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My Favorite Race

Niki and Her Dad on the Queensboro Bridge at the NYC Marathon

It should come as no surprise that the folks at Fleet Feet love running. This love of running translates into having finished many races. Some races were fun, some races were not so fun, but each race comes with an entertaining story to tell. Check out some of the Fleet Feeters most memorable race experiences.

JD: 1984 Virginia 10-Miler

JD Denton in 1984


JD Denton, co-owner of Fleet Feet Davis, has a host of memorable races under his belt before his knees retired. One of the more memorable was the 1984 Virginia 10-Miler. JD arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia (from North Carolina, his home at the time) the day before the race with a group of running buddies. They were ready for good food, good fun, and of course, good inter-group competition. Having had a little too much fun the night before the race, however, the crew from Greensboro faced a tough run on the hills of what was reputed to be the toughest ten-mile course in the country. When the race started, JD took off, fearing that Tommy, his good buddy and chief competition for bragging rights was already ahead. At the five- mile mark (and race turn-around), with no sign of Tommy anywhere, JD feared his competition was right behind him. Not wanting to show vulnerability by looking back, JD put foot to pavement, pounded out the remaining miles, including a negative split on the last, all-uphill mile. On the verge of hurling, but avoiding it so as not to soil his shoes, JD finished in 66:54, just nine seconds short of his 10-mile PR, run the previous spring on a much easier course. Feeling pretty good about the race, JD ran into Tommy later in the finish area, who admitted to having way too much fun the night before, and could only jog easy the whole way. He never even saw JD, who was too far ahead. Sometimes you run your best race when chased by a ghost with a hangover.

Heather: 2009 Run the River 50K

Heather’s most memorable race was run just last year at the 2009 Run the River 50K along the American River Trail. When asked what made the race memorable, Heather said “it took a long time, and I was really hungry.” The week following the race she vowed never to run again, but a few days later, after her legs recovered, she was ready for another adventure. Heather says she enjoyed the casual nature of the event and how friendly all the competitors were to each other. The other runners on the course thought she was crazy for never having run a marathon prior to completing her first ultra (any distance greater than a marathon, a 50K is equal to 31.5 miles), and told her not to worry if she had to walk. But, of course, she didn’t need to.

Heather (right)at the GVH Holiday Party


Niki: 2006 New York City Marathon

Niki’s most memorable race is the 2006 New York City Marathon (see photo at the top of the page). Not only was this event her first marathon, but she ran the whole way with her dad. Niki’s dad, Jerry, has been a runner his entire life, but had only run one marathon prior to this race (the 1990 LA Marathon). Niki thought it would be a good father-daughter bonding experience to run a marathon together, and figured it would be easy to recruit him to run a marathon in his favorite city (which it was). Together, they road the bus from the NY Public Library at 5am to the start on Staten Island, hung out for four hours in the 30 degree weather (note to self: bring sleeping bags next time), and finally started the race a little after 10am. Everything went well, until mile 20 when Jerry hit the wall. Having refused Niki’s offerings of Gu or any other on-the-go nutrition for the first 20 miles of the race because “when I did my last marathon I didn’t need any of that,” Jerry had started to suffer. Niki finally convinced him to try some Gu, and after a walk break, some Gu, and a bite of a Snickers Marathon Bar (not to mention some Tylenol), they were back in the game. Jerry’s response? “Well, if it works this well, it can’t be good for you.”

Chrissie: 2003 Catalina Marathon


Chrissie’s most memorable race was the 2003 Catalina Marathon. Along with her family, Chrissie travelled to sunny Southern California for a beautiful weekend on CatalinaIsland. They expected sun, fun on the beach, hiking, and a beautiful southern California getaway. Mother Nature had other plans, and it just so happened that a monsoon blew in that weekend. On marathon Saturday, it rained five inches on the trails of Catalina Island. Chrissie had planned exactly what cute running outfit she was going to wear, but never would have guessed she would run the entire race in a jumbo garbage bag. Despite the inclement weather, the Catalina Marathon is a cult race, and Chrissie ended up meeting and running with some “old dudes” who had run the marathon “thousands” of times. They kept hercompany, told her funny stories, and took her mind off the rain, hail, and adobe mud. Chrissie says even with the unexpected weather, the race was “hysterically fun.” After the race, Chrissie threw her socks and shoes in the trash. They had a good last hurrah.


Carol: 2008 Nike Women’s Half-Marathon

Carol (circled) before her second half-marathon

Carol’s most memorable race was her first half-marathon. She had only started running September of the year before, and never thought she could run a half-marathon. When she left for the race start, Carol says stepping around the corner and seeing where the race started at Union Square (along with the other 28,000 female participants), brought on the tears. The race was challenging but fun, and Carol says when she turned the corner onto the Great Highway and saw the finish line she cried, and then when she crossed the finish line, she cried again. That’s three bouts of tears in 13.1 miles. Carol says she never in a million years thought she would be able to run a half-marathon. She has since completed four more half-marathons, and says there is nothing she thinks she can’t do, because “I sure as hell didn’t think I could do that!”


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