Going the Extra Mile

Imagine running alone on the top of a mountain ridge…at 2am...in a rainstorm…in a 100-mile Ultra Race. Sounds pretty extreme, right? Well, this is exactly what Gabe Garcia was doing two weeks ago.

Gabe checked off a huge bucket list item by completing his first 100 mile run in this year’s Born to Run Ultra Marathon Extravaganza in Los Olivos. While obviously no stranger to long distance running, this was by far his most challenging race yet.

“My first 50 miles of the race were shared with old friends and new friends and went by fast without any major challenges, but by midnight, I was alone, and it had started to rain hard. By the time the sun came up, I was at mile 74, with wet soggy socks, blisters on my feet, and mud caked onto my shoes. With no finishers’ buckle for 74-99 miles completed, I gritted down to run/walk the last 26 mile (marathon) section. I finally crossed the finish line after over 30 hours of nonstop forward motion and was so thankful for the support of other runners, the volunteers and fans – I couldn’t have done it without them. It may sound strange, but for 97 out of the 100 miles I can honestly say I had a smile on my face and actually had tons of fun. Just don’t ask me about those never ending last 3 miles that were supposed to be easy.”

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Gabe is the CFO at Morris & Garritano, the largest independently owned insurance agency on the Central Coast, and also an annual sponsor of the SLO Half Marathon. He started running in his mid-20s, but only caught that “runner’s high” once he started working at M&G. As part of their company culture, the agency promotes and embraces a healthy lifestyle for its employees. Their SLO office includes a gym and showers where employees can exercise before work, after work, or during their lunch break. They also provide wellness subsidies for people to participate in monthly gym memberships or sign up for community races.

It was a natural fit for Morris & Garritano to team up with Race SLO to promote health and wellness throughout the community. Since the marathon’s inaugural race in 2012, Gabe, along with a number of his co-workers have participated and volunteered every year. In 2016, they even boasted the largest team of the whole weekend with 56 participants!

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As one of the most experienced runners at M&G, having completed nearly 20 full marathons, 3 SLO Ultra Races (50M & 50K), the Boston Marathon last month and now a 100 miler, Gabe helps motivate and educate his co-workers. Leading up to the Race SLO events each year, they put together a running team that meets each week to train together (with early morning Saturday runs ending with breakfast and mimosas)! M&G has also hosted community runs where they invite runners of all experience levels to join in the fun.

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Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gabe will continue running in races that inspire him and training to improve his times. He says, “I am grateful to have a family that supports my running and allows me the time to be away from home for training and races.”

His advice to runners – of any level – is to “set lofty goals and then work to achieve them over your running career, but to make sure you have fun along the way.”  So, if you ever find yourself running along the top of a mountain at 2am in a rainstorm, just make sure you’re having fun at the same time.