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Karen Shopoff Rooff part of running family

Brom Hoban
Personal trainer Karen Shopoff Rooff has run 2 ultra-marathons and 9 marathons.

Karen Shopoff Rooff comes from a running family. When she was 4, her dad would take her and brother Kevin to the track each week while he did interval workouts.

"My brother and I would always do a lap or two on the track, then we'd play in the sand of the long jump pit while my dad finished his workout," she says. "As we got older, all of our family vacations included a race of some kind — sometimes just an event during the vacation, and sometimes the race was the reason for the vacation itself.

"Running was just a part of our family culture."

Steve Shopoff is now 63 and an active age-group runner in Dallas who likes to focus on ultra-marathons.

"Karen was exposed to running through me at a very young age," he says. "At first she'd play on the track, and she'd come to some of my ultra runs with her mom. My own three brothers have all become marathoners as well. I was the one who hooked them into running."

Karen Shopoff Rooff studied art history at the University of Notre Dame and earned a masters degree in architectural history from the University of Texas in 1998. She ran her first marathon at 23. Now 36, she's run two ultra-marathons and nine marathons (her best is 3:26), and she's coaxing along the next generation of family runners.

Her husband, John Rooff, is an information technology consultant, who ran track and cross-country in high school then took it up again shortly after he and Karen began dating 12 years ago. He recently set a personal best of 1:56 for the half marathon.

Her sons, Noah, 7, and Owen, 4, are both running. Noah recently ran the Austin Youth Cross Country run (1K), and is now training to run the mile. Owen is still in the lap-at-the-local-track stage.

"Because my husband, John, and I like to run together, the kids call Lady Bird Lake ‘the running place,' " says Shopoff Rooff. "I'm hoping that they will just learn from example, like I did, that running is fun, can bring you into a great community, and is something anyone of any age can enjoy."

A personal trainer, Shopoff Rooff is expecting her third child in late January and has cancelled plans to run an ultra-marathon in 2011.

"With any luck at all, I'll take two weeks off completely after the baby's birth, and then I can start my run/walk routine again," she says.

Last December, Shopoff Rooff traveled to Huntsville State Park, north of Houston, to run a 50K with her dad and uncle, Tom Shopoff. Last January she ran the Recover from the Holidays 50K in Dallas with her dad.

"I think the time you spend on this sport, like the trips we've taken to run ultras, is time well spent together," says her father. "We get to share an experience, and that's a good thing. It's pretty amazing, really."

Notes: Luis Gutierrez won an extraordinarily close ARC Decker Challenge Half Marathon on Sunday in 1:14:26; David Grice was second (1:14:44). Liz Shelton took the women's race in 1:24:09; Amy Baker was second (1:25:09).

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Upcoming races

Saturday

Vern's No Frills 5K — Race 21, 8 a.m. at Berry Springs Park & Preserve, Georgetown. See www.runtex.com/events .

Austin Reindeer Run 5K, 8:30 a.m. at Camp Mabry. See www.rbsportsllc.com .