mayor Steve Tate
after running 13.1 miles
in Morgan Hill last October.
Tate has long been a distance
running & fitness enthusiast.

Political races aren't the only type Mayor Steve Tate enjoys doing. He loves pounding the pavement for miles like any other avid marathoner.

Before heading to city hall, Tate, 68, laces his shoes for a morning jog. He squeezes his workouts in his hectic schedule whenever possible.

What caused the amicable mayor to run in the first place?

"I had started smoking when I was 12 or 13 years old, and I finally quit for good when I was 36," he said. "And I immediately gained 15 to 20 pounds. I was on a beach in Maui one morning and just decided to try running because I've never done it before. I fell in love with it immediately."

As a newbie jogger, Tate didn't face any hardship while building up his endurance. In two weeks, he already logged 2-mile workouts. He eventually signed up for his first 10K race near Salinas and did well. He became hooked and did more 10Ks followed by his first half marathon.

"I did the San Francisco Half Marathon through Golden Gate Park," he said. Obviously, 13.1-milers weren't enough to satiate the running bug in Tate.

He even aimed for something farther and hilly.

"I did Big Sur Marathon three times, my first one in 1987." This was his favorite marathon. By then he carbo-loaded for his long distance training.

Tate tucked 25 marathons under his belt and two ultras - that's right he did two ultra marathons.

His first, Run To The Sun in Maui, consisted of 37 miles but was not on a flat course. Competitors began at sea level and climbed more than 10 thousand feet to the summit of Haleakala, otherwise known as the legendary "House of the Sun."

Unfortunately, the race organizers decided to cancel the race that year in 1988, but nothing could deter Tate from flying across the Pacific to set foot on the steep, mountainous racecourse in Maui.

"I went over to Maui and started running," he recalled. "I talked to the people who were in charge of the race, and they said, 'We are canceling this year.' I told them I'm doing it anyway.

"Another guy, who is an ultra marathoner, ran with me for the first 20 miles, and he took off because I was too slow. Five other people from Honolulu ran it. My wife was my support ... she drove the car and fed me and helped some of those other people, too. We had a great time. We all met at the top of the hill."

Of course, no medals, T-shirts or postrace festivities awaited the stalwarts after crossing the unofficial finish line. Subsequently, the race organizers offered Tate a free entry for the '89 Run To The Sun. He turned it down.

"Once you done it, you done it," Tate said matter-of-factly.

For Tate, reaching the half-century mark on earth, he ran the American River 50.

"It opened your eyes when you got to the mark that said this is 26.2 miles, and, if you're just doing a marathon, you'd be done. You still got 24 miles to go," he said with a chuckle. "They insisted that you carry water, and I decided not to and got dehydrated. I had to spend a little extra time at some stations to get rehydrated and get going again."

Asthma ended Tate's marathon streak several years ago. His last 26.2-mile race was in 2005.

"I quit running for a while and mentally I couldn't handle not running. I went back to it but, I'm very slow because I have no lung capacity. I can't get winded at all. The most I'm doing now are half marathons."

He doesn't follow a special diet, nor does he carbo-load. Tate doesn't get mental about what he eats. When he runs in the early morning hours, he prefers to do it alone so that he can have his downtime. Although he values his solitude while running, he is pleased to be among the athletes who run in the south valley city he governs. His eyes light up when he speaks about Morgan Hill's own 26-miler in the fall.

"I really like that Morgan Hill's got the marathon and half marathon now. I just love that," he said. "When I was doing marathons on a regular basis, the course they used for the full marathon was the course I trained on all the time near Uvas Reservoir.

"I thought they did a fantastic job producing the race and making it very friendly to the runners," he added. "I think it will get a lot of people back and grow in popularity."

He gave a pep talk to the runners before last year's Morgan Hill Marathon + Half. He then joined the ranks on the scenic 13.1-mile course. He plans to tackle the hilly route again in late October.

 "I think one of Morgan Hill's basic community values is health and fitness. That's why the marathon did so well here," he said. "When we did the whole visioning process on how do we spend our redeveloped dollars 15 years ago, there was a heavy push toward health. That's why we built the CRC [Centennial Recreation Center], and that's why we built the Aquatics Center. Morgan Hill values fitness and health and exercise and supports running."

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Stay fit and help a good cause

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 16 March 2012

Scan of Wildflower Run article by writer Angela Young

Part 2 of Wildflower Run article by writer Angela Young

Wildflower Run finishers, photo by Angela Young
The AAUW Wildflower Run
drew another large turnout
last year

Jamba Juice booth, photo by Angela Young
Jamba Juice smoothies, cheerful
volunteers, medals for children,
prizes, and colorful race shirts
are a mainstay at the annual
AAUW Wildflower Run, which
makes its 29th runningApril 1.

Spring is coming and so are many athletic competitions, including the 29th annual Wildflower Run.

This season favorite shall prove to be another successful race for the Morgan Hill's AAUW (American Association of University Women). These ladies are hard at work designing a special day for everyone.

For those who want to register early and save some cash, make sure to do so by March 22nd; the fee goes up by $5 on March 23rd.

One purpose for this race is to raise money for a scholarship program for girls who attend public middle school and are eligible to participate in Tech Trek, a science and math camp at Stanford University.

There are two changes for the April first event. And no, this isn't an April Fools prank: a new course for the 5K route and the kids 2K run age category is for ten years old and under. The 10K USATF-certified course remains untouched.

Also, the Jamba Juice smoothies at the finish line festivities, the cheerful volunteers, medals for the kids, prizes for the top finishers and the colorful race shirts are a mainstay.

Speaking of shirts, this year's purple shirt will feature a simple logo with a runner's legs in front of a large California poppy.  What makes this race different from others is their ever-evolving T-shirt art.

To keep things fresh in the creative arena, the AAUW is hosting an art contest for anyone willing to illustrate a design for next year's tee. The deadline for entries will be in June 2012.

What keeps runners coming back to revisit the Wildflower Run?

Charles Weston, a marathoner and race director for the IDI July 4th 5K race in Morgan Hill ran the Wildflower 15 times.

"It's flat, comes at a good time of the year to test one's fitness and it's a local race for a very good cause," Weston said.

Shannon McRoberts also from Morgan Hill is a devotee. "It's a lot of fun because I like the Jamba Juice at the end and people hang out to watch the medal ceremony. So it's kind of more like a party than some other races that I do," McRoberts mused.

Her mother Jody added, "In 2007, this was the first race that Shannon, my son Jacob, and I did when we first started running and racing. We decided to stick together to encourage each other. It was a lot of fun."

Race director Elizabeth Mandel and AAUW are brimming with new ideas.

"One of the things we've been working on this year is the history of the run. We have some people creating a document that's a history of the run over the years. The first run was in 1984," Mandel said. "We are hoping to put it on our website when it's finished."

Weston encourages everyone to participate. "This is a good event to run if you are new to running. Lots of support and friendly volunteers to make up for any nervousness one might have." He said.

For more information go to http://www.Wildflowerrun.org.

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Mission 10 a winter classic

Scan of page 1 article by writer Angela Young

Scan of page 4 article by writer Angela Young

Scan of article in the Pinnacle by writer Angela Young
Bottom half of the Pinnacle article by writer Angela Young
This version ran in
The Pinnacle

Mission 10 start. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Runners of all levels take off in a
Mission 10 race Saturday in San
Juan Bautista. The event drew
526 runners from the Bay Area
and South Valley.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

Stephanie Kato winning. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Stephanie Kato wins the women's
Mission 10 title in 1:05:39 on
Saturday in San Juan Bautista.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

Mission 10 top finishers. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Among the other top finishers in
the Mission 10 (from left to right)
Sean Curry (1:06:45)
Daniel Tapia (51:10)
Monica Nicholson (1:05:47)
and Tania Ferreira (1:08:10).
Photo by Alheli Curry.

Omar Vasquez sprinting. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Omar Vasquez sprints to the
finish line in the 5K.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

Danial Tapia running. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Daniel Tapia won the
Mission 10 race.
Photo by Alheli Curry.

A plethora of winter races await the athlete. What better way to shed unwanted holiday pounds than to run? One of my favorite mid-chilly season athletic competitions is the Rotary Mission 10 held on the last Saturday of January in San Juan Bautista.

The popular 10-miler, 5K and Kid's run is a staple of most runners from all over the Bay Area. This year among the 526 registered from elite competitor to the weekend warrior, each toed the line anticipating a fun run under the sun.

The long sleeve shirt, spectacular scenery, and the peaceful town of San Juan Bautista attract all levels of runners.

Omar Vasques, a senior at Hollister's San Benito High triumphed overall in the 3.1-miler with 17:24. Steven Velarde came in second with 17:43, and Mauricio Maia grabbed third in 18:39.

"I felt pretty good in the first mile but felt a blister at the bottom of my foot. It was hurting but I kept on going," Vasques said. "

Annie Bergholz took first in the women's division with 21:09. Both Michelle Watkins and Kaitlin Alt fought for second place with 21:11 but Watkins nudged forward and won silver.

Prunedale's Daniel Tapia won Mission 10 three times before. This time he won in 51:10. He nailed a blistering 5-minute mile pace shutting out the rest of the competition. I wonder how much pain he endured to travel at super sonic speed for ten miles.

Tapia said, "The first couple of miles were fun with a lot of people lined up along the course . . . then it became lonely and you wait for the long mile and half going uphill. You have to stay mentally strong for that. At the turnaround point you have to crank it up again." He ran in the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston two weeks ago and took 24th.

Cristian Soratos flew to the finish in 54:14 securing second place. That's still super fast and incomprehensible to me. Adam Roach sprinted for third in an impressive 54:57.

Stephanie Kato won Mission 10 for the ladies in 1:05:39. Monica Nicholson nabbed second in 1:05:47, and Samantha Forde took third with 1:07:21.

Nicholson said, "My goal was to improve my time from last year and again try to win. I improved my time by a minute but I didn't have enough spring at the end to get the win."

Founder of Runner's World Magazine Bob Anderson was among the athletes competing in Mission 10. He took home gold for the 60-something age division in 1:10:09. Anderson's Ujena Fit Club's film crew interviewed folks at the race for a documentary.

Sean Curry from Salinas ran 10 miles in 1:06:45, which was slower than last year's race. The flu ravaged his body but he had to run anyway.

"It was a blast. I had a good time. I did pretty well but not quite as good as last year. I felt a little warm because of the flu but I drank plenty of water."

San Jose State professor Bob Miller came with his friends from South Valley Running Club. He finished in 1:22:44.

"I think mentally the hardest part is when you come down you're going fast. Then there's a little hill where you climb up over the San Andreas Fault. As a geologist it's fun there," he said. 

Maria Bruhns also from Gilroy and the same club tackled 10 miles in 1:55:37. "I started the day running the fun run with my 3 year old daughter, Sada.  During the 10 mile, I was amazed at how many other runners I see here year after year." Bruhns said. "The long sleeve shirts are a big plus!"

Veteran Mission 10 miler Stephanie Bouquet of Salinas won first place in the 40-49 category in 1:18:05. Bouquet said, "The mile hill upward was very challenging and coming back in the last three miles your legs are dead from doing the hill."

Her husband Matthew, 46 celebrated his birthday by running 10 miles. He finished in 1:50:59. They loved the race. And like everyone else who ran on Saturday, the Bouquets will make it their mission to do the 10 again in 2013.

For race results please go to http://www.svetiming.com.

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Warrior Dash all about mud, fire, and fitness

This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance, The Gilroy Dispatch, The Morgan Hill Times,
and The Pinnacle on 01 November, 2011

Scan of an article by writer Angela Young (left)Scan of an article by writer Angela Young (center)Scan of an article by writer Angela Young (right)

Runner leaping over fire. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Runners leap over the Warrior Roast

Contestants slither through mud to get beneath barbed wire. Photo by Alhele Curry.
Contestants avoid barb wire in the last obstacle, Muddy Mayhem

Lynae Dodson, Jada Anderson and Kiele Anderson
Posing after the race from Morgan Hill. L-R Lynae Dodson, Mom (46:31), Jada Anderson, (41:31) and 2nd place female winner Kiele Anderson (25:56)

Angela Young covered in mud. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Dirty finish to a fun, grueling race

Runners climbing a wall. Photo by Alheli Curry.
Combatants scale the Great Warrior Wall

Angela Young with Rodney Balbin, Danilo Masuelli, and Chris Sanchez
Costume contest winners the Toy Soldiers ham it up with Times columnist

Running isn't for wimps. Especially if there is peril involved. The Warrior Dash 5K gave us adrenaline junkies tasty morsels of mayhem.

Red Frog Events from Chicago hosted the two-day crazy affair at Casa De Fruta in Hollister this past weekend.

Michael Coco, one of the race directors, said, "We never had any major issues with the crowd. Close to race week, we put in close to a hundred hours. We had over 400 volunteers. They're great."

Athletes of all abilities came to battle twelve obstacles on a 3.15-mile course throughout the day in 30-minute waves. Weekend warriors to elite racers hit the dirt (literally) to snag the coveted Warrior Dash steel helmet.

Hordes of competitors festooned in zany costumes including three green toy soldiers from Stockton showed up. At the start a couple from Manteca decked out in wedding attire were ready.

"I'm a warrior virgin," gushed Meghan Brenner (1:06:25). "This is my first 5k and I'm really excited."

"I'm hot," lamented Matthew Brenner wearing a tuxedo (1:06:29). Poor guy. Already the sun was melting us.

I thought covering three miles with some challenges on the course was no big deal. I was wrong.

"Danger Obstacle Ahead" the sign warned as I approached the vertigo-inducing monstrosity before me. I'm not a gymnast so I treaded carefully over the narrow wooden planks to prevent breaking my neck. 

The next one Tipsy Tightrope wasn't bad because I managed not to fall into the freezing water.

If anyone didn't have upper body strength then he was hosed. Of course I found this out the hard way.

After scaling over a plethora of tall barricades, crawling under barbwire barriers, dancing over a tire mine and jumping on wrecked cars I thought the worst was over. I had a less than a mile to go.

The Great Warrior Wall loomed 25 feet high. I had to hoist my body up and over the wall on a rope. Again. By then my legs and arms were jelly. You got to be kidding!

I did conquer the stupid Warrior Wall after two failed attempts. Piece of cake, right? Feebly I told myself as I jogged to the last three obstacles. The cargo netting wasn't bad and leaping over the firewalls was fun.

The mud pit with the barbwire was the last thing between the finish line and me. I already knew to belly crawl through the murky water for best results. I swam midway and got stuck in the mud. I clawed my way forward until I reached the edge, spitting out mud as I went. I conquered the Warrior Dash in 49:49.

Champion of the Warrior Dash on Saturday is Jonathan Kimura with 20:53. The overall female winner is Joanna Luk who conquered the rest of the pack in 24:25.

Second place warrior chick is Kiele Anderson from Morgan Hill with an awesome 25:56 triumph. She came with her mother Lynae Dodson (46:31) and sister Jada Anderson (41:47).

"This is my first obstacle course race. It was really hard and intense. I was scared of heights," Anderson said. "It was really fun." She is a junior Olympic champion in the 1500 meters.

Dodson added, "We just decided to do this for fun. A girls' day out," she said. "It will be a new tradition for us."

Joshua Polk of Visalia butted heads with a Bobcat tractor near the mud pit. "I'm waiting 35 seconds for him to clear the obstacle . . . 'Come on you gotta let me through I'm trying to win this thing!'" Polk chuckled about his age division win of 23:59.

Marcia Abreu, a single mother of four from San Jose tested her endurance. "I was not in my best shape I thought it was going to be really challenging," Abreu said about her 49:18 finish. "I kept on the race and finished it. That was my goal."

The toy soldiers won the costume contest. They carried combat equipment during the race and finished in 1:14:08.

"Every obstacle I had to use one hand," Rodney Balbin said. "The hill climb was definitely the hardest."

"That hill sucked all I had . . . Oh no! Just roll with it!" Danilo Masuelli groaned.

"It was a dirt hill. It was an obstacle," Chimed Chris Sanchez. "It takes a lot out of you especially with the sun beating down on you."

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Morgan Hill Marathon sets PR

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 25 October 2011

Scan of article by writer Angela Young, part 1

Scan of article by Angela Young, part 2

Scan of article by Angela Young, part 3

Runners in the Morgan Hill Marathon, photo by Aaron Callanta
Hundreds competed in Sunday's
Morgan Hill Marathon and Half
Marathon. Presented by South
Valley Endurance, the second
annual event surpassed its
2010 edition.
Photo by Aaron Callanta

Jose Maraks winning the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Aaron Callanta.
Jose Maraks of Turlock won the
Morgan Hill Marathon in 2:29:59,
breaking the course record set in
2010 by almost six minutes.
Photo by Aaron Callanta

Volunteers in the Morgan Hill Marathon. Photo by Aaron Callanta.
Volunteers hand out cups of
water just beyond the 12-mile
marker along the Morgan Hill
Half Marathon course Sunday.
The weather was ideal.
Photo by Aaron Callanta

The 2nd Annual Morgan Hill Marathon and Half was a hit Sunday.

The athletic competition had an international flavor featuring competitors from England, Hong Kong, and Kenya plus runners from other states. Mayor Steve Tate gave a brief pep talk then toed the line with everyone else. 

After the countdown, we took off. A sea of kindred spirits--both the full and half marathon--streaming out from the Centennial Recreation Center.

South Valley Endurance chose their course well; it wasn't a boring city route full of buildings. Instead we got to run around the backside of Morgan Hill replete with golden hills, oaks, and pristine grasslands. I finished 13 miles in 2:40:04.

Morgan Hill Mayor Steve did multiple marathons and participates in many a race. He ran the half in 3:19:33.

"It's great to get out and see the countryside of Morgan Hill, which is such a beautiful city . . . I tell you this is one of the best organized runs I ever participated in . . . It was one heck of a lot fun!" Tate said. "

Speaking of the 13.1-miler, the winners blistered asphalt to victory at the finish line.  Miguel Nuci of Turlock won in 1:07:51 shutting out the rest of the pack. Sergio Reyes kicked tail in 1:11:56 and Justin Patanan rounded things off in 1:16:13.

"I think it's a nice course, I mean it's hard. Between the 6th mile and 8th mile it was really hilly. We as competitive runners like flat courses to run fast." Nuci said.

The ladies blazed the roadway with Lindsay Nelson in the lead with 1:20:21, followed by Monica Jo Nicholson in 1:25:43. Berni Ai Kuo took third in 1:28:31.

Nicholson of Salinas is happy with the race. She explained, "I wanted to place in the top three and wanted to do a sub 1:30. So I went out conservatively at a 6:45 pace . . . I felt really great throughout the entire race and finished in 1:25:43."

