This month’s special issue celebrates the efforts of our club members who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.

Special Appreciation for Greg Hanssen By Amy Katz

If there’s one person who took COVID restrictions and race cancellations in stride and aimed to make the best of a challenging situation, it’s Greg Hanssen. Who would have thought that those interested in racing would have the opportunity to participate almost every month in a safe and unique courses of various distances? After hearing how much everyone enjoyed these small races put on by the club, I was excited to ask Greg some questions about how he planned out each one so successfully.

“Greg took the biggest and most restrictive challenge our club has ever had and turned it into an opportunity:  to create safe races for the club at a time when no other races were being offered.  The approach to separate each runner at the start was one that paid races started to employ many months after our club started to do this.  It was very impressive that Greg was able to create courses almost every month that avoided traffic, that had a bathroom at the start, and in many cases included multiple race distances to choose from.” — David Schiller

Which Grand Prix race have you enjoyed the most?

I probably enjoyed our first “socially distanced” 5k race on the Walnut trail at the very end of the 19/20 season the most as it was such an experiment and worked out so well. It was great to see everyone out giving it a shot after the first few freaky months of lockdown and isolation. Plus it’s right near my house so I can just jog over.

“Thank you to Greg for planning and organizing these races that have allowed us to run safely during this past year. Coming up with the various courses made each one feel distinct and unique. His efforts and those of the Grand Prix Committee and race day volunteers are much appreciated!” — Michael Tang

How do you pick a distance(s) for each race?

Well, my fellow Grand Prix commissioners Mike Friedl and Molly Donnellan are hard core old school race wonks so it’s been a blast coordinating with them on trying to come up with more creative distances and locations to keep it challenging and interesting.

“Greg has shown tremendous dedication in keeping the Grand Prix alive during the pandemic. His passion for racing in general and the Grand Prix in particular is evident in everything he does. From scouting the courses, measuring and marking prior to race day, to tirelessly promoting participation. I do of course look forward to the resumption of regular racing, but I’ve found our ‘home grown’ race series to be nearly as enjoyable – and much cheaper. For that we owe Greg a debt of gratitude.” — Mike Friedl

How do you design a course?

After fielding location suggestions (many from Steve Ireland!) I usually set out to make it as flat as possible with as few turns as possible. And, of course, wide turns are always more welcome than U-turns. The last few races with multiple distance offerings have increased the challenge, but I enjoy tackling these logistical things.

“Greg’s attention to detail, preparation, and reliability has been tremendous for all of us who ran the monthly Grand Prix races. I am particularly appreciative of how he was more than willing to take and implement our suggestions to make each race course the best it could be.” — Steve Ireland

How do you test the distance(s) of the course?

Usually on foot, sometimes with the bike, and sometimes measured on computer apps as well. I didn’t feel like walking the 12K, so I did that on a bike, but walked the other 2 Spurs to verify and chalk up distances and turn arounds.  A few of the races Joanna Pallo and/or Amy Dayao would join me the day before to jog the course and verify distance (3 Garmins is better than one right?)

“For one of our races, Greg asked me to warm up with him so he could get 2 Garmin measurements just to be sure the mile marker was accurate. I thought this was awesome and shows Greg’s commitment to precision and how much he cares about our Grand Prix.” — Phil Lam

Greg Hanssen running

“I’ve known Greg a long time, and have always admired and acknowledged his consistent and positive contributions to the SCRR.  I’ve always observed him giving a maximum effort into everything he does, and his efforts in producing the Grand Prix races are no different.” — Dave Bauers

What advice would you give to someone planning their own virtual race?

In a pandemic? Focus on the social distancing! Big areas at the start finish to spread out and timed and seeded separation between runners has worked out really well so far.  The separation coincidentally also makes the timing easier.. with runners 30s apart the manual timing at the finish isn’t as difficult.  I always chalk the course the day before but more recently Steve donated some orange cones which make the turns much more visible in the distance. Discouraging last minute sign ups also makes things easier to plan in advance. 

“Coupling his enthusiasm for the Grand Prix competition with his uncanny ability to accurately create a running or cycling route of any distance, on the fly, it was no surprise to learn that Greg took the initiative to start the SCRR Grand Prix race series when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled races worldwide. Rain, shine, humidity (come on, it’s SoCal), or back pain, Greg has been an unwavering race director providing our members with safe and fun racing opportunities.  Thank you to Greg for keeping the spirit of our sport alive, especially during these challenging times.” — Jennifer M. Woodson

Which distances are the easiest/hardest to plan?

Shorter is easiest!  It’s not that hard around here with our abundance of bike trails to find 1.55mi for a 5k or space for a mile race.  The 3 Spurs half/5k/12k was probably the most challenging given the total distance and 3 races!  I enjoy seeing all the Strava results after the race and checking that the distances were what I had calculated… a few hundredths long is ok, but not short!

“From researching prospective courses to final race day details, Greg goes above and beyond to make every Grand Prix Race a fun and memorable experience for all.” — Barbara Eckes and Victor Gambone

How do you find courses that don’t require people to stop at lights?

