This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Race Guards team member Rich Heine. He has been a Race Guards member for just over a year and has already participated in over 15 Race Guards events. Rich has been a huge asset to the Race Guards team and is always lending an extra hand with whatever extra jobs needs to get done. Thank you, Rich, for your support of Race Guards as well as for doing our April spotlight interview!
Q. What made you decide to join Race Guards?
A. My first encounter with Race Guards was running the Mammoth Half Marathon a couple of years ago. It was around Mile 9 and had become very sunny along the course. I had neglected to put on sunscreen that morning, I saw a couple of Race Guards helping another runner out with a blister and asked if they had any sunscreen. One of them reached into their race pack and came out with some sun creen for me. It made the remainder of the run much more enjoyable and I was not too sun burnt at the finish line.
A few months later I met Andy Voggenthaler at the Race Guards expo booth at the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon. I learned more about Race Guards’ support out on the course, and I knew that I wanted to give back to the sport and help other runners to reach their goals and finish strong.
Q. Can you tell us a little about what you do and how Race Guards relates to your career?
A. I was a Firefighter EMT-D for over 20 years in New York before retiring and moving to San Diego a few years ago. I also served as a Corpsman in the Navy Reserve and was mobilized twice with my Marine unit, once in 2003 and again in 2005-06. Assisting runners with Race Guards goes hand in hand with my training and experiences that I have had in the past.
Q. What is the most recent race you participated in as a Race Guards team member? Were there any moments that stood out at this race or any other recent race that you have done?
A. I was able to participate as a Race Guards team member in three of our recent events; Cowtown Marathon/Half Marathon (Ft. Worth, TX), the San Diego Half Marathon, and Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K. They all were great experiences. In Cowtown, I was able to meet several new Race Guards and experience firsthand the famous Texas hospitality. The San Diego HalfMarathon is such a well-organized event and the course really shows off my adopted home town of San Diego! Being a part of Finish Chelsea’s Run is an amazing experience as the community comes together to honor and remember a remarkable young woman.
Q. Do you have a favorite Race Guards event?
A. It’s hard to choose a favorite but I really enjoy the Mammoth Half for the scenery and the San Diego Half and La Jolla Half Marathon for their courses along the coast.
Q. What is your fitness/racing background?
A. I had always tried to stay fit as a Firefighter and as a Corpsman but was never really a distance runner until after I moved to San Diego. I was running along the beach at Torrey Pines and decided to start training for a half marathon that was coming up in Las Vegas. The energy level from the crowds and fellow runners was amazing. After that experience, I was bitten by the bug and have done over 25 more races since then.
Q. How long have you been a member of Race Guards and how has the organization changed since you have been involved?
A. I have been a member of Race Guards for a little over a year now. The membership has grown and new races are being added to the schedule frequently. I think that even in the short time that I have been a Race Guards member, more and more race participants know about Race Guards and what a great service that they provide out on the course.
Q. What is your most memorable Race Guards moment?
A. Wow, there are so many and at each event there are more memorable moments. I’ve been able to meet and assist a runner who recently had a triple by-pass, to runners who had knee surgery/replacements or who are running their first organized distance race. I guess the one that stands out to me the most though was getting to meet Ron Phu and his family this past November at the Dallas Half Marathon. Ron had collapsed at an event in March of 2015 and Laura Dowd, our Race Guards Medical director, was on scene and performed CPR and along with the Dallas Fire Department, was able to revive Ron that day. Through his own perseverance and determination, Ron was out on the course eight months later running with his family.
Q. What is one of your funniest Race Guards moments?
A. At one race, I came around a corner on the course and found a pair of my fellow Race Guards had ducked into a donut shop during the race and were carrying a pink baker’s box of pastries, which they were kind enough to share. It was the tastiest in-race nourishment that I have enjoyed so far!
It is always funny when we hand out packets of our Perform gel that is used for topical pain relief and a participant tries to eat it (again)! It doesn’t have a very pleasant taste to it and won’t do much to boost energy levels!
Q. Have you had to overcome any injuries or setbacks since you began running?
A. I injured an ankle a while back and recovery has been slow. It has knocked me off my training schedule and has slowed me down a bit, but I am working through it and getting stronger.
Q. What is your favorite post race pig out food?
My favorite after race pig out food is sliced apples and baby carrots with hummus. Just kidding! After putting in some serious mileage, I’ll take a heaping plate of Whole Foods Nachos, some sweet potato fries and an ice cold local IPA. If there isn’t a Whole Foods nearby I’ll make do with a nice pub burger, fries and a stout.
Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?
A. It’s pretty simple really. Life is good, enjoy it!
Interviewed by Race Guards Patty Mas