Jose Morales from Turlock won the full marathon in 2:29:59.

"That big hill when we crossed the half marathon people, it was just painful. I was trying my best but once we hit the downhill we just went with it. I'm surprised I ran as I fast I did because of those hills are really rough," Morales said.

Jesus Campos snagged second with 2:33:13 and John Munene of Kenya grabbed third in 2:35:07.

Munene disclosed, "Today it was tough because of the hills. I liked the course. It was good."

The women winners conquered 26.2 miles. Suet-Fei Li from Hong Kong ruled the female division in 3:14:27. Stephanie Kato grabbed second in 3:24:02 and Nadia Fisher took the bronze in 3:28:23.

"I have an ankle injury that changed my form. I was walking three or four times in the last mile. I really want to thank the lead cyclist because they were encouraging me. They were like 'Come on! Only a hundred meters!'"

Giavanni Moreno of Santa Clara took on 13 miles in his first race ever. He finished in 1:54:34. His older sister Irene Moreno of Morgan Hill got him into running recently.

"I did pretty good actually, my sister was pushing me. It was awesome. I'm ready to do it again. I owe it to her." He confided.

Moreno's sister added, "I feel pretty strong, so I'm happy with my finish time in 1:54:40. I love the hills. I did last year the full marathon last year."

Britons Dave Pearson and Lesley Fisher jumped the pond to run in Sunday's race.

"The course was absolutely super. When you say you got hills they are not hills to us. Where we live in England they are lots of hills. You're really crawling up them. We never had a race as good as this." Pearson bubbled. He won third in his age division with 3:14:59.

Fisher shared, "My main thing was the distance because I never done a marathon before. It was surprising how quick the miles did go." She nabbed first place in her age group with 3:48:28.

Marti Menz  of Morgan Hill's South Valley Running Club won first in her age group in the half with1:52:56.

Menz said, "It was really well organized. I enjoyed the course. This was a nice way to finish my season. It's great to have a hometown run like this."

Alan and Bernadette Simmonds are also part of the same club.

"I loved the race. I live in Morgan Hill and so I know the course pretty well. My always go around 2:30 but my aim is to have fun," she said.

Her husband won second in the Clydesdale with 1:42:17.

"It was a great course, very scenic. The up hills tough and the downhill I really sprinted." Simmonds said.

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Morgan Hill Marathon returns this week; get ready to rock

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 21 October 2011

Scan of article by writer Angela Young, part 1

Scan of article by writer Angela Young, part 2

Scan of article by writer Angela Young, part 3

Photo of John Weru winning the Morgan Hill Marathon in 2010, photo by Angela Young
Kenyan John Weru won the inaugural
Morgan Hill Marathon in 2010
with a time of 2:37:42

Photo of Morgan Hill Marathon medals by Angela Young
Morgan Hill Marathon + Half
winners will receive medals

Thousands of people will trample the streets and dirt trails on Sunday morning for the second annual Morgan Hill Marathon and half.

Runners from far away as Kenya, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom plan to join the hordes invading the quaint city of the south valley known for its mushrooms, cows and golden hills sprinkled with majestic oaks.

The much-anticipated race was sold out in all distances by Wednesday night, which means anyone wanting to hitch up on this fun ride must wait until 2012.

For those of you who ran Norcal in September, when you complete 26.2 miles or 13.1, you'll receive a cool dual medal after you cross the finish line. The athletic guide gives more detail on how to nab that nifty medal. 

Speaking of the athletic guide, go to http://www.mhmarathon.com and get the lowdown on all pre, post and race day inquiries.

The Morgan Hill Marathon Expo will be at the Centennial Recreation Center on Friday from 1pm to 6pm and Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Bring your waiver there so that you can pick up your race packet.

The sold out 2K Kids' Run is on Saturday at 2pm; all finishers will receive a shirt and medal.

Last year the chilly climate and ensuing rain made things uncomfortable for most participants and also for the volunteers at the aid stations who stood in the wet weather handing out water.

South Valley Endurance moved the event to October where the weather should be more cooperative. The National Weather Service forecasts 85 degrees for the high on race day. So leave the umbrellas at home and break out the sun block.

Greg and Debbie Richards of South Valley Endurance worked hard along with the City of Morgan Hill to guarantee a spectacular experience for the first-time marathoner to the elite gunning for the prize money.

"This year is a little bit easier because we've done it before. We have Jody McRoberts coordinating the volunteers this year. Looks like she's doing a good job. We had a huge outpouring of volunteers-a majority from Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Let's face it, volunteers make or break the event," Richards said.

Among the volunteers helping is the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) team of the South Valley, they will help with traffic control and man aid station 15 at Peak and Main Avenues.

"Prestige events like this one, help bring revenue directly into our community and introduce Morgan Hill to a greater circle of influence which in turn effects commerce and recreation on several levels.  This is a qualifying event for other marathons and will attract elite runners from outside our geographical area . . . " explained CERT member Roger Winters.

Morgan Hill restaurants Fuzio and Maurizio's are offering pasta dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings for those who want to carbo load. It's best to call the eateries to reserve a spot.

David Pearson and Lesley Fisher flew over the pond from Northern England to visit Pearson's cousin Joyce Groth who lives in Morgan Hill and to run the marathon on Sunday. They plan to tackle the tasty Italian cuisine and meet other racers at Maurizio's too.

As for the race itself in both the full and half marathon, both distances will begin and start at the same place. This race is a Boston qualifier-USTF Certified course. Many will battle the hilly route to win the prize at the end.

The race begins at 7:30am and ends at 2pm. The athletic guide has something more to say. "The time limit on the full is 6.5 hours (15:10 per mile) or 2:00pm. For Morgan Hill we have to enforce it. Aid stations and volunteers will start clearing the course. There will be a sweep bus to pick you up. You can finish on your own, but it's likely the finish line will be down."

Will the Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate both distances this year or will the Americans take home the victory? We'll see, eh? I'll be there among the sea of athletes in the half marathon doing my part to make Morgan Hill history. See you at the finish line party!

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Morgan Hill Fitness Fair and Open House is fun for all

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 18 October 2011

Scan of an article by writer Angela Young

Scan of page 2 of an article by writer Angela Young

Megan Carpene and her dog, photo by Angela Young
Megan Carpene, 10, and her dog
toe the line for Saturday's Family
Fun Run outside the Morgan Hill
Centennial Recreation Center

James O'Neil, photo by Angela Young
James O'Neil, racing the first lap
of the 5K on Saturday, finished
in 20:52. He was part of a turnout
of more than 200 runners and
walkers for the Morgan Hill Fitness
Fair and Open House.

Sunny skies greeted runners and walkers for the 5th Annual Get Fit Morgan Hill Fitness Fair and Open House last Saturday at the Centennial Recreation Center. The laid back run in both the 5K and one mile attracted over 200 athletes of all ages and ability plus one dog.

Last year I did the One Mile Family Fun Run (10:29) to get back in shape from a devastating illness that almost took my life several weeks prior. I hobbled and ran, whatever it took to do the distance despite the agonizing pain throughout my body.

Get Fit 2011 was even better because I ran the 5K (35:06), danced in a Zumba class and logged more miles inside the CRC after the race. Friendly volunteers handed racers and walkers a red finisher ribbon and Jamba Juice gave free smoothies to quench the thirst of all participants.

Although, the event organizers didn't want to make things competitive by handing out prizes to the top winners of each distance, they did hand out medals to all the children who finished. South Valley Endurance timed everyone who crossed the finish line.

Jorn Jensen, 42 won the 3.1 race in 17:37 followed by Bill Weihman, 44 with 18:45 and Milan LeRuyet, 14 rounding off the champion circle in 19:28.

"I could've pushed harder but it was a good practice for meets. This is my first 5K. I'm hooked." LeRuyet said. He is a freshman at Live Oak High and is part of the cross-country team.

The female winners are Tracy Christensen, 30 with her 22:05 triumph, Nicole Jones, 11 coming in second with 23:46 and Shelly Shores, 46 nabbing third in 25:38.

Jody McRoberts came to the CRC's birthday party with her daughter Shannon who is 19. Despite physical issues the 45 year-old Morgan Hill resident signed up anyway and completed 3.1-miles in 31:44.

"I haven't been running much because of Sciatica pain, a bulging disc and before that I did run walks because of right knee pain. I've always been able to finish all my races; the Lord has blessed me."

The younger McRoberts was ahead of her mother, crossing the finish in 31:08. "I did great considering that I haven't been working out consistently during the week. This race is always fun."

At 9:30am kids, parents, teens, and even a dog toed the line with its master Megan Carpene, 10 ready to tackle the mile.

Julien LeRuyet, 9 is the younger brother of third place winner of the 5K. "I'm pretty much excited because there's a lot of little kids <in the race>. I never did this before." He won the Family Fun Run in 7:23.

Seth Oliver who is 7 nipped at LeRuyet's heels in 7:27 and Liam Morgan, 8 grabbed third place for the boys in 8:00.

The girls came around the bend to the finish with Christina Morgan, 43 in the lead in 9:02; Georgia Stanley, 11 sprinted in second place with 9:11, and Julie Read, 41 took third with 9:16. 

And what about the young blonde Carpene and her pet pooch? They trotted the one-mile run in 14:19.

One of the CRC staff members, Nick Calubaquib said, "This has been the biggest turnout we had. We got great support from South Valley Endurance. They made this event so much easier. From what I hear we used to do all timing by hand so we had people with clipboards and stopwatches trying to log everything."

Teri Melendez, 53 from Stockton made her racing debut in the 5K and finished in 47:10. "It was great being outdoors and being able to go at my own pace. That's probably why I never ran 'cause I thought I would maybe kill myself," she said with a chuckle. "I love the people along the way clapping and saying, 'Good job! Just a little bit more.' It was great."

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Get Fit Morgan Hill!

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 14 October 2011

Scan of sports article by writer Angela Young

scan of page 2 of a sports article by writer Angela Young

Photo of people running by Angela Young

For everyone desiring a healthier holiday season, why not start with Get Fit Morgan Hill Fitness Fair and Open House on Saturday morning? The 5K and 1-mile family fun runs begin and end in front of the Centennial Recreation Center on Edmundson Avenue. The race staff is friendly, and South Valley Endurance creates a festive atmosphere with party music to liven up the crowd near the start. Get Fit is designed to ease the non-athletic into exercise with the 1-mile, and for those who want more bang for the buck, the 3.1-mile race. However, unlike most races this one won't hand out medals. "Our goal of the event is to make it a fun community event that gives people of all ages the opportunity to participate in a fun fitness event," Keri Russell, associate executive director of CRC and YMCA, explained. "While the event is timed, we place less emphasis on someone's overall time." The origins of Get Fit trace to the grand opening of the CRC five years ago. On average 125 to 150 people participate in either distance. For a nominal entry fee the participant receives a T-shirt, goody bag and free admission into the CRC.  "The best part of Get Fit is to see the participants finish," Russell said happily. "Everyone participates for various reasons whether it is to set a personal best or to complete their first 5K. It is truly rewarding to see the looks on participants' faces when they cross the finish line and realize they accomplished something that they didn't think was possible." Last year I did this race out of desperation. It was my comeback race from a near-death experience I had in September 2010. I could barely walk, much less run. But in a few weeks, thanks to God, I was able to exercise little by little. Then as a sign that I conquered the horrible disease I had, I registered for the Get Fit Morgan Hill 1-mile family fun run. It was extremely painful, and I thought I'd drop out from sheer exhaustion, but I pressed on toward the end. As I crossed the finish line, I saw my time of 10:30 on the large clock. I knew then I got my running groove back. For more race information and registration visit the Centennial Recreation Center, 171 West Edmundson Ave., or call (408) 782-2128.

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NorCal Marathon and Half: For some, event is a nice warm-up to MH races

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 23 September 2011

Article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Part 2 of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Photo of Torrey Olson, Cheyne Inman, and John Munene by Angela Young
Norcal Marathon winners (left to right)
Torrey Olson, Cheyne Inman, and
John Munene pose after Saturday's race
in San Jose. several locals took part in
the inaugural event.

Photo of Alan Simmonds and Bernadette Simmonds by Angela Young
Norcal half marathoners Alan Simmonds with his wife Bernadette.

Photo of the start of the 2011 NorCal Marathon and Half by Angela Young
Running down Santa Clara Street in downtown San Jose

Photo of Daniel Roed and Justin Huynh by Angela Young
Daniel Roed counting down the miles

Photo of an aid station in the NorCal Marathon and Half by Angela Young
A good sign toward the 12-mile mark on a hot day

Photo fo writer Angela Young at the NorCal Marathon and Half
Thumbs up for the Norcal Marathon and Half

Pounding the pavement took on a new meaning last Sunday underneath the unmerciful nuclear reactor high in the sky. Over a thousand runners and walkers got in on the action at the debut Norcal Marathon and half in downtown San Jose.

South Valley Endurance Timing and Racemine, LLC partnered in hosting a race series with cool finisher medals for stalwarts who run both Norcal and the Morgan Hill Marathon this fall.

 A sea of humanity bottlenecked at the start and slowly inched forward down the wide empty street so I leisurely took photos while trying not to give the runner ahead of me a flat tire. Eventually everyone spread out and got into a steady rhythm.

Thousands streamed throughout the Silicon Valley capital with not much traffic in sight. It was cool running around the city and not having to deal with cars.

Toward the final miles of the 13.1-mile trek, the heat blasted me from all sides especially on the dirt trail near the airport. The aid stations along the racecourse replenished my glycogen reserves with lots of Gatorade, water and pretzel snacks. The red-shirted volunteers cheered us as we trudged mile after mile. They were great.

While I documented my steps with camera during the race, winners of the half marathon crossed the finish at the Arena Green Park.

Sergio Reyes won the race in 1:04:55 followed by Miguel Nuci with 1:04:57 and Jameson Mora capping the Men's winning circle in 1:07:10.

Shortly thereafter, the ladies came blazing to the finish with Lindsay Nelson in the lead with 1:19:38. Brook Wells came in second in 1:22:57 and Alicia Freese grabbing third place in 1:23:17.

 Ken Oliver from Morgan Hill ran 13 miles in 1:36:43.

"This is the first of the three local half marathons for me: Norcal, San Jose Rock N Roll, and the Morgan Hill half. I always expect the first of the three to be a little weaker . . . I expect that the Morgan Hill will be my strongest showing for the season." Oliver explained.

Morgan Hill's Alan Simmonds won first place in the Clydesdale with 1:42:31. "I tried to keep up with the 1:40 pace but about mile eight I lagged behind a little. Still not my fastest but it was good." He trains with his wife Bernadette and with the South Valley Running Club and Athletic Performance on weekends.

She ran the half in 2:32:22. "I really loved the course. It was tougher than I thought it would be but I run for fun and fitness," Simmonds said.

Marathon champion Cheyne Inman from Vacaville was behind Simmonds while she raced toward the finish line. He won Norcal overall in 2:32:45.

"The first half I had the half marathoners to run with and I was doing fine. After the half, I was alone. I was a little off, " Inman explained. "I would've liked to qualify for the Olympic Trials. But it didn't happen today. Hopefully in December I'll hit the trial standard of 2:19."

The other two winners Chuck Engel from Coos Bay, Oregon snagged second in 2:34:59 with John Munene of Santa Clara taking third in 2:37:28.

"My target goal was 2:32 and it got really hot out there. I didn't have the right shoes for the course-a lot of loose gravel, much more of a trail marathon than a road marathon. It was nice, relatively flat and it wasn't bad," Engle said.

Munene is originally from Kenya. "The race is nice. But it was too hot near the end and it slowed me down. There wasn't enough water out in the trail." He said and plans to redeem his performance at the Morgan Hill Marathon.

Top three women in the 26.2-mile race are Suet-fei Li who got the victory in 3:14:03; Anne Gemkow nabbed second with 3:23:58 and Karen Tran took home third prize in 3:31:52.

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Spelunking and Rappelling: A blast of physical energy

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 23 August 2011

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Photo of Patti Daniels spelunking in the Moaning Caverns
Patti Daniels emerges from
Moaning Cavern's Roach
Motel during a spelunking tour.
Times fitess columnist Angela
Young joined her and others
on the adventure.

Keith Armbruster and Ken Young. Photo by Angela Young.
Manager Keith Armbruster
directs Ken Young, right, of
Morgan Hill as he waits for
his turn to launch from
a zip line tower.

Angela Young & Ken Young
Angela Young and her husband
Ken suited up like convicts
for spelunking.

Ken Young rappelling
Ken Young rapelling

Tina Keller
Tina Keller spelunking

Tina Keller spelunking
Tina Keller spelunking

Tired of the same routine in your running? Why not throw an offbeat activity into your training mix?

The spotlight for this month is spelunking and rappelling. Of course, serious research was in order and I took it upon myself to explore the depths of this interesting subject! For me, an adrenaline addict, I couldn't pass this up.

Ken Young and I drove hundreds of miles to Moaning Cavern Adventure Park near Angels Camp in Calaveras County on a Friday to avoid huge crowds.

The staff at Moaning Cavern gave excellent service with many a smile. They offer the Adventure Tour package, which includes rappelling into an enormous cavern and subsequently belly-crawling through subterranean passageways. The tour was three hours-hours of physical torture, that is. Just kidding!

To whet my adventurous appetite, I chose to zip line first before the spelunking. We met Manager Keith Armbruster at the zip line shack; another guy then weighed us on the scale first before equipping us with necessary gear and helmet. I was ready to rock and roll above the treetops. They offer twin zip lines, which run 1500 feet across. They offer two types of rides: The seated traditional style and superhero where the person flies face-first in a horizontal position. Did I mention at 40 plus miles per hour? I did both.

After an exhilarating time, we returned to the shack, dumped our gear and followed Armbruster an ex-Silicon Valley patriot to another building. He introduced us to Greg Wilson, who was our guide for the next portion of the tour. Wilson did a fabulous job. Four others joined us for the journey into the bowels of Moaning Cavern. We donned on jumpsuits, I chose "prison orange" plus blue rubber gloves and helmet with headlamp. We watched a safety video warning us not to do stupid things with the J-Rack, the thing that controls the descent of the rope.

After the video, Wilson led us to a tiny dark hole in rock-the entryway to the enormous chamber. We had to go one-at-a-time through the microscopic opening to rappel 165 feet down to the cavern floor.

"Piece of cake, right?" I muttered weakly to someone nearby as I grabbed tight to the rope before taking the plunge. I pin-balled my body on the rocks because I didn't work my J-Rack correctly. Finally, I managed to descend into the massive cavern, which was gorgeous.

