As the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon (SAMM) prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2014, changes are taking place behind the scenes. Race director Heidi Ryan is preparing to relinquish control of the event to Modesto businesswoman and ultra runner Vickie Chu-Hermis. Ryan will retain leadership for the March 2014 event, with Chu-Hermis shadowing her to make for an easier transition. ShadowChase Running Club will remain as board of directors of the marathon, and Karen Lozano will stay aboard as assistant race director.
Ryan cited “burn-out” as the main reason for stepping down. “It’s time to give the marathon to someone with new ideas and passion, to keep the high energy going,” said Ryan. “It is important to be passionate about the project and I am getting tired and don’t want to throw out negative energy and change the great momentum we have going.”
The 2013 SAMM brought approximately 3,050 runners to Modesto for marathon, half marathon and 5K events. SAMM and its accompanying Expo have given the local economy a shot in the arm each March since 2010 through participants and visitors.
The Modesto Marathon was founded by the ShadowChase Running Club to promote physical fitness and healthy lifestyles to area at-risk youth through the Teens Run Modesto program. TRM students experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved physical fitness through a structured training program, culminating in running the Modesto Marathon. SAMM gave approximately $50,000 to the TRM program last year to train about 200 area students, and to provide $11,500 in college scholarships.
The Modesto Marathon has grown to incorporate popular annual adult running and walking training groups, as well, encouraging fitness and camaraderie among area adults.
Chu-Hermis, who has been on the marathon committee since its inception, said her top priority for 2014 is “to be a sponge to soak in and learn everything I can about being the SAMM race director. I am here to shadow and support Heidi and Karen, so that 2014 will be the best year yet.”
As for the future, Chu-Hermis said, “I would love to see the marathon numbers continue to grow ‘out of control.’ I would also love to see more local businesses getting involved in the way of sponsorship to promote health and wellness in our community.”
ShadowChase Running Club President Jeff Lozano, who was on the committee to find Ryan’s replacement, said, “We will miss Heidi’s passion and dedication to the marathon and her attention to details in putting on this major event. We feel fortunate to have someone with Vickie’s credentials step up to take over.”
Ryan, who operates a local hair salon, said she is most proud of “how we were able to start with nothing and build to what we are now in just a short time” and of “all the volunteers who have given so much of their time to get us where we are today.
“ShadowChase Running Club is a great group of people who have had to work hard to bring an event like this to our community and I am a part of this group.”
Ryan said she will remain active with the marathon through her activities as a ShadowChase board member. “It has been very gratifying to bring a top notch event to our community and the rewards for doing so have been enormous. Every day when I drive down the street I see so many more people than before out there running and walking. I truly see a difference in our community getting more exercise.”
She said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family, and taking a vacation without having to worry about marathon details.
Chu-Hermis admits she has “huge shoes to fill,” and will be relying on her organizational and management skills, as well as past race director experience through the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Run, which she headed up for three years. She has been a member of Soroptimist International of Modesto North for 20 years where she heads the Pathways program for young adults. She is a former local business owner and works as a bookkeeper.