BIW Crew at Berkeley Half Marathon

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On November 24th, a crew of Touchstone members and staff ran the Berkeley Half Marathon. The race followed a beautiful and scenic course through Berkeley and helped to raise funds fro Berkeley Public Schools Fund, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, and Berkeley Partner for Parks. Touchstone manager, Lyn Verinsky wrote a bit about the race for the Touchstone blog.

When I first heard that the city of Berkeley was going to host their first-ever half marathon, I thought, how cool would it be to get a team of runners from Berkeley Ironworks to run the race? So BIW created a team and since we are such an eclectic place, I decided that spots on the team would be based not on running ability, speed or anything related to performance, but rather by folks inspiring us by overcoming challenges or making us laugh with their funny stories or just telling us about why they love BIW a whole heck of a lot. Here are snippets from the essays written by three of the member-runners who made the team:


Most of the team assembled pre-race.  Evangeline Black, Danielle Parfitt, Robin Puro, Zach Stauffer, Lyn Barraza, Amy Stauffer, Jessica Reddit, Sam Schwartz, Pat Hastings, Peter Marietta, Chris Ahlgren, Ponon Shyu, Phil Yip, Ari Oppenheimer.

 Peter Marietta – When I was in high school, I was a multi-sport athlete. I was active, fit, and had the endurance of a horse. I grew up athletic, and organized sports were a big part of my life. After I graduated, I slowed down significantly.


MC deskstaff Maxine Speier and Lyn Barraza try to stay warm before the run.

 Over the years, as it tends to happen, I lost my muscle tone, my lung capacity, and my general shape. . . One day, I saw a photo of myself, taken at a wedding. Beer in hand, face round and soft, body pear-shaped and a little bloated. Ugh! Is this really what I am now? What happened to my body, and when? I realized as I looked at that photo that it was time to do something. . . I joined BIW, and have been there for fourteen months. I am there multiple times a week. I run, I bike, I lift, I climb.


Jessica, Sam and Chris checking in pre-race with Amanda Robinson in London

I bring my four-year-old son with me now and again, and he loves to get up on the wall (just not very high…). He sees, though, that every day when I come home from work, I unpack my dirty exercise clothes, and get ready for the next day’s workout. I’m closer to my fighting weight, but with more muscle mass than I’ve ever had before in my life. I’m happy with myself, with my accomplishments, and with the way I look and feel. . . . So THAT is why I want to be on the BIW team for the half-marathon. I want my sons to continue to see that going out and exercising and being physically fit is just the way we are, and it’s the way we live. I want to show them that this is a lifestyle that they can adopt so that they never have to see that picture of themselves like I saw of my own self.


Jessica Reddit super psyched to be representing BIW in her amazing squirrel shirt!

Jessica Redditt – Ironworks has played a key role in introducing me to climbing and the awesome community that comes with it. When I joined BIW, I was 20 pounds overweight and fighting off depression. Within 6 months I was participating in the TRS competitions and obsessing over climbing. I met one of my best friends (Amanda) at BIW and forged many other long term friendships there as well. I felt so supported as I waddled my way through pregnancy, determined to stay active. Instead of warning me not to climb or lift, you guys handed me a pregnancy harness and said climb on! I truly feel that Ironworks is a home away from home and I feel the love every time I step through those doors.

Ponon Shyu – I love BIW. I have been a member for 10+ years. I learned how to climb there, got my lead card there, and climbed my first 12a there. I consider it a good week when I am at BIW 3-4 times. The gym makes it easy for me to be there often because I can boulder, do routes, or just work out if my fingers need a rest, and of course the awesome staff make it fun. Not only am I an avid climber, I am also an avid runner. I have completed a marathon and run in several half marathons including the Oakland Half earlier this year. When I don’t make it to BIW 3-4 times a week, it’s often because running has taken me away from BIW. Yes, I cheat on BIW with running.


Ari celebrates after a great run of 1 hour and 32 minutes.

In addition to the fifteen or so members running in our amazing 13.1 squirrel shirts, the team was incredibly lucky to have the assistance of Andrew McAleavey and Sam Schwartz who acted as our support crew and provided us with bananas, water, Clifbars and more to power us up pre-race. They also met us at the end of the race with more survival snacks and coconut water to replenish our depleted fluids. Thanks to Andrew, we have these great photos to remind us of the amazing day!


Ladies unite!  Michaela King, Danielle Parfitt, Maxine Speier, Lyn Barraza and Robin Puro bring the girl power!

So how did the run go? Well, we had multiple PRs from team members. Robin Puro who had never run farther than eight miles prior to race day, started the race with the words, “Ooh, this is fun!” and kept a smile on her face for the duration of the run. Chris Ahlgren finished the race with a PR of 1 hour 47 minutes and his partner Evangeline Black had a PR of 2 hours 14 minutes in her first ever half marathon. Zach Stauffer had the fastest time of all the team members with an impressive 1 hour and 29 minute performance. It was also fun to see all the BIW members and staff out running who were not on the team. There was a brief sighting of Wendy Georges, spin instructor extraordinaire, on her way to her first place finish in her age category.

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Team BIW post run!  We love babies!

The run was a great reminder of what an amazing community we have at BIW – a group of active, engaged people with a love of being fit, making and meeting challenges and striving to be better in many areas of our lives. It was a real treat and privilege to run, talk and celebrate beside all of you and I look forward to many more opportunities to do so!