Tamalpa Women's Racing Team

WHY? - To field Tamalpa teams in every age group to compete in local Pacific Association USATF Grand Prix races. To enjoy racing and training with fellow Tamalpans. To be motivated and inspired by like-minded Tamalpans. To enjoy camaraderie with your teammates.

BENEFITS: Race entry fees for designated events paid by Tamalpa. USATF Membership paid by Tamalpa. Coaching, including track workouts and training runs; mentoring from experienced teammates. Carpool to races. Post-race social gatherings with complimentary refreshments. Your name in featured Gazette articles.

QUALIFICATIONS: Be a registered Tamalpa Member. Own a Tamalpa racing uniform. Love to run and have fun!

QUALIFYING TIMES: NONE. You don’t have to be a “fast” runner. Women of all ages and abilities are valued additions to the Tamalpa team effort.

COMMITMENT: Run in at least six races during the year while wearing your Tamalpa uniform.

COST: There is no fee to join. The entire cost of participation is paid by the Club.

JOIN NOW! Contact: Janet Bowman at 924-5976, e-mail janetxx@comcast.net, or Ken Grebenstein at 927-3664, e-mail kengreb@comcast.net. for a TAMALPA WOMEN’S RACING TEAM MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION form. The form can be mailed to: Janet Bowman, 645 Chapman Drive, Corte Madera, CA 94925.

QUESTIONS? Contact: Janet Bowman at 924-5976, e-mail janetxx@comcast.net, or Ken Grebenstein at 927-3664, e-mail kengreb@comcast.net.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is PA-USATF Racing? - Team races exist in three yearly Grand Prix series, hosted by the Pacific Association of USA Track and Field. (PA-USATF is Northern California’s branch of the governing body for running in the US.) The three are Road, Ultra, and Cross Country. All three have age group divisions, so being older is no problem — you are only competing against others in your own age group. At first, the Tamalpa Women’s Team will concentrate on Cross Country (XC) because unlike the others, it is seasonal (all races are in September, October, and November) and because it fits Tamalpa’s traditional profile best: short, hilly trail races. We’ll also add a few of the nearby races from the Road series in the spring, but won’t attempt to field teams at every event.

How many races are there? - The PA XC series comprises ten races. In 2006, the National XC Championship happens to be in San Francisco, and we have added it to our list because of its prestige, although it doesn’t count in the PA Grand Prix. Teams and individuals can score their best 5 out of the first 9 PA races, plus everyone must score the final race (the PA Championship) in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Most of the races are in the Bay Area. In fact, one — the Johnny Lawson Tamalpa Challenge — is put on by Tamalpa and is held at China Camp.

How many women are on a team for a race? - A club needs a minimum of five women for an open team, and three for each of the older age groups. If fewer runners show, the team defaults and the club scores no team points for that age group in the Grand Prix. To score for Tamalpa, a runner has to wear a Tamalpa uniform and have a current USATF card declaring her club as Tamalpa. (If you are switching from another club, you must run “unattached” for 90 days before being eligible for your new club. This discourages club-hopping.)

What are these races like? - These races are very different from the familiar weekend 5K-10K road races. They are more like XC in high school or college. Almost everyone runs for a club, everyone wears a uniform, and teams start together on a very wide starting line. There are separate races for open men, master’s men, and women. Scoring is based on place, not time, so anyone in your age group you can manage to pass, no matter how far back in the pack, helps the team effort. The whole scene is very colorful, with team banners and picnics set up everywhere. The competition is tough, but the fact that you score for a team, not just for yourself, makes it feel very different — like a group endeavor. A slow runner never hurts a team — at worst, she provides insurance against a default, and at best, if she only beats another club’s slowest runner, she may be the deciding factor between her team winning or losing.

Does the team travel together? - We usually arrange car pools to the XC races, providing both transportation and an excellent opportunity to get to know teammates better. The club provides a bagel picnic after many races. For 2006, our primary goal will be simply to avoid defaults by having full teams at the six races closest to Marin. Once we achieve that, we can work on building faster teams in subsequent years.

Can I participate if I can’t commit to specific races, or I can’t do as many as six? - Yes. Everyone is welcome to join the team effort whenever they can. Every woman interested in racing is a valuable asset to our Open, Masters, seniors, or Super Seniors Women’s teams, even if she just runs one or two Pacific Association races a year. The only difference is that women unable to commit to the full six races must pay for their own entry fees and USATF card.