Introduction by Meggie Inouye:
I first “met” Tod Vedock in Spring 2020…. just after the COVID pandemic had sent us all into lockdown and there were widespread protests and demonstrations over systemic racism. Feeling called to do something in the midst of being quarantined at home, my husband and I decided that we wanted to make a financial contribution to an organization that was doing meaningful, grassroots work supporting racial equity. As we searched through organizations, we found that not only was Running for a Better Oakland (RBO) encouraging students to develop healthy lifestyles through running but it was also building community, supporting the work of Black Lives Matter, and empowering young people and families of Oakland. I found the RBO statement below published on June 12, 2020 on the RBO website https://www.rboakland.org/ to be especially powerful and we decided to give. Following our gift, we received a personal email of thanks from founder Tod Vedock, and that is how our connection began. Since then, I have been able to share several Tuesday mid-morning runs with Tod and his partner, Amy Dunn-Ruiz (also a DPMR member), and have enjoyed getting to know them both.
RBO Board Statement June 12, 2020
We believe children should play, run, and grow in a safe community.
We believe our Oakland streets should be full of children’s laughter and joy.
We believe our children should always know love, dignity, and respect.
We believe that diversity should be celebrated.
We believe that BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We’re saddened that our children still experience a world of racial injustice. With the support of our passionate volunteers, we are proud to promote a healthy and vibrant community by mentoring Oakland students through running and supporting their continued education after graduation. However, we acknowledge that Running for a Better Oakland has work to do to ensure that our beloved organization is also free of racial inequities. We can and will do better.
In our commitment to dismantling racism and cultivating a thriving and inclusive community, we’ve outlined the following initial actions as an anti-racist organization:
1. Ensuring that RBO’s leadership reflects the diversity of Oakland and uplifts the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
2. Implementing the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in all areas of our program and practices.
3. Assembling a subcommittee devoted to reviewing our DEI development, identifying measures for advancing anti-racism, and holding RBO accountable to these commitments.
4. Amplifying the voices of BIPOC. We sincerely invite your feedback. Please reach out to us here: email@example.com.
This is only a start.
To our Black community: We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. We must do better, and we will.
To our students: We look forward to seeing all of you again soon, to high fives and high energy, and to running many more miles together.
LET’S GO RBO!
Tod, where are you from and where do you live now?
Originally from Kansas City Ks. and then lived in Oakland for 20 years now ending up in Truckee.
When did you begin running? Why?
I started running in my mid-twenties with a small Half Marathon in Kansas City and was hooked! At that time it was the competition that I loved. The idea of pulling people in and passing on the last half of the run is what got me addicted. I was way more competitive then.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I do race, but 10 years back I took my watch off and I have way more fun now!! The challenge of competition still encourages me but not as much as in the past. I love the community and the challenge of the trails.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I have no real dream races but am more into destination running. I love seeing new places and being challenged by new terrain. I ran the TransRockies which was pretty cool. You run approx 20-25 miles a day and camp out with everyone at night. It was a very positive atmosphere.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
To be honest…I run so I can eat! I’ve done a couple of ultra’s and I will tell you donuts and coffee is the best! Weird, I know.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
With Covid, the chance to run in the Mountains was the best gift ever. Quiet, beautiful, and adventurous all wrapped up together.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
My biggest character-building moment would be getting my kids through Covid, just like everyone else. Lots of misinformation and worries, basically just navigating the ups/downs as best as possible keeping everyone safe. I have two incredible girls 13 and 16 along with co-parenting with their mom. We all work together (including her husband and my girlfriend) to provide a family atmosphere between the two families! My girls are the number one thing in my life.
What led you to join DPMR?
I joined DPMR for the opportunity of my girlfriend and me to make new friends in the running community. I have been a 50/50 resident of Truckee for over 10 years and never engaged in the community until I knew I could be here full-time. We are excited to be here!
Favorite local trail?
I do a lot of running in the Waddle Ranch/Martis Valley area since I can run from my home at Northstar.
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run?
My mantra for running is “There is always another hill!” Mentally I just keep myself focused, one step at a time, instead of trying to see the finish. Over the years I always was tricking myself into thinking I am almost done when in fact there is always another hill…so I just keep that in mind!
Recovery technique(s) that you swear by?
I will be honest about recovery. First, I love to run but hate to train. So I try and keep my miles up running 6-8 miles a couple of times a week and usually I longer run on Saturdays. With that, there is nothing more satisfying than finishing a run with friends and having a cup of coffee and pastry! For anyone from Oakland, Arizmendi and Peet’s coffee near Lake Merritt was the go-to every time! Wild Cherry’s might be my new place now.
What do you do for a living?
I was fortunate to retire when I was 38 and decided to get involved in things that I love to do. I have dealt with politics in Oakland, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Food Bank giving presentations along with teaching financial basics to disadvantaged youth via Banking on our Future. Last, I was contracted with Men’s Health and North Face concerning setting up races/festivals.
Along with that free time, I also help bring in the Oakland Running Festival which was badly needed in Oakland. At that time I decided that I wanted Oakland kids to run on Oakland streets and that is when Running for a Better Oakland (RBO) was created. RBO was set up to be community-led and eleven years later has a Board, Exec. Director and Program Director. RBO kids are not track stars, we recruit kids that need to be pushed, which most would never consider running. We feel that if they can accomplish a half marathon then they can accomplish other hard things in life too. We’ve had 1000+ kids in the program and hopefully another 1000 more in the future. www.rboakland.org
How can people get involved with or help Running For a Better Oakland?
RBO can always use donations, as all money goes back into the kids. Donations can be made at www.rboakland.org/donate. Also, I would love to create an RB-Reno or Tahoe if anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer director. Contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org