Randy Sturgeon dies at 62; coach published NMN for 7 years

Randy’s last major meet was 2010 Sacramento nationals, near home.

Randy Sturgeon, who bought National Masters News in November 2006 and gave it up last January amid a cancer fight, died with dignity and courage about 5 a.m. Thursday. NMN’s current owners followed Facebook postings with an email that said: “It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the news of Randy Sturgeon’s passing. Randy, former publisher of National Masters News, coach, athlete and friend to all in Masters LDR and Track & Field, slipped away peacefully early this morning after a long and hard fought battle with cancer. He will be greatly missed.” In May 2013, he gave people hope that he was beating mouth and throat cancer. But in July 2014, he was looking at the end game, writing “The plan is a two- to three-week break and then start a lesser chemo regimen [or] go with none. None really isn’t an option because they want to keep the mouth cancer in check [and] focus on the lung, giving me some more quality days. I am hopeful. However, I am okay and ready to go home anytime the Lord calls. I just want to finish with grace, dignity and at home with friends and family. That is the best thing that can happen.”

Randy, beloved as a coach to masters as well as high-schoolers at Granite Bay High School, ran a 6:04 mile on his 60th birthday in 2012. His last major meet was 2010 Sacramento nationals.

Many people were posting memories on Randy’s FB page, and friend Maryline Roux shared a poem by Rabindranath Tagore in his honor:

My Voyage

I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power, that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time had come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that Your will knows no end in me, and when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.

I introduced Randy on Nov. 8, 2006:

Sacramento’s Sturgeon to run National Masters News

Today is the 65th birthday of Suzy Hess, owner/publisher of National Masters News. But she has a birthday gift for all of us — a strong, sophisticated buyer of NMN. The new owner will be Randy Sturgeon, the Brooks Fleet Feet Racing Club majordomo whose comments have appeared on this blog several times.

Randy Sturgeon, himself a 54-year-old runner, writes: First off let me say I am very excited about taking over National Masters News. It combines all my passions and experiences, and I cannot think of better thing to do as I retire from my job with the State of California.

Of course my main passions are distance running and track and field. It started when I was a little kid living near Modesto, California, and seeing Peter Snell destroy the best U.S. milers at the California Relays in 1963 and also watching a man named Phil Shinnick who got deprived of a world long jump record because there was no wind gauge on him. I have an extensive background in publishing, writing, advertising, broadcasting, race directing and public relations.

For the last 17 years I have worked for the State of California in the Department of Toxic Substances Control in External Affairs. In my job I wrote and published documents, did community assessments on environmental issues, held public meetings, gave legislative briefings, and performed other duties as assigned, as the saying goes.

NMN is actually not the first magazine with which I have been involved. I was the editor of a small Northern California publication called “The Running Scene” in the early 1980s. The publication struggled and was closed when the owners found they could turn a better profit by concentrating on race promotions. I learned a lot in that time what to do and not to do in running a business.

I have also worked in television and radio from time to time as a color commentator for local running events including the California International Marathon and Golden West Invitational. My journalistic career started as sports editor for my junior college newspaper and as a reporter for the Fairfield Daily Republic.

Then of course I have been a runner and track athlete for over 40 years and have been coaching runners and track athletes for over 30 years. I still do occasional race promotion, race/meet announcing jobs, put on clinics and have even done some commercial acting.

Of course, I am the head coach for Brooks Fleet Feet Racing of Sacramento, one of my main passions in life.

He went through several editors at NMN, including Carmel Papworth-Barnum (Larry’s wife). I had issues with him, but he forgave me.

In mid-December 2013, my last email exchange with Randy involved the estate of longtime NMN publisher Al Sheahen. I asked his permission to scan and post early issues of what was then called National Masters Newsletter.

He replied: “Absolutely. That would be great.”

I plan to share the first 28 issues soon on mastershistory.org.

Randy had heart. And he was known for his positive “Yes, I can” reinforcements — unlike Joan “Queen of the Putdown” Rivers, who also passed Thursday.

Funeral plans will be shared when available.

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September 6, 2014

14 Responses

  1. Peter L. Taylor - September 5, 2014

    Ken, that’s a wonderful photo of Randy, and I’m glad you chose it: Randy Sturgeon hitting the finish line. We realize as runners that a race can stand for our entire lives.

    We start absolutely fresh, like newborns, but at the end it may seem that we are at death’s door. Afterwards we recover, and then we are given the chance to live the experience again, whether in the same meet or a later competition.

    In the short term, Randy will be known best for his extraordinary courage. As I noted some months ago, he became a “reluctant hero.” He didn’t choose the cancer battle; instead it was thrust upon him. He then showed us what heroism looks like.

    Over the longer term, Randy will be recalled fondly for his personal relationships, his affability, and his many contributions both within track and field and outside the sport, but in the short term he will be most celebrated for his courage. So be it.

