As the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon enters its fourth decade, it is welcoming a new director and honoring the two men who have led the event to long-standing prestige on the American race calendar.
After a 40th annual celebration of the marathon in March, Rich Benyo and David Hill began handing race-directing responsibilities to Michelle La Sala, founder of Blistering Pace Race Management.
“Under the vision of the board of directors, I look forward to leading the team at Blistering Pace Race Management to enhance what the Napa Valley Marathon has to offer, while keeping our heralded history in the forefront of our minds,” La Sala said. “I am privileged to have worked with Rich and David in their last three years and looking forward to continuing on with new board president, Jim Cotter, and the returning board members to put our best feet forward.”
Under Benyo and Hill’s guidance, the Napa Valley Marathon has garnered a loyal following on a beautiful point-to-point course through the nation’s most scenic wine country. It’s indeed an inspiring setting and has become known as the “biggest little marathon in the West,” and attracts the legends like Joan Benoit Samuelson to the pre-race Marathon College.
“It’s been a great honor to work with a team of dedicated board members over more than three decades,” Benyo said. “We’re proud of what the Napa Valley Marathon has created over the years, from the swag that it provides to the innovation of the marathon college and the special panels we’ve organized. But it is time to step back and let more innovative people take over—it is clear they will keep their focus on the most important part: the runner.”
Hill’s favorite part of the job has been giving back to the community.
“We enjoyed giving scholarships to student volunteers, stipends to other local volunteer groups, using local vendors for supplies whenever possible, and involving so many members of our community in the race,” Hill said. “The goal was to have a small-town, rural, and nonprofit marathon in a world that is increasingly becoming commercial.”
As president of the board, Cotter is looking forward to working with La Sala.
“She lives here in Napa and she has run this race several times,” he said. “We are very lucky to have Michelle coming in as our new race director—she is very experienced in race management.”
Registration is now open at this link for the next edition of the race, to take place on March 3, 2019.