Winter has waned: Daffodil run means it’s time to race |

Winter has waned: Daffodil run means it’s time to race

This year’s local racing season is upon us. Now’s the time to see how all your winter training has paid off.

The Fifth Annual Penn Valley Daffodil Run races (5k run/walk, 10K – both starting at 8:45 a.m. – and free quarter-mile kids’ run – at 8:30 a.m.) will be held at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley on Sunday, April 10.

Race-day registration is available from 7 to 8:15 a.m.

Plaques will be awarded to the male and female winners in the 5K and 10K, with medals to the top three finishers in each age group (male and female) for both races. The age groups are 12 & under, 13-18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+. All children in the kids’ race will receive ribbons.

Based on pre-registration so far, totaling 140 competitors, some interesting races are shaping up. Then, of course, there are usually at least half as many more who will register on race day, leaving many wild cards unknown.

Dan King, of Nevada City, is the clear-cut favorite to win the men’s 10K.

Dan has been running extremely well over the last half year and there is no one else registered, so far, that will challenge him.

The women’s 10K looks wide open.

Other notable age group contenders are Grass Valley’s Lynne Hurrell, who will probably win the 70+ women’s 10K race and Nevada City’s Rod Gillespie, who will be in the running for the top three in the men’s 50-59 10K race.

The 5K is more loaded, with a number of top local runners already registered.

Four of last year’s top five are not yet registered, but still may show up for the race. Last year’s winner and top 40-49 age group runner, Kurt Lua, if he shows up, would be the favorite again, based on his recent races.

Then comes the tighter pack, with former local resident Nick Lynch often running this race, as well as Grass Valley’s Philippe Mickelson, winner of the last two Run Through the Colors 5Ks in Nevada City and the first Daffodil 5K race in 2001. They were second and fourth last year, with Nick winning the race back in 2002.

The top pre-registered 5K racer is Nevada City’s Larry Defeyter, 31, who was third last year and second in 2002. He is the favorite to win the 30-39 age group as well, with Shawn Ryley (39) the next top pre-registered runner in that age group. Shawn has been recovering from shin splints, but feels he will be ready to race well by April 10.

Grass Valley’s incredibly consistent Gretchen Horstman, who won the women’s 5K race last year and was second in 2002, is the top female 5K racer registered so far, and I don’t see anyone who can challenge her, unless Michelle Falvey (first woman in 2002) shows up and runs the same race.

The men’s 50-59 race looks like it will be a battle between Grass Valley’s George Raynsford, who was eighth last year overall and second in his age group, and Nevada City’s Drue Matthies, who was 15th overall and third in this age group last year.

George, 53, has been training for April’s Boston Marathon, putting in a number of 20-plus mile training runs, so his endurance is strong. But Drue, 58, has been improving rapidly and had a better winter of training this year than last, along with running some fast 5Ks over the last half year. He expects to run better than last year. This could be a very close race.

George jokingly (I think) told me his race goal: “My plan is to keep you in sight!”

He’s shooting to run under 21 minutes, which would be more than a minute faster than he ran last year in this race.

The men’s 60-69 age group looks like it will have a strong top three if Nevada City’s Al Shook shows up (undecided at this time). The favorite is clearly Penn Valley’s Gene Gilligan (also Nevada Union’s head boy’s cross country coach), who expects to run around 21 minutes, which could put him in the top five overall. Gene is an outstanding age-group runner who is coming back from a foot injury last year and a bad cold that hampered his training earlier this year.

Grass Valley’s Frank Ribiero should grab second in that age group. He’s also been training for the Boston Marathon, so his endurance will be strong, although he did have a ladder accident a week ago, which might slow him down a bit.

Me? I ran last year’s 5K with a bad case of Achilles tendonitis and was very cautious, running a hair over 23 minutes, my slowest by far. I missed the race the year before after knee surgery the month prior. I’ve had a good winter of training and hope to return to somewhere near pre-knee surgery times this year.

If last year’s winner, Kurt Lua, doesn’t show up, I think I’ve got a good shot at winning the 40-49 age group, with my time goal near 20 minutes. I’d love to get under the 20-minute “barrier,” as the best I’ve ever run on this course is 20:04, which was good for fourth place in 2002. I did finish second in this race in 2001, its first year, with a faster time but on a different course.

The races are presented by the Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Penn Valley and the Penn Valley Lions Club.

More information can be obtained by calling Race Director Joan Bumpus at 432-9102 or by sending her an e-mail at See you at the races!


Steve Bond is a competitive runner who lives in Grass Valley and regularly writes about running for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at

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