April 8, 2008

Napa Valley Marathon

I was very fortunate to have won the Napa Valley Marathon back in 1987, setting the course record, which still holds to this day! For the past 11 years they have been kind enough to bring me back as a speaker and I also usually run the race.

My wife, Jill, and I went out a few days early for our honeymoon. We were married last November but did not have the chance to go on a honeymoon right after the wedding. Jill had never been to the Napa Valley before. We had a wonderful time! The first three days we stayed at a quaint little bed and breakfast, Brannon Cottage Inn, in Calistoga, CA noted for their hot mineral baths. We really enjoyed the area and even rented bikes one day and went for a little bike trip in the valley.

Friday we headed back to Napa where we stayed at the Marriott Hotel which served as the race headquarters. That evening at the race social hour I got to catch up with my old friends that I see every year at Napa. Joe Henderson and his wife Barbara, John and Ann Keston (John holds many world records for his age from 70 now up to his age of 83) Helen and Norm Klein (Helen holds many world records for marathons and ultras and she set another at this years’ Napa race. She is 85 years young, and her husband Norm has directed many races including Napa and Western States at one time) Dave and Mary Cordt (Mary has won Napa a few times and is one of our Dick Beardsley Marathon Running Camp coaches, she also qualified for the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:46) David and Nancy Hill (Dave is co-race director) Rich Benyo (co-race director) along with his wife, Rhonda who is the medical director for the race, Jan Seeley my good friend and publisher and part owner along with Rich Benyo of Marathon & Beyond, and my good friend and legend Joan Benoit Samuelson and her husband Scott. (Joanie was the keynote speaker this year)

Saturday was a busy day for all as I was on a couple of panel discussions, signed books and autographs at the Marathon & Beyond booth, and spoke at the special pasta dinner they had that evening up in Calistoga.

Sunday was the 30th annual Napa Valley Marathon and you could not have asked for more perfect conditions! It was in the low 40's at the start with sunshine and a nice little tailwind for much of the way.

I went out with the group of gals that were trying to hit the qualifying standards for the Olympic Trials of sub 2:47. Now when I run marathons I have two main goals 1) to win the Grand Masters Title and 2) run sub 2:50, I was very fortunate to do both and ended up with a time of 2:49:08

Honest to goodness, running in the 2:40's now seems harder then when I was running 2:08's and 2:09's 25+ years ago! I still enjoy it though just as much!

Sunday night all the invited guests were taken to a beautiful B&B and a wonderful dinner with the Napa Valley Marathon board of directors, where we were able to celebrate the success of the marathon and of Mary Cordt qualifying for the Women's Olympic Trials coming up in April in Boston.

Jill and I can't thank the Napa Valley Marathon enough for the wonderful time we had, keep up the great work!

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