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Runner, coach Litzenberg stays competitive

Sonoma Valley High School head cross-country coach and long-distance running standout John Litzenberg leads his Dragon runners on a Wednesday workout jaunt at the high school in preparation for the annual Alumni Meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the Maxwell Farms Regional Park course. Steven Serafini/Index-Tribune

Sonoma Valley High School head cross-country coach and long-distance running standout John Litzenberg leads his Dragon runners on a Wednesday workout jaunt at the high school in preparation for the annual Alumni Meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the Maxwell Farms Regional Park course. Steven Serafini/Index-Tribune

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With the Sonoma Valley High School fall sports season just getting underway, Glen Ellen resident and standout long-distance runner John Litzenberg is currently tending to his duties of preparing his Dragon runners as Sonoma’s head cross-country coach.

But Litzenberg, an SVHS (1988) and Columbia University (1992) graduate and long-distance running star, continues to race at a high level and has had another busy, but successful, competitive spring and summer racing season.

In a pair of June races, Litzenberg, 44, a multi-10K-race champion, again won Sonoma’s annual and popular Hit the Road Jack 10K title in 34:49.

Then Litzenberg ran the famed and grueling seven-mile Dipsea Race from Mill Valley, over Mount Tamalpais, to Stinson Beach, and turned in another strong effort that saw him finish in 23rd place with a time of 55 minutes, 55 seconds and earn his 14th straight, and 16th overall, prized black shirt.

At the oldest 10K in California, Litzenberg ran faster than the previous year and, while again winning the master’s men’s division, posted an eighth-place finish at the Kenwood Footrace on Fourth of July in 35:27.

Also in July, Litzenberg won the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon masters division, while finishing 10th overall in a field of world-class runners, running the 13.1-mile race in 1:13:22.

Earlier this month, Litzenberg competed in the 30th annual Run for the Seals and claimed a second-place overall finish, covering the four-mile Marin Headlands course in 22:39.

Next up for Litzenberg includes coaching his cross-country Dragons while participating in Sonoma’s annual Alumni Meet on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the Maxwell Farms Regional Park course, followed by his participation in the San Francisco Giants’ annual Giant Race 5K at AT&T Park on Sunday, Sept. 7.