August 27, 2013
For immediate release
Conley, Tapia note support helps as they prepare for World meet.
Runners often face a daunting challenge after college, the security of training with teammates, learning from a familiar coach and letting others take care of race details suddenly replaced by a new set of stressors.
Finding a training group can be tricky. Connecting with the right coach is essential. And then there’s the task of figuring out how to pay for that push to maximize your potential.
The Sacramento Running Association started its Elite Team two years ago to lend a hand to aspiring young runners. The results have been impressive, with SRA athletes making an impact around the world.
Kim Conley made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the women’s 5,000 meters and is headed to Moscow for the World Championships, set for Aug. 10-18. So is SRA teammate Daniel Tapia, the 2012 California International Marathon champion who is taking the bar exam this week before hopping on a plane.
SRA standout Lea Wallace has been on fire in Europe the past month, setting personal bests in the 800 (2:00.30) and the 1,500 (4:09.13). She also helped set a U.S. record in the 4×800 relay at the Penn Relays earlier this season, teaming with Brenda Martinez, Ajee Wilson and Alysia Montano to run 8:04.31.
Look for more breakthroughs after Shadrack Biwott, a four-time All-American at the University of Oregon who finished third in the 2013 U.S. Half Marathon Championships with a 1:02:24 effort, joins the SRA Elite Team later this week.
“Our staff has done a tremendous job of identifying talented athletes that have a genuine interest in continuing their post-collegiate running careers and of providing a support structure that has helped them realize their potential,” said Ellen Moore, the Sacramento Running Association’s executive director.
“The group we have assembled is made up of individuals who are not only world-class athletes, but are willing ambassadors to the Sacramento running community and are dedicated to helping the SRA further our mission of educating people of all ages on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
We are extremely excited about the future of this group and are very proud of the fact that we have a team of individuals that represent Sacramento so well both in the athletic arena and in the community.”
Conley, a former UC Davis standout, used an SRA training grant to step back from her duties as an Aggies assistant coach and focus more on her training. The result: a dramatic third-place finish at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and a trip to the Olympic Games in London, where she recorded a then personal-best 15:14.48 to finish 12th in her heat.
She didn’t stop there, either, making the U.S. team for the World Cross Country Championships in March, lowering her personal best in the 5,000 to 15:09.57 at the Prefontaine Classic in June and then earning a spot in the 5,000 meters for the upcoming World Championships.
“SRA, it’s awesome what they’re doing for athletes,” said Conley, who noticed an improvement three weeks after devoting more time to her training.
The SRA helped her spend three weeks earlier this month training at altitude in Switzerland. Conley then went to London and ran a personal-best 8:47.95 in the 3,000 meters last Friday at a Diamond League meet.
“I am looking ahead and remain extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to represent our country again,” Conley said in her blog posted at www.runsra.org.
Tapia also said the SRA’s support has made a big difference in his running improvement.
“A lot of runners, they have to pay for their races,” he said. “SRA has been really helpful with that. They never second-guess it.”
Tapia plans to spend a few weeks in Colorado Springs getting in some altitude training. But first, he’s scheduled to spend the next three days taking the bar exam.
“I’m doing pretty much as much as I can,” he said. “Anytime I’m not running, I’m studying.”
Tapia delivered a surprising victory at the 2012 CIM, overcoming wind and rain and several runners with faster personal bests with a 2:16:29 performance.
“CIM was the first marathon I ran really smart, really conservative,” he said.
Tapia followed up his CIM win with a 2:14:30 effort to finish ninth in the 2013 Boston Marathon. He joined SRA teammates Kevin Pool (2:18:59) and Cheyne Inman (2:31:05) to combine for the top team time.
Wallace, a former Sacramento State star, set her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 during her first season competing in Europe.
“My European experience has been incredible so far,” she said. “Each new racing opportunity presented to me has fueled my competitive fire, challenging me to redefine my goals every time I step on the track.
“Things have been going very well for me here … I am confident that I have the ability to shave more time off of both of my races, and am excited to prove it.”
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.