July 31, 2014
For immediate release

Executive director ran at Jesuit; race director comes from Texas

The Sacramento Running Association stayed close to home to land its new executive director, then pivoted and reached deep into the heart of Texas to bring aboard its director of race operations.

Scott Abbott, who ran with Olympian Michael Stember for legendary coach Walt Lange at Jesuit High School before competing for UCLA and coaching at Sacramento State, takes over as the SRA’s executive director.

Eli Asch, a runner at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. before assuming multiple key roles with the Austin Marathon, joins SRA as director of race operations, a job that includes putting on the California International Marathon.

Abbott, 36, joined the SRA team in 2013 as the director of sponsorship and head coach of SRA’s training program for the California International Marathon. He replaces Ellen Moore, who remains with SRA as special events manager.

“He is a perfect fit for our association,” said Leigh Rutledge, president of SRA’s Board of Directors. “He has a really, really good understanding of our organization and what a community based non-profit organization does.

He’s been in the community his whole life. He’s been a running coach, a very accomplished runner. He really, really understands what a non-profit organization is and its importance in the community and what our mission is.

We’re really, really pleased to have him.”

Abbott said he is excited to lead an organization with a strong history – the SRA started in 1982, with the first CIM held in 1983 – and a deep connection to the community.

“It’s a passionate community in running, reflective of the larger culture of Sacramento in general,” Abbott said. “I definitely want to have our organization touch as many people in the community as we can.”

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.

The SRA puts on several events, including the CIM, the Super Sunday Run, the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run and the Gold Rush 100k. The SRA also offers a youth fitness program, a CIM training group and an elite team that includes 2012 Olympian Kim Conley.

SRA’s impact on the community includes a variety of contributions and its efforts to help maintain and develop local running venues like the American River Parkway.

“I’d be out there every single day,” Abbott said of his early running days as a teenager. “It’s one of the great running trails in the entire country.

“I’m really excited about pulling together the leadership team, building a strategic vision and structure … executing what we do and do well.

“I think there are more exciting things out there.”

Abbott is married to Katie, a talented local runner, and has three children: Isaac 7, Alyssa 5, and Everly, 3.

Asch, 28, joins the SRA team after serving as logistics director for Conley Sports Productions, which puts on the Austin Marathon. From the course to the warehouse to logistics, Asch helped ensure a smooth operation.

“Eli is an ideal fit for our organization and the position of director of race operations,” Abbott said. “He not only has a body of experience and knowledge that is essential to putting on large-scale community events, but also is a strong leader and broad level, creative thinker who has the capacity to take our events to the next level.

“Landing Eli Asch is a huge win, not only for the SRA, but for the Sacramento running community as a whole.”

Asch, a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan who grew up in Portland, Maine, said he was excited to come to Sacramento and start preparing for the 32nd annual CIM, set for Dec. 7.

“Being able to direct a major marathon put on by a non-profit organization were two things appealing about it,” he said. “The non-profit, it’s very mission driven and highlights Sacramento as a premier running community.”

He replaces Michelle La Sala, who stepped down in May.

Asch, who married Leslie Wise earlier this month, said his emphasis as a race director will be on executing a good plan and delivering a quality experience for runners.

“It all comes down to planning and communicating a plan,” Asch said. “Showing up with a plan, clearly communicating to folks putting on the event and to runners.

“Put on a race that’s a great experience for participants … celebrate accomplishment.”

His ideal race day?

“You’ve planned so well, on race day you have nothing to do,” he said. “That’s your perfect day.

“Invariably, something comes up.”