The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Running without pause

Cross country runner Ken Parnow. Photo by || Windee Dawson || [email protected]

While many college students were looking to recharge their batteries during spring break, one student continued to work up an insatiable appetite of keeping himself occupied and  wrote the following on his Facebook wall: “We ran/hiked, lost a group of people in the middle of the desert, got a rental car stuck in the sand nearly 20 miles from anyone else, found the group nearly four hours later, then checked out the local scene;) . God how I love not missing track.”

Workaholic hardly. Burnout unheard of.

Ken Parnow isn’t an easy one to follow. One week he’s in Southern California running in a meet on City College’s track and field team. The next weekend, he’s near San Diego hiking a nearby mountain range.

A gifted runner, Parnow doesn’t like to be tied down with anything else besides the laces on his running shoes. A former standout athlete at Placer High School in Auburn, Parnow returned to his alumni as the boys’ and girls’ head cross country coach last fall, leading the Hillmen to a team sweep in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships. A few months later, he made a return to track at City College, three years removed from a successful stint at American River College, without missing a beat.

“Have you ever thought about coaching?” Parnow asks. “It’s very rewarding seeing how you can make a difference in someone else’s life.”

At 23, Parnow competes more with himself than against others. While he says he enjoyed running success at ARC, Parnow was more individualized in his running, despite being a vital piece of the 2005 men’s cross country team than won the California Community College State Championship. At the same time, he felt a void in his running career there, and at times out of place with teammates.

“Ken pushes (his teammates) despite being an individual runner,” says former ARC teammate Jason Prado. “He will be there as needed to push us, while at the same time, learn to do things on his own.”
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That individualized mind state spurred Parnow to push himself to become an ultra-runner last summer, racing in events from  20-kilometers to 50-kilometers (32 miles).

“I love to push my body,” Parnow says, “seeing how far and hard I can run.”

Although he has been offered to resume his running career at several four-year universities, Parnow seems uninterested at the moment.

“They didn’t ever want to look at me before, saying I never had a shot in making their team,” Parnow says. “Now they’re suddenly calling me with a different story.”

“He always tried to make running fun, but don’t let his clowning around fool you, he is a fierce competitor,” former high school teammate and current ARC distance runner Tomas Evangelista says. “I’m sure many athletes that have raced him would agree with me.”

Wearing a faded black sweater, blue jeans and prescription eyeglasses, Parnow looks more like a guy who just came from his internship gig on Casual Fridays than someone who spent most of his Saturday in SoCal in the track sun at Cerritos College. There are no signs of tiredness when midnight strikes, as he gets orders about doing a trail run at 8 a.m. bright and early from his coach sitting nearby.

After a playful argument with his distance coach, Parnow obliges an 8-mile tempo run the next morning. Another individual challenge won.

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