Sunday, April 26 marks San Francisco’s annual Across the Bay 12k, which we’re incredibly pumped to be sponsoring. The event’s mere existence was up in the air before JT Service—a decorated long-distance/marathon runner and longtime buddy of San Franpsycho—swooped in to save the day by purchasing the race from its previous owners. Thanks to JT’s heroics, the city’s classic 31-year-old race series is alive and well, with nearly 4,000 runners registered for Sunday’s 12k and 5k. We designed the t-shirt for this year’s event and will be on the ground early Sunday morning with the SFP van dishing out refreshments and words of encouragement to all runners!
Andy, Christian and JT modeling the 2015 Across the Bay t-shirt
Hailing from Santa Cruz, JT is the lean mean running machine behind Soul Focus Sports and Represent Running, where he manages top-tier athletes and organizes nationally acclaimed running events. He’s shaking up the racing community with his latest game-changing brainchild, the area code-themed race series he’s currently rolling out in the Bay Area. Represent Running’s “Run the Bay Challenge” includes the Across the Bay 415k, San Jose 408k, and Let’s Go 510–the East Bay’s 5k/10k.
Never one to settle, JT not only oversees the burgeoning Run the Bay series, but also the San Francisco Giant Race at AT&T Park, 49ers Rush at Levi’s Stadium, and Packard Summer Scamper at Stanford University. Each event directly benefits a local nonprofit or organization, including the Edgewood Center, Project Open Hand, 49ers Foundation, and Standford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Did we mention he qualified for the 2008 US Marathon Olympic Trials? Suffice to say, JT is crushing it.
JT in action at the inaugural Kauai Marathon in 2009—which he not only organized, but won
The common thread throughout Soul Focus and Represent Running’s races is twofold: first, a tried-and-true emphasis on incorporating local communities into each event’s DNA; and second, a commitment to giving back. The result is a series of local-centric races that are inclusive, fun, and singular in their vision and execution. Whether that entails a “Mariachi Mile” at the San Jose 408k, or the San Franpsycho truck parked onsite at the 415k, JT is constantly churning out fun, fresh ideas that tie his events to a sense of place and community.
At San Franpsycho, we’re staunch supporters of anything JT throws together, and couldn’t be more stoked to participate in his inaugural run at the helm of Across the Bay. Check out our interview with JT below—we hope to see you on race day this Sunday!
But first, a few words from Christian on JT…
a local Mariachi band serenades runners during the last mile of the San Jose 408k
“JT is a longtime friend and we’re stoked to be collaborating with him now. He’s a nonstop powerhouse filled with the will of spreading the joy of running! He runs everywhere. Seriously. I once asked him if he wanted to carpool to the Giants game and he said “no, it’s cool, I’m just gonna jog over there.”
…No, he didn’t actually. But this is the kind of guy that talks the talk and runs the run! He’s passionate about what he’s doing and does it with low stress and big smiles. Hopefully we’ll continue to work together in the future. I’ve already started thinking about more fun ideas for us.”
First off, what is your connection to San Franpsycho?
My wife used to live at Andy’s house, which is how I met Andy and Christian. We hit it off right away. San Franpsycho designed a Bay to Breakers shirt for me back in the day, but this Across the Bay partnership is our first real professional collaboration.
How are things going with Soul Focus and Represent Running?
Every month we’re growing more and more. Running is so popular right now. It’s amazing how many calls we get asking us to get involved with this race or that race. We’ve reached the point where we can be selective, which is pretty big.
Can you tell us about the inspiration for your area code-themed races and “Run the Bay” challenge?
The Rock n Roll Marathon Series definitely informed our vision. They changed the way races are done, by making the event more about a day of festivities, rather than starting, finishing, and immediately going home. We put a lot of effort into post-race activities for that reason. The Santa Cruz to Capitola Wharf to Wharf Race is another big influence. And of course Bay to Breakers because it’s just so fun. The “point to point” race structure in general is really fun.
What makes the area code races so special?
Civic pride is a central theme to our race series. The 415k, 408k, and Let’s Go 510 unify the Bay Area and connect runners with each other’s communities. I see these events as a catalyst to work with local vendors and people who really understand the area, which is why San Franpsycho was an obvious choice to partner with for the 415k. We integrate local vendors into the course, which adds a fun element of surprise to the race. Our races aren’t super serious. For example, I could see some alcohol consumption happening on the course…
Do you have any advice for aspiring race directors?
Look outside of the running world for inspiration and partners. Expand your horizons and get in front of new people. This approach makes the running industry more exciting for everyone.
What is your most memorable racing experience?
A drunken seven-mile stretch during the Calistoga to Santa Cruz Relay, which is a 12-member team run. I was in a bar in Sausalito partying and drinking when we found out one of the girls on our team got hurt. I stepped in to take her place. I can recall getting the baton and just being ridiculously drunk to run seven miles. I was flying past people while crushing Coors Light. This was just after the Olympic Trials so I was fit enough to be treating my body that way. Greatest running memory.
Epic. And finally, what does San Franpsycho represent to you?
Childhood hero: Chris Mullin of 90s Golden State Warriors fame
Perfect San Francisco day: running with friends, Irish coffee from Buena Vista Cafe, wiffle ball in Golden Gate Park, Outer Sunset surf session
Favorite travel destination: Kauai. I look forward to the Kauai Marathon every year (honorary mention: Morocco)
Best city for road racing: San Francisco—and especially after April 26!
Proudest running-related moment: Olympic Trials, definitely
Craziest SFP memory: We were at a bar in the Sunset. Out of nowhere, Andy jumped behind the bar and started handing out beers and booze to everyone like candy. We thought he’d lost it and gone full klepto—just blatantly stealing from the bar. It turns out he’d paid the bartender in advance to cover the tab. That’s just the kind of nice guy he is.
Words to live by: Don’t stop
Across the Bay
a shot from Surf Rodeo, the Soul Focus Costumed Surf Contest
“our biggest fan”, according to JT
Scope the Across the Bay course map. We’ll see you on race day!