Steve Bond: Fast, flat Daffodil Run kickstarts Grand Prix races |

Steve Bond: Fast, flat Daffodil Run kickstarts Grand Prix races

The 2010 Gold Country Grand Prix starts with the 10th Annual Penn Valley Daffodil Run 5K and 10K races on Sunday, April 11 at Western Gateway Park.

Race-day registration for this race, the favorite of many of the faster local competitors because it is the least hilly of any of the Grand Prix races, is from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.

There is also a free kid’s run inside the park at 8:30 a.m. with medals to all finishers.

The 5K and 10K main events begin at 8:45, as does the 5K walk.

Online registration is available at, with more information available at or from Race Director Gene Gilligan ( or 530-432-9542).

The 24th Annual Nevada City Spring Run/Walk, the second event in this year’s Grand Prix, will be held on Saturday, April 24, starting and finishing at the Nevada City United Methodist Church at the top of Broad Street.

The 5K and 10K races will begin at 8:30 a.m., as will the 5K walk. Race-day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The pre-registering by mail option is still available, if postmarked by April 19.

More information, including the race registration form, is available at or from Race Director Terry Boyer at 530-273-7420 (or the church office, 530-265-2797).

This race features the fast downhill first half of the 10K, then the challenging climb back up Champion Mine towards the finish. Andy Harris, from Sacramento, will be running the 10K this year, making him the only competitor to complete one of these two Spring Run races every year, 23 in a row and counting.

The 150th Anniversary 5K Run/Walk will be held at Mt. St. Mary’s Academy at 400 S. Church St. in Grass Valley on the following Saturday, May 1. The course will include Condon Park and Lyman Gilmore, resulting in it being mostly off pavement.

This race is not part of the Gold Country Grand Prix, although age groups are the same as those in Grand Prix races.

The 5K race and walk will start at 8:30 a.m., with race day registration starting at 7 a.m. The pre-registration deadline is postmarked by April 23 to save $5 on the entry fee, with online registration, entry form and information available at (then click on events).

Further race questions can be directed to Carol Engelking at or 530-470-0503.

In the meantime, a handful of local runners ran outstanding races in the last two weeks, with three hitting National Class age graded times, one of them at two different distances.

Mike Galligan, who you hopefully remember from my last column, ran an extremely impressive race in San Francisco on March 21, the Emerald Across the Bay 12K, finishing fifth out of 146 in the 50-54 age group in 44 minutes, 43 seconds (a hair under 6:00 per mile pace for over seven miles!). Mike was 86th overall out of 2,894 finishers and his effort earned an amazing 83.55 percent age grade (to the day). (National Class is 80 to 89.99 percent, with 90 percent being World Class.)

John Darlington, who had a quiet racing year in 2009 due to some nagging injuries, despite nursing a sore hamstring, went to Boston for the 2010 U.S.A. Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships.

On Saturday, March 27, John ran 68.54 seconds for 400 meters to finish second in the 65-69 age group, taking the Silver Medal and earning All-American honors for his time, which, age graded to the day, was 80.0 percent, National Class.

You would think, given a sore hamstring, that one race might be enough. But, no!

The next day, Sunday, March 28, John competed in the 800 meter race, finishing third in the 65-69 age group with another All American time, 2:40.04, good for the bronze medal, and an 82.29 percent age grading. And for the record, John passed another runner at the finish line to take third by nine one hundredths of a second. Wow!

But wait, there is a third local male runner to hit National Class this year (and we had none last year).

Al Shook ran the Whale Run 5K in Fort Bragg on Saturday, March 20 and finished 12th out of 155, winning the 70 and over age group in 21:52.4, breaking into National Class age graded for the first time at 80.87 percent (age graded to the day). Way to go, Al! You made it!

Closing in on the prestigious National Class ranking is Ron Gross, who ran the Nutrition Fuels Fitness 10K (part of the Run Sac Grand Prix) on Sunday, March 28 in Elk Grove.

Ron ran 47:38.9 this year, on a perfect race weather day (especially compared to how windy it was last year at this race), an absolutely stunning three and a half minutes faster than last year. Ron won the 70-79 age group, 51st overall out of 287, and age graded to the day at 79.52 percent. I don’t think it will be long before we have our fourth local National Class age graded runner this year.

I also ran this race, finishing 20th overall and fifth in the very competitive 50-59 age group in 40:48.5, my best 10K time in over eight years by almost a minute and a half and almost two minutes faster than I ran in this race last year. Age graded to the day, I hit my highest ranking in over 30 years at 77.64 percent.

Ron jumped up from 42nd place to 18th in the Run Sac age graded Grand Prix, while I moved up from 46th place to 20th.

Congratulations to Mike, John, Al and Ron.

See you at the races!

Steve Bond is a competitive runner who lives in Nevada City and regularly writes columns and feature stories about running for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at

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