Litzenberg runs to a 100-year-racing anniversary trifecta
Standout Valley runner John Litzenberg races to the Plaza finish line during the 2008 Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half-Marathon.
No matter where the location is, what the weather is like, and who he’s competing against, John Litzenberg of Glen Ellen – one of the Valley’s top distance runners – will be at the starting line ready to race with speed, determination and the will power to overcome any obstacle on his way to the finish line.
Over the years, Litzenberg – a Sonoma Valley High School (1988) and Columbia University (1992) graduate and long-distance running star – has compiled some big wins and record times, but three racing moments will remain at the top of his list of accomplishments because of the historical significance of those special events.
Litzenberg recently completed the trifecta of 100th anniversary races by finishing 64th overall – the second-fastest master’s finisher – at the 100th annual, and popular, San Francisco Bay to Breakers and ran the 12K in 41 minutes, 47 seconds.
Along with running both the famed 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, and the legendary and challenging 100th Dipsea – starting in Mill Valley, crossing over Mount Tamalpais, and ending in Bolinas – last year, Litzenberg scored his running trey of the big-three century mark United States races.
What was impressive about his strong effort at the Bay to Breakers was that just the day before the large San Francisco race, Litzenberg won, again, the annual Sonoma Valley Footrace and Festival 5K at the Sonoma Developmental Center.
Leading up to the Bay to Breakers and Sonoma Valley Footrace, Litzenberg achieved a personal running milestone by claiming his first victory in 11 marathons, winning the 40th annual Avenue of the Giants Marathon in Humboldt County on May 1, with a time of 2 hours, 38 minutes, 54 seconds.
The marathon was also this year's California championship race for the Road Runners Club of America, so Litzenberg garnered two title plaques with one running triumph.
Litzenberg also won three other early 2011 races, including the inaugural Kathy's Race 5K – established in memory of Kathy (Dalton) Van Riper, a SVHS graduate and former high school and college star runner – at Spring Lake with a time of 16:49; the rainy Carneros Vineyard Run 10K in Napa with a time of 35:04; the Run for the Seals four-miler at the Marin Headlands with a time of 22:10; and, at the inaugural Sac Town 10-miler in Sacramento, he was third overall and the first-place masters finisher with a time of 56:56.
Another recent running accomplishment for Litzenberg came by way of his coaching.
As both a cross-country and track and field long-distance coach for the SVHS Dragons, Litzenberg trained and taught Sonoma junior (now a senior) Alex Conner so well, he now doesn’t own the school two-mile record.
At the recent North Coast Section Redwood Empire Area Meet at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, Conner broke Litzenberg’s 23-year-year-mark of 9:34.83 in the 3,200-meter race with a time of 9:30.6.
After another week of coaching and running with him, Litzenberg watched, with personal satisfaction, Conner lower his SVHS boys’ school-record 3,200 mark to 9:25.48 at the prestigious NCS Meet of Champions at Edwards Stadium on the University of California, Berkeley, campus.