By Alexa Corse
Stanford Running Club’s rivalry with Google developed over 18-plus hours and 191 miles at the 2015 Golden Gate Relay, a charity event. One year later, both sides are eager for the rematch that will take place this weekend, beginning on Saturday afternoon at the relay’s starting line in the Napa County city of Calistoga.
Stanford Running Club’s men’s relay team unexpectedly took first place over five-time champion Google at last year’s Golden Gate Relay. This year, Google wants revenge. For its part, Stanford Running Club relishes being cast at the underdogs — even after its 2015 victory.
“It’s us against Google,” said Benedikt Bünz, a Stanford Ph.D. student in computer science who will run in his second Golden Gate Relay this weekend. “It’s a huge company, and we’re like a bunch of unorganized guys.”
The Golden Gate Relay has raised awareness in support of organ donations since 1995 and fundraises for the nonprofit Organs ‘R’ Us. The race has been dubbed “California’s Longest Party,” referring to both the race’s lengthy course, which goes through 36 cities, and various amusements. Highlights include running across the Golden Gate Bridge near midnight and the traditional pancake buffet at Cañada College in Redwood City. Many of the 200 teams are composed of more casual runners and joggers, but The Golden Gate Relay also hosts fierce competition among teams of elite runners, ultra-marathoners and in some years, even Olympians.
While Stanford Running Club is still something of an upstart on the men’s side, the Stanford Running Club Lady Trees are riding a four-year winning streak, from 2012-15, in the relay’s women’s competition. Stanford Running Club will also feature a co-ed team.
“It’s a Running Club staple,” said Stanford senior Haley Brogan, who organized the club’s entries this year. “Everyone sets aside the weekend as soon as the date comes out.”
The relay’s course includes Junipero Serra Blvd, just behind Lake Lagunita at the edge of Stanford’s campus. For early risers (or those who have not yet gone to bed), Bünz estimates that the Stanford team will reach Junipero Serra between 4:50 and 5:20 a.m.
The Stanford community has a long history of supporting The Golden Gate Relay, said Jeff Shapiro, who has volunteered for the relay for over 20 years. The passing of the baton from one runner to the next symbolizes an organ donation.
“This race originated many years ago out of the frustration of not having many organ donors,” Shapiro said. “That frustration still exists.”
To contribute to the Stanford Running Club’s fundraising in support of Organs ‘R’ Us, follow this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/fortree0-tree–600-tree-stanford-running-club-ggr-fundraiser.
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.