The family that runs together |

The family that runs together

The Fairchilds stand together after completing a Grand Prix race. From left Debi, Zach, John and Josh.
Submitted photo |

There are already more than 200 runners pre-registered for today’s Run for the Community 5K/10K with dozens more expected to register before the starting pistol fires. Within that group will be a handful of Fairchilds.

Actually, the Fairchilds can found at almost every race in the Gold Country Grand Prix as the sport of competitive running has become a family affair for the Nevada County residents.

John Fairchild, a pastor at Twin Cities Church and Run for the Community organizer, along with his wife, Debi, sons Josh and Zach and daughter Hannah all compete in the Nevada County race circuit.

“I just love the thrill of it,” John said of running in the Grand Prix. “My philosophy is to accelerate as fast as I can to threshold and hold that for 20 minutes, and you’re done, and that’s fun for me.”

John said he really got into competitive running after moving to Nevada County from the San Fernando Valley 10 years ago.

“I used to do it personally as a way to stay in shape for the things I really liked,” John said. “As a youth pastor, I was very active, and that included beach volleyball and roller hockey. Running was more of a conditioning thing.”

While at first running was a way to stay in shape for John, it has since brought him many gifts, including beginning the bond that brought him and his wife together.

“That’s the way we connected,” he said. “(We were) running and working out and those kinds of things, but we didn’t start racing until we got up here.”

After moving to Nevada County, Debi, now an english teacher at Nevada Union, ran a few local races and fell in love with it, said John.

About a year later, John caught the running bug as well.

“I hit it really hard,” John said. “It was about six years ago that I went through my discovery, and it went from you’re racing against yourself and certainly others to there’s also percentage of grading with classes, and there’s another way to see where you’re at beyond the local.”

While running is a way to work out John’s competitive nature, each member of the family has his or her own reasons for running.

Josh, 13, has been running in the Grand Prix since he was 7 and also enjoys soccer and lacrosse. Zach, 9, is in his third year running the Grand Prix and has also been a member of the Seven Hills cross country team for three years. Hannah, 8, loves to run but not competitively, and Caleb, 5, may be the one who loves running most, said John. The only Fairchild who doesn’t enjoy running is Andrew, 11, who is immersed in gymnastics.

And while John still contends he is the fastest in the family, he said he looks forward to his kids one day surpassing him.

John and his family’s love of running inspired them to become involved with the Grand Prix series, and they now head up two stops along the racing circuit. The first is today at the Run for the Community.

“We really want to put on a good race,” John said. “We want to show our values of excellence of service, of caring for people and so on, so we go ahead and spend a little extra money to make ours special. We spend a little more for the nicer medals and tech shirts. We want people to walk away feeling like, ‘Hey, they did a really nice job.’”

The Fairchilds also host the Falling Leaves 5K/10K in October.

John encourages all members of the community to attend today’s Run for the Community, which opens registration at 7 a.m. at Twin Cities Church in Grass Valley.

“I feel like our church is a pretty cool place,” he said. “I know in our culture today some people have pushed church away because they have been burned, or they feel church isn’t relevant today and all those negative feelings people may have. I don’t think those things represent our church, so come on out because we put on a great race.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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