When everyone rappelled down to the floor, Wilson prepped us for the cave crawl. He regaled us with stories of the bone pile from animals and people falling into the cave over the centuries and of course, scary monsters lurking in the dark recesses. Hungry ones. The wet, tight tunnels with lots of pokey slimy rock formations made our trek tough. Think of toothpaste being squeezed out of the tube. That was how I felt in most spots. This was a lousy time to feel claustrophobic. If it wasn't for the jumpsuit, helmet and gloves I would've been more mangled and bruised than normal.

It did take superhuman strength to pull myself out of the Roach Motel after spelunking for more than an hour. Wilson gave everyone the merciful option of climbing out sooner through an opening nearby or for daredevils to take the dangerous 45-foot ascent on a slimy knotted rope through Godzilla's Nostril. Despite the fatigue and pain, I signed up for the dangerous route. Only Ethan and his Dad joined me while everyone else took the short cut.

After the exhausting climb, I butt-slid down the slope to meet the rest of the team waiting on the platform. If rappelling and spelunking weren't enough, we had to ascend 234 steps on a metal spiral staircase. Then an additional 90 steps toward the top were thrown in for good measure.

 At the gift shop, everyone guzzled cold bottled water, courtesy of Moaning Cavern. Chris Dori from Concord said, "It was a solid two-hour workout. It was tough."

"I would definitely do this again. Next time I'll be more fit and do more pushups and pull-ups," His wife Rossnina said.

The next day I was pretty sore. I should follow Dori's advice and do more pushups.

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Local runners turn out to honor San Jose man

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 19 July 2011

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young, part 1

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young, part 2

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young, part 3

Photo in the Morgan Hill Times by Angela Young
Alex Sokol won gold and silver
medals Sunday at the Memorial
5K Run and Walk in honor of
his father, Steve.
His mother, Leslie, won silver.

Photo in the Morgan Hill Times by Angela Young
The top male finishes in Sunday's
Steve Sokol Memorial 5K
Run and Walk at Almaden Lake
Park in San Jose included
(left to right) Robert Whitacre,
Alex Sokol, and Scott Adams.

Photo in the Morgan Hill Times by Angela Young
The top female runners were
Kristen Del Biaggio, Annie
Bergholz, and overall winner
Dinba Rosenthal.

Anyone who runs would recognize the name of the athlete who garnered distinction through his athletic achievements. Steve Sokol led a great life of health and fitness, influencing thousands.

Sokol's untimely passing last March left many heart broken and shocked in the fitness community.

In honor of the "World's Fittest Man" South Valley Endurance, Body Firm of Los Gatos and volunteers hosted the Steve Sokol Memorial 5K Run and Walk at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose on Sunday.

Before the run, Sokol's widow, Leslie shared heartfelt words before the crowd. Then 172 participants toed the line to run alongside Sokol and son, Alex for the 3.1-Mile race. The cool overcast weather was perfect for the event.

The younger Sokol, 12 lead the pack as everyone took off down the dirt path. The out-and-back tree-lined course a beautiful, peaceful ride for racers to enjoy.

The winners bolted to the finish line with San Jose's Dina Rosenthal, 39, leading the way in a whirlwind victory in 18:26. 

Rosenthal said," It was a really nice race, a perfect day for it. Everything went well. I would not miss this race. My husband and I mainly did this race to support Leslie and Alex and to let Steve know that he will always be remembered."

Hot on Rosenthal's heels were the top three male finishers with George Remelos blazing to the end in 19:06. Sokol, 12, snagged second place in 19:19 with Scott Adams, 41, who took third in 19:25.

"I felt a lot better than last week's race <Run for Stinkin' Roses>. I had a person help me pace-Scott Adams. I finished strong," Sokol said.

Saratoga's Adams said. "This is what you want a nice cool morning, a great course, and well organized. I was telling Rob the reason why we came out was to remember our friend Steve." He and Robert Whitacre worked with Sokol as personal trainers at Body Firm. Writacre finished in 23:15.

The other two top female 5K winners are Morgan Hill's Annie Bergholz with 20:48, and San Jose's Kristen Del Biaggio's with 22:04.

"It was pretty flat and smooth. I'm trying to get a sub-20, that's my goal," Bergholz said.

Del Biaggio added, "Alex Sokol is on my son's soccer team and so we brought the soccer team out here today to support the Sokol Family," she said. "I just wanted to have fun. I don't really do races."

Hollister's Carlton Oler, 54, took second in the 50-something bracket and ran the race at a leisurely pace with 22:57. He came out to support the cause to raise funds for young Sokol's college education.

Sokol, 53, got a silver in 24:00, "the time didn't matter," she said. "I don't think I smiled ever as much as I did during the race because I saw everybody out here doing their best for Steve, celebrating his life."

I remember Steve Sokol at many races; running with him and writing about his dynamic journey on this earth was a privilege.

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Run for the Stinkin' Roses

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Morgan Hill Times on 12 July 2011

Morgan Hill Times title

No thorns about it

Article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Part 2 of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Gilroy Dispatch title

Stinkin' Roses a sweet success

Scan of an article in the Gilroy Dispatch by writer Angela Young

Part 2 of article in the Gilroy Dispatch by writer Angela Young

When somebody mentions garlic, what usually comes to mind? Delicious French fries festooned with chunks of buttery garlic bits? But what about a non-food related thing such as an athletic event in Gilroy?

The Run For the Stinkin' Roses 5K and 10K competition is held by the South Valley Running Club. The weather was perfect on Sunday's race with cool, overcast skies greeting 125 racers.

Participant Moshe Ben Am came as far away as Maplewood New Jersey. Others hailed from Napa, St. Helena, Daly City and Paso Robles.

South Valley Endurance Greg Richards' voice boomed, "5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Go!" The 6.2-mile pack shot off into the distance followed by the 5K pack later on. I watched them disappear around the bend in the chilly morning air. Eventually the first three finishers came barreling around toward the finish line.

Road Runners Club of America's George Rehmet dominated the 3.1-race in 19:45. "My goal was to get under 20 minutes but this young kid named Alex, he pretty much led most of the way," Rhemet said, smiling. "I sprinted past him and kept going to create distance."

Alex Sokol, 12 from San Jose and Don Looby, 52 were at Rehmet's heels fighting for second place. Although both crossed the finish line at 19:59, Looby got second and Sokol came in third. 

Sokol said, "I was trying to keep up with him <Rehmet> the whole way whenever he came ahead, I tried to keep up but in the end I couldn't hold on."

Tanya Ferreira of Prunedale triumphed over the ladies with her 20:23 finish.

"The race was pretty slow for me because I'm coming off an injury," she said. "I did what I could do for today so I'm happy that I did win."

Michelle McHugh took second with 21:41 and Natalie Mazaud, 9 nabbed third in 22:39.

The men's 10K division top winners are Marty Conrad with 36:23, Jean Harris in 37:38 and Chris Rose rounding it off in 39:29.

Morgan Hill's Ken Oliver took first in his age group with 41:41.

"The weather was terrific," Oliver said. "I stayed focus and sustained the pace." He plans to run the Mt. Madonna Challenge next month, which is hilly.

For the women's division, Norma Zavala from Napa blazed the trail in 48:05, Gilroy's Kelly Ramirez snagged second in 49:07 and Amy Moomy grabbed third with 50:49.

"This race is a perfect situation with the weather," Zavala said. "I'm very excited."

30-something and pregnant Amie Magstadt won the bronze in 32:45. The Santa Rosa native ran over three miles with her friends Zavala, Nancy Welch (38:10) and Sarah Holguin (37:06). They come every year for the race.

"It was really fun, a nice race. It was beautiful."

Ryan McNamara (49:44) of Morgan Hill and his friend Patrick Bernhard of San Jose ran six miles with Ben Am. Ben Am won silver in 46:06. Bernhard carried the American Flag throughout his 47:39 run.

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Hot summer fun running in Morgan Hill

Scan of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Scan of page 2 of the article by Angela Young

Photo of the Morgan Hill Freedom 5K winners in the parade
The top winners were in
the parade

Hundreds of athletes crowded the registration tables in front of PA Walsh Elementary School, snapping up T-shirts, race bibs, and snacks before Freedom Fest's Children's 1-Mile and 5K began. Clear blue skies in the early morning warned impending hot weather for all participants and the race was indeed a scorcher.

Despite the intense heat plaguing runners and walkers, everyone had a great time. Excitement saturated the humid air as racers were eagerly awaiting the start of the race.

The Children's 1-Miler field bolted from the start in the warm climate. Niah Carrender, 10 from Morgan Hill sprinted the mile like it was a skip in the park, crossing the finish in 6:43.

 "I started running when I played soccer at 4," he said. "In the beginning <at the race> there were two people in front of me and the first person ahead of everybody <else>.  And then it was just him and me, fighting for the end and sprinted to the finish. I'll do it again next year."

Hollister's Karina Collins, 11 beat everyone else in 6:46 and she didn't even look winded.

"My whole family funs. My brother and my sister do cross country for our high school, and my mother is in a running club and my father likes 5Ks," Collins said.

The top winners of both distances rode in the parade on the back seat of a vintage cream-colored 1964 Chevy Impala piloted by the illustrious John Miles. How was I privy to this? I got to ride shotgun with Miles because I won best Patriotic Costume in the race. That's the closest thing for competing against those rabbits and earning a nifty trophy at the same time.

San Jose's Carlos Siqueiros dusted the competition in the 5K with an impressive 15:33 blistering the asphalt more than the sun above.

"I felt pretty good about the race . . .. It was hard because my legs were tired. I've been a lot of miles lately. I like the slight downhill start. It does help things going. I lost a little focus around the second mile. Then after that it was fine."

He is training for the US Olympics Times Qualifier Marathon in 2012. His mileage ranges from 125 to 140 a week. "After the parade, I plan to go on another 12-mile run this afternoon to shake out the legs, eat lots of food and relax."

Overall 5K female winner is Tanya Ferreira of Prunedale. She blasted the rest of the pack in 19:00. She plans to do the Run For The Stinkin Roses in Gilroy next week.

"If I'm seriously training for college I run 50-60 miles per week. I barely have time for anything else besides running. I want to run the rest of my life."

Lance Wolfsmith from Morgan Hill finished second in the 5K with an impressive 16:28. Other Wolfpak members medaled in their age groups including Erin Logan in 20:23, Kyle Deisenroth in 16:30 and Ryan Corvese in 16:39.

"Today's race was kind of a nice reality check. I'm at a different stage in my training that I used to be in high school. It was still fun to come out here and race with the hometown people," Wolfsmith said.

Morgan Hill's Andrew Bogia and Marti Menz who belong to South Valley Running Club ran the 5K.

"It was fun like last year's but a little hotter," Bogia said. He took second in the 60-age group with 25:17. "I decided to jump in when some family members wanted to do the race. It was a last minute decision."

Menz, 55 completed her 3.1-mile challenge in 24:12. These guys looked refreshed with not a hair out of place. They didn't look like they just ran in a furnace.

"It was a great run, well organized, with lots of spirit and lots of people."

Bogia added, "If you didn't do the race this year, you ought to consider coming out, it's a great place to meet a bunch of runners and show your support for a great event run by the local community."

I agree with him. I can't wait to run and beat my time of 33:34 in next year's race on America's birthday!

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Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k and 1-Mile Children's Race

Scan of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Part 2 of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Angela Young dressed as a big heart for the Freedom 5K run in Morgan Hill

The United States is turning 235 years soon, Morgan Hill is gearing up to celebrate the Big Day with plenty of festivities starting with a grand tradition of running in the streets.

Roughly, 650 people participate in the Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5K and 1-Miler for kids in previous years. Organizers expect more competitors to join the fun this year.

The race is a great way to launch America's birthday and is one of my favorites for several reasons. The main reason: back in 2000, this was the first race I ever ran and I did everything wrong including wearing a tye dye sweatshirt and gym shoes that were too small.

Didn't train at all or drink water along the course. I just ran it for kicks, thinking it would be a piece of cake. I don't remember my finishing time and that's a good thing!

Subsequently, I ran more ID4 races in good shoes, patriotic costumes and got to ride in the parade with the top winners for several years.  You can say I have a portion reserved in my heart for this race. My alma mater race.

What better way to eat guilt free at the plethora of barbecues, picnics, and parties throughout the holiday when you know ran a fun run in the morning?

Speaking of mornings . . .. At the crack of dawn hard-working members of Morgan Hill Freedom Fest are setting the stage for the much-anticipated parade on Monterey Road and adjoining thoroughfares in Mushroom Town.

Among the dedicated workers are Charles Weston, Race Director and his wife Lesley. They will be up before the sun with his band of volunteers preparing for the hundreds of runners scheduled to appear.

"I started helping with the run, cause I wanted to give back to the running community, then as I got asked to do more I said, 'yes' cause I wanted to belong to this group and I wanted to give back to the parade cause I loved sitting on the curb with my children and enjoying it with them," Weston said. "The run has the same route as the parade, so there will be people on the side of the course waiting for the parade, that will cheer you on. Most runs don't have this feature."

In addition to spectators cheering the athletes along the parade route, there are other benefits. "The course is fast, so runners looking for a PR, this is their course. Some will run with their children and have a great memory they can share together. There are some who will run it after training in hopes they finish strong and get a great sense of accomplishment."

The kids' run begins at 7:45am with the 5K toeing the line at 8:15. Put on a patriotic outfit and come run with us! If you don't want to run, then volunteer. They could use a helping hand putting on a Morgan Hill great tradition!

To download registration forms go to http://www.SVEtiming.com/events or http://www.mhfreedomfest.com.

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Mushroom Mardi Gras fun run for all

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times about the Mushroom Mardi Gras by writer Angela Young

Page 2 of Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras article by Angela Young

Photo of Kyle Deisenroth and Erin Logan by Angela Young
5K Winners Kyle Deisenroth and Erin Logan
of the Wolfpak Team

Claudia Becque and Tom Garden by Angela Young
Claudia Becque  and Tom Garden
Top 10K runners

Angela Young at the Morgan Hill Mardi Gras fun run
Angela Young after her run at the Finish Line

Runners at the Morgan Hill Mardi Gras fun run by Angela Young
Runners and Walkers in the 5K

Runners at the Morgan Hill Mardi Gras fun run by Angela Young
Perfect running weather on raceday

While many folks were sleeping comfortably in their beds or busily setting up for the Mushroom party in downtown Morgan Hill, early risers toed the line in last Saturday’s Mushroom Mardi Gras 10K race and 5K fun run-walk despite the cold, cloudy weather and chance of rain. This is a benefit for the Live Oak Athletic Booster organization.

Runners from far away as Whittier came to compete among the three hundred racers on the out and back course. The 10K began with many stampeding forward onto the dirt trail sending up a mini dust storm in the faces of the middle packers.

The 5K followed five minutes later in hot pursuit with the slow pokes (like me) and walkers trailing behind. Not caring about my time I ran-walked a quarter-mile taking photos leisurely for the story. It’s about having fun and getting the story, not how I perform as a racer. At least that’s what I told myself until my pride kicked in and I popped the clutch, putting myself in gear to pass a horde of people before the turn-a-round point.

Two teens decked in black uniforms on the return trip sprinted past me in a whirlwind toward the finish. They looked like Wolfpak guys and they were amazingly fast. Actually these athletes along with their fellow members are a dominant presence at local races. Many members took home medals.

“Live Oak Athletic Booster support the athletes and provide for them to succeed in academics and athletics. The kids you see out on the course are athletes either from the football or track team. The refreshments are provided by the wrestling team,” Interim race director Donna Brusaschetti said.

The overall 5K winners are Kyle Deisenroth of Morgan Hill with an impressive 16:59 and Erin Logan with her sizzling finale in 19:49.

Deisenroth and his father Fred are part of the Wolfpak Team and did well in Saturday’s race despite family member and fellow runner Derek recovering from a severe auto injury. All three Deisenroths competed in the Wildflower Run in April taking away several medals.

“I didn’t feel so good but was still able to win. I won last year,” Deisenroth said sheepishly. 

The father quipped, “I love the race being local. We just get up and go to the race. It’s awesome. He <Kyle> has a teammate he is always battling with <Ryan Corvese>. He took second.”

“I always out kick him,” the younger Deisenroth said with a chuckle. They were the two teens competing neck-to-neck I saw during the 3.1-mile race.

Nick Froumis, 32 from San Jose, the son of South Valley Running Club’s Andy Froumis took first in his age group with 19:07. The senior Froumis is proud of his Optometrist son. “This is one of his favorite races. It’s close to his parent’s house. I hope to have his twins carry on the tradition of running. I’m excited to see them run and raise the bar even higher than what their dad and granddad has done,” Froumis said.

The 10K top gunners are Tom Garden who completed 6.2 miles in 35:42 and Claudia Becque crossing the finish in 37:15.

Becque, 34 of Morgan Hill said, “I moved here in November from Chicago, first time here in the race. I wanted to do a Saturday race. I think the course was great and there was a lot of support on the course. I’m coming off a calf injury and didn’t race much since the Turkey Trot,” she said. She is training for the Olympic Trials in January in Houston. She qualified for the trials at the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:44.

The South Valley Running Club garnered more medals. Morgan Hill’s Marti Menz received first place in her age division in 48:24, followed by Michelle LaJeunesse taking second in 49:50 and Gilroy resident Kim Moyano rounding off in third with 50:33.

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Running for a good cause

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Scan of article in the Morgan HIll Times by writer Angela Young

A plethora of spring blooms carpet the Golden State along with an increase of charitable footraces. The Relay, a fundraiser for Organs R Us (ORU) is normally a 199-mile run but this year it turned out to be 194.

I'm sure some fatigued runners were grateful about the change.

The start line begins in the wine country and concludes at the sand and surf of Santa Cruz from April 30th to May 1st.

The Relay comprises of teams with twelve runners apiece plus two volunteers who shuttle the participants around in a van over a 24-hour period. However, ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes jogged the entire distance solo several times in the past including 2003 for one-month old Valeria Sanchez who needed a heart transplant.

To get a better idea how this works; the 194-mile distance is divided among the racers, giving them three segments or legs each. Some legs are easy on the knees and others are more brutal with steep grades and increase mileage. Some of this is done at night in the wilderness or in a weird neighborhood without much lighting. This is where an unfortunate athlete can trip and fall out in the middle of nowhere and gets injured. The stalwarts in the team get stuck with the tough, nasty segments and the newbies or softies get the easy stuff. One hopes, anyway.

Fortunate runners get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight if they manage to snag the coveted leg with that feature.

To generate a festive race teams are encouraged to wear costumes and also decorate their vans in a unique way.

