2014 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon

Celebrating Northern California Marathons

The theme for the 36th running of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon is a celebration of the marathon-running tradition of Northern California. Race directors and former race directors of a half-dozen of the northern Golden State’s marathons will be featured in a 90-minute special panel from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 at the long-running Marathon College at the host Marriott Napa Valley. Joe Henderson will once again be the moderator.

The featured panelists are:

Gene Brtalik
Event Director
Oakland Running Festival

Gene BrtalikGene is the general manager of West Coast operations for Corrigan Sports Enterprises. In that capacity, he oversees the Oakland Running Festival, Hella-Ween 5-Miler, Raiders Back to Football 5K, and the Bay Area 10-Miler series. Brtalik relocated to California six years ago to follow his now wife. In an attempt to keep his job with Corrigan Sports Enterprises, he pitched the idea of the Oakland Running Festival to his boss. After numerous calls and meetings, his dream was made a reality in March of 2010 with the inaugural Oakland Running Festival. In four years, the event has grown by 3,000 runners and CSE now features five West Coast running events.


David Hill
Co-Race Director
Napa Valley Marathon, Inc.

Dave HillDavid, along with NVM board chairman Rich Benyo, have greatly augmented the reputation and status of “the biggest little marathon in the West” over the past 19 years. Through a controlled growth and careful selection of sponsors and community partners, they have built a marathon worthy of world-class status. With a sell-out cap of 2,800 runners, the board and more than 1,000 volunteers manage to give personal attention to each runner. Accolades from American Express Departures and Forbes Travel Magazine designated the NVM as one of the top 10 marathons in the world worth traveling for. The race has on numerous occasions been a Road Runners Club of America championship event. Before his retirement, David worked in the fraud division of the California Franchise Tax Board.


John Mansoor
Former Race Director
California International Marathon

John MansoorJohn Mansoor helmed the California International Marathon for some 30 years, building it into one of the premiere marathons in the West. He and his wife Heike run the Pacific Association of the United States Track & Field Association. He is still very much involved with USA Track & Field, serving as co-meet director for the 2014 USA Outdoor Track Championships in Sacramento and the 2013 NCAA West Region Cross-Country Championships. John ran a 2:18 marathon in the early 1980s. He is co-founder of the Sacramento Long Distance Running Association, now the Sacramento Running Association. After a 30-year layoff from competitive running, John has returned with a vengeance, turning in outstanding performances in the masters’ divisions, especially in the half-marathon.


Doug Thurston
Race Director
Big Sur International Marathon

Doug ThurstonDoug was named race director/executive director of the Big Sur International Marathon in March of 2013. He has been in the running event industry for 30 years, both as a journalist and as race director of major marathons and/or shorter races in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan, and Sacramento, California. He was director of course operations for the Rock’n’Roll marathon series from 2009 until early 2013. Thurston is an IAAF/AIMS Level A course measurer, one of only 22 in the U.S. He has completed more than 600 road races around the world, including 25 marathons.


Cynthia Timek
R ace Director
Avenue of the Giants Marathon

Cynthia TimekCynthia has been involved in running since 1978. She started by volunteering at Six Rivers Running Club races when her husband was elected to the board of directors. Inspired by a great group of runners and volunteers, people with integrity and enthusiasm for life, she wanted to be part of the group. As a race director, she brings experience in fundraising, community outreach, and cooperation with business leaders and organizers from other non-profit groups. Next May’s running of the famed Avenue of the Giants Marathon will be her seventh as race director. The race is noted for its beautiful course, small-town approach to running, and personal touches.


Les Wright
Former Race Director
Lake Tahoe Marathon

Les WrightLes Wright founded the Lake Tahoe Marathon in 1996 after a 30-year career as a physical education teacher and coach. He ran his first of a dozen marathons at age 56, a few years after starting the LTM, just to see what all the fuss was about. The Lake Tahoe Marathon has evolved over the years to four days of running, biking, swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, and speed golf. Les recently sold his Lake Tahoe Marathon. Les and his wife Buffy live on Maui part-time, where six years ago Les started the Maui Oceanfront Marathon, held annually over the Martin Luther King holiday.