This month I interviewed one of our San Diego Race Guards, Rick Young. He has been a valued Race Guards member for almost two years, and hopefully it is just the beginning of his Race Guards career.
Q. How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?
A. I caught my first glimpse of Race Guards during the 2015 America’s Finest City Half Marathon. I was attending the race as a spectator and supporter for my wife. Though I had completed the race the year prior, I had recently completed knee surgery and had just begun my rehabilitation. Standing with the crowds on the sidelines of the 6th Ave hill at mile 12, I watched three pairs of Race Guards rally together after the challenging climb. I noticed the smiles they wore as they turned toward the final stretch while the race participants wore signs of agony. That display of humility, camaraderie, and sportsmanship was the selling point I needed. I rehabilitated my knee and volunteered for the 2016 San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about what you do for work and how your work ties into being a Race Guards team member?
A. I currently serve as a Senior Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist in the United States Coast Guard. That is a very lengthy title and in layman terms, it translates to a Coast Guard Policeman. I’m very fond of my career as it has provided outstanding opportunities including a variety of emergency medical training. Though Law Enforcement is my primary duty, I routinely serve as an EMT for the Coast Guard. The experience gained with Race Guards helps build confidence in my abilities.
Q. What has been your favorite Race Guards event?
A. Every event has its own challenges and memories but I would place the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon at the top. I went out expecting to run the half marathon, and ended up logging over 19 miles on the course including two ascents up the 163 freeway. My Race Guards partner was a machine.
Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?
A. I would actually say it’s not a moment but a series of moments. I really enjoy seeing runners during the last couple of miles after we assisted them earlier on the course. The Silver Strand Half Marathon in November was unseasonably warm and the preferred treatment of the day was salt and GU. We started helping runners as early as mile 3. I was overwhelmed when they cheered the Race Guards and shook our hands as they ran past us at mile 12. Knowing we provided that extra push either psychologically or physically to get someone across the finish is a great feeling.
Q. What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?
A. I’m a fan of Pizza and Beer. I routinely go to the local spot near my house after the race. I figure I earned it.
Q. What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?
A. I have a very broad fitness history. I started with water polo and soccer throughout my school years. I began running and triathlons nearly a decade ago. I competed in Xterra and ½ Ironman distance races. Now I spend more time surfing and lifting weights. Running is exclusively done on the weekends. My greatest challenge was overcoming a ACL, MCL and meniscus tear I received during a gnarly dodge ball match.
Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?
A. Life’s potential is only achieved if you stop repeating what comes easy and start embracing what is not.
Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?
A. I think Race Guards are familiar with this concept. Every race provides a new challenge. Every runner you assist has the potential to be life altering. It is easy to get out of bed the morning of the race, do your pre race rituals then meet your friends at the start. But when your friends are there to help protect the runners and are expected to appropriately react to a runner that might need emergency assistance…. that's difficult… and is inspiring.
Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?
A. My wife Michelle is my biggest advocate. She loves running and is always on the course when I am running with Race Guards. We always try to convince her to become a Race Guards member but she always refuses because she “loves to run for the bling.” At least she is always there to snap our group picture.
Thank you, Rick, for being such an asset to the Race Guards team. You are most likely the first member who was seriously injured during a fierce dodge ball match! We’re glad you recovered so you could become a Race Guards member.