Three teams from Morgan Hill got in the act to help others who are in desperate for an organ transplant. "SVRcrazy Team" with captain Allan Abrams leading the way finished the ambitious fundraiser in 28:57:51. Abrams and his fellow teammates done The Relay five times and raised $9500 bucks. They are part of the South Valley Running Club and train together regularly. Also it helps that most of these guys run many a marathon and ultra marathon distances.

"I am training all year round so the relay fits perfectly into my schedule. I only need to make sure I incorporate some hill work to insure I'm ready for the hard legs," Abrams said. Outside of running the thing, there are other issues like staying awake for 37 hours straight and raising money. Abrams didn't seem to have a problem with these. But the organizing can be challenging.

"First is recruiting a team of 12 runners.  I start in January knowing that I will lose at least two over the coming months to injury, family or work conflicts.  Then it's getting the two volunteers each team is required to have.  Again there is the chance I will lose at least one along the way.  After nailing down the team the rest is very easy as I have been doing this for 5 years now," he said.

The other two teams from Morgan Hill are Stryker Endoscopy's "We've Still Got The Runs Team" headed by Jenn Frisk who finished the course in 29:47:10 and "Team Wicked" with Mary Seehafer at the helm, completing their part in The Relay with 33:17:32.

The rewards is seeing the people in desperate need for an organ transplant get the help they seek and experiencing the colorful party atmosphere of The Relay 194-miler.

Abrams said, "I enjoy the camaraderie and team spirit.  It's a chance to really get to know fellow club members and bond over a common love for running."

I bet you he'll back with his team next year.

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Taking part in another big turnout

Scan of the front part of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Scan of the back part of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Photo of the Wildflower Run by Noella Vingeant Photography for an article by writer Angela Young
Racers bolt from the start line Sunday at Live Oak High School in the 10K, part of the 28th annual Wildflower Run persented by the American Association of University Women

Photo by Noella Vingeant Photography

Hundreds from Italy to Ethiopia showed up to toe the line at the 28th annual Wildflower Run on Sunday at Live Oak High school.

Despite the chilly weather in the morning where most folks not in the race wore winter apparel, athletes came out in shorts and tank tops not caring about the cool climate. It does after all make excellent running weather.

Fifty Wolfpak members showed up in their sleek black uniforms among the 705 other contestants prepped and ready to blast out of the gates. From little kids to senior citizens these guys always show up at every Wildflower event. They are also among the winners in Sunday's hometown event.

Kyle Deisenroth blazed the trail in the 5K with 17:26, followed by Ryan Corvese in 17:34; and Cody Hulme snagging third place in18:06.

Morgan Hill's Michael Hulme also ran the 5K with his son Cody. He finished with an impressive 20:23. "This is a great race because there are lot of people we see at the start and finish. This is my second wildflower."

For the ladies division, Erin Logan sprinted to the finish in 20:49 with Julie Wolfsmith on her heels in 21:02 and Akane Hashimoto rounding it up with 21:57.

These winners gave me a peek into how they prepared for the race.

"We cross-train, so we swam, bike and run to prepare for our runs. We all had goal times that we went over yesterday. We all had our paces and went for it. I think everyone is happy with their race," Julie Wolfsmith said. She and her husband David lead the Wolfpak team.

Erin Logan said, "I felt great. I felt strong. We all trained together as a team. We encouraged and supported each other and ran together. We train seven days a week. We're a triathlon team," she said.

Hashimoto is a Japanese exchange student at Sobrato High; she is also part of the wolfpakers. "It was fun, I like running. Keeping the pace was hard," Hashimoto said.

"We all had aggressive goals. It was hard for all of us at all levels," Wolfsmith added. "We do this to keep a healthy lifestyle."

"We keep a fast pace consistently, the whole race you're feeling it," Logan said.

San Jose's Jimmy Baraona came with his mom Kathie. They both enjoyed the 3.1-mile run. "I could've run better had I practice running a lot more before the race," Baraona said regarding his 28:15 finish.

I ran with them, seeing if I would be the first to make it to the Jamba Juice tent afterwards. Whoever lost had to pay for a delicious Strawberry smoothie for everyone. Baraona's mom beat me by crossing the finish line at 33.14 and I trailed behind in 33.44. Good thing the smoothies were free!

Fred Deisenroth who completed the 10K in 42:20 and his son Derek competed in the 10K. They are part of the Wolf Pak triathlon team. Unfortunately due to a goof up with the lead cyclist making a wrong turn on the 10K course, the leaders of the pack got disqualified and their times weren't recorded. This included the elite runner Tegenu Beru and the younger Deisenroth's time. However, they get a comp entry for next year's run.

"My son was in that group," Deisenroth said.

The other Deisenroth said, "I probably PR'd today but went the wrong way because the front few people in the 10K went the wrong way. I followed my teammate who was in front of me. It was a shorter race."

"I think he had a PR at the 5K point and he was excited to see if he was going to PR on his 10K time. So it's kind of a bummer that the course changed," his father said.

Marathoner Gar Chan from Gilroy ran the 10K (46:13) and he wasn't affected by the mishap on the course. "My strategy was to finish and not fall flat on my race," he joked. "It was a good training goal to reach my time. This is a great run, the organization is fantastic, and people are very friendly. It's a fantastic race as usual and I wish everyone can run it."

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Run and Smell the Wildflowers Sunday

Scan of an article about the Wildflower Run in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angela Young

Now that spring is finally here with the posies in bloom, it's time again to lace up those running shoes and dash outside and join the hordes racing down the Morgan Hill streets in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Wildflower Run Sunday, April 10th.

 The 28th annual Wildflower Run (WFR) footraces are a Morgan Hill tradition, which is one of my favorites on my calendar I don't dare to miss. As a race t-shirt junkie, I need to add another WFR edition to my collection.

"Each year we have an original design done for the T-shirt and all logo material like registration forms, postcards, posters," Former race director Barbara Palmer said.

"The Wildflower Run has been tailored to be a wonderful event held in a small town amidst the spring wildflowers. During the first few years of the run members actually went out to sow wildflower seeds along the route so the runners could enjoy them along the way!"

The WFR event is funded by business sponsors and by individual member donations. All the money goes to scholarships for girls in school and is tax-deductible. One notable sponsor is Brian and Katie Howard, owners of Jamba Juice. They provide all registered runners with a complimentary smoothie after the run.

I admit I do the run for the delicious Jamba strawberry drink at the end.

Most of the volunteers and workers are from AAUW. "I have volunteered at the WFR every year since I moved to Morgan Hill in 1999 except for one year when I was out of town. All branch members are encouraged to help in some way, either the day of the race or ahead of time," Carol O Hare said. "This year, since we're now using electronic chip timing provided by South Valley Endurance, I will help with registration in addition to publicity."

"We'd like to see over 1,000 runners and walkers come out and enjoy a run through beautiful scenic Morgan Hill.  Last year we had over 900 participants in our 2K Kids Run, 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run," This year's race director Yvonne Duckett said.

"I personally enjoy running," Duckett added. "We have infants in strollers, pushed by their energetic parents . . .. I, running my heart out, have been passed by infants. It is a humbling experience. We have runners over 75 who astound me with their vitality. My husband was thrilled to run next to Mayor Steve Tate in last year's run. We have a Wildflower Walk this year because Inga Alonzo."

Walker Alonzo explained, "I have a lot of coworkers and friends who prefer walking to running also and know the benefits of walking are different from those of running. Running is great for cardiovascular health and walking is a better fat-calorie burning workout for those trying to maintain or lose weight.  Then there are all of those thousand of overweight Americans who are encouraged to start with walking to begin weight loss . . . .I think the 'Walk' category helps encourage more newcomers each year to not feel intimidated by the 'Run' category. "

Putting on a race isn't easy. Palmer shares about some of them.

"We use flexibility and problem-solving to get through the many challenges of the run. We have coped with pouring rain, scorching heat, construction on run routes, and most notably a man with a shotgun who was not happy that the run was going past his house!"

These hardworking AAUW ladies don't let anything deter them putting on a hometown treat for all ages.

"I Am 83 years old and am interested in participating in the 5K Wildflower Run on April 10.  Have noted the 5K run division awards state the last category as 70 plus.  I participated in over 20 races in 2010 and 7 races so far this year and all but one have had award divisions of 80 and over. It is difficult for us octogenarians to compete with those 70 year olds.  Besides, more and more of us oldies are participating these days and it is nice to compete with our peers." Joe LoBianco wrote to organizers, asking to add an 80-age division.

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Zumba is part of the Surgeon General's 'vision for a healthier nation'

Top of scan of Zumba article  by Angela Young
Bottom of scan of Zumba article by writer Angela Young

Zumba Fitness put on an amazing charity event on St. Patty's Day at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel. A thousand dance addicts jammed to the energetic music of Mueva La Cadera along with founder Beto Perez and his Zumba Education Specialists (SEZ) for Augie's Quest fundraiser.

Over a thousand people came to help Augie Nieto who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fight the nasty neurological disease. Nieto imparted these encouraging words to everyone, "Thank you for the love and support."

But what blew me away wasn't the $210, 000 they raised. It was the surprise appearance of the US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. She stood on stage with Perez and his dance team. Benjamin isn't exactly slim but that's what makes her so cool.

And when the top-notch physician shimmied and wriggled and shuffled on stage the crowd roared with delight. She told everyone she has a vision for a healthy nation and Zumba is part of the mix.

Besides the weight loss benefits of dancing; it makes folks deliriously happy. And it made the Surgeon General jolly too. In an interview with the New York Times she admits it.

"Yes, I love to dance, and whenever I'm at events and places with music, I will dance. That exercise is medicine. It's better than most pills," she said. "I want exercise to be fun; don't want it to be work. I don't want it to be so routine that you're bored with it."

Zumba instructor Teresa Flynn from Morgan Hill was delighted seeing history take place with the dancing doctor. "I really appreciated the General moving outside of the box.  It's something I love telling my class before we start to get out of the box and move like never before.  One thing is to imagine it and it's another to feel the music move you," Flynn said.

Neighboring Gilroy Zumba teacher Sarah Hartz enthused," I loved it.  She went up there and showed that Zumba is absolutely for everyone.  Her presence also recognizes Zumba as a respected form of fitness."

However, Salinas resident Angelo Manzano wasn't impressed. "She did okay being onstage and saying a few motivational words for the crowd. However, I don't fully agree that she herself isn't physically fit, as one would expect of a Surgeon General. On the other hand, I hope she keeps her word about continually supporting and furthering her vision of a healthy America."

Paula Edwards of Monterey added, "As a doctor of Chiropractic and fitness professional, I understand all too well the importance of health and fitness going hand in hand.  I hope that the Surgeon General takes it upon herself to get into better shape.  She needs to set an example for all."

Oscar Solano waited six hours in line before they allowed anyone inside the ballroom. "When the doors opened, it was like a mad rush. We were all ready to party. The music was the fuel and we were in combustion until the music stopped one and half hours later, " he said.

Manzano was amazed by the ebb and flow of the mob partying in unison by an unseen current. "It was epic! I've never danced with so many people in one room at one time! It felt like being in the club (without the alcohol and people hitting on each other," he joked.

"This is great about a Zumba event. It's a complete package. Good cause, party, exercise, socialize, networking, learning new choreograph as an instructor, and a spiritually up-lifting event." Josep Budijanto said happily. He came with Manzano, Solano and Dr. Edwards.

Solano concluded, "At the end, Zumba officials presented to Augie and his wife all of the funds for the Zumbathon.  It was a touching moment for all of us because we all helped a bit to make it happen.  I am so thankful for the chance to make a difference. I felt very proud that I'm part of Zumba when our current US Surgeon General came out and danced with all of us.  I hope she brings this message across the country and that she leads the Obamas in the 'Beto Shuffle.'"

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Kicking it Zumba Style

Scan of sports column by writer Angela Young

scan of sports column by writer Angela Young

photo of Sarah Zack, Jay Jay Davalos, Marcy Balbas, and Loretta Ruiz
Zumba instructor Sarah Zack, far left, focks out with Jay Jay Davalos, Marcy Balas, and Loretta Ruiz at Gilroy Health and Fitness. Photo by Jordan Rosenfeld.

Joseph Budijanto leading a Zumba class. Photo by Angela Young.
Dancing Dynamo Joseph Budijanto leads a Zumba class at Gold's Gym in Hollister. Photo by Angela Young.

One of the hottest health trends to sweep the globe is in the South Valley. What better cross training for running than a full body workout like Zumba Fitness? It’s time to get your groove on people! Swing those hips and burn off those nasty calories!

Marcia Ribiero introduced me to a Zumba class last October when I was critically ill from a thyroid disorder. After a few weeks I was able to run again and I knew God used Zumba to change my life.

Alberto “Beto” Perez from Colombia founded the Zumba program in the mid-90s by accident. He forgot his regular aerobic tapes for class, using his favorite Latin tunes instead. The people loved it, wanting more. Since 2001, Zumba Fitness has more than ten million people taking weekly classes in over 90,000 locations worldwide.

Zumba classes are ubiquitous in gyms, community centers, studios, resorts, college campuses, corporations, churches, gaming platforms, and television. Because of the partying atmosphere many who normally shun exercise are rocking to the beat instead of dreading the trip to the gym. The energetic sounds of samba, cumbia, reggaeton, salsa, merengue and hip-hop keep bringing people back.

Suzi Sellers, a Morgan Hill resident with bright violet and fuchsia hair, teaches Zumba at various clubs including 24-Hour Fitness and The Recreation Center. She not only jams to the latest Latin beats but also includes hip-hop in her repertoire. Her classes are popular and crowded with people of all ages and ability.

“I look forward to every class. It's like I'm partying with my friends, but instead of knocking back drinks and eating pastry pups we're burning calories,“ Sellers said. “Jordan Rosenfeld lost a lot of weight. So when I met Jordan’s husband he said to me, ‘Are you the person responsible for literally dancing my wife’s bottom off?’ I thought that was funny.”

Rosenfeld dropped 26 pounds dancing mostly in Seller’s classes since last May. However, losing weight wasn’t the only reason she stuck with it. “I was a new mom, who rarely left the house, depressed, tired, overweight and had a bad body image. Honestly, it made a major difference in my life.”

The party thrusts forward to Gilroy Health and Fitness where Zumba instructors Jennifer Ehrenberger and Sarah Zack boogie down with eager students on a cold rainy night. Ehrenberger who is a scientist at Syngenta Flowers, Inc. teaches after a full day in the lab.

“I have had ladies tell me Zumba has helped their marriage because they love to dance and their husbands don't anymore and they can get their "dancing fix" in my class . . .. People sweat and dance out all the frustrations of life and our poorly running economy and go home feeling satisfied and relaxed,” said Ehrenberger.

Over yonder in Hollister at Gold’s Gym Josep Budijanto pumps up the power you can feel the electricity surge across the packed room. Prior to Zumba, he was out of shape, frustrated and 35 pounds heavier.

“Three years ago I did not have any idea how to dance Latin; the only fitness activities I know were swimming, tennis, and biking,” Budijanto said. He also had to overcome his issues. “From a guys’ perspective I had to break the barrier of not being manly for going to Zumba. I keep telling myself this is an exercise class and not a dancing class.”

Debbie Fisher, a student of Budijanto’s is a success story. “I was running 5 years ago, attempting to work up to a marathon. My knees began to swell and the doctors could not find an exact reason. I continued to exercise but quit running. Last year, I joined weight watchers and Zumba. In three months I had lost 30 pounds and realized I could run again.” Subsequently, she ran both the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in San Jose and the California International Marathon in Sacramento.

 Juan “Jay Jay” Davalos, 14 faithfully takes Ehrenberger’s class. He wants to become a certified Zumba instructor but must wait until he reaches16 due to the age limit. “For the guys if you like hip hop or any dance just come on in. Yes there’s mostly girls in the classes, but anyone is invited!” He said.

New Times Columnist on a Mission to Run

Scan of a column by writer Angela Young

Scan of a column by writer Angela Young

Photo of the Mission 10 run by Alheli Curry for an article by writer Angela Young
Father and son team in the 5K

Photo of Jose Ruiz and Michelle Lucero by writer Angela Young
Jose Ruiz and Michelle Lucero

Photo of Jose Morales winning the 10 miler by writer Angela Young
Jose Morales winning the 10 miler

San Juan Bautista—What does 1086 athletic feet, The San Andreas Fault, a historical Spanish institution, sweaty bodies, pain, joy, excitement, hard work, Federal Reserve notes, winter, long sleeve T-shirts, technology, tradition, health and pristine lush California landscape have in common? Why the 28th Annual Mission 10 of course. Over 500 entries from Turlock, Salinas, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, Monterey, San Juan Bautista, Aromas, Santa Cruz and beyond covered the pocked mark streets of the mission town to run in three distances: The 10-miler, 5K and 1-Mile for children.

Saturday’s foggy weather provided the perfect climate for runners and walkers until mid-morning when most of it burned off with the sun toasting the countryside. Olympic marathon hopefuls to the weekend warrior ran side by side down the paved roads into farmlands as far as the eye can see. That’s what beckoned me along with them to hit the ground running in this fun race. What makes Mission 10 a real treat is the absence of uptight people typical of larger races where the world watches through a magnifying glass.

However, the Hollister Rotary Club and South Valley Endurance Timing put on a good show. Many talented athletes run the 10-mile or 5K every winter because the mostly flat courses for both distances are eye candy for participants and post race raffle prizes for pre-registered runners are dandy. Plus the fabulous long-sleeve cotton tees keep athletes coming back. I confess I do Mission 10 for the T-shirt.

However, Jose Morales of Turlock, CA had a much better goal in mind for Mission 10. The 26-year old State university at Stanislaus Senior blitzed ten miles with an impressive 53:51 winning the race overall. He runs 70-80 miles per week to keep sanity from his studies and would also like to compete in the 2012 Olympics games.

“I went for it. It showed me what kind of runner I am. I want to run faster in the future . . .. I ran the CIM in December; I did it in 2:28, I thought it was pretty good for my first marathon. I want to do the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. My goal is to hit the Olympic qualifying times,” Morales said. To qualify he would have to run 26.2 miles in 2:18.

Hartnell College coach Monica Nicholson, 29 from Aromas crossed the finish line after running ten miles in 1:06:29 and nabbed the First Place trophy for the women’s division. This was her first 10-miler. “My goal was to run under 1:10 and I went out a little hard but I felt good and decided to keep it up. It was fun,” Nicholson said pleased about her sub-seven pace.

Salinas resident Sean Curry, 43 who ran Dirty Legs 24 Hour ultra marathon two weeks ago couldn’t stay away from racing and toed the line despite an injury. He ran 41 miles in the ultra but the next day Curry ran another 26 miles because he was too hyper to rest. That’s when he broke his toe. It didn’t slow him down at Mission 10 either. “It went better than I thought. I like to get under an hour in this race. That’s what I’ll shoot for next year,” he said referring to his 1:03:35 finish and third place victory in his age group.

