Craig Hill: Rainier to Ruston Relay gets energetic new race director

Gig Harbor’s Sabrina Seher is the new race director for the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra and B&O Half Marathon.
Gig Harbor’s Sabrina Seher is the new race director for the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra and B&O Half Marathon. Courtesy

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

Q: Who’s the new race director for the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra?

A: The Rainier to Ruston Relay seems to have all the elements of a classic Northwest running event.

It’s an inspiring idea to run 52 miles from one icon (Mount Rainier) to another (Puget Sound). For most, it’s a day that turns an individual sport into teamwork if not a traveling party. And it’s a diverse, mostly downhill course visiting quiet forest trails, a popular paved path, rural towns and downtown Tacoma.

It’s grown quite a bit from the private race John Selby started in 2003. Then it was a race among friends. Last June, 185 teams (two-six runners per team) participated while 73 others went solo and ran the entire ultramarathon.

As it strives to keep growing, Rainier to Ruston recently scored big when it hired its new race director, Sabrina Seher of Gig Harbor.

Seher, 36, is an accomplished distance runner who’s finished nearly 100 marathons over the past two years. She coaches runners and is already race director for other events, including the perpetually sold out Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon that finished in North Bend.

More importantly, she exudes a passion for running and an innate ability to inspire others of all abilities to try the sport.

“We are excited to have her,” Selby said.

Seher is already sprucing up the event. She has arranged for The Beast, a Seahawks-themed double-decker bus owned by her family and friends, to be the centerpiece of the finish line festivities. The bus is equipped with a stage, TVs, a fireman’s pole, goal posts, a replica of the Seahawks’ 2014 Super Bowl trophy and — most importantly for runners — a bar. Each runner gets a beer at the finish line, Seher said.

Rainier to Ruston is the biggest fundraiser for the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition, an organization that has previously expressed a need for an infusion of young blood. Seher’s seemingly bottomless well of energy might be just what it needs.

“The race is established and wonderful, but not enough people know about it or what it’s about,” Seher said. “Of course the race is about National Trails Day as it’s the race date. Of course it’s about building camaraderie between the runners and within the community. Of course it brings together the different scenery and communities by literally connecting them along the trail. What I think isn’t known is that the coalition is purchasing (sections of) the trail system to maintain and make available for public use.

“I would like to see this message, this passion, brought to the front and center of the community. To bring everyone together to support the cause as well as the fun of the race.”

Seher will also be the new director of the B&O Half Marathon, another fundraiser for the Foothills coalition. The race starts in Buckley and finishes in Orting, and uses unfinished sections of the Foothills Trail. With Pierce County beginning construction on this portion of the trail this year with hopes of completing the work by the end of 2017, there has been concern among some runners that B&O might be canceled.

Don’t worry, Selby says, “We are committed to doing it.”

Registration is open for both races. The Rainier to Ruston Relay is June 4. The B&O Half Marathon is July 23.

Q: What is responsive training?

A: I recently discussed this with Seher during an interview about advice for new runners. Here’s how she explains responsive training and why it’s important: “It’s where you listen to your body over your schedule or what your coach tells you. And that’s personal. That is usually somebody’s ego or experience level that gets in the way. Newer runners have a hard time because they get caught up in wanting to do more. Some people have to learn the hard way. Get the injury and then they learn.”

Q: When are kids old enough for yoga?

A: Yoga for toddlers is already popular in many places, and starting Monday Metro Parks Tacoma will offer classes for children as young as 18 months old.

In a release from Metro Parks, a few parents have clamored for youth yoga classes. The statement says yoga can “give your children the tools to be tranquil.”

Tranquil toddlers? Sounds like a dream come true for many parents.

At a December demonstration, children were led through yoga moves as they enjoyed classic preschool jams such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Classes are open for kids as old as 6. An adult caregiver must accompany kids younger than 3. Parents of kids 3-6 can get in their own workout or sneak in a nap during the 45-minute class.

Fees vary for the classes. Preschool classes are Mondays and Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The classes for toddlers accompanied by adults are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. Classes are at the STAR Center, 3872 S. 66th St., Tacoma. For more information, go to starcentertacoma.org.