Friday, August 02, 2013

Catching up with former North Monterey County HS runner, Danny Tapia

Today we chat with former North Monterey County HS runner, Danny Tapia (photo to the left courtesy of  While in high school, Tapia was one of the unheralded runners on very good good Condor XC teams.  As a senior in 2003, Danny was the 5th man on the NMC XC team that finished 4th in state in Division III.  The following season, without Danny and led by Nathan Huerta, NMC finished 2nd in state behind perennial power, Loyola HS.  Tapia went on to run at Hartnell College and garnered two California championships in XC and in the 5k and 10k on the track.  After the success at Hartnell, Tapia really hit his stride (literally) and found his event in the Marathon.  In a career highlight, Tapia was recently chosen to represent the USA Track and Field team in the Marathon at the upcoming Moscow World Championship.

1)  How and when did you get your start in running?  
I started running sophomore year at North Monterey County high school. I knew nothing about cross country when I joined. I knew there was running involved so I joined to get in shape for soccer.

2)  Tell us a little about your high school running experiences in cross country and track and field.  Highlights and personal records?
I was fortunate to be part of great team throughout high school. We won central coast section once, dominated league, and were top CIF contenders. However, I was only fast enough to be a role player. My best times were 16:13 at the Mt. Sac invite and 4:38 and 10:02 for 1600 and 3200.

3)  What about your two years at Hartnell?  Highlights?
I had a great experience at Hartnell running for a great coach (Chris Zepeda) and team. While there, I won individual Nor Cal cross county titles both years and won state titles in cross country and the 5k and 10k in track.

4)  What was your next experience after Hartnell College?
After Hartnell, I began experiencing with road racing and longer distances like the marathon. I realized great initial success in both the marathon and longer road races. You could say I found my niche.

5)  Where do you feel you made your biggest jumps in your running career and what do you believe led to those jumps?
My biggest jump in running was after taking some time off from running post high school and after joining the Hartnell team. I think the difference was working harder and wanting to excel for my own purposes. I was in this thing because I wanted to better myself, not because my friends were on the team or because it was an extracurricular activity after school. Day in day out, I was training hard because I wanted to better myself. I was wiling to sacrifice more than before and the results showed that.

6)  Who have been the coaches that have had the biggest impact on your running career?
Coach Gustavo Ibarra and Bruce White got me to buy into running and kept me motivated in high school. They were great coaches and motivators to both the team and myself. After high school, I met Chris Zepeda from Hartnell with whom I improved a lot. I was willing to work hard under Zepeda and he pushed me to my limits. The result? multiple championships at the college level. Currently, I am under coach Scott Simmons from Colorado Springs. Simmons is a great marathon coach and I believe I can continue to improve under his guidance.

7)  When did you first make the jump to the marathon and what was the time of your first marathon?
My first jump to the marathon was after Hartnell in the spring of 2010. I ran the extremely hilly Big Sur International marathon in 2:26:09.

8)  How did you find out that you were chosen to represent the USA in the world championships?
About three weeks ago, on a Monday afternoon, I received an email from USATF's Jim Estes, informing me of the invitation to represent team USA at worlds for the Marathon. At the moment I was studying for the California Bar Exam to be licensed to practice law in California. As you can assume, I was very excited but also concerned as to whether or not I could get ready for world's on such short notice. My coach made some training adjustments and I accepted.

9)  What does a typical training week look like for you right now?  Longest run?  Workouts?  Pace of typical runs?
A typical day consist of anything from 15-20 miles and weekly mileage can be anywhere from 100-140. My biggest mileage day yet was this past Saturday. I ran 40 miles. My coach calls it a special training block which consists of 8-10 mile reps at marathon pace or faster alternated with a mile in between at a minute slower and the afternoon or evening workout consists of a long fartlek. It teaches my body how to run really tired and it makes me physically and mentally stronger for the marathon. During a marathon build up, I do these workouts about every two and a half weeks.

10)  What do you wish you could have done differently in high school that you believe would have expedited your running success?
Had I wanted it a little more in high school, I believe I would have pushed myself harder in training and obviously experienced better times. I never missed practice but I think there was a lack of focus.

11)  What's next for you aside from the World Championships?
After worlds I will get ready for a marathon in Amsterdam in October and my long term goal is to make an Olympic team. Rio!

Thank you very much for your time Danny!  Best of luck to you in Moscow.  AJC


Jesse Chestnut said...

Was a rival of Hartnell, but now have great respect for Coach Zepeda as he keeps turning out great runners. Would love to see this list of improvements from his guys from high school to JC. Guys go from 4:40 to 4:20 on the regular for him. Great program!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Danny!! FYI he just finished his BAR exam. And is in Colorado putting in the finishing touches before Moscow...good luck to everyone at worlds!
Coach Ibarra

hank said...

Another article on Tapia. I worked with the writer, Bob Wischnia, back in the mid-80's when we were both at RW - fun guy to go run with.


Anonymous said...

Huge props to Daniel Tapia - 27th in the WORLD!!

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