Steve Bond: Local runners excel at Chico’s Bidwell Classic |

Steve Bond: Local runners excel at Chico’s Bidwell Classic

More than a dozen local runners traveled to Chico to run either the Bidwell Classic 5K or Half Marathon races last Saturday, with many coming through with outstanding performances.

V. Neelakantan won the 50-54 age group in the half marathon in one hour, 29 minutes, 20.7 seconds, 26th overall out of 574 finishers and over six minutes (yes, that’s right!) ahead of second in his age group.

He told me this is the first time he’s won his age group in any race outside the Grass Valley/Nevada City area. Age graded, his time was over 75.1 percent, into the top half of Regional Class.

Yuba City’s Mike Buzbee, who has won the Gold Country Grand Prix 50-59 age group competition the last two years, won the 55-59 age group in one hour, 36:39.2, over two minutes ahead of second place in that age group (59th overall). Age graded, Mike came in at a very good 74.5 percent.

Willis McNeill finished 10th in the 50-59 age group in 1:50:55, good for 171st overall and over 65 percent age graded.

Tamara Zuromskis ran one hour, 49:23.7 to take sixth in the 35-39 age group, 158th overall and over 61 percent age (and gender) graded.

Michele Hughes finished in one hour, 51:02.2, sixth in the 40-44 age group, 173rd overall and over 65.1 percent age graded.

Linda Hegle continues to impress with yet another very fine race, clocking one hour 57:18.8 to take second in the 60-64 age group (259th overall), age grading at a top half of Regional Class 76.2 percent, one of the best races of the day by a local runner.

Joan Bumpus finished second in the 65-69 age group in two hours, 43:03, with Jeanine McNeill third in two hours, 46:00.5 and Marion Linden fourth in two hours, 49:31.9.

Steve Linden finished fifth in the 65-69 age group in two hours, 18:18.2.

Reno’s Chris Badolato, who has run and won many Gold Country Grand Prix races, ran a blazing fast 5K to take fifth overall, out of 630 finishers, and win the 30-34 age group in 16:15. Age graded, Chris broke the barrier into National Class at 80.01 percent.

Robert Warner paced his son, Callan, through the first half of the 5K and then took off and finished third in the 50-59 age group in 20:44.8, over a minute ahead of fourth place in that age group (33rd overall). Callan won the 10-13 age group by less than nine seconds in 21:18.4 (37th overall). Age graded, Robert held onto a slim edge at 71.38 percent with Callan closing in at 71.2. (Sorry, Robert, but it looks like it’s just a matter of time.)

Al Shook ran his third 5K this year and incredibly ran within seconds of his other two times, finishing in 22:18.8, good for yet another age group win (70-99 age group, 50th overall). This race Al was 79.24 percent age graded, making it the third race in a row he was less than one percentage point away from a National Class age graded ranking. Wow!

John Darlington proved he is getting back into very good shape by finishing in 22:23.1, taking second in the 65-69 age group with a top half of Regional Class age graded effort of 75.13 percent (51st overall).

I’m very happy to report that Troy McNeill, from Oregon House, showed that he is fully recovered after collapsing near the finish of last year’s Daffodil Run 10K in Penn Valley, running an impressively fast 18:24 5K to take third in the 45-49 age group at 78.3 percent age graded.

Bruce Coury finished fifth in the 60-64 age group in 27:45.4, while Lane Davis-Coury was sixth in the women’s 55-59 age group in 28:35.8, over 63 percent age graded.

Last, but far from least, we have a new king of the hill in the local male out of school runners category.

I stated in my previous column that Al Shook and Ron Gross, both running over 79 percent age graded this year, had the highest scores I’ve seen for local men in a number of years.

It’s come to my attention that Nevada City’s Mike Galligan has been surpassing those high age grades, but, because he’s mostly been racing in Redding, his results have been off my radar -until now!

Mike did finish fourth overall at Run Through the Colors in 2008, his only local race so far. Mike has raced three times in Redding this year, the first two being 4.3 miles at Lake Redding Park.

On Jan. 2, Mike ran the Frosty Fun Run 4.3-mile race in 25:35, winning by running a sub 6-minute per mile clip. Age graded, a National Class 81.76 percent.

Mike ran the same race on Feb. 20 and finished second overall in a much faster time of 25:04, this time an amazing 83.54 percent. (Since you can’t see it, I have to tell you I’ve got a big smile writing this with an appreciation of how impressive and FAST this is.)

Last Saturday, Mike ran the loaded-with-top-runners NorCal John Frank Pacific Association USA Track & Field 10-Mile Championship road race in Redding and finished sixth in the 50-54 age group in one hour, 3:15. Age graded, this was his third National Class effort this year at 80.28 percent.

Way to go, Mike! You are the current King of the local male runners. I sincerely bow in your general direction.

We already had five local racers in the 50-59 age group who have run under 20 minutes for 5K within the last year (or the equivalent), and now we’ve got another. Sigh …

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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