Steve Bond: Local runners earn National Class times |

Steve Bond: Local runners earn National Class times

Al Shook, as regular readers of my columns and race stories know, has been having a great summer of racing, which he topped off on Aug. 29 with his best of the year at the U.S.A. Track & Field Road Mile Championships in Irvine.

On that day, Al ran six minutes, 13.6 seconds to win the 70 and over age group by almost a minute, with second place at 7:10.6.

Al’s time, age graded to the day, came in at 82.15 percent, the best he has hit in the decade or so I’ve known him, a strong National Class time, proving to and inspiring us that we can still run fast as we get older.

The day before, Aug. 28, Rob Taylor and I drove down to the Race for the Arts 5K at William Land Park in Sacramento.

On this unusually cool August morning, complete with strong wind gusts, Rob ran the fastest 5K of his life in 19:32.0, earning him fourth out of 46 in the 45-49 age group and 46th out of 831 overall. Age graded, Rob earned a strong Regional Class 73.33 percent mark, his best yet.

My goal, after running 19:11.1 on Memorial Day and a strong summer of training, was to break 19 minutes, but the wind was not my friend. I ended up running 19:15.2, my second fastest 5K in the last eight years, sixth out of 27 in the strong 50-54 age group, 42nd overall. This effort earned me my second best age grade in the last 32 years at 79.34 percent, to the day. Agonizingly short of my National Class goal, but good enough to keep me sixth in the Run Sac age graded Grand Prix.

Two weekends later, Bridgette Holzapple and I ran the Buffalo Stampede 10 mile race in Sacramento on a near perfect weather day. Usually, it is either brutally windy or very hot. Not this year, when there was almost no wind and it was reasonably cool.

The course, certified at 10 miles, which means it has to be AT LEAST that distance, has been verified by several extremely reliable sources (THE most reliable of any in the area) as being a minimum of 10.08 miles, which is the distance I’ve used for age grading purposes.

Bridgette ran her best race in recent memory, finishing fifth out of 62 in the 40-49 age group in one hour, 15:44.7, good for 88th place out of 636 overall. Age graded, at the 10.08 distance, Bridgette was solidly into Regional Class at 72.17 percent.

As a close friend told me, my race was “off the charts!” I ended up running faster per mile than I had per mile for 10K in the last eight years, which is a miracle. Some days, rare as they may be, it all comes together. I ended up 39th overall and seventh out of 58 in the 50-59 age group, finishing in one hour, 5:49.3, 2:36 faster than last year. Age graded, I hit 80.12 percent, my first National Class effort in 32 years. And surprisingly, at a distance I’ve only run four times in my life. Finally! Still hanging in at sixth in the Run Sac Grand Prix.

The following weekend, for fun, I ran the hilly, rocky, Viking Alumni 2-mile cross country race in Santa Rosa, finishing in 12:45, fourth in my age group, four seconds out of third, 34th out of 91 overall.

Next up for a number of local runners is the Urban Cow Half Marathon or 5K on Sunday at William Land Park in Sacramento.

Following that is the Monster Gym/South Yuba Club Harvest Run 5K and 10K races on Oct. 9 at the Loma Rica Organic Farm in Grass Valley, the eighth of 10 events in the Gold Country Grand Prix.

I’ve been told there will be new, less hilly courses this year, which I think most participants will appreciate.

The races will start at 8:30 a.m., with race day registration starting at 7 a.m.

More information can be obtained from Race Director Michelle McIntosh at or by calling her at 530-470-9100 ext. 24.

Two weekends later will be the ninth event in this year’s Gold Country Grand Prix, the hilly Run Through the Colors 5K and 10K races, held on Sunday, Oct. 24, at Pioneer Park.

The races begin at 8:30 a.m., with race day registration starting at 7:30.

More information, including entry forms, can be obtained from Race Directors Richard or Theresa Thomas at 530-265-2666, or

Race fliers and current Grand Prix standings can be found on the Sierra TrailBlazers site, thanks to Gary Loucks, at

Abby Hunter, who has been the women’s winner in three local 10Ks this year, is offering a training clinic for beginners. If you are interested, give her a call at 530-913-1656 or

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