Press Room

Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon Rides Upward Trend In Marathoning

Human Interest Stories Abundant for Sunday, March 7 Race

NOTE TO EDITORS: Short profile stories are included in this release about Napa Valley Marathon entrants Cynthia Bras (Concord, CA), Anita Lewis (St. Helena, CA), Annemarie Walsh (Napa, CA), Tristan Miller (Melbourne, Australia), Rodrigue Paradis (Quebec, Canada), Emmet McCarthy (Gilroy, CA), Josh Roseman (Brooklyn NY), Linda Garrett (Mt. View, CA), Pablo Aguilera (Redwood City, CA), Michael Deetz (San Bernardino, CA), Jody Lashinski (Sebastopol, CA), Charles Yoakum (San Anselmo, CA), and Steven Yee (Renton, WA). We will gladly provide you with additional information about these entrants or other entrants.

 NAPA, Calif. — February 12, 2010 — When 286 runners crossed the finish line at the inaugural Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) in 1979, none of them imagined that they were pioneers in a sport that would grow to almost half a million finishers annually in U.S. marathons alone. In fact, when a sold-out crowd of 2,300 participants from 43 U.S. states and 12 countries line up for the 32nd Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon on Sunday, March 7, 2010, each runner’s personal story will provide a telling tale about the popularity of marathoning today.

In 2009, there were 408 marathon races, and 468,000 marathon finishes in the U.S. according to a report that is about to be published by The finisher count represents an all-time high, an increase of 9.9 percent from 2008, and the largest year-to-year growth in finisher numbers during the last decade. Two other sources that compile data about road racing— the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) and Running USA—report similar statistics.

In comparison, there were only 75 U.S. marathons and 5,970 marathon finishers in 1970 according to ARRS. So, marathon participation has increased almost 80-fold over the last two decades. Why do distance runners and fitness devotees from every walk of life continue to travel to, and participate in, marathons despite a pallid economy?
“Marathons are tied to a positive sense of community and family endeavors,” said Ryan Lamppa, the Media Director of Running USA, a prominent non-profit organization that serves the running industry. “People have put marathon running at the top of their priority lists because running makes you feel good, it’s fun, provides great exercise, and it helps you blow off stress. Running gives you something that you can control, as opposed to the stock market and maybe even your job. Runners decide when they’re going to run and how far they’ll run.”

The Napa Valley Marathon was only the 139th largest marathon worldwide in 2009 in terms of totals finishers, but its finisher count of 1,822 was the highest in the 31-year history of the race. The popular event reaches its 2,300 limit for entrants every year. The current limit was set by race officials in 2005. At that time, entry limits for the race were largely determined by the number of available hotel rooms in the world-renowned Napa Valley wine producing and tasting region. Last year, the ING New York City Marathon recorded 43,633 finishers and the distinction as the world’s largest marathon. Ten marathons in the world had 20,000 or more finishers.

These numbers support significant economic impact figures associated with the sport of marathon running, and road racing in general. An economic assessment conducted by Napa Valley Marathon Co-Race Director David Hill in 2004 estimated the local economic impact of the NVM between $593,000 and $1,465,000 annually in direct spending.

The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon asks each marathon registrant to submit a short “interesting story” about their motivations for running the 26.2-mile race. A selection of these stories appears below.

Cynthia (Cindy) Bras, 49, of Concord, CA has multiple sclerosis, but it doesn’t prevent her from setting challenges for herself, such as tackling her first marathon at NVM to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday in July. In fact, inspired by her determination, Bras’ husband, Gregory, 51, and her son, Justin, 22, will join her by running their debut marathon at NVM. Jonathan Poei (29, Vacaville, CA,), a co-worker and friend of Bras, will also run with the Bras crew.

“I’ve learned that I love running,” said Bras, who rises at 4 a.m. to run before her demanding work days as a civilian resource manager for the U.S. Army. “Exercising improves my energy level to get me through the day, and it also relieves pain associated with MS. My neurologist is just thrilled for me.”

Anita Lewis, 66, of St. Helena, CA started running over 30 years ago. The Napa Valley Marathon will be her second marathon ever. She is the oldest women entered in the race to date. Lewis trains with her running companion, a Giant Schnauzer, on the roads in and around her 161-acre ranch.

“My goal is to finish the marathon and not finish last,” she said.

Annemarie Walsh, 18, of Napa is tackling this year’s NVM to fulfill her Senior Project at Napa High School. Walsh is a distance runner on the high school’s track team. To fulfill her requirement, Walsh has researched and composed a thesis about marathons and the benefits of exercise, and has trained for the race under her mentor, Greg Stueland, 59, of Napa. Stueland, a part-time employee at the Napa Running Company, is an experienced marathoner who will also run in the race.

Tristan Miller, 33, of Melbourne, Australia lost his job at a high profile internet company, so he set out on a run around the world. Miller is attempting to complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks in more than 44 countries. The Napa Valley Marathon will be his 11th marathon in 11 consecutive weeks during 2010. During his marathon journey, Miller will try and raise over $100,000 AUD ($88,500 USD) for UNICEF through donations. For more information, visit

Rodrigue Paradis, 55, a NVM entrant from Quebec, Canada, has registered almost 40 marathon finishes all over the world.

