Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

100-mile veterans and recreactional runners find same pace with Golden Valley Harriers

Golden Valley Harrier Bruce LaBelle gets near the Auburn finish area of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. All three GVH members that competed in the June event finished within 24 hours, with LaBelle accomplishing the feat for an incredible 10th time. Dan Lanherr/Courtesy photo

Imagine the requisite athleticism it’d take to run for 100 miles, up an 18,000 foot incline and back down nearly 23,000 feet, with summer’s ever-present 100 degree heat bearing down.

“It’s pretty much the Super Bowl of ultra-running,” local runner Martin Sengo said of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. “There’s no bigger or more renowned event. It also just happens to be in our backyard.”

And there’s a Davis-based group of passionate runners — known as the Golden Valley Harriers — taking advantage of the fact that this intense trek starts and ends in Northern California; on a mountainous trail from Squaw Valley into Auburn.

Three members of this two-decade-old running club — Bruce Labelle, Alex McDaniel and Di Wu — competed in the 2013 Western States run in June, and each completed it within 24 hours.

And though all of the local running crew is deserved respect for even crossing the finish line (not all entrants of the race achieve that much), it was a special honor for Labelle, as it was his 10th finish under the 24-hour mark.

“Instead of receiving the regular award, a belt buckle that reads ’100 miles, one day,’ I got one that reads ’1,000 miles, 10 days,’ ” Labelle said. “It’s relatively rare to have that given out, and it was a fun challenge to achieve.”

Even more significant is the accomplishment in context: Labelle is a 57-year-old man who first participated in the Western States event more than 20 years ago. He’s for that long been in shape enough to compete in other ultra-marathons and trail runs.

Actually, Labelle doesn’t subscribe to the idea that it’s all in the fitness level. He’s found that the key to success actually is patience, and equated it to the difference been youthful hastiness and the calm demeanor that comes with maturity.

His goal now is to help other Golden Valley Harrier members prepare themselves physically (and mentally) for these lengthy events; runners like Sengo, a Davis resident who aspires to don the congratulatory belt buckle one day.

The GVH crew includes runners of all levels, from those on a constant pursuit of bettering times in the most challenging of races, to those content with personal betterment of any sort.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter mindset, as UC Davis researcher and amateur runner Paula Checchi can attest. She does it for a reason that speaks to the nation’s oft-cited obesity epidemic.

“My family has all struggled with weight issues, and a lot of them have problems with heart disease and diabetes,” she said. “I really don’t want that to happen to me, which is part of why I like to run — to keep an active lifestyle.”

While she’s done 50-mile trail runs (exhausting in its own right), the Western States Endurance Run is somewhat off her radar.

“I’m still not sure that I see myself as having the guts to do it,” she admits, “but it’s really inspiring, the people who are out there.”

Then again, she recalls a time when she told her husband there was no way she’d ever run more than a half marathon (less than 15 miles on average), and ended up running 50 miles shortly thereafter.

“The trail running group here is pretty convincing in terms of their ability to get you to sign up for distances that you never thought you’d run,” she said with a chuckle.

Checchi never pictured herself as a runner, she added. She’s not someone who ran in high school or college, aside from what was the minimum requirement in physical education courses. She began running on a whim while in graduate school.

“When I started, I could only run a portion of the track. I would run the straights, and walk the turns,” she said. “I’ve come a long way, but definitely did not come with any natural talent at all.”

Checchi has kept on with the Golden Valley Harriers’ weekly training regimen ever since moving here four years ago. She now cites the running group as the people she often spends the most time with.

The camaraderie they have, which was also mentioned by Labelle and Sengo, is another of the motivating factors in her continued interest.

“Sometimes I tell people that it’s less about the actual running, even though that’s the key activity, but more about the wonderful social connections you make running together,” Checchi said.

For more details on Golden Valley Harriers and the races it participates in, visit www.goldenvalleyharriers.org.

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Hay bales burn east of Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Woman killed by train ID’d

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist captive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Conservation District celebrates its stewardship efforts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
.

Forum

Even a safe house needs boundaries

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

 
.

Arts

 
Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6