The 5K winners are as follows: Hollister’s teen Omar Vasquez vanquished the competition in 17:10 and Michelle Lucero, 39 shut out the rest of the pack in 21:30. Shannon McRoberts, 18 from Morgan Hill happily completed 3.1 miles in 28:26 and got 2nd place in her age division. “The 5K is my favorite distance. The hill at the end was tough but it was good because it helped me push myself.”

San Joseans Shawn Baraona (27:37) and his older brother James, 22 (28:27) ran the 5K with their mother Kathie (33:35). The eldest boy ran in a polo shirt and slacks. That’s what he prefers. “It’s kinda cold, actually, to run in shorts because your legs don’t sweat . . .. I got into running because of the movie Run Fat Boy Run,” Baraona said.

To view entire Mission Race 10 results go to http://www.SveTiming.com.

This article ran in The Morgan Hill Times on 06 July 2007
Angela supplied source material for a staff writer

Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times
Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times
Scan of article in the Morgan Hill Times

Metro Silicon Valley Marathon a Pleasure for All

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch November 4, 2006

Scan of top of newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of bottom of newspaper article by writer Angie Young

Photo of runners at finish line festivities
South Valley Runners celebrate at finish line festivities in downtown San Jose.
From left: Dr. Chan, Angela Young, Gretchen Yoder-Schrock, Steve Land, and Robert Miller.

Photo of runners preparing for the Silicon Valley Marathon
Runners get ready for the Silicon Valley Marathon

Thank God for Daylights Savings. Because of the annual one-hour falling back clock re-adjustment, runners who participated in the Oct. 29 Metro Silicon Valley Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K races, got an extra hour of sleep. The bonus hour helped us get up in the wee hours before sunrise to tackle the three races. I, along with several South Valley runners, ran the half marathon. Race organizers Elite Racing and Evolve Sports created the new 2006 Silicon Valley Double for anyone willing to compete in two half marathons in October for a special memento. Three weeks ago, I ran another 13.1-mile race in San Jose. Whereas the musically talented inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was jammed elbow to elbow with roughly 12,000 athletes in downtown San Jose on Oct. 8, the Metro Silicon Valley race had roughly 3,000-plus runners.

South Valley athletes traveled to downtown San Jose at 6am to gear up for the 7am start. The climate early Sunday morning was frigid at the starting line near Almaden Boulevard and Park Avenue in downtown San Jose. Most participants bundled up in long track pants; fleece jackets or wore a variety of winter apparel. Some stalwarts jogged lightly in shorts and t-shirts despite the chilly, overcast sky. As usual, it was a contest to get a shot at the bright green Porta-Potties before the race began, as lines were long. Ten minutes before 7am, athletes stood shivering in the cold with hands over their right breast for the National Anthem blaring on huge outdoor speakers nearby. Finally, the announcer simply shouted enthusiastically, “Go!” And we complied, a cacophony of tiny high-pitched beeps echoed in the air as thousands of runners with smart chips strapped to their shoes stepped onto the mauve mats spread out underneath the start line.

Racers compressed together followed the serpentine paths along downtown streets that gave runners a closer look of the quaint Willow Glen neighborhoods, famous Lincoln Avenue in the heart of San Jose, and eventually thinned out as the miles progressed in an orderly manner thanks to the presence of several police officers from the San Jose Police Department. Spectator participation was barely present and there wasn’t much fanfare, except for a few Willow Glen residents offering champagne to the runners. The race was more laid back and peaceful than the Rock ‘n’ Roll race, which made the experience refreshing. This race provided a more bucolic view of the South Bay instead of a smorgasbord of buildings, buildings and more buildings along the course. We sprinted or walked our way through three cities - San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos - and inhaled the musky scent along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. The high cloud ceiling gave runners a respite from the Indian summer conditions we’ve been dealing with lately, and the sun burnt off the fog layer towards the end. Then the temperatures soared and I was glad to cross the finish line in 2:25:57.

Members from the South Valley Running Club were present at the races and included Steve Lane, of Morgan Hill, who ran the full 26.2 miles. In addition for this being his debut marathon, Lane also participated in a medical study offered by Stanford University’s physician Dr. Suzanne Miller on the impact of long distance running on the human heart of elite versus recreational athletes. Lane sailed across three cities and back in 4:07:35. “I found the 4:00 pace runner and started with her and a small group. I told her I wanted to finish in about 3:50 and one young lady, Jenny, who is a Stanford ME grad student said she did too.  We decided to stay with the 4:00 pacer for 10K and then pick it up a bit until 20 miles and see what we had left . . . I came through the half marathon mark at 1:53ish and was happy to see Kim, Gar, Gretchen and Bob cheering me on behind LG High School . . . I was feeling fine, but I started getting a little tired in the 17th mile. At about 24 miles I caught a glimpse of the tall buildings in downtown San Jose and that motivated me to push to the finish line,” Lane said. He plans to run another marathon next year.

Gilroy’s Dr. Gar Chan D.D.S, Doug Meier, and Gretchen Yoder-Schrock conquered the half marathon distance along with Robert Miller. Meier was the first among them to finish the 13.1-mile race in 1:31:39; subsequently the others came 11 minutes later. “The last miles were hard because of the hills at the end,” Miller said about his 1:42:39 time. Both Dr. Chan and Yoder-Schrock agreed, “The weather was great and the course was nice.” Dr. Chan finished in 1:44:14, Yoder-Schrock followed in 1:44:43.

Morgan Hill Times Editor Sheila Sanchez, who’s been running consistently for about eight years, ran the Metro Silicon Valley Marathon last year, but this year she did the half. “I like running on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. The organizers had plenty of water stations along the beautiful course. The weather was perfect, not too cold or too hot. I’m grateful that I got to run in it,” Sanchez said, happy to finish in 2:24:34. For more information on race results on all three distances, please go to www.siliconvalleymarathon.com.

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Rock 'N Roll Marathon: Thousands Rock Out in SJ's First Time Gig

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch and The Hollister Free Lance on October 10, 2006

Scan of an article by writer Angie Young

Photo of the runners at the starting line
The runners prepare for
Sunday's race in downtown
San Jose

Running a 13.1-mile race can be a real bear unless of course there’s lots of music and serious revelry happening on the sidelines. I waited for the San Jose Inaugural Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon on October 8th for months, anticipating the party atmosphere and physical duress of this first time gig. I got up before the crack of dawn and got dressed in my pink and red outfit and affixed a bright pink pageboy wig to my head. Everything had to match because I’m a fashion freak with artistic flair and besides nobody will recognize me if I stagger to the finish puking my guts out. After downing a bowl of grits, I complete my prepping ritual and dash out the door. The drive to San Jose from Morgan Hill was peaceful unlike weekday mornings.

At the VIP booth, the elite runners were decked out in warm tracksuits were waiting pensively for the Elite Racing staff to lead them to the Start. Jen Rhines, 2004 US Olympic Trials winner walked among the Kenyans and displayed a cheery smile. She is a friend of Gilroy physician Kari Bertrand. I told her Bertrand says hi and she replied with a similar greeting. Kenyan William Chebon was there and we chatted briefly. He, like the others, was concentrating on the 13.1-mile challenge. $8K was at steak here and he needed everything he can muster to win the prize. At the Expo on Friday, Chebon told me this was his first time in California and he was looking forward to Sunday. Everyone was talking about him as one of the favorites in the race.

After departing the VIP booth, I then joined the throngs of runners at corral 9 and waited for the sound of the gun. We were packed like Sardines talking excitedly about the huge musical spectacle. Rock music blared from speakers everywhere and the mood festive and friendly. This is my kind of race. As 8a.m approached I could hear the crowds roar with excitement and suddenly we’re moving towards the Start. The Emcee announces our corral number and we give San Jose a mighty shout with our collective arms in the air like riding in an enormous rollercoaster. The power of the people, rock bands, and enthusiasm surges throughout the thousands of racers, the ebb and flow of pure, raw energy pulled us through each mile.

The organizers had water and Amino Vital (an energy drink) at every other mile and of course there was a band too. People called out to me, “Way to go Pink!” “I love your pink hair!” and “Go Pink!” I danced and ran along the wounding course through San Jose and I had a blast despite feeling tired at times. At Mile 11, my glycogen stores were depleting, but I was determined to fly across the finish in fuchsia fury. I couldn’t gulp down another cup of Amino Vital because it tasted icky and I got a tummy ache from drinking too much of it. (Coincidentally, US Olympic silver medalist Meb KefIezighi bonked an hour earlier at the 11th mile due to a hamstring cramp and had to drop out of the race.) After passing the 12th mile I was jubilant and increased my pace so that I could zip pass the next one. The finish line shined forth with golden splendor as I went full throttle and leaped across the end with a grin. I completed the half marathon in 2:25:26 not bad for a party animal.

Morgan Hill’s Michele Lajeunesse, 43 is the top placer at the San Jose Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon from out of 104 south valley female runners with her finish of 1:47:35. “I consider this race as my training run. I was going between 1:45 and 1:50. I’m running the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December. I hope to qualify for Boston,” Lajeunesse said. “I did the Rock ‘N Roll San Diego Marathon last June. It was my first marathon.”  She liked the professional quality of the race.

“Richard and I were both pleasantly surprised with the course - we ran through some beautiful neighborhoods.  The bands and cheerleaders were definitely motivational and the spectator support was great as well!  The event was very well organized, with water and Amino every 2 miles, GU at 9.6 miles, and plenty of volunteers at the water stations, plenty of porta potties!  Every mile was well marked and the time displayed.

“This was a first 1/2 marathon for both Richard and I - and we would both do it again!  Richard finished in 1:54:20, as he was not able to train much before the race.  I finished in 2:17:15.  I am very happy with my results - as I had never run more than 6 miles before training for this event!” Kathy Scepura, 42 of Morgan Hill said.

Luanne Giacalone, 43 of San Martin brought her friends to the race. She and Libby Michelini of Gilroy did 18 miles the day before. “I ran with my friends, Libbey Michelini (2:30:22), Misha Vereyken (2:23:12), and first time racer Pamela Courtney (2:22:24), and had an absolute blast. Having been born and raised in San Jose, it was a nostalgic race for me . . . “ Giacalone said. She ran it in 2:30:22.

San Martin resident Craig Lore, 53 shared his experiences about the race, “The inaugural San Jose RNR Half Marathon was, by all that I could see, a tremendous success. The race was extremely well organized: it started on time, the streets were fully blocked off, well marked, and wide enough for everyone to run comfortably right from the beginning. I enjoyed having a dedicated half marathon in our area. The bands along the course add a tremendous boost as you go by; you feel like picking it up a little. The crowds were a little thin, but they were enthusiastic. I got the impression that there were lots of first-time half marathoners out there. But I noticed many grizzled veterans in the running crowd as well.

I expected the course to be a little boring since it circled in and out of downtown San Jose, but it was a pretty nice course . . . I would definitely do it again if it falls right on my running calendar, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others,” Lore said.

Robert Miller, 55 of Gilroy who finished in 1:41:43 said,” It is a fast course, the race was well organized, the music was a nice touch and the crowds were

small for a big city race.”

Thousands of participants rocked with the bands, cheerleaders and spectators along the fun-filled course in the city to the north of the south valley. Many plan to do this race again next year. As for the elite runners my favorite pick, William Chabon of Kenya took second place out of the massive field of runners and walkers in an impressive 1:01:07 and his friend, Duncan Kibet took first and covered 13.1 miles in a sizzling hour and 22 seconds. Mesuri San (Very good!) as they say in Kiswahili, native tongue of Kenya.  For the super lady athletes, Russia’s Sylvia Skvortsova grabbed the top spot in 1:09:17. Our Jen Rhines finished 6th overall with 1:12:09. For complete coverage and race results please visit WWW.RNRSJ.Com.

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Ready to Rock

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch on October 7, 2006

Scan of a newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of the bottom half of the articly by writer Angie Young

Four days from now I’ll be clogging the streets of San Jose along with 15, 000 other runners in the debut Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, October 8th.  I’ve been training with South Valley Runners Club and on my own in Morgan Hill and Gilroy area for weeks now. So what’s the big deal about the upcoming 13.1-miler? Well, to non-runners it’s a long, long, long distance to pound the pavement, and you’re most likely sweating, craving water, and possibly feeling some sort of pain during the run. But the endorphin rush is worth the discomfort. Isn’t it? Well to most endurance athletes, including me it is! Sure beats drugs, alcohol, and that weird green stuff with the pointy leaves.

Many from the south valley are gearing up for this Sunday’s race. Besides the satisfaction of completing a half marathon (a full is 26.2 miles) and receiving the nifty finisher’s medal and bragging rights, I get to experience this race with my compatriots for the first time ever. We get to listen to a variety of music on the course with a different band per mile plus cheerleaders and a rowdy crowd all the way to the finish. It’s a huge non-stop musical party with lots of hyperactivity and being wild. I plan to wear a red and pink ensemble along with other crazy folks in costume. 

Elite Racing, Inc., the race organizers, hosts Rock N’ Roll marathons and halves throughout our illustrious country; thanks to US Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter, 49ner triple Super bowl Champ Roger Craig, Goo Goo Dolls drummer Mike Malinin, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales spurred Elite Racing to host one of their famous races in the capital of Silicon Valley. This year’s race features an elite field among them US Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflesighi and football player Craig.

For you pre registered folks, the Health and Fitness Expo is open from 11a.m to 7p.m on Friday, October 6 and Saturday. The event is free, offers fun seminars including a talk by John The Penguin Bingham, a Runner’s World Magazine columnist. And those of you who didn’t pay for the race yet, you may want to go their website (www.rnrsj.com) and register before it’s too late or show up at the expo and do it there. The Expo is located at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on 150 West San Carlos Street near Market.

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Endurance is the Key to Running

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch on September 20, 2006
and The Morgan Hill Times on September 22, 2006

The Gilroy Dispatch
September 20, 2006
Scan of newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of newspaper article by writer Angie Young

The Morgan Hill Times
September 22, 2006
Scan of newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of newspaper article by writer Angie Young

What does a brain surgeon, a mother of twins, UCLA graduate, an Oscar-winning actor, or runner has in common?  You got it. Commitment. Of course this isn’t restricted to those disciplines, but you get the idea. It takes time; patience, pain, joy and good old fashion mile-by-mile rain or shine commitment to succeed in any distance running. I found this by trial and error and by training with seasoned athletes who learned this a long time ago. When I first joined a group of runners back in the summer 2001, our coach, Deona Willie showed everyone in the South Valley Track Club what it took to meet our prospective goals. She laid out a simple plan for folks to meet at different days for workouts at the track, on trails or streets within the south valley area. Willie gained valuable knowledge under the auspices of two-time Olympic Marathoner Ed Eyestone from Brigham Young University in Utah before she moved to Morgan Hill.

I remember Willie telling me there were times when she came to the track workouts she hosted after work, and sometimes nobody showed up. After waiting a while, she would do the speed work session by herself instead of climbing into her car and driving home in frustration. That made an impression with me on how committed Willie is to the sport and sticking it out even if things don’t worked out the way she planned. I know others who run no matter what. Some like Gretchen Yoder-Schrock, Kim Moyano, Dr. Kari Bertrand, Craig Lore, Kat Powell, Dr. Gar Chan, Andy Froumis, Deona Willie, Steve Lane, and countless others who are willing to get up at the crack of dawn and grab that 8-miler before most people are out of bed. Most of these guys work full-time and manage to squeeze in a morning jog despite coordinating an entire household with kids.

For those of us who don’t get up before the rooster crows, don’t feel bad. I see plenty of joggers pounding the pavement in the hot afternoon hours or evening when the sun is still blazing in the sky. Whatever time slot you pick to run, it still requires commitment to lace your shoes and fly out the door. I like the morning hours around 8 or 9 because I’m awake and it’s still crisp outside.

Another facet of training is the amount of time it takes to accomplish training goals. Some run seven days per week, others need five and still others may spend less time. For instance, Steve Sokol, from San Jose, told me after winning the 6K at the Mt. Madonna Challenge in August, that his family only trains once per week. Yet they win at races and these events are usually brutal and hilly. The Sokol family is an exception than the rule.

Whether you’re an elite runner or recreational one like me, you know it takes practice and hard work to become faster and more physically fit. Sometimes life will slow me down with illness, injuries, emergencies or work-related stuff and I can’t run on the days I choose. I also fight laziness, burnout and depression. All excuses aside, my friend often tells me, “If you really want to do something, you’ll do it.” The only way I can run a marathon or half marathon, 10K or 5K is to build up mileage by putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re concerned about running alone out in the wild and getting eaten by a ravenous mountain lion or bitten on the calf by a stray mongrel (those are two of my fears) then perhaps joining a running club will help?

The motivation from like-minded athletes makes training a lot easier and more fun. What better way to swap war stories about surviving the fun, but hilly Big Sur International Marathon or getting your feet wet for the first time at the local 5K? Athletic clubs are a great resource for entering the thrilling ride of running. Not everyone in a running society is a Jack Rabbit or Speedy Gonzales. There are a variety of fitness levels and paces within these organizations and runners are a gracious lot. They welcome newcomers with arms wide open. And yes, they’re one of the most dedicated groups of human beings I know.

For information on joining the South Valley Running Club go online at www.svrchome.org.

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Mt. Madonna's Challenging Trail Race: One of South Valley's Best Traditions

This column ran in The Hollister Free Lance on August 30, 2006

Top section of article by writer Angie Young
middle section of article by writer Angie Young
Bottom section of article by writer Angie Young

Photo of Jean Suyenaga, Kat Powell, and Patrick Buzbee
The Triple Crown championship winners were, from left, Jean Suyenaga, Kat Powell and Patrick Buzbee.

Photo of some young women waiting for the race to start
Tough 6K trail blazers get ready to conqueror the hills.

Photo of the Sokol family
The Sokol family, winners in the 6K.

Gilroy—The summer heat didn’t deter me and the other hardy souls to the pristine mountain paths for the 31st Annual Mt. Madonna Challenge on Sunday, August 27th. The soothing coastal fog that shrouded the higher elevations gave us 105 runners a respite from sizzling temperatures in the valley floor. Registered athletes as far away as Merced came to test their mettle on the serpentine courses of the 12K and 6K.  This was the last race of the Triple Crown Championship series. 

I picked the 6K because I wasn’t conditioned as most of the other stalwarts. Before Sunday, I kept repeating to others and myself about Mt. Madonna’s pleasantly rolling hills because I didn’t remember it being grueling when I ran it two years ago. I honestly thought the seven hundred-foot elevation gain along the way was merely a speed bump.

