Spotlight on Grafton Houston

Grafton (rt) at La Jolla Half

Grafton (rt) at La Jolla Half

This month, I interviewed one of our extraordinary San Diego local Race Guards team members, Grafton Houston. Grafton is a veterinarian and avid runner, and has been actively helping keep athletes safe as a member of the Race Guards team for the last 4 years.

Q. What has been your favorite Race Guards event?

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A. I’m trying to decide.  I have enjoyed all of my many events as a Race Guards team member, but I might have to say MedWars, which wasn’t technically a Race Guards event (see more below on Medwars )

Q. Can you tell us about the Challenged Athletes Foundation event that you participated in last weekend?

A. That was a truly inspirational event to participant in as a Race Guards team member. What role models the challenged athletes were for all of the kids there with prostheses, crutches, and wheelchairs. Everyone was happy with life that day.

Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?

A. Coming up to a woman who had just collapsed 300 yards from the finish line of a half marathon, running to the medical tent and back with a wheelchair and paramedics while my partner stayed with her, and then at her request, trotting her, paramedics trailing, across the finish line where her brand new fiancé and family were waiting. Many tears and thank you’s. And her medal.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your career and how it helped you win a race with other Race Guards members? ☺

A.  (Editor’s note……in 2014, Grafton participated in the famed Med Wars adventure race with three other Race Guards team members -- Randy Slezak, Christian Palouda, and Patty Mas. The other teams were comprised mostly of medical residents but Grafton’s team won largely due to Grafton’s ability to answer obscure medical questions)

My 25 years as a veterinarian served our Race Guards team of four well in the Med Wars race. Teams ran, rowed, repelled, and biked in the Cuyamaca Mountains, answering questions about rattlesnakes, ticks, cougar wounds, and a lot of other medical questions along the way. I guess the answers to those things are not taught in normal medical school.

Q. What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. Not really “funny” but more ironic.  It was my first event with Race Guards, and we were supporting the Safari Park Half Marathon.  I was running next to, and talking to a woman who just then stepped on a lane reflector, twisted her ankle, and fell over onto me. After calling in an ambulance and finishing Race Guarding the run, I saw her in a wheelchair at the finish. She had broken her ankle. Poor girl, but perfect timing.

Grafton (rear left) at San Diego Rock n Roll

Grafton (rear left) at San Diego Rock n Roll

Q. What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A. Beer. And apple pie. Except I never get any apple pie.
(editor’s note. Grafton won a Julian apple pie at the Med War race but teammates Patty and Christian gave the pie to Randy to take home before Grafton got as much as a sniff)


Q. What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I started running 25 years ago. Before that, and after, I was a competitive fencer. From stabbing people to helping people, I guess I am progressing.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Do what you love and love what you do.

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. Ditto

Thank you Grafton for this entertaining and informative interview!! We owe you a piece of apple pie.