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e-newsletterMarch 2013
In This Issue
M&B News
Between the Lines
Word on the Street
Talk on the Trail
Subscriber of the Month
Marathon & Beyond
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Napa Women Napa Valley Marathon:
"Honoring Women in Marathoning"

Marathon & Beyond  was in Napa Valley in March at the 35th annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. This year's theme was "Honoring Women in Marathoning" featuring special guests Joan Benoit Samuelson, gold medalist in the 1984 Summer Olympics Inaugural Women's Marathon; Jaqueline Hansen, 1973 women's champion at the Boston Marathon; Lorraine Moller, bronze medalist in the 1992 Olympics Women's Marathon ; and Nina Kuscsik, 1972 women's champion at the Boston Marathon. (Pictured at right: Nina, Lorraine, Jacqueline, and Jan Seeley, M&B publisher)

Tony Rossmann

Between the Lines: 

Renaissance Running    

Firenze Marathon 


In our March/April issue, author Jeff Knapp writes about his answering the call of the Firenze Marathon in Florence, Italy. In his article "Renaissance Running, he writes: "Set in the heart of Italy's Tuscany region, the flat and fast Florence (Firenze) Marathon is set against a backdrop of art, history, and beauty that few other courses can match. He takes us on a tour of the city, the race history, and the race itself."   


While we were at the Napa Valley Marathon recently, we saw our friend Antonio (Tony) Rossmann, who years ago taught in Florence, was back in Italy last year during the running of the Firenze Marathon. In addition to Tony's distinguished career as law professor at Berkeley, naval officer, and decorated Vietnam veteran, Tony has a vast running "history." He is a veteran of multiple Napa Valley Marathons, Boston Marathons, and New York Marathons, to name only a few, as well as many ultramarathons, including the Quad Dipsea and Western States 100. Tony served as president of WS100 and is a respected race historian. In this article, Tony shares a recent spectator's perspective along with some photos.   


For a long time, we had planned our Thanksgiving weekend in Florence, and that plan was well enough executed. But about halfway through the day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, one of the shopkeepers told us that his store would open a little late because there was a marathon scheduled. It turned out to be the 29th Firenze Marathon, and by interrogating a few obvious suspects on the street, I learned that the expo was out by the municipal stadium and sports park. So, I power walked to that locale.


Elites Firenze The race had 10,000 runners -- just right for creating critical mass and sustainability. The expo atmosphere at dusk on a late November evening created a NYC-like atmosphere, but much more approachable. As I was about to leave, race officials introduced their top ten runners.

The race started at 0920 at Santa Croce and headed east for long loping loops on the edge of the city wall. Runners ran right past our hotel and the university at Piazza S. Annunziata at 34K, entered the Piazza del Duomo and veered right for one block, and then made their way through Piazza Repubblica and across Ponte Santa Trinita. Two left turns took the runners back into the centro storico via Ponte Vecchio at 39K, past the statues in Piazza della Signoria, between the Duomo and Baptistry, and finally veering right around the Duomo 40K to the finish at Santa Croce. This layout made it possible at both the Duomo and Repubblica for spectators to observe two stages of the race at the same time.

Lead runners Firenze Rather than race through the centro storico in the early hours, the race deliberately reached that point at the height of the day and gave the runners a real boost in that post-wall stage. Runners and pedestrians shared every road, with barriers in only the most intense places, and pedestrians were able to cross the path of the runners fairly easily on their own. Of course, this is easier to accomplish in a city center where cars, and the expectation of them, are virtually banned, but it produced a great festival of co-existence among runners, spectators, and shop owners.
Finish Line Running with Bears
Word on the Street
Running with the Bears Marathon,
Half Marathon & 10K
August 17, 2013
Plumas County, California

August usually means hot running conditions, but not in Plumas County. The average start line temperature is 46 degrees, so bring a jacket! The Running with the Bears event is a uniquely rural experience. There are no bathroom lines or traffic - the only distractions might be the pair of mating hawks at Mile 7 (and some more at miles 10 and 21).

