Casa grad Moffet back for a challenge

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Petaluma’s Ashley Moffet has run on tracks, on roads, up mountains and through valleys, but she has never run anywhere she enjoys more than up the stairs and through the redwoods in Mill Valley’s Dipsea Race.

The 7.4-mile run is the oldest trail race in America, originating in 1905. The course is considered one of the most beautiful and most difficult in the world for its length. Three flights of stairs, combined as tall as a 50-story building, come near the very beginning of the race, and offer an immediate challenge. Some runners never fully recover from the initial ordeal. Sunday’s running will be the 108th running of the race.

Moffet, one of the best Casa Grande High School distance runners ever during her time as a Gaucho, can hardly wait.

“I love it,” she said. “There is something special about the Dipsea. Starting in waves is really cool. Everyone is cheering, and it isn’t just at the start. They cheer all along the way. There is a lot of energy from the runners and the spectators. You can feel the excitement.”

Moffet comes from a family of runners. One year, the entire family — Ashley; father, Brian; mother, Sylvia; and younger brother, Kevin — all ran in the race. “That was fantastic,” Ashley said. Her father is signed up to run again this year.

After high school, she continued to run at the University of San Francisco in both cross country and track. After graduating from USF in 2017, she traveled through Europe running in, among other events, the Zugspitz Ultra Race, a 25K run up the tallest mountain in Germany. “That was fantastic,” she said.

But running has not gone smoothly for the former Gaucho over the last few years. She has suffered a number of injuries, including a hip injury and a stress fracture in her sacrum, that have not allowed her to compete in the Dipsea for the last two years.

“It was heartbreaking that I couldn’t run,” she said.

Now, she is back. “I’m still not 100 percent, but I definitely feel good,” Moffet said.

She will be among the 26 Petaluma runners who step off at 8:30 Sunday morning.

Another Petaluman in the field will be former Petaluma High School runner and assistant track coach Bjorn Griepenburg, who is running in honor of his late father, Karl, a masters runner for the Tamalpa Club who died in January from Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Griepenburg became a competitive runner to lift his father’s spirits during his illness.

Moffet and Griepenburg will be among approximatley 1,500 runners in the 2018 Dipsea Race. All have a story and all are determined to record personal best times. All they have to do is conquer the stairs and 7.4 miles of beauty and challenge.

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