Goldsborough Creek 7, 2 and 1/4-mile run on June 2

May 24, 2012


Event website …

(The story below was originally published in the Forest Festival special tab as a supplement to the May 24 edition of the Shelton-Mason County Journal. See the tab, on newsstands now, for course records and a timeline of events for June 2).

Christopher Penoyer nears the finish line of the Goldsborough Creek 7-mile run/walk last year in front of the Shelton Post Office. ... Photo by McCarty & Associates

Like mothers and sons, fathers and daughters often have special relationships.

Each one is unique in how those relationships work, of course. For Shelton resident John Johnson and his daughter Sarah, it so happens that running is their shared passion.

And, oh yeah, they’re both fast.

Sarah, 19, is a 2010 Shelton High graduate and still holds the school’s 3,200-meter record in 11 minutes and 34 seconds. Currently, she is continuing her running career at the College of Idaho in Caldwell and, this week, is competing in the NAIA national championships in Indiana.

Her father, a — you guessed it — distance coach for Shelton’s track program and a key cog in the Shelton Harriers, a youth-based running group in Mason County, maintains a pretty good pace, too.

The two don’t compete together often, but that will change on June 2 in the 2-mile race of the Goldsborough Creek run, walk and jog in Shelton. The event is part of the annual Mason County Forest Festival.

There are three distances for runners and walkers of all abilities: the 7-mile, 2-mile and quarter-mile “junior jog” for children up to 8 years old.

Sarah Johnson

“She’s probably going to smoke it,” John said of Sarah and the 2-mile event on June 2. “She’s in pretty good shape right now.”

But John threw a bone at her to get her going.

“I told her I was going to beat her,” he said. “It’s on, now.”

During a phone interview from Idaho, Sarah acknowledged she plans to be in town that weekend — possibly in a capacity of a newly crowned national champ. And she plans to race, not simply run, the Goldsborough Creek 2-mile.

“I just like running it,” Sarah said. “It’s the first official race I ran before I got into running.”

Sarah said the race, for her, served as a “gateway to where my running career sort of started.”

Sarah holds the 2-mile women’s course record with a time of 12 minutes and 2 seconds. She has won the event the past three years.

Mason County isn’t a hotbed of a running community — not like neighboring Thurston County. Sarah said that observation is another reason for her to come back to the race.

“If I keep winning and people learn about my story … I feel that smaller kids, especially girls, they might see how I’m excelling (and) maybe it’ll get them interested in running,” Sarah said. “The female population of distance runners in Shelton is low. Anything that can help that is good.”

John Johnson

Still, the friendly rivalry with her father will be the primary motivating factor at the starting line.

“I want to break the record,” Johnson said. “Our 5K times are pretty similar. I feel that, at (shorter) distances, I could beat him. I’m going to try and give him a run for his money.”

The Goldsborourgh Creek running festival aims to raise funds for the Mason General Hospital Foundation. Proceeds, which have totaled approximately $4,000 in each of the past couple of years,

Race director Sheryal Balding, of the Centennial Guild — an affiliate of the hospital foundation — said participation for the events used to draw only a few dozen runners.

That changed beginning four years ago, she said, when the Centennial Guild took over race management. Last year, 300 runners and walkers crossed the finish line.

The idea, Balding said, is simple.

“The goal is to provide a nice, healthy thing to do for the community,” she said.

Balding, a former cross country coach at Shelton High School, said the race — in various forms and distances — has been linked to the Forest Festival for nearly 20 years. Nearly a decade ago, the route and distances were changed to reflect what they are today.

Balding said it takes more than two dozen volunteers to help with water stations and to serve as course marshals.

The 7-mile route begins at Shelton Valley Christian School on Shelton Valley Road, turns left onto West Deegan Road. Seven-milers return to State Route 3 and continue onto Railroad Avenue to the finish line at the post office.

Two-milers also begin near Shelton Valley Christian School and head back into town along Railroad Avenue to the post office.

The quarter-mile Junior Jog begins on Railroad Avenue at Seventh Street and finishes at the post office.

Balding said she still runs but no longer focuses on her competitive performance.

“I haven’t timed myself in years,” Balding said, “but I used to be able to run fairly well.”

Now, she said, “I’m just out to have fun.”

For more information on the Goldsborough Creek run, walk and jog, contact Balding at 426-5821 or


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