By Hal Lifson
Hal Lifson is a publicist for Shannon Rowbury
San Francisco is home to the fastest female 1500-meter runner in the U.S. Shannon Rowbury, but Berkeley is where she logs a lot of her toughest miles.
The 1500 is a grueling race, just short of a mile: 3 and 3/4 laps around the 400-meter track. Shannon knows the distance well; she's been a champion runner since college days at Duke University. The 1500 is Shannon's specialty. Like the ZZ Top song, Shannon's "got legs and she knows how to use them!"
Currently, Shannon is training for the upcoming World Championships of Athletics this summer in Moscow. In order to make the U.S team, which would be Shannon's third appearance at the World Games (she won a bronze medal in 2009), she must finish in the top three in the final race at the U.S. National Championship this June in Des Moines, Iowa.
"No one's on the team for sure, until they make the team," says Shannon with an air of confidence that lets you know she expects to be in Russia competing for another medal this summer.
Shannon has been to the last two Olympic Games, making the final both times. This past summer in London, Shannon finished sixth and ran the highest time ever for a U.S. woman in the 1500 in the Olympics. No small feat for the former Celtic dancer, who stops off at Nabolam Bakery in Berkeley for a treat after practice sometimes.
"I feel very lucky to have a top level facility like Edwards Stadium (at U.C. Berkeley) to train at. It's a second home to me. I call it the Oval Office," says Shannon with that trademark smile.
Shannon also loves stopping by Rasputin's Music in Berkeley after training to pick out a few CDs.
"I recently got into Blondie as part of my '80s music phase," says Shannon. "Their album Eat To The Beat is amazing. I love the song 'Dreaming.' It's one of my favorite running tunes!"
Shannon also hits the trails at Tilden Regional Park.
"Berkeley has such a different feel from San Francisco and it's fun to get to go there for the day. I always plan a stop at Berkeley Bowl to stock up on groceries and sometimes I grab a snack at " Shannon said.
Shannon Rowbury is a very serious athlete but also started a Foundation for young woman in athletics and the arts, Imagining More, along with her boyfriend and fellow runner Pablo Solares.
"I want to give young women a chance to advance in the two fields I am most passionate about," Shannon said.
Shannon majored in English with a certificate in film and obtained a master's degree from Duke University. She was also a star runner in college.
Running is a way of life for Shannon and her business.
"I love running but it's also my job," says Shannon, who is a Nike-sponsored athlete. "I am very goal oriented and this Summer my goals are all about Worlds and making the medal stand."
With that, Shannon laces her training shoes and heads out the door for a run.