Well we are fairly blessed here in and around Irvine aren’t we?  Lots of nice bike trails and since we start at 7am it’s usually not very busy.

“Thank you to Greg for all of his hard work in organizing the Grand Prix races over the past year. He and the other volunteers have given us a nice event to aim for every month when everything else was shut down. Much appreciated!” — Mike Dietz

Anything else you would like to share?

Aside from the aforementioned coconspirators, I’d like to thank all the club members that trusted in us to put on a fun event and not let this terrible year shake their determination to keep running and racing!

“Greg is one of the many reasons our club is great. Every race he organized, every big and small help you provided, they are all in our hearts and made into our memories.” — Sara Song

SCRR Progress Despite the Pandemic By David Schiller

Before I dive into my article, I want to thank Amy Katz for doing a great job with the newsletter the past two years. Amy converted our newsletter into web publications using WordPress, she contributed great recipes every month, and she encouraged other people to submit articles each month, which is a difficult and thankless job. 

The newsletter has come a long way from when I was the newsletter editor back at the turn of the millennium. Back then I used to literally cut and glue columns together, photocopy them, and mail them out. We have only had a few newsletter editors since then. Cathy Shargay was our editor for over a decade (!) and then Joanna Pallo took over for 4 years from 2015-2019. Each person made improvements to the format of the newsletter, but none more so than Amy. 

Nicole Herold has generously agreed to takeover the newsletter, and Amy took the time to create a very helpful training video that shows all the steps to publishing our newsletter. It’s definitely a lot more involved than just creating a Word/pdf document and then uploading that!

Over the past year I have not always done a good job at communicating the things our club has been doing, so I thought I’d bring everyone up to date on that. The club made a lot of progress in 2020-201 despite all the COVID restrictions that eliminated nearly all paid races, prevented us from having any social events, and caused us to suspend runs twice since the pandemic started. The Board also has a list of To Do items planned for next year, and I want to share some of those in hopes of eliciting more ideas from the club.

Hats and Visors: These look great, are very comfortable, and they also give our club a little advertising. We still have many available for purchase for only $20. We bought a lot more than our initial demand because we knew members would start snapping these up once the weather warmed up and attendance at our runs and races increased.

Transition to RunSignup: I’m probably more excited about this than anyone else, since I’ve been manually updating our roster for the past 20+ years and I’ve been the only one set up to send out club emails. Those emails were set with a cumbersome GroupMail software that required several steps to update the distribution each time the roster changed. RunSignup takes a slightly higher fee than PayPal, but it automatically manages our roster and allows anyone with club admin access to send out emails to the club.

Consideration of Alternative M/Th Run Locations: The club voted to not change the location of our M/Th runs, but the investigation of possible alternative run locations put a spotlight on safety, which is always good to do, and also helped promote our Monday night run locations (Hicks Canyon or Citrus Ranch).

Club Business Cards: We have new, nice looking business cards that will be helpful for promoting our club (e.g., at our club canopy when races start up again).

Treasury Improvements: Victor Gambone has done several things to fix how our club accounts have been setup with banks, PayPal and the IRS. He also investigated alternative payment methods (e.g., RunSignup) instead of or in addition to our use of PayPal. I think the club should vote to make Victor’s tenure a lifetime appointment.

New Member Questionnaire: We added some questions to our signup process to learn more about a new member’s running goals and what motivated them to join our club.

New Club Uniforms (coming soon): Scott LaRuffa has men’s and women’s samples of a Brooks singlet that we are considering for our next batch of uniforms. Our current inventory is almost out. The Brooks price is very good (they appear to be motivated to promote their brand), so hopefully we will like the look and quality. We got a quote from Rabbit which has very good quality singlets but are unfortunately very expensive. The New Balance rep has not been responsive.

Grand Prix Committee Goes Above and Beyond: We all can’t thank the Grand Prix Committee enough for putting on so many custom races that were conducted very safely.

Ideas for the Next Board: We have an Excel file of ideas that include: (1) a poster board of info and pictures for our club canopy; (2) a training corner on our website to collect training plans for different distances, or advice on cross-training, stretching, strength training, injury prevention/treatment, etc.; (3) Tuesday track workouts (looking for a volunteer to lead those!); and (4) SCRR sponsors and partnerships to get good discounts.

If you have other suggestions for next year’s Board, please email them to me at

Treasurer’s Report By Victor Gambone

Total Cash Balance, Beginning May 1, 20215,154.70
Cash Inflows: $160.00 Membership; $20.00 Merchandise180.00
Cash Outflows-First Thursday
Cash Outflows-RRCA Membership Dues & Insurance
Cash Outflows-Banquet
Cash Outflows-Uniforms
Cash Outflows-Social Gatherings
Cash Outflows-Other: Website Fees $50.00; RunSignUp Fees $13.2863.28
Net Change in Cash   116.72
Total Cash Balance, Ending May 31, 20215271.42

“Special thanks to Victor Gambone who has provided the numbers for the Treasurer’s Report on a timely basis every month. Not only is the report accurate, he has provided extra details so that everyone understands exactly where the money is coming in and going out. Thank you for your hard work, Victor!” — Amy Katz

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