The Starting 9

Anyone who knows me on a personal level, knows I have been a Los Angles Dodgers fan since I was a boy.  I remember going to Dodger Stadium only once as a kid and I was able to see Orel Hershiser walk through the bullpen.  Through the good years and the bad years, I will always bleed blue.  Since I am such a Dodgers fan, people often wonder why I run the Giant Race.

Giant Race

2013 The Giant RaceThe Giant Race began in 2009 and currently is partnered with Project Open Hand, Charro Foundation, Junior Giants, and Junior Achievement NorCal.  The course is an out and back route starting just outside AT&T Park, running along the Embarcadero under the Bay Bridge, past Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square, along Marina Blvd., past Crissy Field, almost to Fort Point with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge before turning back and finishing on the field at AT&T Park.  Passing by so many landmarks in San Francisco, who would not want to run the Giant Race?
I discovered the Giant Race in 2013 and being a Dodgers fan, I knew I had to run it.  Since the Dodgers and Giants rivalry in baseball, I knew I would be heckled.  And heckled I was, but I never saw the guy because he could not keep up.  At one point, a San Francisco Police Officer asked if I had taken a wrong turn.  We had a quick laugh and I continued on.  The running community is generally a welcoming one and those at the Giant Race were no different.

Stop Fan Violence!

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In September of 2013, I attended a baseball game at AT&T Park between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.  After the game, there was a brawl between two sets of fans that ended with the death of Jonathan Denver.  I did not know him, but I was deeply bothered by the senseless violence.  When I returned to the Giant Race in 2014, I returned with a message, “STOP FAN VIOLENCE!”

2011 Santa Cruz Half Marathon

This was not the first message I have had during a race.  In March of 2011, at Dodger Stadium, Bryan Stow was viciously attacked after the game leaving him with permanent disabilities.  Deeply bothered by this, new to running, and scheduled to run my 2nd half marathon in Santa Cruz, I decided to paint one of my Dodgers jerseys with orange and the message, “Get Well Bryan Stow.”  I then wore the jersey again at the 100th Annual Bay to Breakers in San Francisco.  It was my hope that I could show most Dodgers fans, like most Giants fans, do not condone violence at sporting events.

My running buddy and life-long Giants fan, Mohawk Man, was being interviewed after the 2014 Giant Race.  Because I was in my Dodgers gear, the interviewer pretty much did not acknowledge my existence.  Standing next to Mohawk Man, I simply turned around so the camera and everyone else in the stadium could see my message.

STOP FAN VIOLENCE!

A month later, I was at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation 5k with the same message.

A year later, again in Dodgers gear, I returned to the Giant Race with the same message.  Surrounded by a sea of orange and black fielding looks of confusion, the race started.  Through the music in my headphones, I could hear the announcer as I passed through the starting line.  When he first saw me, he pointed out I was a Dodgers fan.  Then as I passed and he read the message on my shirt he called me a “true baseball fan” and read my message, “STOP FAN VIOLENCE!”  I finally felt like my message was getting across.

The Starting 9

Recently, the Giant Race announced their new The Starting 9 Ambassador Program.  They are looking to “draft the nine most enthusiastic Giant Racers who are engaged in the community, have a passion for health and wellness, and aren’t afraid to show off how awesome they are.”  I think I fit their criteria so I decided to apply.  There are going to be a lot of applicants and I hope being a Dodgers fan does not automatically disqualify me.  Presenting a message of unity against violence is something we can all get behind.

Whether or not I am selected to The Starting 9 Ambassador Program, I will still be at the Giant Race in my Dodgers gear promoting my message against violence.

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