Organizers stand by their motto: "We don't race by the same rules." Participants are allowed to bring their earphones and their best friend - even if that friend is a dog. Aid stations are equipped with dog treats and water bowls. Runners will enjoy old-fashioned goody bags, a finish-line massage, and an after party that can't be beat. Since the Race Directors are both moms, they know that little spectators need to have a good time, too! That's why they build a hay bale maze and a petting zoo at the finish line.

By capping participation at just 300 runners, organizers are able to provide a truly personalized experience. They offer a concierge service for the weekend, helping runners to find accommodations, eats, and directions to the best swimming holes. Running with the Bears, which usually sells out by spring, is a fundraiser for Mountain Circle Family Services, a foster care agency in Northern California and Nevada. All proceeds from the weekend are used to provide outdoor leadership activities for older foster care youth. Click here for more information.
Leadville Marathon
Talk on the Trail
Leadville Trail Marathon & Heavy Half Marathon
June 29, 2013

Leadville, Colorado

The Leadville Trail 100
started with just 45 runners in 1983. The Leadville Race Series now stretches across three months and hosts thousands of racers on foot and in the saddle. Endurance athletes worldwide now make the pilgrimage to Leadville, Colorado, with the single goal of competing in a "Race Across the Sky." This season, as always, the Leadville Race Series crew invites all athletes willing to accept the challenge presented by the Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half to join us in Leadville for an event you're not soon to forget.

The Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half Marathon ("heavy" because the race is actually 15.5 miles and not the traditional 13.1) will mark its 14th year in 2013. Run through the historic mining district's challenging old mining roads and trails, the race course is out and back hitting a high of 13,185 feet at Mosquito Pass. There have been many years that athletes have had to make their way through snow on the course above 12,000 feet. The views will leave you breathless -  if you're not already.

The Leadville Race Series crew prides itself on producing world-class events that are both safe and enjoyable for athletes of every level. The course will be very well marked with fluorescent pink-and-black-striped ribbon, chalk, and race signage to direct athletes from start to the finish. Click here for more information.
Blue Suits Subscriber of the Month:
Mark Foster  

Have you ever run a marathon in a costume? Mark Foster, and his twin brother Todd, are known for their matching outfits in marathons all over the country. Read a few of Mark's stories ... in his own words.

In the 2011 Country Music marathon in Nashville, we upgraded to matching powder blue suits when we discovered that our local Men's Wearhouse had them on sale for $30.00. The best part was seeing the sign on the rack that said buy one get one free! You heard me, two 48 long baby blue suits for $30.00. We had so much fun in this race that we returned in 2012 with white suits. We were now getting to be known as the "suit guys."


I completed my first marathon in 2008. I was in my mid-30's and had always dreamed of running one. I drove six hours to Orlando, slept in the Epcot parking lot, ran the race, and drove home all within 24 hours. Could I afford a hotel room? Yes. But why not sleep on my air mattress at the race site? I'm genius.  


Now I am not a typical runner. I weigh around 230 pounds, and I'm classified as a Clydesdale which, as you know is any runner weighing more than 180 pounds. I would now like to coin the phrase, "Super Clydesdale" for any runner more than 220 pounds. I may weigh more than the majority of marathoners...but I finish. I've logged more than 16 marathons, two 50K's, and one 50 miler. No DNF's.


My identical twin brother, Todd, and I run most of these adventures together. He lives a few hours away, so it's a good time to get our families together. I've got four children, and he's got triplets. We usually get accommodations with an indoor pool so they can play. (I apologize in advance if your hotel room is next to our crew).