Race Director Dean Raymond gave directions to the racers and talked a little about the footraces benefiting the South Valley Symphony. I stood in the middle of the pack next to South Valley Running Club’s Kathy Scepura, 41 from Morgan Hill and Kim Moyano, 41 and daughter Jennifer, 19 of Gilroy. I was wired and ready to take on the speed bump, which loomed beyond the starting line.

At the blast of the air horn, forty-one brave runners bolted uphill, the leaf-strewn pathway crunching softly underneath our collective feet. I inhaled the aromatic fragrance of Manzanita and Oak trees, feeling the moist air enveloping me as I ascended. Things were going well and I maintained my pace with Scepura and Moyano and then it happened. The so-called speed bump morphed into this monstrous one-mile climb into the stratosphere and my wimpy calves suddenly became granite much like the mountainside. What happened to the pleasantly rolling hills? Up and up we climbed and I slowed down to a fitness crawl while commanding my legs to run like the wind. I watched most of the pack disappear around a bend above me.

At the summit I gained my momentum. I passed three walkers feeling like an athlete again and bolted on level ground. More bumpy terrain waited for me around shady corners and I treaded it with newfound respect. Then the path descended gracefully into more wooded area and I was flying toward the finish because I really thought the end was near. However, pleasantly rolling hills greeted me instead—when will this thing be over? I eventually finished in 43:50. Now for name and stats:

The top award-winners of the 6K are: Steven Sokol of San Jose who shut out the rest with 26:04; Daniel Beckwith followed in 28:12 and Greg Burke capped it at 28:29.

Sokol, 51 overall Winner of the 3.6-miler ran this race with his wife Leslie, and son Alex, 7. Mr. Sokol turned to his son and asked, “Alex, do you remember what you told me this morning at 6?” The youngest Sokol responded shyly, “Yeah . . . the Mt. Madonna Challenge is my favorite race.” He came in third (32:19) because there wasn’t a category for kids his age and so they lumped him with the older teenage boys.

The top three ruling female champs are Lisa Franklyn, 36 who grabbed the overall prize with 30:23; subsequently, Morgan Hill teen Olivia Duran, 15 flew past the finish with 31:41, and Pauline Olson followed in 31:56.

The 12K (7.46 miles of torturous terrain) runners survived this race and the top three male survivors are: Ryan Reed of San Jose, 27 won the event with 50:07; Fremont resident, Nick Fill, 24 took second with 50:17, and Morgan Hill’s Jorn Jensen, 37 nabbed third in 53:41.

Reed who works at the Gilroy outlets and is a manager of Pearl 12 Umi Factory said. “My heels were on fire jogging the downhill . . . I did this race last year.”

Fill gave his thoughts on the 12K: “This was the hardest race I ran with hills. I didn’t see the leader (Reed) until a mile and half into the race. I kept trying to catch up to him,” he said.

“The Mt. Madonna Challenge is a good title for this,” Jensen said. “This is my first time racing Mt. Madonna, Dean Raymond told me about it and I tested the course last week. This is my first time racing it.”

The reigning female winners are Danielle Zelinski of San Jose, 23 who outran the others in 65:04; Amy Burton also of San Jose, 32 snagged second in 65:14; and Ellen Washburn won third in 67:47. Zelinski ran this race several times before and came back to win the women’s title. “The first twenty minutes was bad . . . but I picked up speed.” She said.

Burton said, ”It went smooth, the course was well marked. I like the local field of runners; they have a good spirit.” Burton and her husband John felt the 12K was too short. They do ultra-marathons.

The Triple Crown Championship winners are those who competed and placed in all three trail events: The Dammit 5-Miler, Run Through The Redwoods 10K, and Mt. Madonna. Patrick Buzbee of San Jose, 54 received the first place trophy; Santa Cruz residents Daniel Ruiz, 46 took second and Jose O. Echeverri, 47 got third. Only two female winners emerged: San Joseans Jean Suyenaga, 39 won first, and Kat Powell, 55 came in second.


6K Male Winners:

Boys 10-18 Years:

1. Daniel Beckwith—28.12
2. Greg Wong—29:37
3. Alex Sokol—32:19

Men 19-29 Years:

1. Peter Cohen—35:27

Men 30-34 Years:

1. Marc Sander—28:39
2. Chris Moniz—55:12

Men 35-39 Years:

1. John Clayton—40:46

Men 40-44 Years:

1. David Prince—34:27

Men 45-49 Years:

1. Alfred Ramirez—28:46
2. Richard LeBleu—31:25
3. Neal Ashton—38:33

Men 50-54 Years:

1. Steven Sokol—26:04

Men 55-59 Years:

1. Greg Bunker—32:29
2. Leroy Daleen—34:12
3. Bob Gilbert—35:03

Men 60-65 Years:

1. Greg Burke—28:29
2. Chris Tenney—50:38
3. Richard Johnson—56:31

Men 70 + Years:

1. Frank Rodriguez—53:19

6K Female Winners

Girls 10-18 Years:

1. Olivia Duran—31:41
2. Pauline Olson—31:56

Women’s 19-29 Years:

1. Jessica Welker—32:46
2. Renee Hessling—41:15
3. Jennifer Moyano—41:18

Women’s 30-34 Years:

1. Raquel Freudenstein—21:12

Women’s 35-39 Years:

1. Lisa Franklyn—30:23

Women’s 40-44 Years:

1. Kathy Scepura—41:17
2. Kim Moyano—41:22
3. Karen Semiao—43:00

Women’s 45-49 Years:

1. Leslie Sokol—34:37
2. Margot Hessling—35:24
3. Billie Boles—41:08

Women’s 60-69 Years:

1. Carolyn Courtney—39:21
2. Anna Van Raaphurst—56:13

Stats for 50 and 70 age groups are not available

12K Male Winners

Boys 10-18 Years:

1. Eduardo Castillo—70:01

Men 19-29 Years:

1. Ryan Reed—50:07
2. Nick Fill—50:17
3. Carl Mease—54:48

Men 30-34 Years:

1.  John Burton—60:31
2.  Jeremy Foy—89:10

Men 35-39 Years:

1. Jorn Jensen—53:41
2. Chris Rose—65:09
3. Mike Williams—65:53

Men 40-44 Years:

1. Raymond Rodriguez—56:58
2. Tony Scailino—62:23
3. Lynn Astalos—69:13

Men 45-49 Years:

1. Andre Pchenitchnikov—55:58
2. Daniel Ruiz—57:23
3. Doug Meier—60:38

Men 50-54 Years:

1. Mike Erbe—55:12
2. Patrick Buzbee—57:43
3. Dan Anderson—60:23

Men 55-59 Years:

1.  Brendan O’Neill—68:48
2.  Paul Cannick—72:05
3.  Bill Fenley—72:41

Men 60-65 Years:

1. Giuseppe Slater—65:57
2. Sylvan Addink—70:48
3.   Barry Rowley—75:33

Stats for 70+ age group is not available

12K Female Finishers

Girls 10-18 Years:

1. Alexandra Torres—72:34
2. Precious Bagamaspad—89:11

Women’s 19-29 Years:

1. Danielle Zelinski—65:04
2.  Clare Johnson—67:32

Women’s 30-34 Years:

1. Amy Burton—65:14
2. Ellen Washburn—67:47
3. Stella Foy—85:39

Women’s 35-39 Years:

1. Nicole Cownagen—76:18
2. Jean Suyenaga—78:13

Women’s 40-44 Years:

1. Gretchen Yoder-Schrock—75:12
2. Michael Simpson—92:23

Women’s 45-49 Years:

1. Julie Wayne—96:06

Women’s 50-54 Years:

1. Beth Myers—83:42

Women’s 55-59 Years:

1. Kat Powell—85:09
2. Karen Yinger—90:52

Stats for 60 and 70+ age groups are not available

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The South Bay Triple Challenge fun Runs

This column ran in Out & About the Valley magazine in August, 2006

July 2006 cover of Out And About The Valley Magazine

July 2006 "Go The Distance" column by writer Angie Young

< Photo of Bill Flodberg starting a race
coming soon >

One of my favorite trail races is the 31st Annual Mount Madonna Challenge, 12K and 6K, which is a benefit for the South Valley Symphony. This year, The Challenge is the last segment of the South Bay’s Triple Crown Championship involving two other events: Dammit 5 Mile Run on August 12th, and Run Thru The Redwoods 10K on August 20th. This combo package is the brainchild of Bill Flodberg. He came up with the concept last year to attract more runners to hit the grades at Mount Madonna Park. Raymond is the race director and has a full plate preparing for the race now that Flodberg is temporarily out of the picture.

For those of you who dream of conquering Pike’s Peak Marathon in Colorado or Big Sur International Marathon in Carmel, and going for broke in an ultra, yet haven’t ran a decent trail race in a shorter distance, why not get your feet dirty with the Mount Madonna Challenge? Sounds like fun to me, especially if it involves navigating up and down rocky paths, inhaling pristine pine scented air and getting a fabulous workout. Bring it on! I love over coming discomfort and zipping past the finish in victory.

Every year I witness brave athletes taking on the serpentine paths at Mount Madonna in late August to test their mettle on the trails despite the heat, the threat of hornets, mountain lions, and of course the pain. Some stalwarts don’t notice the aches of climbing the mountain in a sprint, they often laugh at adversity and embrace the challenge of beating everyone else on the course without dying in the middle of nowhere. These are the ones with the perfect physique befitting the cover of Runner’s World Magazine. Their hair is never out of place and I doubt if they’ve ever soiled their singlet or shorts in sweat like the rest of us mere mortals. I hear months later that these tough dudes often graduate from butt-kicking, grueling hilly marathons to ultra-distance races like American River 50-Miler, and eventually to the hardcore Western States 100-Mile endurance event in the Sierras. Some of them may ultimately run 300 plus miles like ultra-runner sensation, Dean Karnazes.

Back to the South Bay Triple Challenge . . .

I understand the Dammit Run is a bear in terms of elevation and grade; runners must conquer the Lexington reservoir in the middle of a typically hot summer day. The race is a first class outfit in the way of goodies, prizes and organization, this I hear often from those who’ve had the sheer pleasure of participating in it.

Running in general is hard on the body in the way of stress and wear and tear; adding elevation and bumpy roads makes it even tougher.  However, the beneficial long-term health aspects are extremely rewarding, not to mention the amazing endorphin rush midway throughout the workout. Anyone who isn’t familiar with trail running or undertaking hills, may I suggest you speak with your running group, medical doctor, or coach about it?

If you don’t belong to a specific group, why not contact South Valley Running Club’s Craig Lore at Bookdeep@pacbell.net or The Tri-County Running Club online at www.tricountyrunningclub.tripod.com. These guys can assist you in your trail blazing goals and you’ll meet others with the same passion.

Sign up to secure your spot for the Mt. Madonna Challenge or any of the other South Bay Triple Crown Challenge races via www.active.com or www.theschedule.com. If you register early for The Challenge by August 16th, you only pay $18 with T-shirt. Please contact Dean Raymond, Race Director, for complete information at 408-847-5564 or by email -- Rundeanrun@verizon.net.

I’ll be waiting for you at Mount Madonna with bells on my feet.

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Reek & Run

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch on July 12, 2006

Scan of article by writer Angie Young
Scan of article by writer Angie Young

Gilroy’s sizzling July climate wasn’t the only thing broiling on Saturday at the Reek Run hosted by the Theater Angels Art League’s (TAAL). It received mixed reviews from participants and spectators alike. Roughly 150 athletes ran into unexpected surprises with the ever-changing course. Unbeknownst to everyone, a grounds keeper at Bonfante Gardens locked one of the gates on the 5K route before the start. Several people mentioned they preferred the old location of the Reek Run around Gavilan College, which may explain the low turn out at Saturday’s race.

Race organizers kept their cool, kindly fielding questions to frustrated runners and were busy putting out small fires that erupted throughout the morning. With the absence of Bill Flodberg, who normally spearheads the Reek Run, the weight of responsibility fell on TAAL and South Valley Symphony. Mr. Garlic (Gerry Foisy) kept peoples’ spirits up with his boundless enthusiasm and support of Gilroy’s tradition of hosting a footrace weeks prior to the internationally acclaimed Garlic Festival.

 The top three spots in the 5K men’s division were Gilroy residents Arnulfo Velasquez, 17 who zipped past the finish followed by Jaime Reyes, 15. Juan Velasquez, 13, whose Arnulfo’s younger brother, came in third. Their official times are unavailable due to the locked gate incident; at one point the racers were told to run in the wrong direction, creating a false finish at only 1.5 miles. Everyone ran the loop again and re-crossed the finish despite the warmth.

In the women’s division, Tanya Ferreira, 17 from Royal Oaks, CA grabbed the first place finish in the 5K and recalled her experience. “I saw the boys in front of me . . . where did they go?” She said referring to the Velasquez brothers and Reyes. Ferreira is a member of Hollister’s Tri-County Running Club and is visiting the south valley for summer vacation.

European Hanneke De Groot of the Netherlands (now residing in Gilroy) fell behind Ferreira, taking second place. “It’s Unfortunate that we had to stop at the middle of the race. I had to make the best of it,” De Groot said. Diane Phariss of Watsonville sprinted to third place. “It (the Reek Run) was better last year. I’ll do it again next year,” Phariss said.

The 10K had its own challenges, including not having anyone handing out water during the competition. The distance was mapped out to 6.2 miles, but because of missing personnel, everyone ran roughly 5.5 miles. The results: Tri County ‘s Jonathan Rivera beat the rest of the pack with 32:27; the 19-year old from Hollister is taking the summer off from Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo. “I started running the Reek Run in 2003, first the 5k and since then the 10K.”

Rob Zimmerman, 37 also from Hollister and Tri County, snatched second place with 32:54. “It’s a beautiful course . . . The volunteers didn’t know how to direct the way, <but>I got a good workout. I got to run with Jonnie—he’s the man.” Zimmerman said of Rivera. Third place winner Peter Hsia of San Francisco, 46 came in at 33:25. This was his first Reek Run.

South Valley Running Club’s (SVRC) Kelly Ramirez, 44 of Gilroy shut out the female competition in the women’s field with 40:24. “I’m here to support the Reek Run,” Ramirez said. Kim Moyano, 41, also from Gilroy and SVRC, closed in with 41:13.

Elia Wu, 46 of Mountain View captured third with 41:35. “It’s a wonderful time Elijah and I spent together at the race. I’ll do this race again with my son and dance partner Bill Frankebe,” Wu said cheerfully. Elijah Guo, 16, seized a silver medal in his age division with 39:12.

Many weren’t impressed with the route that looped outside the park near the chained linked fence. Orange cones blocked off a section of the course near the only water station in the 10K, and not a volunteer was in sight to dish out the much needed sustenance to the thirsty participants, according to several anonymous runners.

Hollister’s Jess Rodriguez summed up the general sentiment on the Reek Run: “There were no T-shirts and the runners could only redeem tickets to the park on the day of the race. That’s not good. People have plans. They changed the course—it’s not a great idea,” Rodriguez said. “T-shirts are a good source of advertising. Kids like to wear them. As a business, you don’t cut your advertising.”

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Running For Freedom

This column ran in  The Morgan Hill Times on July 5, 2006

Scan of article by writer Angie Young
Scan of article by writer Angie Young

Scan of article by writer Angie Young
Scan of article by writer Angie Young

On Morgan Hill’s centennial year, hundreds of athletes trekked to P.A. Walsh Elementary School on Main Street to register or pick up their race packets before the start of the Freedom 5K and Kevin Kemp One-Mile Children’s Run. The balmy weather didn’t deter anyone from showing up and celebrating our country’s birthday. Runners and walkers from the south valley and as far away as southern California migrate to this race annually because of Morgan Hill’s charming idyllic backdrop. Not only is this race a favorite among participants, but also the subsequent fourth of July festivities scheduled like the parade (one of the bay area’s oldest), the street celebration along Monterey Street, and the much-anticipated fireworks display at Community Park.

The 5K attracted the fastest among runners every year and this time was no different. Carlos Siqueiros, 25 of San Jose won the race overall with 15:12:30. The veteran racer tackled the sport at the tender age of five, but didn’t compete until he turned seven. “The running aspect <of the race> went well. I’m not much for the limelight,” Siqueiros said as he shunned the idea of being in the parade. “I’ve done this race two times before. The course was a little different, strange. It’s interesting every year . . . we’ll see what it is next year.” Siqueiros has his eyes on the upcoming 2008 U.S Olympic Trials for either the 10K or marathon distance. “You’ll never do well in long distance unless you love it.” He said.  Lance Wolfsmith of Morgan Hill sprinted behind Siqueiros with 15:36, and Ryan Reed grabbed third place overall with 15:49.

The women’s top three winners were Michele Gerber, 19 finishing at 16:18; S. Hu, 42 followed with 19:07, and Morgan Hill’s Irene Ramirez, 35 flew past the finish line in 20:15. “I felt very good. This is my first time running in a race. I’m excited and I’ll be doing more,” Ramirez said. She normally trains alone logging 5 or 6 milers four times per week.

The Kevin Kemp One-Mile Children’s Run started at the same time as the 5K; youngsters of all ages bolted from the start, their tiny legs pumping fiercely like pistons as they tackled the challenge of beating their schoolmates, friends or family members in the short distance event.

“This race is a little bit different from last year. Instead of going straight <the course>, it curved. I liked it because it wasn’t long. At the end of the race I felt like I was going to die,” Andrew Wilcox, 10 of Morgan Hill said about his race. He zipped past most of his competitors with an impressive 7:30. He likes running other local races such as Wildflower, the Reek Run, and Mushroom Mardi Gras annually.

Many came decked out in clever red, white and blue attire or in more elaborate outfits. One award is given to an adult with the best patriotic duds and one child. Carol Kemnitz, 59 traveled from Palmdale, California to compete in this race. Her birthday cake garb delighted the judges and kids alike. Kemnitz ran this race five times before with a photo of her son festooned on the front of her patriotic outfit. “My son Rob is stationed in Afghanistan this year. Last year he was in Iraq.”

The other costume winner is JohnE Boursier, 9 of Morgan Hill. He dressed as Uncle Sam and held a picture frame up to his face, depicting the theme of this year’s race “A Portrait of America.” As custom, the top winners, including the costumed participants got to ride in the historical parade.

For a complete list of finishing times please contact Charles Westin, Race Director, at 408-779-6686 or email him via charles@wmarchitects.com.

