Former runner living vicariously through 12K

The Emerald Across the Bay 12K is considered by Dave Rhody, promoter and producer of 400 local events spanning nearly 30 years, as his flagship race.

Since 1984, there have been various changes, including its name, course and sponsors, but the event’s beneficiary has remained a constant.

Edgewood Center for Children and Families was and continues to be an ideal charitable partner for RhodyCo Promotions. Recreational running is a key element in the Edgewood approach of treating and helping kids, many of whom have experienced abuse and neglect.

On March 18, CEO Matt Madaus will be joining 28 fellow Edgewood staff members and 15 kids within the organization to run all or part of the 7½-mile course from Sausalito to Fisherman’s Wharf.

“First and foremost, it’s an opportunity for the kids to get engaged,” Madaus said from his office at the Edgewood campus on Vicente Street in San Francisco. “One of the major benefits of running is it gets the kids out of their heads. Running is a form of practicing mindfulness.”

Rhody nods in agreement. “That’s really what running was to me,” the Sunset district resident said. “If someone had told me that running would shorten my life, I wouldn’t have cared. The physical benefits meant very little to me.”

After logging 70,000 miles on his 60-year-old knees, including a 19-day Newport Beach-San Francisco “adventure run” in 1983 that provided the impetus for the original Houlihan’s to Houlihan’s race, Rhody has hung up his running shoes.

“I still get the vicarious thrill; it’s in my blood,” Rhody said. “I still very much relate to runners.”

The South Dakota native ran competitive track and cross-country at Valparaiso University in Indiana; he was a competitive, sub-three-hour marathoner, but his driving force was always the solitude he derived from running.

Working as a “dirt-poor social worker” in Hawaii in 1981, Rhody reunited with Kathy Henning, his “Midwest sweetheart,” in San Francisco. They settled here, and for the past 28 years have successfully combined marriage and business.

“If two partners always agree, one of them is unnecessary,” said Rhody as he discussed his wife, a nonrunner whose business acumen balances her husband’s creative strengths.

Managing the starting line on Sunday is Rhody’s primary assignment; he is committed to the individual experiences of the Edgewood participants and the other 4,500 runners and walkers.

“It is the most exceptional course, matched against any other in the world,” said Rhody, adding that Runners World magazine selected the race as the “Best Bridge Run in America.”

Emerald Across the Bay 12K

WHEN: March 18, three-wave start at 15-minute intervals beginning at 8:30 a.m.

TRADITION: Known as the Emerald Across the Bay 12K from 2003 to present, known as Houlihan’s to Houlihan’s from 1984-2002

LAST YEAR: Due to high rains, the day before the race Rhody’s crew had to reconstruct a portion of the course.

INFO: www.rhodyco.com or (415) 759-2690

BENEFITS: www.edgewood.org

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