“For me, running marathons is the best excuse to travel with my wife, my faithful cheer leader,” Paradis said. “As soon as a marathon is finished, I’m looking for the next one.”

Emmet McCarthy, 40, of Gilroy, CA and his sister, Colleen Thigpen, 43, of Oakland, CA will run in the Napa Valley Marathon in honor of their brother, Joseph Patrick McCarthy, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1987. In 2000, they ran their first NVM accompanied by three other family members and wore T-shirts that read JPMC-HCW (Heaven Couldn’t Wait). The McCarthy siblings all started running at an early age, following the footsteps of their father, a retired distance runner.

Josh Roseman, 42, a jazz trombonist who splits his time between Brooklyn, NY and the south San Francisco Bay Area when he’s not on tour, began exercising last May to lose excess weight. By December, he felt he was in good enough shape to tackle a marathon.. On December 31, he entered the NVM. making a resolution to challenge himself. He will run the race with his father, Dan Roseman, 67, a Newton, MA-based dentist who is an experienced marathoner, cyclist, and rower.

Roseman said that his music and running complement each other. “The basic principles in music and running are very similar,” he said.

Linda Garrett, 37, of Mt. View, CA grew up in South Africa where she watched her father compete in the Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon (approximately 56 miles) ten times. Both her father and mother were also longtime volunteers on the race’s organizing committee. Garrett will run her first marathon at NVM with expectations of qualifying for the 2011 Comrades Marathon and crossing the Comrades finish line in her hometown of Pietermatitzburg. Garrett’s parents, visiting from South Africa, will cheer on their daughter at Napa.

Pablo Aguilera, 24, of Redwood City, CA is running NVM with a goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for running a marathon while dribbling a basketball. The current record is 3 hours, 48 minutes, and 23 seconds. The Stanford University grad and social studies teacher at Woodside High School has initiated a campaign called “Upward Bounce.” The campaign raises awareness of the high costs of the college application process, and raises funds for Stanford College Prep, an organization that helps low-income high school students on the San Francisco Mid-Peninsula prepare for and pursue a college education.

For Michael Deetz, 49, of San Bernardino, CA, NVM will be his 18th marathon. Deetz is a cancer survivor who, in 1991 was diagnosed with stage IV (advanced) Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Subsequently, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy to fight three separate bouts with the disease, and received a bone marrow transplant. Through his running, and his speaking engagements, Deetz has raised over $8,000 for cancer-related charities.

“My perspective on life has been changed,” said Deetz. “I realize that some days are better than others, but there really is no such thing as a bad day.”

Ten years ago, Jody Lashinski, 47, of Sebastopol, CA, a veteran runner, had open-heart surgery to repair an Atrial septal defect (ASD, sometimes called a “hole” in the heart). She also had recurrent pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart. Lashinski has been healthy for the past five years and her cardiologist has given her the go-ahead to resume marathon running. She has trained for, and entered, NVM with a friend, Sarah Ghazzagh, 33, of Santa Rosa, CA who will be running her first marathon.

“Running has been a saving grace for me,” Lashinski said. “It has allowed me to get through many things and do many things.”

NVM entrant Charles Yoakum, 44, of San Anselmo, CA, a runner since adolescence, started working in running stores when he was a teenager. He has managed the Napa Running Company in Napa and currently owns the Marin Running Company in San Anselmo. Yoakum manages daily training runs despite commitments to his business, and to a family that includes two young daughters. He hasn’t tired of road racing.

“I believe that no matter what age you are, when you pin on the number, you have a responsibility to run well and test yourself,” said Yoakum. “Part of the joy of racing is to see what you can do on that day.”

Steven Yee, 50, of Renton, WA will lead a group of about 25 runners to NVM. All have an addiction to marathon running and membership in the Marathon Maniacs, an Internet-based running club with over 2,200 runners located in all 50 states and a dozen countries. Yee, the President of the club, last ran NVM in 2005 during a streak composed of 52 marathons that year. Napa is one of his favorite races because he enjoys the beautiful Napa wine growing region.

The 2010 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon starts on Sunday, March 7 at 7:00 a.m. sharp in Calistoga on the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The marathon’s fast, USA Track & Field certified (for accurate distance) road course runs the length of the beautiful Silverado Trail and finishes at Vintage High School in Napa.

Entry slots are still available for the companion Kiwanis 5K Fun Run, which starts (8 a.m.) and finishes at Vintage High School on marathon morning.

Every Napa Valley Marathon participant assists important local causes. All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities and schools in the Napa Valley region. For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, please visit the marathon’s web site at

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The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from Kaiser Permanente/Thrive, Calistoga Mineral Water Company, ASICS America Corporation, Gatorade, , Silverado Trail Wineries Association, Marathon & Beyond, Road Runners Club of America, USA Track & Field, MarathonFoto, Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, GU, CBS 5, Napa Valley Register, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, KVON 1440 AM, the Napa Running Company, KCBS 740 AM, Silverado Brewing Company, Napa Valley Bike Tours, Wine Country Inn/Napa Valley, Clover Stornetta Dairy, and Calistoga Bed & Breakfast Consortium.

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Mark Winitz
Win-It!z Sports Public Relations
Tel: (650) 948-0618