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The Big Race of Life and Bill Flodberg

This column ran in Out & About the Valley magazine in July, 2006

Scan of a magazine article by writer Angie Young, part 1
Scan of a magazine article by writer Angie Young, part 2
Photo that ran with a magazine article by writer Angie Young

Long-time runner and author Bill Flodberg’s illness left many of us in shock in Out & About Land. Many of you who are fond of Flodberg’s tales of pounding the pavement as a veteran runner don’t give up hope. He’ll be back someday with pen in hand ready to regale us once more with his insights into the mysteries of the sport.  My goal is tell the story of running and let me start with this one:

Five years ago, Flodberg held a meeting at his house in San Martin for recruiting relay teams for the upcoming International Big Sur Marathon in April. He was in charge of the Gavilan Joggers and Striders running club and everyone planned to arrive at his residence around 6 or 7p.m. I got directions, thinking it would be a cinch finding Flodberg’s place because I’ve been living in the south valley for three years. Everything looked the same to me and I couldn’t find his street because all the signs were hidden or missing.

After a frustrating hour, I realized it was late and I turned the car toward home. I remember the sun setting behind the golden foothills across the furrowed fields, the sky a powdery blue accented with one or two cirrus clouds. The scenery was breathtaking, but I was fuming about how life was unfair because I didn’t get to meet Flodberg and the other runners and become part of the Big Sur Relay team. I consoled myself knowing that I’d be running with my coach, Deona Willie, of the South Valley Track Club at Mt. Madonna tomorrow morning at 8. I drove up the narrow country road on that warm Monday night in the fall, eager to get back on my training schedule.

And the next day was September 11, 2001.

Speaking of memories, two July races pop out to me. I heard about the Freedom 5000 hosted by the Independence Day Inc. in Morgan Hill on July 4, 2000. At the 5K, I met these sleek athletes decked out in the latest jogging apparel and looking the part. I was intimidated by their speed and power on the road and felt much like a snail compared to them. I didn’t even wear the right clothes (Tied-dyed sweatshirt, long pants with ill-fitting shoes) and I hardly trained for it. I thought, I like running and I’ll try a race. Why not? Big mistake. My sore limbs and sluggish finish didn’t impress me. One bright moment came when I discovered that this 5K footrace featured a costume contest with most patriotic theme. I figured if I can’t beat the fleet-footed by physical speed then I should change my victory conditions and go for the creative challenge instead.

In 2001, I designed this patriotic American Flag one-piece suit like a superhero, flaming red hair (my own not a wig), the right shoes, arm bands, hand-held flag, red, white and blue metallic crown and cape and I took first prize and rode in the parade. Hopefully, in 2002 there will be more competition. The costumes then became more complex because I like to raise the bar every time I do a stunt.  I’ve been doing this race every year and I like to see how far I can go with my artistic ability in running an outfit that won’t kill me and still look fantastic after I cross the finish line. I’ve seen other athletes shoot for the impossible and sprint in cool costumes too. I can’t wait to see what people will wear on this centennial year of Morgan Hill. Don’t miss this historic race; it’ll be fun for sure.

Another local event is the Reek Run in the Garlic City usually one or two weeks after the Freedom 5K hosted by Flodberg and the Theater Angels Art League. The 5K and 10K races are a benefit to the arts community in Gilroy and the location moved from Gavilan College to Bonfante Gardens. These are great local events for walkers and runners of all types.

For more information please contact www.mhidi.com or call 408-779-3387. For Reek Run contact TAAL at 408-847-1441.

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Doc on the Run

This column ran in The Gilroy Dispatch on June 27, 2006
and in The Morgan Hill Times on July 1, 2006

The Gilroy Dispatch
Top of article by writer Angie Young
Middle part of article by writer Angie Young
2nd page of article by writer Angie Young

The Morgan Hill Times
Scan of newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of Newspaper article by writer Angie Young

Photo that ran with an article by writer Angie Young
Dr. Kari Anne Bertrand
in her scrubs

Obstetrician Kari Anne Bertrand’s typical day begins with an early morning 8-mile run at 6a.m. That is if she isn’t at the hospital already delivering babies or responding to an emergency from one of her patients.  The 35-year old from Syracuse New York is slowing down on mileage because she’s expecting her second baby. No more races for a while. Her last one was the Wildflower Run in April, which she won overall female in the 10K with 37:37, despite her being 15 weeks pregnant.

“If I don’t run I feel worse,” she said regarding her hectic schedule juggling career and raising her family. Her husband, Andrew Matthews M.D. (AJ), helps with their toddler son Shay while Bertrand takes a spin outdoors before work. “Running is me time, “ she added.

Bertrand began running back east while in middle school when her gym teacher asked her to participate in a race. She was playing softball at the time, but ran in the competition anyway. She ended up winning the entire event. When Bertrand was a freshman, the high school cross country and track coach recognized her talent and urged her to join the team. Her success in high school got her recruited by Georgetown University on a track scholarship. She won All American in 1991-92. Later, she trained with a post collegiate team sponsored by Reebok in hopes for them to qualify for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters. She made the first rounds at the trials but didn’t make the semi-finals. Although Bertrand was satisfied with her performance, she still wanted to experience what it would be like to compete at an extremely high level, and would try again.

By the time 2003 rolled around, Bertrand already lived on the west coast for several years, had her medical practice and married to plastic surgeon Matthews. She ran the New York City Marathon that fall, shooting for a coveted spot in the 2004 U.S Olympic Team Trials Women's marathon in St. Louis, Missouri, which was slated for the following year. She missed her mark and tried again in January 2004 at the Las Vegas International Marathon. Bertrand sprinted through 26.2 miles of desert in an impressive finish of 2:45, despite cold weather and headwind trouble. Her Las Vegas victory catapulted her into the spring St. Louis Olympic trials where she could compete with the likes of Jen Rhines (her friend), Deena Kastor, Colleen De Reuck, Blake Russell and the others who comprised the best 125 female marathoners the US had to offer.

On that sunny April 3rd morning in St. Louis, Bertrand toed the line along with the rest of the Trial qualifiers. Each female marathoner had a single goal: to beat everyone else and make the trip to the Athens Games in the summer. Only the first three runners to cross the finish line at the end of 26 -plus miles would win top prize money and prestige of competing in the Olympics. The temperature remained at a cool 40 degrees with a light breeze. Thousands of fans lined up along the track at Washington University, waving flags and cheering the athletes. The course looped around the track four times and stretched out along a park nearby the campus. As the race commenced, the winds increased in strength and the sun heated up the field to 65 degrees.  Pleasant weather for a stroll, but to an elite competitor flying across the asphalt for marathon distance at a sustained speed of 5-minute miles or less, such conditions seem suicidal.

De Reuck took first place in 2:28:23 followed by Kastor and Rhines. Bertrand completed her race in 2:54:39. Despite not making the US Olympic team, she had run with the best in the country and made a good showing, considering she ran while pregnant with her first child, who must have gotten the ride of his life.

The Gilroy physician didn’t quit training after St. Louis. “I still enjoy the sport . . . track isn’t a huge money-making sport. Running is a mood stabilizer and I did the trials for the experience.” Top-level athletes who try to earn a living on running depend on sponsors for financial support.

Today, Bertrand is happy spending time with her family and focusing on the pending arrival of her daughter in September. On occasion, she and hubby Matthews would visit Bonfante Gardens with their son or engage in other family-friendly excursions. Her sabbatical from racing will last a few months longer and she’ll begin training for the next US Women’s Olympic Trials scheduled for 2008. Meanwhile, the physically fit doctor is teaching her patients how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise and proper nutrition. And who knows? She may even be delivering the next generation of potential elite runners into the world, who may represent our country at Olympic games in the future.

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Honoring Live Oak's Sports History

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on June 3, 2006

Top part of article by writer Angie Young
Middle part of article by writer Angie Young
2nd page of article by writer Angie Young
< Photos coming soon >

With summer in the air signifying the upcoming season filled with vacation plans, relocating to college, and reliving the past glories of spring sports, the high school campus celebrated the merits of their best athletes both young and old. Grilled Tri-tip, onions, green peppers wafted throughout the quad, people stood in line to get their hands on the tasty sandwiches catered by San Martin Meats while listening to the live band Dadz. Students and adults alike crowded around the prize-give-away table where gobs of tickets were sold to the hopeful vying for a large TV, an overnight stay at Corde Valle Golf Country Club, an IPOD with nano-screen, and the Live Oak signature black sweatshirt with gold and green logo, hat and booster chair. The Live Oak Athletic Boosters presented the Hall of Fame ceremony with 250 attending the inaugural event.

Duane Asplund and John Manning left an indelible mark in history as far as many from Morgan Hill and the outside world are concerned. Another celebrity present was Live Oak graduate of 1995—Jeff Ulbrich, starting linebacker for the San Francisco 49ners. Aquatics coach Mack Haines introduced the first inductee into the hall of fame, Duane Asplund. “If I could be half the coach Duane is, I could be two inches taller . . . “ Haines said with admiration. Asplund moved to Morgan Hill in 1962 and became the boys’ varsity basketball that year and won league titles consistently from ’62 to ’67. In addition to coaching on court, he led the Acorn football team in victory grabbing league titles during that time too. His leadership shined as his track and field team took home 16 league wins from 1977-1994.

The next Hall of Famer John Manning impressed Varsity Football Coach, Rick Booth with his unselfishness. “When our current athletic trainer couldn’t go on our trip for the upcoming football game in Truckee <CA>, I called John if he could be our trainer for the day. John asked, ‘when and where?’” Booth said. “He never complained during the October 1st game on Saturday, it was 40 degrees and he was there taping the players’ feet. He liked to talk to the kids while training them or treating them for injuries.”

Manning’s contributions are memorable. He was the head athletic trainer at Cal State Sacramento from 1967-68 and from there he developed a sports medicine program for Santa Clara ROP. In 1969 he arrived at Live Oak teaching biology, anatomy, physiology, ecology and sports medicine. Outside the classroom, he coached football, track and baseball and employed a sports medicine training curriculum. Subsequently in 1975, Manning became a certified athletic trainer, and created a sports medicine clinic, the first kind for high school in California.

49ner Jeff Ulbrich took the mike and without hesitation remarked, “Ton of memories here . . . I never played football before coming to Live Oak, Mark Cummins was my coach, Glen Webb and Norm Dow. The winners <student winners> have all my respect. I’m honored to do this. John Manning taught me how to be tough . . . “ Ulbrich then called up the four athletic winners of the year. Justin Short received his plaque for Water Polo All American and MVP successes, shook Ulbrich’s hand and quickly exited the stage. Cobbie Jones captured the award for her legacy she gave to Live Oak’s Track and Field. She plans to attend UCLA in the fall and resume her running career down there.

“I didn’t know I was going to get this award,” Jones said cheerily. She mentioned her stress fracture in her left tibia that sidelined her during the spring track season. Jones added, “Eight weeks I didn’t run but I did train to maintain health and fitness. Now I’m training and I’m so excited to be running. My dad always supported me and my mom was at every race—she’s my biggest supporter.”

The best male Scholar-Athlete of the year award went to Dustin Muhn in track and football and for his GPA of 4.17. He will be going to UC Berkeley next school season. “I like to thank my family, coach and teachers,” Muhn said shyly. The best female scholar winner, Ronni Gautschi took the honor for her Water Polo and swimming achievements with All CCS and TCAL plus her 3.9 GPA. She’ll be attending San Diego State on scholarship.

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Mushroom Madness Runs Amok in Morgan Hill

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times and The Gilroy Dispatch on May 30, 2006

Morgan Hill Times

Scan of top half of article by writer Angie Young
Scan of bottom half of article by writer Angie Young
Photo from article by writer Angie Young
Marti Menz
10K winner

Gilroy Dispatch

Scan of top of article by writer Angie Young
Scan of bottom of article by writer Angie Young
Photo from article by writer Angie Young

The Mushroom Mardi Gras 10K and 5K began without a hitch on this fine sunny, crisp Saturday morning. Despite the head winds and nippy weather, majority of 163 registered runners enjoyed the paved course along the Coyote Creek Bike Trail in Morgan Hill. The fundraiser is a six-year tradition hosted by the Live Oak Athletic Boosters with co-directors Sue Scigliano and track and country coach Dean Raymond at the helm. Athletes as far away as Chicago, Illinois competed with south valley racers.

The rustic backdrop made sprinting along the trail a refreshing one. At the same time, the Mushroom Mardi Gras food fair was gearing up on Monterey Road and organizers expected record crowds to converge on the main drag through the mushroom city.  What better way to boost one’s appetite than run a race? It came as no surprise that some visited the 27th annual fungus festival afterwards.

Stellar performances by the top winners in both distances started with the 10K overall finisher in the men’s division. Raymond Rodriguez, 44 from Los Banos blazed through the end with 37:26. His bout with an injury didn’t hamper his ability on Saturday and like most runners he worked through it. “I have a sprained ligament on my right knee. I didn’t think I was going to run the race—did rehab during the week. Felt good, was able to run.”

Hollister resident Rob Zimmerman was not too far from Rodriguez with 37:47. “The headwinds were nasty, but it’s a good course.” Zimmerman said. “I ran Boston this year; it was easier than I thought. I did it in 2:51. I’m used to hills, I often train at Pinnacles National Monument. Trail running is the best.” Third place finisher John Mintz arrived in 39:39.

Two Gilroyans dominated the Women’s 10K top spots with Michelle Garber’s impressive time of 41:46. “I picked up running in January and this is my third race this year,” Garber said. The 19-year old student of Notre Dame is on vacation and visiting her family from Illinois.  

“It was a fun race,” Gretchen-Yoder Schrock said. “I’m notorious for starting out too fast, but I was able to keep pace.“ Despite the prevailing windy conditions she shot past the finish line with 46:16. Morgan Hill racer, Marti Menz, 50 closed in on 46:19. “I kept a very even pace. We ran into the wind going out, but with the wind on our backs going in. It was perfect running weather.” Menz, and Yoder-Schrock are members of the South Valley Running Club (SVRC).

The 5K overall winner went to a female, Dina Rosenthal with her speedy time of 17:26. Debbie Leale followed behind with 19:48, and Live Oak High Olivia Duran, 14 ran the race in 21:29. “The course was pretty easy, flat. I’ve been training on my own since track season is over.”

The guys who took the top 3 positions in the men’s division are Ignacio Perez with 18:21; Armando Rodriguez zoomed in at 19:43. SVRC member Kevin Stuart of San Martin shut out the rest of the field with 20:04.

Stuart ran the American River Ultra-50-miler in April along with SVRC President Craig Lore. “I ran as hard as I could. Trying to stay head of Craig during the whole time.” Consequently, Lore finished 4th with 20:05.

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Thousands Participate in Wild Ride of Bay To Breakers

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times and The Gilroy Dispatch on May 23, 2006

Gilroy Dispatch

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Morgan Hill Times

Scan of part 1 of an article by writer Angie Young
Scan of part 2 of an article by writer Angie Young
Photo from an article by writer Angie Young

San Francisco—The famous 12K footrace birthed from the aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake continues on its grand tradition of getting folks outside to pound to pavement and celebrate life. Roughly 62 thousand people ran the event this year despite the cold, rainy weather that hit the Bay Area this week. Many weren’t daunted by the gloomy forecast and trudged ahead along the City’s streets in a variety of outfits. Disco music blaring from the windows of Victorian Homes along the route with hippies on sidewalks and folks throwing Mardi Gras beads to participants made this run a memorable one.

The Kenyans dominated the sport again, overall winner Gilbert Okari, 27 from Kenya zipped past the finish line in an impressive 34:20; Ukrainian Tetyana Hladyr, 31 took the women’s top spot with 39:09. The other celebrity without costume to complete the 7.46-mile party was Mayor Gavin Newsom in 59:04. Following the Mayor were the zany cast of characters such as the Sharks Centipede, Blue Smurfs, Wonder Women, nude men wearing backpacks, The Harry Potter Family, Da Vinci Code novel people, wild flowers in punk ware and a wide assortment of historic figures.

Darth Vader, storm troopers marched in well-made costumes that would make Star Wars’ creator George Lucas proud. A gaggle of Elvises imbibed on their favorite brew, mingling with the hordes, four guys wearing stuffed Emus weaved around the walkers and runners. Several men dressed in Middle Eastern garb with headdress advertising gasoline prices at $10 a gallon on the sidelines, waved cheerily. It was wall to wall with people so running a decent clip was out of the question. Most walked and those of us who could run did. The challenging part was not to overheat wearing a thick, big costume.

The Hayes Street Hill loomed ahead, the folks dreaded it because of the 11.15% grade, however it wasn’t that bad. San Jose marathoner Kat Powell, 55 ran her first Bay to Breakers this year.  “Running in a costume is an experience for me . . . comparing it with Double Dip Sea race makes the Hayes Street Hill a piece of cake.” The Double Dip Sea is a rigorous trail race for the more rugged of heart. Powell aced the hill despite her heavy costume.

Jeffrey Bedolla of San Jose had many wonderful insights while running Bay to Breakers—his approach to life is more on a philosophical level including races. “I learned the importance of being myself among the mass of people during the run.”

Three-time B2B veteran Jeanmarie Derry of Gilroy survived the Hill and was pleased with her finishing time of 2 hours and 56 minutes. “This time was easier thanks to training with the South Valley Running Club. We ran on Wednesday nights and on Saturday mornings.” Her friend and south valley resident Linda Barnes finished in 1:45. Derry’s focus was to finish the course and have a good time. She plans to return to San Francisco again to run Bay to Breakers in the future.

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Springing into Step at Wildflower

Photos of runners at the 23rd annual Wildflower Run
Scan of a news article by writer Angie Young

Morgan Hill—The Wintry weather took a breather this weekend, allowing favorable running conditions for the American Association of University Women’s 23rd Annual Wildflower Run on April 9th, 2006. Several hundred local and out of town athletes pounded the pavement in Morgan Hill neighborhoods and countryside, thanking the powers that be for lack of winds, rain and freezing temperatures. The 2K, 5K and 10K foot races proved to be a hit with the runners.

According to AAUW-MH volunteer Kathy Sass, the first Wildflower race took place in 1983 at Santa Teresa Road in Morgan Hill. Back then only 200 female runners signed up to compete.  Slowly, the idea caught on among the rest of the athletic community.  Last Sunday’s event had 515 entrants. Race proceeds go to scholarship programs geared for high school seniors to enter college or for those wishing to continue their education beyond the two-year stint at a JC.

Thirteen newcomers from San Jose State University Cross Country Team won several top awards in the 10K. Jose Burrola from SJSU won the race overall with a time of 33:45; followed by fellow student Sean Dundon with 35:30; third place finisher was teammate Gordie Throne with a sizzling 36:00. Burrola, 22 says, “This is my first time I ran this race. It was very challenging and I got a PR (personal record).”

