Nicole Lane
WINNING SMILE Nicole Lane came in fourth overall, first in the women’s category at the Fitch Mountain Footrace, on Sunday, June 16. (Christian Kallen)

On what turned out to be an even more eventful day than planned, Sunday, June 16, more than 300 runners gathered on Center Street at Matheson for the start of the annual Fitch Mountain Footrace. Though begun 50 years ago in friendly competition with the Kenwood 4th of July Footrace, this traditional Healdsburg fun run has become a magnet for area competitors.

They were a varied lot—some lean and focused, others pushing strollers or wearing distinctive hats. (Those stroller-pushers were most likely running the in-town 3k race, although not necessarily …)

Distance runner
LEGGING IT OUT Jack Vanden Heuvel, of Healdsburg, set a new course record in the Fitch Mountain Footrace 10k, at 33 minutes even.

The weather was perfect, the skies blue and temperatures mild. The 10-kilometer loop around Fitch Mountain went smoothly, aside from the roller-coaster road work on the north side of Villa Chanticleer, and the competition got heated coming down Matheson back into town.

Jack Vanden Heuvel crossed the finish line at 33:00, setting a new course record. Right behind him was Garrett Gardner of Sacramento, at 33:05, but it took awhile for Anthony Cortes of Half Moon Bay to claim third in 34.48.

It was a fast race overall. Dante Godinez set the previous course record, at 35:20, in 2022. The three top finishers in Sunday’s race all beat that time.

Not so long ago Vanden Heuvel was a student at HHS, where he holds the school records in the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter races. Now just 21, he is entering his senior year at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Though he’s competed several times before, it was his first Fitch Mountain win.

Fourth overall was Nicole Lane, 29, a former Santa Rosa runner who now lives in Rancho Cordova. She took first in the women’s race at 36.33, almost six minutes faster than Chelsea Bingham of L.A., second in the women’s field, with Emma Kudritzki third. Both Lane and Bingham exceeded the previous fastest time for women on the course.

“It was a little faster than when I ran this as a kid, when I was in high school,” Lane said. She attended El Molino High, then went on to UC Davis and, in 2020, became an Olympic qualifier in the marathon.

Lane, too, set a course record in the women’s division, obliterating the previous best time of 45:03 set by Melane Mathewson last year. 

GOING ALL OUT Jeff Hollis of Cloverdale, 43, stays just ahead of Skyler Carr of Healdsburg, 36, at the finish line for the Fitch Mountain Footrace. They came in 10th and 11th, respectively.

Other notable finishers: 16-year-old Xavier Sturgeon of Windsor finished 7th in 39.29, the top high school runner. Two 17-year-olds, Max McKinney of Windsor and Tristan Moores of Healdsburg, rounded out the top teen racers. All three attend Windsor High.

Two of Healdsburg High’s current top runners, Kaeden Anderson and Jake McWilliams, served as race co-directors. Anderson was on crutches to nurse a broken toe that hindered his 2024 race season as a junior.

Though billed as the 50th annual Fitch Mountain Footrace, this marks at least the second year in a row that the 50th annual billing has been claimed. The Kiwanis, who produced the race in 2022, at that time claimed it as the 46th.

About those strollers: Finishing 25th was Thomas Allen, 40, of Santa Rosa—pushing a stroller with two children, one of them asleep at the finish line.

Winners received prizes from Arista Winery, Fogbelt Brewery and Costeaux French Bakery.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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