    Very nice to have known you, Randy.

  2. Kevin F Forde - September 5, 2014

    Rest In Peace my friend it was a pleasure to have known you,you will be missed

  3. Terry Parks - September 5, 2014

    Well said Peter. I met Randy a few times in person and he was always gracious and approachable. I was surprised that he knew who I was. His account of his preparations for meets in National Masters News were very inspiring.

    I often thought about the story of him falling down, but some how finishing the race. I hope that I can have just a little of that courage and zest for life as I make my way through this world.

    Rest in Peace Randy, the race has been run and you were glorious.

  4. Bill Collins - September 5, 2014

    Randy was a great friend, and he was a big help in the promotion and selling of my books with ads in the Masters News, along with selling them at every event he went to. We talked often, and he never complained about his health, and always pushed forward seeing the best in others. During my hardest days with my illness he was a big supporter with words of encouragement. One truly great man and the picture crossing the finish line that Ken posted, like Peter stated, is how he lived his life. “Keep running my friend” You will be greatly missed.

  5. Rick Riddle - September 5, 2014

    Randy was, and remains, a champion of the idea that we give the best we effort have, no matter the strength of the competition.
    He fought valiantly, and there is value for each of us in his living example. He will be missed by the large community of friends whose lives he touched over the years. Thank you Randy, for what you contributed to us all, rest in God’s peace.

  6. Dennis Reagan - September 5, 2014

    I did not know Randy very well. He coached my son’s track team at Granite Bay High School. What I do know, he was always very positive and very encouraging to all the runners. Even those with marginal skills. I am always impressed by people that can be so passionate about helping a young person out even when there is little to gain in the way of reward or recognition. Clearly, Randy was a great coach and a wonderful man.

  7. Christa Bortignon - September 5, 2014

    So sorry to hear about Randy. He was such a nice person. He was very helpful and supportive when I first started track and field. Rest in peace.

  8. Kenneth Effler - September 5, 2014

    Very sad news. I first met Randy when we competed together at the Charlotte nationals in 2006. Once he bought and published the MNM, I’d always see him at the different national events that I’d get to, and we’d always spend a couple of hours talking about track and running. We kept in touch by Facebook in the last couple of years, and I admired the courage, strength, and grace, which he exhibited in fighting this final battle. He touched many lives, both on and off the track. We’ll miss you Randy. Rest in peace my friend.

  9. Nolan Shaheed - September 5, 2014

    Randy is a wonderful person who I will always remember as a warm and kind person as well as a great athlete and competitor.He will be missed immensely for his positive attitude and sincere encouragement he gave. He convinced me to run the steeplechase and gave me pointers that helped me overcome my fear of the water barriers. about six years ago his team, Golden West, and the team I run for were engaged in a very fierce battle for the title of National Outdoor Champions. It came down to the last event and we won be the very slimmest of margins. I know he was very disappointed about not winning but he came over and congratulated us and was very gracious about it. A wonderful man with a big heart.

  10. Marcus battle - September 5, 2014

    Man he’s set up at a meet up there now

  11. Martha Rosett Lutz - September 5, 2014

    Randy is meeting one of my all-time heroes, John Baker. Randy and I had talked to each other often about John’s life story, and Randy had expressed his admiration for John. And now, clearly, they are together, and Randy is meeting John as a comrade and an equal–two athletes; two men of valor, integrity, and the courage to stand face to face with adversity and keep moving calmly and inexorably forward towards their goals.

  12. al cestero - September 5, 2014

    sorry to read this…i will pray for his family

  13. Ken stone - September 6, 2014

    From Amanda Scotti:

    Please join us for a Celebration of Life for Coach Randy Sturgeon at Heritage Oaks Memorial Chapel, 6920 Destiny Drive, Rocklin CA Sunday, September 14, 2014 from 2:00pm-5:30pm. Honor Randy by wearing your Team Racing Jersey. Wear you colors, show your pride as we are all truly ONE TEAM of Friends who loved a man that gave it his all.

    Teams Randy coached: Del Campo HS, El Camino HS, Cordova HS, Selano Jr HS, Granite Bay HS. Club teams he coached show your spirit, SacramentoRiver City Rebels Running Club, Buffalo Chips, Capital City Flyers, West Valley TC. Christian Runners of (CROSS) Sacramento, Fleet Feet Racing of Sacramento, Golden West Athletic Club.

    Parents wear your school colors. Food and refreshments and of course CARROT CAKE will be served. Randy wanted his Friends to share stories and anyone can speak at the service. A Tribute video is in production by Rick Sutter who over the years made awesome videos for the Granite Bay Track team.

  14. Ray Sibley - September 7, 2014

    I ran with and against Randy in High School, College, and again as a masters runner. He was a tough competitor always pushing to get to the next level. Another friendly face missing from the track.

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