Julia Stamps-Mallon has lived in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

Her favorite? None of them.

She’ll take Sonoma County any day of the week.

Stamps-Mallon, one of the all-time great distance runners in California prep history, has returned to the area. She and her husband, Jon Mallon, and their daughters, Ashlin (4) and Siena (2) make their home at Annadel State Park, on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa. They have family in the area.

The park offers miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and trail riding. It’s where Stamps-Mallon did a lot of her training runs while attending Santa Rosa High School. It’s where she trains today for marathons.

“I love this park,” she said last week. “My husband will push me out the door to go for a run. I laugh with my husband because it’s an enjoyment and it’s also an absolute love.”

Stamps-Mallon hasn’t lost her love for running or preparing for races. The former Stanford University star is one of the elite-level entrants in the 35th annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, a 26.2-mile race from Calistoga to Napa on March 3 starting at 7 a.m. The Napa Valley Marathon course and race are certified and sanctioned by USA Track and Field. The race is a qualifier for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Stamps-Mallon is part of a sold-out field of 2,600 runners, who head south on the Silverado Trail to the finish line at Vintage High School. This year’s marathon will serve as the Road Runners Club of America National Marathon Championship Race. Men’s and women’s overall winners will receive their weight in wine from the sponsoring Silverado Trail Wineries Association, and each finisher in the race gets a medal. Kaiser Permanente is the presenting sponsor.

This year’s theme is “Honoring Women in Marathoning.” Race organizers will honor the achievements of four runners — Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Jacqueline Hansen, Nina Kuscsik and Lorraine Moller. They will be in Napa for race weekend and participate in the marathon college on March 2 at the Napa Valley Marriott.

“I’ve only heard extremely positive and exciting things about the marathon,” said Stamps-Mallon.

“The organization sounds fantastic and phenomenal. The course itself has to be beautiful and fast.

“The size of the race is perfect. I’ve found that sometimes running the really big races, although the crowds can be phenomenal as in New York City, there’s nothing like waking up in your own home, driving up and over a hill, getting to a starting line.”

The Napa Valley Marathon, taking place on a point to point course, will allow Stamps-Mallon to run close to home and for her family to see her. According to its website, the Napa Valley Marathon is dedicated to fostering and promoting quality road racing in an inspiring setting.

Stamps-Mallon is a 1997 Santa Rosa High graduate. She was a six-time All-American at Stanford, earning those honors in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.

Among her honors at Santa Rosa:

• Six world USA Track and Field track and cross country teams.

• Four-time 3,000-meter Junior National USATF champion.

• Junior Pan American champion in the 3,000 meters in Santiago, Chile.

• Foot Locker cross country champion.

• Three-time California state cross country champion.

• Four-time California state track champion.

At Stanford, she was fourth as a freshman at the NCAA nationals in cross country. She graduated in 2001 with a degree in physiology and got her master’s a year later at Stanford.

Stamps-Mallon has a personal record of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 7 seconds in the marathon, which she attained at last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston.

She won the Santa Rosa Marathon in 2011 in a time of 2:44:16.

“I’m running well now,” she said. “I’ve learned that, given my lifestyle now, that what I’m doing is fantastic. I love it, it’s competitive. The kids love it. They love going to races. They just think it’s an absolute blast. We just think that it’s such a fun family affair, that we just continue doing it.

“I find myself to be a competitive type of person. But competitive against myself. That’s always something that I’ve had. It’s always me trying to improve what I’m doing. I think that is what sparks the competitive nature, because I like to see myself compete and I like to see myself do better than I did before.”

Stamps-Mallon began running marathons after college. She has done the New York Marathon, Chicago Marathon, San Francisco Marathon, Miami Marathon, Big Sur Marathon and Los Angeles Marathon. She ran at the 2004 Olympic Trials.

Stamps-Mallon likes the 26.2-mile marathon distance and is looking forward to the NVM.

“I’m very excited to be competing in it. I think my overall fitness and shape is pretty good.

“It’s going to be fun. I’m excited to head out there and do that race.”

All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities in the Napa Valley.

Further information is available at www.napavalleymarathon.org or by calling 255-2609.

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