Napa Valley Marathon
March 7, 2004
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
For years I have heard good things about the Napa Valley Marathon. This year the timing was right, so Lenore and I were on hand for me to run the race on Sunday,
March 7, 2004. Richard Benyo is the race director as well as the editor of the Marathon and Beyond magazine. He, his committee and the volunteers put on a fine, scenic marathon that is well-organized and has good community support.
I was impressed by the number and quality of speakers who were there to constitute a Marathon College Faculty. They spoke at panel presentations and at the pre-race dinners. The speakers included Joe Henderson who has authored 23 running books, is a frequent speaker at road races, a former West
Coast editor of Runners World magazine and a new staff member of Marathon and Beyond.
Dick Beardsley, a motivational speaker and author, holds the Napa Valley Marathon course record and is the fourth fastest marathoner in United States records. He'll be coming to our YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON for our April 2, 2005, race.
Helen Klein, at age 81, holds many U.S. and world records from the marathon distance to 100 mile ultramarathons. She and her husband Norm Klein are past race directors of the Napa Valley Marathon and also of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in the California Sierra Mountains.
John Keston, 79, is a U.S. and world record holder for many distances....from 5K to the marathon. His PR is 2:52:32. In 2003 at Napa he set a world record for 78 year old males with a time of 3:36:41. He sings the national anthem at the start of the Portland Marathon and at the beginning of other races.
Frank Bozanich was a leading ultramarathoner in the 1970's and 1980's. He was a frequent winner of events and later became a premier masters runner. Roger Robinson holds world age class records and is an author of many running books. He has won the Masters Division at Boston, New York and many
Alan Steinfeld was the technical director of the New York City Marathon until 1984 when he became the race director. The presentations were informative and entertaining.
Lenore and I enjoyed seeing the director of the Royal Victoria Marathon, Rob Reid, and his wife Joan, renewing other acquaintances, and meeting the faculty and their spouses at a reception open to all runners at the race headquarters Marriott Hotel on Friday evening. We also enjoyed visiting with Dr. Janet Green and others at the seminars and the carbo loading dinner.
Being a long way from home, we didn't know many of the runners; however, we met our friend Mike Smith from the Indianapolis, Indiana, area. Three years ago he ran the inaugural YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON that Lenore and I direct, and we've seen him at several marathons since that time. He joined us at the dinner, and the next day we rode together on the bus to the start of the race.
Mike is working on being a continent finisher. He and his family will vacation in South Africa this year when he'll run the Comrades Ultramarathon to add a new continent to his accomplishments.
He has also run the double crossing at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and plans to run the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley (CA) on July 12, 2004. He's a remarkable marathon/ultramarathon runner and certainly has an ambitious schedule.
At the 7:00 a.m. start of the Napa Valley Marathon John Keston of McMinnville, OR, sang the national anthem.....and then he ran a 3:43:50 race! Soon after I started, I saw Mike run ahead of me and soon go out of sight. Joe Henderson greeted me as I ran by his station, and then Nelsen Petersen of Kibo Productions ran with me briefly. Like our April 3, 2004, YRCM, the Napa Valley Marathon has the designation of a "Destination Marathon." Nelsen was providing audio segments for his photographer who was videotaping the marathon and related festivities for a video and DVD. (See his website:
March 7th was a nice, spring day with temperatures in the mid-40's. The sky was clear, and the sun was still behind the mountain at the start of the marathon.
The two-lane country road was named the Silverado Trail, and it followed the eastern margin of the Napa Valley close to or abutting the foothills. The point-to-point course went from Calistoga to Napa, California, on this winding, rolling road that passed by vineyards, wineries and some farmsteads with livestock.
Everywhere we looked there were pleasant vistas. At the far side of the valley was a mountain ridge covered with conifers, while the foothills by the Silverado Trail were a parkland of gray digger pine, California live oak, deciduous blue oak, and leafing California Buckeye. Some of the vineyards had a groundcover of yellow-flowered mustard plants that were a mass of bloom. California buttercups had yellow flowers and grew along the roadsides. The houses that we passed had daffodils, red/purple-flowered flowering plums and white-flowering pears to add to the spring aura.
As time passed, it became sunnier and warmer, but there were cooling breezes and shade from trees. At the halfway mark, I was on a ten minute pace that I maintained without effort. Then things changed.
The temperature rose, and the sun was high in the sky with no available shade. As the run continued, I found that the hills became more of a problem as temperatures reached the low 70's and solar radiation was continuous. I adopted brisk walking to negotiate the longer or steeper grades and alternated running with short walks.
Water, Gatorade and fruit were provided at the Aid Stations, and I carried along my own GU packets. Thankfully, I didn't have any leg cramps! At the 23 Mile mark, I passed a prostrate runner who was being attended to. Seeing this casualty of the heat convinced me that a brisk walk for three miles was more prudent than an uncoordinated shuffle against the wall. My walking splits were in the 13-14 minute range, and that carried me to the last mile comfortably.
At that point Helen Klein of Gold River, CA, ran past me to finish in 4:45:42. I admired her endurance and determination. When I could see the finish line, I ran the last 100 yards and finished with a 4:48:19 (11:00), 1,257th of 1,551 finishers and third of five 70-74 Males.
At the finish area at Vintage High School in Napa, I rested in the shade and was joined by my welcoming contingent of Lenore, our daughter Jan Stensland and her husband Simon Patton from Kensington, CA, and our good friends Jim and Joan Smith of Sunnyvale, CA. Jim and Joan were Lenore's college
classmates at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA.
Using the social skills he learned as an Army colonel, Jim introduced himself to the race winner, Nik Southwell of Victoria, BC, and brought him to our group. Nik had just run his second marathon.....in 2:28:56. He ran the Seattle Marathon on November 30, 2003, as a training run for an ironman
At Napa he had a comfortable lead over the second and third place finishers, Peter Vermeesch of Stanford (2:29:22) and Greg Menegat of San Francisco (2:30:20).
With a 2:51:07 Erin Moeller of Cedar Rapids, IA, was the first woman to finish. She had a commanding lead over Suzy Beste of Davis, CA, (2:57:57) and Sonya Drotlar of Santa Cruz, CA, (2:58:29).
Other finishing times are: 2:43:58, Dick Beardsley, 45-49, Detroit Lakes, MN; 3:15:07, Frank Bozanich, 55-59, Reno, NV; 3:30+, Janet Green, 50-54, Courtenay, BC; 3:41:16, Mike Smith, 45-49, Fishers, IN; 4:55:00, Debi Durkee, 45-49, Newport, OR; 5:20:18, Harry Daneill, 75-79, Redding, CA.
The 70-74M age group results are: (1) 4:37:36, John Milne, Vallejo, CA; (2) 4:46:50, Roger Fong, Sacramento, CA; (3) 4:48:19, Bob Dolphin, Renton, WA; (4) 5:06:36, Maurice Tauzin, Beverly Hills, CA; (5) 5:23:33, Glenn Unsicke, Napa, CA.
It had been a good marathon.....the best of five that I've run in California. It is well-organized in all respects. The course is scenic and not difficult. The warm temperatures this year were atypical and not to be expected every year.
Richard Benyo, his committee and the volunteers did a great job! I hope to run the marathon again in future years as we visit with our family and friends in the Bay Area. Many thanks to Jack and Pam Kuhlman of Santa Rosa and Jan Stensland & Simon Patton for being our weekend hosts.
Written by Bob Dolphin