Steve Rowbury is one of our members who lives “down the hill” but is fortunate to spend a lot of time in Truckee. This year, you may have seen him volunteering at the Julia Millon Memorial Aid Station at High Camp during the Broken Arrow Skyrace, pacing Western States 15th place overall finisher Jo Thery or running the Castle Peak 100k. Read on to learn more about this interesting man who hails from across the pond.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in the UK, in a small town about an hour from London. I now live in Mill Valley, in Marin County. In the (too many to mention) years in between, I moved around quite a bit, living in Australia, London and Japan, before moving to San Francisco in early 2006. In 2011, my wife Belinda and I moved north across the bridge, largely to make room for our fast-growing daughter, Eva.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
As a kid, sport was always my favorite pastime. I would have a go at absolutely anything – rugby, soccer, cricket, tiddlywinks, you name it! And also plenty of cross-country and track. Years later, I ran my first long-distance race in 1997 – the London Marathon. It went reasonably well, however at the time I was more focused on the London social scene than trying to keep it going. It wasn’t until we moved to San Francisco that I really started to take running seriously. This meant lots of road racing – from 10Ks to marathons – until about five years ago, at which point my body was starting to fall apart and I decided to move on to the trails. Stepping up to ultras was an obvious next step – my first race being the Headlands 50K in 2015.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
Yes – as much as possible. Having a goal really helps me focus. I have a very regimented marathon program that seems to work pretty well. For the longer distances I’m still learning and making lots of mistakes as I go! Having said that, I don’t need any motivation at all to get out on the trail for a run – there is simply nothing better.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
UTMB. I used to go to the Alps on vacation when I was a kid – in both summer and winter – and I have friends living there now. They are a different ‘beast’ in so many ways, from the weird and wacky locals and their crazy support, the towns and customs dating back to the middle ages, and of course the steepness and incredible beauty of the mountains. Actually my true ‘dream’ would be to get into Western States and UTMB in the same year, in which case I would be ‘forced’ to take a few months off work to train!
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
Hmmm. Race nutrition is my biggest nightmare. Since starting out ultra-running I’ve steadily been working out, largely via trial and error (with plenty of emphasis on the error!), race strategies in all sorts of areas – training, pre-race, gear, shoes, blisters – you name it. The one thing I’m still terrible at is nutrition – once I get past 10 hours of running I simply can’t seem to get any solids down. So I’m now starting to experiment with 100% liquid nutrition – about which I’ve heard mixed reports but am hopeful this could help. As for afterwards, chocolate milk and a banana, followed later by steak and a glass of red wine.
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
My wife’s chicken parmigiana (or ‘parmy’, as they say in Australia, where she grew up) is legendary, but the recipe is a family secret not to be divulged, on pain of death! Other than that, this sauce for my post-race steak is spectacular: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/creamy-morel-mushroom-sauce-326496.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
That’s a tough one. Can I choose three? Firstly the Napa Valley Marathon in March, one of those rare days where everything went to plan, and I hit my sub-three goal. And in the summer both TRT 100M and Castle Peak 100K were incredible, tough races, spectacularly beautiful, and brutal at the same time. Plenty went wrong in both, which is half the fun… working your way through the different challenges and (hopefully) pushing on to the finish.
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
Currently I’m training for the CIM Marathon in December. I don’t have any other definite plans yet, other than keeping my fingers crossed for both Western States and UTMB in 2019. Beyond that, looking for different challenges, maybe a race in one of the many US states I haven’t been to yet.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I work at a small software engineering firm in San Francisco. We work with lots of companies in the Bay Area, in particular in digital media, helping them design, build and operate mobile and web applications. I’m fortunate enough to have flexibility to train around my job. I often run early in the morning, or work from home sometimes so I can fit in a longer run.
What led you to join the DPMR?
I first came across DPMR when I entered the Castle Peak 100K in 2016. I’d run in the Tahoe area before, but had no idea of all the amazing trails available. DPMR opened up so many options – it was a ‘no-brainer’ to join.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
There are so many great things to get involved in – group runs, social events, trail maintenance, volunteering at races, and many more – I’m not sure I can pick one of them. Living in the Bay Area, it’s been fantastic to be able to head up to Tahoe and know there’s always someone who wants to run, hike or just meet for a beer. I’ve also made a few friends who like me are based in and around San Francisco, and I often run with them in the city or in Marin.
Favorite Local Trail:
In Marin: There are so many! But Coastal Trail from the top of Cardiac to Tennessee Valley, via Pirates Cove, would have to be up there. In Tahoe: There are so many! But probably one of the loops around Castle Peak… just not in the scorching heat of a mid-August afternoon!
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
Skiing is my other outdoor passion. Oh, and cornhole. I didn’t even know what this was until a few years ago, however a bunch of dads at my daughter’s school started a tournament, and now it has become a regular thing in our part of Marin. Beyond that, trying to keep up with my daughter, who is into, amongst other things, cross country, volleyball, and musical theater.
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I’m writing a book (a fiction novel). Or rather, I used to say that I was writing a book. Now I say I’ve written half a book but haven’t touched it for more than a year. Any advice on finding time to write on top of a busy family, running and work schedule would be much appreciated!