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Posted: February 14, 2009  :

Athletics: Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon Draws Committed Racers

Soldier in Kuwait is Among Participants for Sunday, March 1 Race

NAPA, Calif. - February 13, 2009 - When a sold-out crowd of 2,300 participants line up for the 31st Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon on Sunday, March 1, 2009, each runner will carry with them a personal story about why they are tackling the challenging 26.2-mile distance. Their stories are as varied as the backgrounds of the race entrants from 40 U.S. states and 11 foreign countries.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Stories follow about entrants Tim Burgess (Healdsburg, Calif.), Janet Cain (Sonoma, Calif.), Harry Cadelago (Napa), Steve Radigan (Fremont, Calif.), Jo Groner (Lake Oswego, Ore.), Mark Groner (Centennial, Colo.), and Jean Pommier (Cupertino, Calif.).

U.S. Army Major Tim Burgess will write home about a particularly unique marathon experience. Although he'd like to line up with his running friends at the starting line for his second Napa Valley Marathon, Burgess has a job that won't allow him to do that. The 37-year-old resident of Healdsburg, Calif. is an Electronic Warfare Officer based in northern Kuwait where he's stationed at Camp Virginia to support war operations in Iraq. So, Burgess will run the Napa Valley Marathon "remotely" and cover 26.2 miles by running multiple circuits of a five-mile-plus loop around his camp. When he does it on race morning (March 1) he will be the event's first finisher in 2009. The time in Kuwait is 11 hours ahead of California's.

Last year, Burgess ran the Napa Valley Marathon -- his second marathon race ever -- with three friends from work and finished in 4 hours, 31 minutes, and 33 seconds. Then, he was recalled into the Army and returned to active duty last August.

"I love the Napa Valley Marathon race and I love the route, plus I live next door in Sonoma County, so I didn't want to miss it," Burgess said. "Plus, I do better if I'm working towards a goal. Training for the race helps me to structure my day and plan my routine."

Since Burgess is involved with inspecting and troubleshooting military equipment from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, his training runs are at 6 a.m. He also teaches spinning classes on the stationary bicycle, so he spins on the bike over 12 hours a week.

Three Medics will support Burgess during his marathon race and provide refreshment at aid stations, plus several soldiers will run a lap or so with him. He hopes other soldiers will cheer him on. The morning temperatures at Camp Virginia have hovered in the 50s and 60s, but they'll rise to 100 degrees by mid March, On race morning, the weather should be perfect for good running, according to Burgess, unless a sandstorm hits.

"I think I should be able to finish in 4:30," said Burgess. "I've had a little case of Achilles tendonitis, and I haven't been able to do as many long (training) runs as I did last year. So, I'll have to keep my pace a little slower than I'd like."

Burgess will carefully record his finishing time and submit it to race organizers who will include him in the official marathon race results.

Dr. Janet Cain, 57, a clinical psychologist who lives in Sonoma, Calif. and has a professional office in Napa, will return to this year's Napa Valley Marathon following an excellent run last year. Cain expects to improve upon her age-group-winning time of 3:31:57, which was among the top 15 U.S. performances in the 55-59 age group in 2008 according to Cain says that training guidance from Dick Beardsley has enhanced her fitness and competitiveness. Beardsley, a world class marathoner in the 1980s, holds the men's all-time Napa Valley Marathon record (2:16:20, 1987).

"For the past year, Dick has had me doing interval (speed work) training for the first time in my life," commented Cain, a running veteran of 33 years. "Also, I recently had a really good 24-mile training run on the marathon course, and came in at about 3:18. So, I'm really optimistic."

Cain won a marathon in Rome, Italy in 1985, in a personal best time of 2:50:00. She will run her 50th marathon in Boston this coming April.

"But Napa is my favorite marathon," Cain commented. "It's just beautiful."

Harry Cadelago, 61, is intimately familiar with the spectacular scenery along the marathon course, which stretches the length of the Napa Valley past world-famous vineyards, flowering fruit trees, and colorful mustard fields. Cadelago lives two blocks from the finish line at Vintage High School in Napa. He has run every Napa Valley Marathon except for one since the inaugural race in 1979, and he has completed all 29 of them.

