Lace ’em up |

Lace ’em up

Photo for The Union by Brett Bentley

Ten weeks ago, Karen Wallack-Eisen and Padee Black couldn’t run a mile, let alone three. On Saturday, they not only ran a 5K course during the Harmony Run at Nevada Union High School, but one even took home a medal.

The race was the finale of a nine-week free running clinic offered by Sierra Trailblazers and Trkac Running store in Grass Valley. It was a first attempt by the running club to reach a new audience and share its experience and passion for the sport. A second clinic began Monday, based on the success of the first. The aim of Sierra Trailblazers’ first clinic was to bring newcomers along at weekly track workouts to meet personalized goals — whether walking the 3.1 miles, going from walking to running or increasing time and/or distance in a 5K or a 10K. Each Monday, a dedicated group of about 40 runners met rain or shine at the Nevada Union High School track, including Wallack-Eisen and Black.

Wallack-Eisen joined the clinic with the intention of walking the 5K. But when she stepped foot on the track, the daughter of a high school track coach said she felt the urge to run.

“It’s been really fun … and not always easy,” Wallack-Eisen said.

Her group — those training to complete a 5K — began with 20 members and whittled down to four by last week. But those four, along with coaches Mark and Leatrice Erickson, made it possible for both women to complete the race Saturday.

“It was a group of people having fun,” Wallack-Eisen said of the weekly workouts.

The training changed Wallack-Eisen for the better, including the loss of some weight.

“It’s improving my lifestyle,” she said, adding that her training regime even got her husband motivated to move more.

For Black, who had little running experience to begin with, placing third in her age group at Saturday’s race came as a pleasant surprise.

Before the race, her nerves were acting up.

“I was really worried that (my time) would be embarrassing,” Black conceded.

The clinic’s success at getting people moving immediately spurred plans for a second.

On Monday night, a new 10-week walk/run clinic called “Walk the Fair” kicked off at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. This time around, the Ericksons, who own Trkac, and the fair have partnered to offer the free training for new people and those who wish to continue building on their training.

Volunteer coaches from Sierra Trailblazers along with retired NU Track coach Clyde Lehman will spend their Monday evenings helping people become stronger walkers and runners.

The groups will split time between the fairgrounds and NU track.

For information about the new Monday night “Walk the Fair” clinic, call 530-274-4422.

As for Wallack-Eisen, Black and many of the runners who participated in the first clinic, Saturday’s race was not an end result so much as a fitness marker on their path to more miles.

Features Editor Brett Bentley spent the past 10 weeks participating in the clinic completed her first 10K Saturday. She can be reached at

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