Infusion of younger runners ensures Nevada Day Classic's future

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Susan Gaskill Martinovich and Lisa Gaskill Schuette, both of Carson City, run in the Nevada Day Classic on Carson Street.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Susan Gaskill Martinovich and Lisa Gaskill Schuette, both of Carson City, run in the Nevada Day Classic on Carson Street.

The dim-lit confines. The distant call of Keno numbers. The starry track lighting leading up a burgundy staircase. The pre-race registration table?

The confines of a storied downtown silver state casino is hardly the stuff runners' dreams are made of for a race's staging area.

That is, unless you're a Carson City runner.

Saturday, as the morning temperatures crept towards the 40s and the Washoe Valley sun began to chase away the Sierra mist, runners - bouncing on stretched-out quads and tightening calves, striking the downtown pavement with a purposeful cadence - took to the streets and for a moment, the day was theirs.

More than 400 strong, they lined up and jostled at the start of the 19th annual Carson Nugget Nevada Day Classic.

Not only was the field a fast one Saturday, but an infusion of youth seemed to ensure the run's success for the next 20 years.

"We've got a young field today," said Tom Wion, a sales representative from race sponsor Fleet Feet. "It's exciting to know that these young guys and girls really pushed the whole pack."

Indeed, it did seem to be a day where youth literally moved the race's elder statesmen.

"Why am I here?" asked Carson resident Marvin Gerrard rhetorically. "Well, I do the race every year - but this year my grandkids are doing it too. It's a special treat for me. Some are just getting into running, and I hope this becomes a part of their Nevada Day."

For many, the race is already synonymous with a day usually associated with good-old-fashioned carousing and hollerin' Nevada-style.

"Yeah, I think the people cracking their first beers see the runners coming down the street and probably think they're a little crazy," said Scott Keith, who with wife, Joy, purchased the Carson Fleet Feet this summer. "But everyone's supportive. I think everyone gets a kick out of the race whether you're running or not.

"I mean who doesn't enjoy a good run in the morning?"

Tim Tetz, the shoe and apparel store's previous owner, was on hand Saturday to help the Keiths run their first race, and by his account - things went well.

"Yes, I guess you could say I'm passing the torch," he said. "This run is a great tradition and the (Fleet Feet) store is a big part of a lot of people's lives here.

"I'm proud to have been able to be a part of this and help people start their Nevada Day with a run for the last 20 years."

The race wasn't all about the youth movement or the sub-28-minute 8K finishers though. It was - for the majority of participants - about one thing: The celebration of Nevada.

Just ask Susan Martinovich and Lisa Schuette what it is like running 8K in full costume. The Nevada natives and runners on Saturday were clad in saloon moll dresses of the Old West, feather boas and carrying bottles of wine (empty, of course).

"What costume?" said Martinovich. "We're Nevadans."

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.


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