Until 1992 Cadelago ran the race with his father, Harry Cadelago, Senior. About two weeks before that year's marathon, Harry's dad passed away. Although he was heartbroken, Cadelago managed to finish, but barely.

"I was emotionally spent at about mile 22," recalled Cadelago, who is the Director of Instrumental Music at Napa High School. "I started walking, and asked myself 'what am I doing here?' But, I felt my dad's presence."

At that point, a fellow runner, who Cadelago speculated was about his father's age, offered him some lemon drops, The boost gave him the energy to finish.

In 2006 and 2007, Cadelago ran the marathon with his daughter, Angela Cullinger. This year, Cullinger, an opera singer, is performing in an upcoming opera, and won't be able to race. So, Harry is on his own again, but he carries a photo of his dad in his cap during the marathon.

"I think I run it more for him now," said Cadelago. "I'm getting older myself, but it's a test of whether I can still do it."

Steve Radigan, 57, of Fremont, Calif. is also still doing it. He's run all 30 Napa Valley Marathons and is entered once more.

Jo Groner, 63, of Lake Oswego, Ore. has run over 120 marathons and has a personal best of 3:57. His son, Mark Groner, 37, of Centennial, Colo. has run almost as many. This year's Napa Valley Marathon will be the younger Groner's 100th. Father and son plan to run the race together.

"Neither of us has run the Napa Valley Marathon, but we'll put both of our passions -- wine and marathoning -- together for a very special day," said Mark Groner.

Jean Pommier, 45, of Cupertino, Calif. is also familiar with wine and long races. The Vice President of ILOG, a software company recently acquired by IBM, moved to the U.S. from France in 1999. He has never run the Marathon du Médoc, a marathon held in France's Médoc wine country, which is world famous for its wine tasting stands along the course.

In Napa's wine country, however, the dual citizen of France and the U.S. will contend for a specially etched bottle of Napa Valley wine. The wine bottles are awarded to the first place overall and masters (age 40 and over) runners to recognize the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) National Marathon Champions. (The 2009 edition of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon has again been selected by the RRCA as its National Marathon Championship, a designation it has received since 1998.)

Pommier will compete in his first Napa Valley Marathon on his 45th birthday, an occasion he hopes to commemorate with a 2:45:00 finish. Although he's run competitively for just ten years, and sports a fine 2:37:00 marathon personal best, for the past two years Pommier has earned a reputation as a talented ultra-distance runner. Pommier has placed among the top three in a number of ultrarunning events ranging from 50 kilometers to 100 miles. In fact, recently the prolific runner received the 2008 Ultrarunner of the Year Award bestowed by the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field.

In 2006, Alex Tilson, a standout ultrarunner who holds the U.S. 50 kilometer road record, won the Napa Valley Marathon in a winning time of 2:32:17. Pommier's aspirations, however, are more modest.

"I'm just hoping to run under 2:45," Pommier said. "I'd like to think, and demonstrate, that (each year) I can keep running marathons under two hours and my age in minutes. A 2:45 will also give me a good qualifying time for the Boston and New York City marathons. But, the beginning of my season has been disrupted by shin splints, which impacted my training. So, I'll need a perfect race."

The 2009 Napa Valley Marathon has once again filled to its capacity of 2,300 runners.

"Amidst the difficult times and economy that we're all experiencing, the Napa Valley Marathon is very fortunate that 2,300 dedicated runners and their friends and families have elected to come to the Napa Valley for our 31st annual race," said Co-Race Director David Hill. "We aim to maintain our reputation for excellence and our unofficial title as the Biggest Little Marathon in the West."

The marathon starts on Sunday, March 1 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. Top runners are expected to reach the finish between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Runners will receive official times up until 1:00 p.m. when the course closes.

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.

Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon weekend includes a Sports and Fitness Expo, Saturday, February 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. Also on Saturday's slate is the marathon's popular Marathon College, an innovative speaker/seminar program that includes a "faculty" composed of respected running authorities and celebrity runners.

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. In addition, an economic assessment conducted by the marathon in 2004 estimated that the local economic impact of the marathon is between $593,000 and $1,465,000 annually in direct spending. The average marathon participant brings two additional people with them for the race.

For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, please visit the marathon's web site at

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

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