August 27, 2013
For immediate release
Group helps fund youth programs, elite athletes and running venues
The Sacramento Running Association is probably best known for putting on the California International Marathon, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last December.
Beneath the surface, the SRA extends benefits deep into the local community.
Helping a local athlete reach the Olympics … Exposing kids to the joys of running … Building and maintaining local running venues.
The SRA has accomplished all those things while putting on six running events, headed by the CIM, a 26.2-mile test from Folsom to the state Capitol.
Ask Kim Conley about the SRA and she notes she wouldn’t have made it to the 2012 Olympics without its support.
The former UC Davis standout and SRA Elite Team member used a training grant from SRA to step back from her duties as an Aggies assistant coach and focus more on training to reach her dream.
“It was only about three weeks until I felt the level in all my running elevate,” Conley said. “SRA, it’s awesome what they’re doing for athletes.”
A dramatic third-place finish in the women’s 5,000 meters at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. – she ran a personal-best 15 minutes, 19.79 seconds to edge Julia Lucas (15:19.83) and Abbey D’Agostino (15:19.98) to just beat the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 15:20 – earned her a trip to London.
Conley has built on her Olympic success to gain a spot in the upcoming World Championships, set for Aug. 10-18 in Moscow, Russia.
Daniel Tapia, another SRA Elite Team runner, won the California International Marathon last December.
“Every aspiring elite distance runner faces some challenges,” said Kevin Pool who manages the SRA’s Elite Team and also competes for it.
“When you leave the collegiate setting, you leave the team structure, lose competition. A lot of times you lose the coaching. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to venture on.
“It’s been helpful for me and other athletes to have financial support to get to these competitions and race better athletes. If you don’t have the options it’s hard to progress.”
SRA Executive Director Ellen Moore said Conley’s success highlights the need for funding for top athletes.
“So many athletes serve as role models,” she said. “Through her we’re able to show what people can do with support. That’s a huge motivator to fund something like this.”
The SRA is also committed to promoting youth fitness, with more than 5,000 kids involved in its programs. A year-round training program helps local schools prepare kids for the 2.62-mile maraFUNrun, which is part of the CIM.
While the goal is to accumulate 26.2 miles by race day, many hit the 50- or 75-mile mark before CIM.
A series of free summer track meets and a free kids’ race at each of the SRA’s six events are also offered.
“It’s nice to keep them active, give them something to do and keep their fitness,’ said Alex Mansoor, the SRA’s Youth Fitness Coordinator. “Obviously one of the biggest problems is obesity.
“The fun is the competing against people your own age. It gets them out, gets them active, gets them outside.”
Moore said promoting youth fitness and fighting childhood obesity are priorities.
“We have a lot of opportunity for growth and plans to grow our youth fitness programs,” she said. “We are committed to providing a youth component as part of everything we do.
“We are an organization committed to health and wellness. Ultimately through running we’re trying to educate our community on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and provide opportunities for them to get fit and focus on their own health and wellness.”
Moore cited the recently concluded SRA Youth Track Series as a great way to trigger kids’ interest.
“Kids are being pulled in a lot of different directions,” she said. “One of our goals is to just show these kids what’s out there in the world of running and track and field by having cool events like the turbo javelin and high jump. So when they see somebody on TV in the Olympics they can say ‘I did that event and it was pretty fun!”
The SRA also commits financial resources to maintaining and creating local running venues.
The group funds mowings along the equestrian and hiking trail in the American River Parkway and helped build and maintain two major cross country courses: Granite Regional Park in Sacramento and Willow Hills in Folsom.
“We’re trying to find safe and viable running options,” Pool said. “Willow Hills is probably the most-used cross country venue in this area.”
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.
SRA events include the recent Gold Rush 100k and Freedom Mile, the Folsom Blues Breakout Half Marathon on Oct. 19, the California International Marathon on Dec. 8, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 2 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 6.
SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.