Sometimes we have to look to the past for inspiration. Petaluma, as we all know, was and still is know for chickens. Yeah, we are chicken town USA but we also have a rich history in running and not after chickens!
Petaluma had the first marathon west of the Mississippi that ran from 1935 – 1959. The courses varied from the 1935 three loop course starting and finishing on the Petaluma High School Track. Yup, the same track that the P-town kids train on today! The winner was Leland Smith, USA, in 3:23:11. In 1936-41 the race was a point- to- point course from Cunningham Stations southeast of Sebastopol, through Santa Rosa, and finishing in Petaluma. In 1939 a Petaluma Boy, Clarence Hall, ran a 2:52:00 to claim first place and a World ranking! In 1942-54 the course changed to three loops, starting and finishing at Kenilworth Park. The course record was 2:44:50. In 1955-59 a five loop course was introduced, starting and finishing at the Old Adobe.
The Spartan Running Club of Petaluma was world famous for having outstanding runners. Long before Ultra Marathonman Dean Karnazes, the laced up a pair of shoes, Petaluma runner, Gaudencio Alana won the 1922 thirty mile National Athletic Club Marathon. He also entered the “Great American Footrace” in 1928. This Ultra-Ultra, was a Transcontinental Foot Race which started at Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles and finished in Madison Square Garden in New York. A total of 55 runners took park in this epic event. The runners averaged 40 miles a day. The longest distance was 74.6 miles. Total mileage was 3,422.3! The race took 84 days to run. This was long before gel shoes, gu and sport drinks!
In those days of only rosters could run – no chicks allowed. Clearly, we will have to rewrite the wrongs and have a half marathon or marathon that will include everyone in the Hen House!