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Know your runner

Tom Harper Auburn Bib No. 208
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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This is the latest in a series of profiles on Auburn-area residents participating in the Western States Endurance Run on June 27. It’s been eight years since Tom Harper participated in a relatively short run during Eppie’s Great Race in Sacramento and discovered his running legs. “I ran six miles and I felt pretty good afterward,” Harper said. “From there, it was a slow progression.” Harper hooked up with Dan Moores’ Saturday morning running group and steadily built his mileage to the point where he is ready to take on the premier ultramarathon in the world. He was ready to make his Western States debut last year, but smoke from several wildfires caused the first cancellation of the event in its 35-year history. The postponement was a blessing in disguise for Harper, who had a chance to further strengthen the knee he had surgery on in January of 2008. Fellow Auburnites Randy Thompson and Bob Dickinson have shown Harper the ropes during his training. Unlike most Western States rookies, Harper has run every section of the trail and he’s anxious to return to the picturesque high country. “I really like it up in the mountains — the further out there the better,” he said. Harper worked as an information technology consultant for many years, but now looks after Boorinakis-Harper Ranch on Dairy Road. The farm produces pears, grapes, honey, persimmons, apples, peaches and many other fruits and vegetables. At age 60, Harper enjoys trying to keep pace with some of the younger runners, including Foresthill’s Chad Long, a 30-something runner entered in his first WS 100. Harper’s biggest fear is the fatigue that will settle in early Sunday morning. “I don’t stay up all night well,” he said. “I’m just worried about keeping mentally alert and awake, but that’s where my pacer (Thompson) will help me.” Harper is still coming to grips with the fact that he will line up at Squaw Valley in less than two weeks and embark on a 100-mile trail run that ends in his hometown. “I never thought I’d be here,” he said.