The female overall winner was Kari Ann Bertrand, 35 from Gilroy who smoked the competition by zipping past the finish line in 37:37. “I’m happy with the race . . . however, this will be my last one for a while,” says Bertrand, who is ten weeks pregnant with her second child.

Erica Sahli, 19, was at Bertrand’s heels finishing with 37:42; and her schoolmate Tiffany Hall, 20 took the third spot in 38:27. The two SJSU runners ran most of the race in a trio with Bertrand, until she broke away from them. Sahli and Hall noted the lack of a horde of runners at the Wildflower. “I’m used to running in races like the Mercury News 10K where there’s lots of people,” Hall says.

At the start of the 5K, children lined up at the front much to the dismay of some runners. “They shouldn’t be standing in the front,” one guy commented before the race. “They’re going to get bowled over.” The same runner ate his words when some of those kids dusted him in the end. One such speedster was Ruben James Collins (RJ), 10, from Hollister with his first place win in 20:25 and sixth overall. “I like to see how many people would pass me. Not that many did and I passed a lot of people,” Collins says. His sister, Angelica Collins, 8 did her family proud with a first place time of 22:44.

High school students from the south valley dominated the 5K overall winners’ circle with male leaders such as Live Oak alumni Jesus Atanacio in 17:56, Andrew Taylor in second with 18:50, and Daniel Beckwith finishing third in 19:33. Female champions Ann Mari Rich with 20:39, Suzanne Hancock’s second place with 21:01, and Olivia Duran’s time of 22:07 overshadowed the rest of the pack. “It was a hardcore race . . . so I kept within my pace.” Duran was pleased with her results.

The 2K Run had its young competitors toeing the line, including some tiny tots with ages ranging from 5 through 12. Joel Hall from Morgan Hill won the event overall with 7:42. It was his first race outside of his school and he plans to do the Wildflower again next year. Rich Thomas was close behind Hall with 8:06, and Alexander Richardson came in third with 8:57. The top girls were: Sarah Gilbert with 8:37; Katie Machado took second with 8:52, and Alissa Pham followed suit with 10:34.

The Wildflower is not only for the fleet-footed, but also for those who love to run ultra-marathons such as Jean Suyenaga, 39 from San Jose. She just did a 50-miler last week and plans to do another on April 22nd. “The race was relaxed, although you get the adrenaline rush at the end towards the finish. The energy from the volunteers and other runners pulled me through to the end,” she says. This is coming from a woman who ran 26 marathons and four ultra-marathons.

For detailed information on the 2K, 5K and 10K results please go to www.aauw-morganhill.org.

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South Valley Runners Turn Out for The 23rd Annual Mission 10

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on February7, 2006

Scan of a Morgan Hill Times newspaper article by writer Angie Young
Scan of a Morgan Hill Newspaper article by writer Angie Young

Photo by Angie Young that appeared in the Morgan Hill Times

San Juan Bautista—threat of inclement weather on this chilly February 4th morning didn’t deter runners from several counties to grace the historic landmark city for the 23rd Annual Mission 10 foot races. This event is a favorite among the south valley athletic community due to the bucolic backdrop and small town charm of San Juan Bautista. The Hollister Rotary’s competition is divided up into three distinct events: the one-mile fun run, the run/walk 5K, and the mid-distance 10-miler. The gloomy, dark grey skies with light rain normally foils most outdoor activities, however to the runner it’s a blessing.

Minutes before the start, the wait for the port-a-potties was challenging for the enthusiastic crowd, especially for those who tanked up on coffee, tea or water. Beverly Hamby and her friend stood in front of me. They talked about the upcoming 10-miler and their expectations of the race; Hamby didn’t sound too confident. The 52-year old from Salinas told me, “I don’t know how to run, I just survive these things.” I gave her a sympathetic smile, thinking she was new to running until I saw her yellow Portland Marathon jersey. Hamby explained she was overweight years ago and wanted to lose pounds by tackling a marathon. “My friend told me I could never run a marathon. Never tell me I can’t do something. I joined Team in Training.” Since then she ran ten.

At the start, the racers stood shivering in the nippy, misty air listening to the pre-race instructions given by Race Director Bill Tiffany. Athletic groups stood out among the racers ready to sprint at the onset of the siren; members from the South Valley Running Club, Tri-County Athletic Association, and the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners toed the line.

At the 5K, an older blind woman stood in front of the line with her companion. They had no clue about becoming road kill once the siren goes off from being trampled over by zealous runners on caffeine. “Should I stand over to one side?” She asked innocently. A race volunteer lead her toward the back where the walkers were.

Carlos siqueiros-25 from San Jose zipped past the finish to complete 10 miles in an impressive 54:10 enabling him to win overall. “Last year I ran it <Mission 10> slower. I liked this race but it got wet out there on the road,” he said. “I treated the race as a tempo training run.” Prior to Mission 10, Siqueiros competed in his first 26.2-miler last December at the Sacramento International Marathon. He finished in 2:40:40. “I’d like to compete on a more elite level—run with the fastest people. I’m enjoying this while it lasts.”

Marina resident, Carmella Heinz-35 crosses the finish in 1:08 taking the women’s title this year. “I enjoyed the small town race atmosphere. I’m training for the Big Sur International Marathon.” She previously ran 6 and placed within her age group. She trains with Stella Gibbs and with the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners in the Monterey area. 

Stella Gibbs-47 took second in the women’s division with a respectable 1:09. The vice president of Pacific Metrics enjoyed her time in San Juan Bautista. “This is a good race,” she said. “I started racing at Mission 10 over three years ago. I’m running Boston this year.” Like Heinz, she ran several marathons.

The 5K winners made their mark in Mission 10 history with the sizzling performance of Gilroy High’s Arnulfo Velasquez-18 triumphing over the men’s division overall with a stunning 15:58. “It was a good race. This is the first time I ran it.” The soft-spoken Velasquez took his 1st place trophy and joined the throng of teens in the crowd. Rico Vaquez-18 followed closely behind Velasquez in 16:07. Third place finisher Mauricio Maia completed the 3.1-miler in 16:27.

Hollister’s Amanda Boyd-17 won the women’s title in the 5K with 18:21; Jamila Saqqa took 2nd in 19:44, and Dana Basley finished 3rd in 20:11. (13 to 18 age group).

Morgan Hill’s Ken Oliver-50 placed 3rd in the 10-miler with 1:05:27 and was happy with the day’s events. “Great race. I like the nice misty rain in the hills. The race is well run and I love coming to the mission every year.”

Due to the race chronometer malfunction the times for the 10-mile race weren’t recorded.

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The Race for Survival

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on November 01, 2005

Top half of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angie Young
Bottom half of an article in the Morgan Hill Times by writer Angie Young

Photo of "Team Sue"
This is the Team Sue photo above.
They're all wearing "Team Sue" shirts

Photo of the Robinson Family
This photo of Sue Robinson and her family wasn't in the article.

San Martin, CA—“In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best . . . so I run straight to the finish line with purpose in every step. I fight to win. ” These ancient words penned by a Roman scholar named Saul to Grecian athletes.

San Martin’s accomplished Tri-Athlete Sue Robinson is racing against the most challenging opponent of her life: Stage Four Ovarian cancer. This is not a story of defeat but one of victory. Here’s why: Robinson’s ordeal has knitted the athletic communities together from different parts of the country. Their efforts raised ten thousand dollars, which they’ve donated to ovarian cancer research, hoping that soon the silent killer will be detected through screening. This is Robinson’s desire for future generations of women.   

In November 2004, Robinson accomplished an impressive 10:44 PR in the Ironman, unbeknownst to her, the stealth-like cancer was growing inside her ovaries. Doctors suspected about five months’ worth. The Ironman race comprises of three segments: swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, then running 26.2 miles, in the roughest conditions against the clock. One notable event is the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships in Kona this month. Robinson competed in eight Ironmans, including the World Championships in 2002 and 2003.

Scott Robinson recounts his wife’s progress before diagnosis in June 2005. “Just four-weeks prior, Sue won her age group at the South Bay Triathlon, her time slower and she wasn’t feeling well, but she never guessed that what was making her sick was an advanced stage of cancer,” he says. “A month prior we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary by both racing in the Ironman New Zealand.”

Despite her struggle, Robinson imparts encouraging words. “Get out and live your dreams. Never, never, never give up. Deep in my soul I believe I will race Ironman again, I try to see it in my head everyday. I see my husband and kids at the finish line, my chemo nurse there and my surgeon too.”

“Her amazing attitude, will to win, and love of others helps her through the rough times,” her husband says. “She simply amazes me.”

Kelly Ramirez trained with Robinson and is indebted to her for her inspiration in helping Ramirez become a better athlete and person. “A few years ago I found myself floundering in terms of training . . . I was about ready to give up on competing. However, Sue would not hear of it. She took me under her wing,” she says.

And now Ramirez wants to give back to Robinson for all that she did for her. “Now as Sue faces her biggest challenge, I want to support her . . . I want to bring her to as many training sessions and competitions as I can.” She came up with the idea of Team Sue with Barbara Voss and Luanne Giacalone.

Denise Tuminaro and family spent nights creating the “TEAM SUE” embroidery with the date of diagnosis and colored emblem of Ovarian Cancer on jerseys, which the athletes wore in triathlons and marathons in California, Washington and Hawaii.

Zoot Clothing, one of the Triathlon sport’s top international clothiers, manufactured the jerseys. They are designing a line of active apparel with the purpose of giving the proceeds to ovarian cancer research.

Team Sue’s fifty-one members are spread throughout the south valley and some as far as the east coast. You’ll see them in the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco on October 23rd and the New York City Marathon in November.

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Live Oak and Sobrato racers fall to Salinas

This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on September 17, 2005

Scan of the first part of an article by writer Angie Young
Scan of the second part of an article by writer Angie Young
Scan of the third part of an article by writer Angie Young

Warm autumn temperatures and Azure, cloudless skies didn’t hinder the performance of Live Oak’s senior Cobbie Jones and Sobrato’s freshman Lance Wolfsmith in the varsity section of the race. Jones broke her own record by five seconds and won the event with a time of 19:00; Wolfsmith flew past the finish line with the best overall time of 17:11. This young athlete made quite a debut competing against the upper division runners and left all of them behind on the trails around Lake Anderson. Despite this achievement by both Morgan Hill schools, Salinas pretty much dominated the meet as a unifying force.

Salinas’s aggressive teammates Clark McLennan (17:24) and Casey Ricketts (17:36) were at Wolfsmith’s heels throughout the event. Live Oak’s Kenny Benner (17:54), Eric Matsumoto (18:00), and Andrew Taylor (18:05) followed behind their rivals in their second cross-country event of the season.

The girls’ varsity event was a triumph for both Morgan Hill and Salinas. Alexandria Bell (19:25) and Shannon McVannel (19:27) from Salinas took second and third place while Lisa Herrera (20:11) and Olivia Duran (21:40) did Live Oak proud as they took the forth and fifth spots in the race despite the hot weather.

The boy’s junior varsity team fared well for Live Oak too. Mando Medina won the event over Salinas with a time of 18:08. Salinas’s Ryan Shimizv relentlessly pursued Medina all the way to the end with a finish of 18:40. Live Oak’s Tim Kotyuk chased Shimizv during the race and took third at 18:52. Other Live Oak cross-country runners Brent Hatakeyama (19:19) and Anthony Macadaeg (19:56) took sixth and tenth place in the meet.

As for the girls’ junior varsity, Salinas butchered the competition. They dominated most of the division.  However, something has to be said about the indomitable spirit of Live Oak’s junior female racers; one such girl, Christina Shriver, twisted her ankle during the first part of the grueling course and kept running despite the pain until she limped past the finish line. Notwithstanding their loss, the girls from Live Oak are looking forward to racing again at the next meet at the Chieftain Classic in Salinas on Saturday, September 17.

Live Oak Coaches Dean Raymond and Norm Dow felt their teams should’ve been more competitive but were impressed by their teams’ unity. The kids’ times were close together and thus they ran as a tight knit team rather than competing against one another. Both coaches know their cross-country team will do better in the future and honestly, they can’t really make an assessment of things right now since it’s still early in the season. They have nine more weeks before they can do that.

Sobrato High coach James Feldman was pleased with Wolfsmith and also the fact that most kids on his teams are made up of freshmen, sophomores and juniors. His stint as coach for the second year at this new high school paid off. More students joined the cross-country team this season than from the last one and they’re out there eagerly tackling the tough races and competitors. Even though the team is comprised of younger runners, Feldman appreciates their enthusiasm and hard work. Looks like more promising track stars in the future from this high if they keep that attitude up.

The Boy’s Varsity finishers:
1. Lance Wolfsmith (17:11) Sobrato High
2. Clark McLennan (17:24) Salinas High
3. Casey Ricketts  (17:36) Salinas High
4. Kenny Benner (17:45) Live Oak
5. Don Knoles-Barrett (17:57) Salinas High
6. Eric Matsumoto (18:00) Live Oak
7. Andrew Taylor (18:00) Live Oak
8. Justin Miyakuso (18:07) Live Oak
9. Aaron Osgood (18:13) Salinas High
10.  Nolan Zandi (18:30) Live Oak

The Girls’ Varsity finishers:
1. Cobbie Jones (19:00) Live Oak
2. Alexandria Bell (19:25) Salinas High
3. Shannon McVannel (19:27) Salinas High
4. Lisa Herrera (20:11) Live Oak
5. Olivia Duran (21:40) Live Oak
6. Susanne Andresen (22:44) Salinas High
7. Natalie Cruz (23:02) Salinas High
8. Laurel Cunanan (23:28) Salinas High
9. Brittnie Villafuerte (23:41) Salinas High
10.  Remy Birchmier (24:07) Sobrato High

The Boy’s Junior Varsity finishers are as follows:
1. Mando Medina (18:08) Live Oak
2. Ryan Shimizv (18:40) Salinas High
3. Tim Kotyuk (18:52) Live Oak
4. Philip Shen (19:17) Salinas High
5. Joseph Castro (19:18) Salinas High
6. Brent Hatakeyama (19:19) Live Oak
7. Morgan Shaw (19:20) Salinas High
8. Matt Treadway (19:46) Salinas High
9. Peter Gobell (19:52) Salinas High
10.  Anthony Macadaeg (19:56) Salinas High

The Girl’s Junior Varsity finishers:
1. Joana Harris (23:27) Salinas High
2. Michelle Hustedt (23:30) Salinas High
3. Alison Eldriedge (23:56) Salinas High
4. Carmina Gutierrez (24:12) Salinas High
5. Tracy Lenz (24:21) Salinas High
6. Cristela Pulido (24:39) Salinas High
7. Kristine Davi (25:19) Salinas High
8. Andrea Uveta (25:42) Salinas High
9. Delanie Ricketts (26:11) Salinas High
10.  Amber Draz (26:33) Salinas High

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This column ran in The Morgan Hill Times on August 30, 2005
It was the lead article on the sports page

Photo of winner at finish line
Scan of the first half of an article by writer Angie Young
Closeup of winner at finish line
Scan of second half of article by writer Angie Young

Every late August in Gilroy’s Mt. Madonna Park at Sprig Lake, brave runners from Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Jose, Los Gatos and even as far as San Luis Obispo, hit the dirt trails to torture themselves on two rigorous courses: up steep inclines, in the midst of hot weather, gobs of bugs, dust, and sweat. The 12K and 6K races are geared not for the fainthearted or for couch potato wimps; these long and winding roads are pretty tough. The Mt. Madonna Challenge, aptly named, is a benefit for the South Valley Symphony. Veteran runner, Bill Flodberg and Live Oak High School’s Cross Country coach Dean Raymond are the driving force behind the 30-year-old athletic event.

The first segment of the race is the 6K Salamander Walk, which sounds safe enough until you actually run the thing. It’s no cakewalk. It will build up the calf muscles and get those lungs pumping pine-scented air.

Steve Sokol and his son Alex, father and son team from San Jose drove up early Sunday morning to test their mettle on the shorter distance of the race. Never mind that Alex is six years old; he knows he can tackle the hills without any problems. The older Sokol is constantly at his side feeding him racing strategy. The other runners and walkers mentally perk up and toe the line before the sound of the air horn signifying the start.  Some have no idea of the sharp hill greeting them at the beginning of the route; others are prepared since they’ve done it before.

In the 12K Mt. Madonna Challenge race, the eager, hardy souls are talking about their past races and expectations regarding the upcoming trial. Veteran competitor, Dave Boulen, 74, from Los Gatos has defied the mountains since the inception of the race thirty years ago. Despite an unfortunate encounter with a swarm of hornets at a previous Mt. Madonna Challenge two years ago, he still confronts the precipitous course with enthusiasm.

Newcomers to the scene, Tom and Leesa King patiently stretched and warmed up as they contemplated the physical demands of the competitive event. These Morgan Hill residents have trained with the South Valley Running Club and also on their own near Uvas Reservoir. They planned to keep an even pace throughout their journey. After they finished the race, they received awards within their age divisions.

The racers cross the finish line; weary, happy, relieved and much wiser when it comes to hill running. Morgan Hill’s 14 year-old Olivia Duran completed the rugged 6K under 34 minutes and was thrilled to take first place overall in the women’s field. “Uphill was my favorite part because it makes my legs stronger,” Duran said with satisfaction. San Martin resident Rich Benner finished second in the men’s division for the same distance with a time of 26:57. This was his first time competing in the race.

The men’s division winners in the 12K were first timers, Michael Matthews from Los Gatos and Cupertino’s Andrew Murray. Matthew’s impressive 51:32 finish clearly made him the lead in the race. (His wife, Kimberly, placed second overall in the women’s division in the 6K.) Murray’s time of completing the demanding route in 56:18 wasn’t shabby either.

Morgan Hill’s Lisa Herrera, a freshman from Live Oak High School, won the women’s division in the 12K with 69:38. The 63-year-old Sally Adam, from San Luis Obispo, placed second overall with 74:31.

Third place finisher, Gretchen Yoder-Schrock sums it up best regarding everyone’s feelings toward the challenge: “I finished tired, but I did well . . . I hope I can say the same for the upcoming school year!” They’ll be back again.

Here’s the lowdown of the top three male and female winners of the 6K: Daniel Bechwith, 17, 26:04; Rich Benner, 50, 26:57; Andrew Taylor, 17, 27:09; Olivia Duran,14, 33:35; Kimberly Matthews, 38, 34:12; and Jo Buderus, 44, 36:27.

The winners in the 12K are as follows: Michael Matthews, 39, 51:32; Ryan Reed, 26, 53:59; and Andrew Murray, 38, 56:18; Lisa Herrera, 17, 69:38; Sally Adam, 63, 74:31; and Gretchen Yoder-Schrock, 39, 75:35.

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