By Sal Citarella
This being the 4th of July, 2022, I ran my traditional 10K road race. I’ve done it every 4th since 1984, whenever my work had brought me back to California and since retiring. That would be a total of 19 times over 38 years.
Kenwood, population 1,028, is a Rosé little town in the vineyards of Sonoma County. The residents must really be mellow to put up with the race-day traffic. The race is not large by current standards; 382 runners this year, probably somewhat reduced by two years of covid cancellations. Previously, the town would also host The World Championship Pillow Fighting Contest, but that was stopped years ago due to excessive drugs and booze, from what I heard.
The course rolls through scenic orchards and vineyards with numerous absolutely immoral hills! It’s all paved except for a half-mile stretch through a private vineyard. In years past, there have been forest fires, and goats watching us from a barnyard with demonic eyes.
The times are relatively slow, but not for lack of trying.
1st male 32:16
1st female 36:27
1st male 80+ 1:34:41, 366th place, me! Won a bottle of Pinot Noir.
After my first Kenwood, I went immediately to the ER in my sweats. It wasn’t really that race that injured my heel, but more likely the 50-mile trail run I had done the previous May. I just figured I would get more sympathy by appearing in an aura of fresh sweat. If I was 42 then, it took about eight years of adhesive tape and ibuprofen before I could age-group again. The doctors could only say, “soft tissue damage” in spite of every conceivable exam. My left heel is still enlarged and it wears the inside of my shoe.
My best time was in 1985 when I ran 40:23 but placed only 9th in the 40 – 45 division. In 2008 I won the 65 – 69 age group in 51:11. In 2013, I had to skip the race because my leg was in a splint, having ruptured my patella tendon. Not only did I see the ER again, but I saw it riding on a gurney pushed by the county EMTs. The following year I walked unofficially in 1:38 because I still couldn’t trust my knee. Nice to see I beat that time this year. Won again in 2017 in the 70 – 75 division in 1:17:08.
My race plan this year was to walk the uphills and coast easily on the downs. That plan was rapidly revised to include walking much of the downhills, as well. But in spite of my fears, misgivings and a sleepless night, I’m glad I did it. You know the feeling.