Getting a stride, hearing your heart beat as your breath gets stronger, looking around and seeing miles and miles of beauty. That’s the experience for trail runners in the Sacramento region. Roger Leasure, President of NCTS Corp., has been running the Coloma trails for more than a decade. Running helps keep Leasure fit and he likes the challenge and competition one faces when running a race. “Some of my best thinking happens on the trails,” said Leasure. “I knew I wanted to help raise money for juvenile diabetes and I wanted the entire family to be a part of it.” That’s when Leasure formed the Coloma River Races, a non-profit organization that raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
The driving force behind raising money for JDRF is Leasure’s son, Roger Jr., who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 7-years-old. “My son was very active and showed no signs of illness until we were on a trip in the middle of the desert. He was drinking water all the time and quickly became very lethargic.” said Leasure. His son was rushed to the emergency room and later admitted to the ICU. Leasure was told his son had diabetes and they were put in touch with JDRF. The Leasure family knew this diagnosis was life changing. It became important to them to help support this cause any way they could.
Coloma River Races is made up of two races, the Coloma River Run that is a family friendly 5K and the Salmon Falls 50K for endurance runners. This was the 5th year for the Coloma River Run with $19,000 raised for JDRF. The Salmon Falls 50K is in its second year and takes place February 27, 2016. The goal is to raise $40,000.
Running a 50K is not for the faint of heart. Leasure started running in third grade, ran cross country in junior high, and competed in the Junior Olympics. As he got older though, Leasure said he gained weight. To get back into shape his 10Ks lead to marathons, 50Ks, and a few 50 milers. Leasure hasn’t wandered into the 100 miler territory yet but said he would give it a try if he could get into the Western States Endurance Run.
As a former board member of the Northern California chapter of JDRF, Leasure has a good idea how the money that’s raised is spent. “JDRF is a good steward of the money we raise with most of it going to research,” said Leasure. JDRF’s research mission is to discover, develop and deliver advances that cure, better treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.
Leasure said his idea for the Coloma River Races has come to life because of his dedicated team that took his vision and made it a reality. “I let the race directors tell me what they need without worrying about what it’s going to cost,” said Leasure. “I want all necessary resources available so both races are first class and people will come back year after year and tell their friends to come too.”