In 2010, we thought of how we could run the Rock 'n' Roll Series Country Music Nashville Marathon in a unique way since a PR was completely out of the question. We wanted to run in an outfit that would give participants and spectators a smile, so I Google-imaged "marathon costumes." It appears The London Marathon wins the prize. It has the most creative, kooky things imaginable. How could these people complete this distance wearing this stuff? I'm surprised some aren't banned because of how big and obtrusive they are. Some are scantily clad, and some are just plain hilarious.


My brother and I are former pharmaceutical reps and had plenty of business suits that were worn out and needed to be retired. For cost's sake, that's what we settled on. We purposefully pinned our bibs over the buttoned coat so as not to take it off if things got tough. Folks were incredulous at our attempt to run a full marathon in a business suit, but cheered us on nonetheless. Most marathons have more half marathoners than full. The half marathon bib is one color and the full is another, and most folks thought we were just doing the half. We could hear runners behind us talking about how cool it was to do the half dressed up. It was awesome to turn around and let them see the full marathon colored bib. We had either instant respect, or they thought we were crazy. One guy said, "I don't know what your cause is...but I'm supporting it!" We had no particular cause that year; we just did it for fun. The marathon was disappointing because race organizers were forced to cancel it due to a horrendous thunderstorm at about 4.5 hours in, which was at our mile 20. So what are identical twins to do in suits with six miles to go and a Garmin watch? We logged six more miles on our own in the torrential rain to officially/unofficially finish. Fortunately, race organizers granted us our finish time since we emailed them a picture of the Garmin showing 26.2 miles. It was a wet and wild time, and we entertained any pictures along the way as mostly female runners wanted to post it on Facebook. We were rock stars! Sort of.


Grocery Carts In late 2011, my brother and I were debating a first quarter 2012 marathon. I wasn't too excited about any marathon registration costs since I had recently started a new job. To my surprise, my bro signed me up! This one was the Publix Georgia Marathon in Atlanta in March. Would this be just a routine marathon or should we get creative like Nashville? After some thought, I wondered if race organizers would let us run with grocery carts since Publix is a grocery store chain in the South. Could we even do it? I emailed organizers and a few weeks later, got a reply. Race organizers, The US Road Sports and Entertainment Group, said we could give it a go. We would be the official race ambassadors for the Marathon in conjunction with a food drive for a local food bank. Rather quickly, we had to modify shopping carts with pneumatic wheels to support the long, hilly, and sometimes-bumpy course through Atlanta. It was quite tough since the carts weighed a measly 74 pounds empty! My math isn't very good, but that's pushing more than 300 pounds. We somehow completed it in an arduous 6 hours, 45 minutes while raising more than 1500 pounds of food for Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless in Atlanta. The good news was that donations were made at the expo so we only had a few cans of kidney beans thrown in the buggies while we were running.


I have a few more ideas for upcoming marathons. One idea is to complete a full marathon eating a Krystal burger each mile. Some of you know it as White Castle sliders.These "sliders" go down so easy that I think 26 - one per mile - will be easy. Anybody want to volunteer to crew me? Anyone?


Foster white suits Another idea is to bring out my sousaphone (tuba) that I used to play in high school. My brother played the trumpet. We could get in marching band uniforms and wake up the crowd along the way. My last idea is to purchase two Star Wars Storm Trooper costumes. How would you like to see a couple of Storm Troopers, or even Darth Vader, passing you? Sounds like we may have a "part two" update for M&B subscribers.


So, if you are registered, or thinking about registering, for a marathon or ultra, do it with attitude! PR's are great. Qualifying for Boston is admirable. Doing hill work or fartleks is all fine and good. I urge you enjoy the race at hand and not be afraid to let your proverbial hair down. The guys in the back of the race or the dude dressed in an Elvis costume is just trying to make you smile and enjoy the day a little more. The main thing is being in the battle. Win or lose, PR or DNF, stay out there my friend. 
Upcoming Marathon & Beyond Events
Illinois Marathon Expo: April 25 - 26, 2013
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Expo: May 3 - 4, 2013
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