Race director promotes love of running

 

By Teri Vance

A baseball star at Reed High School in Sparks, EJ Maldonado went on to play at Southern Idaho College. After graduation, he went to the University of Nevada, Reno then into a career as the coordinator for the Western Regional Specialty Courts. With baseball behind him, he settled into a sedentary life, letting the athlete inside him go dormant. “When I was done playing, I was done with that level of activity,” he said. “I got complacent.”

He stopped paying attention until six years ago, when he realized he weighed 300 pounds. “This is not who I am,” he recalled thinking. “I know who I am.” In addition to overhauling his diet, Maldonado started running. At first, he stayed on his treadmill, then he worked up the nerve to run in his neighborhood. “I finally got up the confidence to get out on the trails,” he recounted.

He moved to Carson City to be closer to family in 2009. While running trails on Prison Hill, he met fellow runners from the Tahoe Mountain Milers. “That changed everything,” he said. “Once I joined the running club, it took me to the next level. I started seeing the potential of what’s out there.” Down to 170 pounds, he started running ultra distances, completing races up to 100 miles long, and has since become president of the club. He’s now come full circle, serving as co-race director of the Escape From Prison Hill Half Marathon, 10K and 5K in April.

 

Damage from winter snowfall and recent rains called for an alternate route to the traditional half marathon this year.  “I’ve run it six or seven times now,” he said. “It’s great.” The 5K was added last year to open the race up to all levels. “It’s by no means flat, but it’s a good mixture,” he said. “It’s a great introduction to trail running and to Prison Hill. You can hike the hills and run down. It’s a good chance to come out and get feet on the trail without worrying about time.” Not only does Maldonado promote the race, he promotes running in Carson City in general.

“This is the mecca for outdoors, without a doubt,” he said. “The sunrises here are the best. You can run 12 months out of the year, any time of the day.We are a hidden gem in Northern Nevada.” He said he can be running on a trail within two minutes of his house and makes a point to include his sons, 16 and 11, while his wife often mountain bikes. “It’s really important to me that they get connected,” he said. “You can still feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but civilization is not far away. This is stuff you can’t see from your front porch.” Still, every time he hits the trail, he tries to remember how far he’s come. “It’s a bit surreal,” he said. “I don’t ever want to forget what it was like in the beginning. I never want to take this for granted. I had 15 years that I didn’t appreciate living life. I want to make sure that never happens again.”

For more information about the Tahoe Mountain Milers, go to tahoemtnmilers.org.

For a list of running trails, download the Visit Carson City app on your smart device.