Mark Fennell Profile



By Gene Deering and Joe Howell

 Mark Fennell is another accomplished runner who has effortlessly transitioned (or so it seems) from bike racing to running.  With Mark’s aptitude and attitude, you cannot help but root for him and expect the 3 hour milestone is within reach.  Look for Mark’s recognizable stride as he slowly drops the rest of us, one by one.

Name: Mark Fennell

Age: 51 (it says so on my drivers’ license, but I’m skeptical)

Nicknames: Marco Fanelli … my wife’s father is a burly Italian teamster, and he desperately wanted his daughter to marry the same. When she brought home a scrawny nerd …me… he was a bit disappointed at first. Of course I grew on him as time went on, and he saw Gina and I loved each other, so eventually I was accepted into the family. He decided that I should have an Italian name anyway, and who am I to argue with my father-in-law, especially because he can bench-press a small automobile! Plus, it was a cool sounding bike-racer name.

Hometown: Stockton, CA

Employment: Algorithm Developer & Software Writer

Family: Wonderful wife Gina and amazing kids Alicia & Brian

Other sports, hobbies, interests, etc.: Bicycle racing as a participant, and any competitive sport as a spectator. I love to grow food of all types and sometimes wish I was a farmer. I’m working towards having an environmentally responsible and sustainable household with minimal footprint… we make a surplus of electricity, have solar water heating, catch & hold 1,300 gallons of rain water, and grow a substantial amount of our own food. I love to read.

 Most Prized Possession: Health

Favorite Food: Strawberry cheesecake and carrot cake, because I believe in eating fruits and vegetables. Also love homemade green smoothies with leaves and fruit from the yard.

Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite Spectator Sport: Any sport involving a finish line where competitors get there under their own power. Also love sitting in a MLB ballpark watching baseball while drinking a beer.

Car I’d Love to be Driving: One that levitates and runs on hydrogen extracted from the atmosphere. (I want to make George proud!)

My friends describe me as: Driven yet prone to bouts of extreme laziness; honest but occasionally moody, inscrutable, and weird; stubborn but able to compromise eventually.

My trademark expression is: “Really!?!?” (said in high-pitched, annoyingly-squeaky voice)

If money were not a consideration, I would love to: Make sure no child ever went hungry or lacked access to great education.

In the next 5 years, I hope to: Continue living life as I do now because everything is pretty close to perfect.

In the next 10 years, I hope to: See my children blossom into happy and productive adults.

Personal accomplishments: I spent a week eating exclusively from my yard and the yards of my friends. By picking the right wife and friends, I enjoyed many wonderful meals that week!

Personal fact that will surprise my friends: My summer job each year in college was making experimental batches of ketchup for H.J. Heinz in a mini-factory. I could tell you the recipe but then I would have to, well, you know….

 Favorite Running Shoes: Still searching for the pair that lets me run fast and stay uninjured.

Favorite Distance and PR (post collegiate): I like the 5K because it’s long enough to cruise with your aerobic engine but short enough to feel fast the whole way. Plus you don’t have to drink out of little Dixie cups! I hit my PR of 17:41 on January 1st 2013.

Best Race and Why: Can I list two? 2012 Pier-to-Peak was very fun because I trained for it with friends, we all made it to the start line healthy, and race day went well for each of us. (I’m learning that doesn’t always happen!) 2012 SBIM was enjoyable start-to-finish because the positive vibe along the course was so great, I ran the entire way with people I knew, and I negative split the halves.

Worst Race and Why: 2008 SB Half Marathon. My calf ripped at mile 3 and I limped the next 10 miles.

Average Weekly Mileage (last 12 months): Probably 30-40. I just started keeping track near the end of 2012, and that contributed to increasing my mileage to 50+ per week in December and 60+ in January. Maybe it was too much because soon after I got hurt. Still searching for the right volume that balances improvement in certain areas, maintenance in others, and of course, staying healthy and uninjured.

Favorite Local Race: Pier-to-Peak because of the palpable sense of accomplishment you get when looking at Santa Barbara from the top knowing you just ran up the mountain.

Most Memorable Running Experience: Hitting the Shoreline downhill in SBIM with enough energy and enthusiasm to pick up my pace.

Favorite Place to Run: The beach at low tide, followed closely by all of our front-country trails. We live in paradise.

Glory Days PR: 14:30’ish up Old San Marcos Rd. …but that was on a bike. I don’t have any glory days in running. Yet.

Realistic Running Goals for this Year: Reach the start line of a marathon uninjured and complete the race. As of this writing, I am failing that goal, but I think it’s possible if I can be smarter.

 Wildly Optimistic Running Goals for this year: Break 3:00 in a marathon.

Lifetime Running Goals: Break 3:00 in a marathon; hit 17:30 in a 5K; beat Rob Ramirez at Pier-to-Peak; beat Kary O’Brien in a sprint; complete as many marathons as Gina.

Local Running Heroes & Why: I hesitate to list names because I have so many running heroes for so many reasons and would feel terrible forgetting to include any one of them. I will say that anyone who inspires, encourages, or brightens the day for another runner is a hero in my book.

 Personal Training Tips: Run on the trails more often, if just for the psychological boost you get from being in the hills and trees. It’s in our DNA to enjoy it.

Why I Run: It just feels so natural and free. I wish I had discovered it years ago. I really enjoy the company of other runners and feel they are among the best and most supportive people around.

I love runners who: Enjoy the training as much or more than specific results in the races. Like life, it’s about the journey.

I don’t care for runners who: I have not yet met a runner for whom I don’t care, but I do wish all runners would wave or say “Hi” when passing in the opposite direction.

Suggestions for local races: I think the racing scene works really well, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One thing might be fun though- a staggered-start race where people start in waves based on their (recent) PRs. Imagine a 5K with waves spaced every one minute, slowest first and fastest last. First one to the finish line wins. Obviously some details would need to be figured out, but it sure would be different for everyone to be chased by Ricky, Todd, Doug, Drea, & Joy up to the end!”

Suggestions for SBAA: Please add a few more days to the current 7-day week. There don’t seem to be enough to run trails, beach, tempo/MP, speed, recovery, long, and races. I think 10 days a week would be good. Thanks.

My views on / Add Anything: I think the world would be such a better place if everyone just ate right and exercised. Seriously. It’s so simple. We as runners know the endorphin-fueled feeling of well-being brought on by a long run. Isn’t your outlook on life better in that state? Aren’t you more charitable and less prone to anger and anxiety? People with means or in power would be more apt to help others, and those in despair would feel better for a time. It’s how we are meant to be and as a society we have strayed too far away from it.

 Favorite Quotes:
“The only way to have a friend is to be one” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” – Joni Mitchell

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – Michael Pollan

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race” – H.G. Wells  (note: I would add an adult running to the quote!)

“Over-trained!?! You aren’t over-trained, you’re under-trained, because you didn’t train enough to handle the training you’re doing now!!!” – Floyd Landis

SBAA Member since: Not sure, but certainly not very active until the last few years when I gave up bicycle racing.