All posts by Hugh E. Williams

Founder, Advisor, Professor, and Investor. Former Tech Exec.

Race #13: Play Ball 5k

We ran the Play Ball 5k this morning at the colisseum in Oakland, CA. That’s thirteen races in the books! I’m now a quarter of the way to the goal of 52 races in 2015, and so close to half way to our fundraising goal of $52,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. Help us help people who suffer from GBS and related conditions by heading over here and donating!

Lined up ready to start. There's about 1,295 A's fans, Selina, 3 other M's fans, and I.
Lined up ready to start. There’s about 1,295 A’s fans, Selina, 3 other M’s fans, and I.

This morning’s run was a fun 5k race that started on the field of the Oakland Athletics, made its way around the warning track, and out onto the local surface streets near the stadium. The finish was in the parking lot.

There were nearly 1,300 people racing today. Because the start was on the warning track, people were lined up for miles waiting to start — as we left the stadium, there were still a few hundred people lined up waiting to get into the stadium, and they were probably more than 10 minutes away from crossing the start line.

Ready to race! Right in front of home plate at the home of the Oakland A's
Ready to race! Right in front of home plate at the home of the Oakland A’s

The quirkiness of the start made for an interesting race. I probably crossed the line in 10th place on “gun time”, but that later turned out to be 32nd overall on “chip time”. Selina and I took it pretty easy to be honest, we’ve got another 10k race tomorrow morning! My time was about 22:40.

Race done! Hanging out with Selina and the 1969 A's World Series trophy
Race done! Hanging out with Selina and the 1989 A’s World Series trophy

All of the participants got a cool A’s shirt, and a free ticket to today game between the *mighty* Seattle Mariners and the A’s. i wish I could have stuck around for the game — but I’ll definitely be listening to the dulcet tones of Rick Rizzs.



Weekly update: we’ve raised $24,774!

We’ve now raised $24,774 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. Next week, it’ll be two months since we started our fundraiser, and I’m blown away by how far we’ve come. Thank you for being so generous, and helping us get close to half way to our goal of $52,000 — we’ve still got a long way to go!

Weekly stats: 48% of the way to the $52k goal, and 23% of the way to the running goal.

What’s happened in the past week?

Since our last update, we had generous donations from Gretchen Dinapoli ($200), Cam Smith ($100), Bhanu Koppaka ($100), and Erin McGowan ($25). Yes, that’s not a typo — Gretchen has donated twice to the fundraiser! Wow. Thank you, Gretchen for being amazing, and thank you Cam, Bhanu, and Erin for your generosity!

We also had an anonymous contribution of $2,000 to the fundraiser, and I hope I’ll be able to reveal very soon the identity of the generous benefactor. It’s a very cool story.

Thank you to all of you — it’s pretty amazing that 85 companies and people have joined together to help the GBS/CIDP Foundation.

The photo above is from last week’s race, the Wildflower Run 5k in Morgan Hill, CA. You’ll notice I’m wearing a new, prototype FiftyTwoFives running shirt, likely similar in design to the one I’ll be producing for every one who’s opted in for a “perk” and donated over $100. Here’s my race report.

I took the couple of days off from running this past weekend, which my body thanked me for! That’s put me a little behind where I should be in getting to 52 races for the year, but I’m planning two races this weekend — I’ll look forward to sharing the race stories!


Race #12: Wildflower Run 5k

We ran the 32nd annual Wildflower Run at the Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA on Sunday. What a great race — well organized, flat, fast, and a beautiful day for running. You should get along next year for the 33rd running; I’ve a feeling we’ll be there too.

Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!
Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!

I wore my prototype FiftyTwoFives running shirt for the first time today. We’ve been printing a few different versions, and testing them out. We’ll be printing an official shirt in a month or two, and including names of sponsors who’ve donated more than $100 to our fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. If you’d like the shirt, it’s not too late to donate — come on, you know you want to head over here and help a great cause!

Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women's division. Speed demon!
Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women’s division. Speed demon!

Anyway, this morning, just over 500 people ran the 5k race, and around 250 ran the 10k. The race had a friendly, family atmosphere — and a club racing atmosphere too in the form of a large contingent from the Wolfpak running and triathlon club.

I ran into 3rd place in the 40 to 49 age group (and 16th overall), with a reasonable time of 21:40. I have a sneaking suspicion that the race was closer to 5200m than 5000m, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking that my time was actually a little better. My wife Selina ran into second place with a 22:20 (and came 22nd overall, and 5th in the women’s division). The ladies from Wolfpak looked impressive, but Selina didn’t have too much trouble taking all but one of those ladies down. She’s low key but fast.

The start of the pre-race kids' 2k race
The start of the pre-race kids’ 2k race

The race was won overall by 27-year-old Stephanie Pancoast in a time of 17:24. I haven’t seen a female overall winner in my races for a few years, and 17:24 sure is humming. Impressive stuff.

Next weekend, I’m taking a short break from racing. We’ve got seven or eight races lined up in April including a run around the coliseum before the Mariners @ A’s game (Go M’s!), a run across the Golden Gate bridge, and a race up and down the hills of Mt Diablo. Should be a fun month!


Weekly update: We’ve raised $22,149!

We’ve now raised $22,149 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation since we began fundraising on February 11. That’s amazing, and I owe you thanks again for your support.

Weekly stats: 43% of the way to the $52k goal, and 21% of the way to the running goal.

Help! Help! Help!

Fundraising has slowed to a crawl. We raised only $50 this week! You can help by sharing the fundraiser with your friends on social media, and encouraging that friend or family member who’s mentioned they’re planning to contribute. I’ll be doubling down on my efforts too!

What’s happened in the past week?

This week, we had a generous donation from Timo Volkmer ($50). Thanks Timo!

As you can see in the picture above, we went running as a family last weekend. We ran the Zimbabwe Run, a one mile fundraiser for orphans in Zimbabwe. My youngest daughter has run the race twice, and this year my eldest daughter Lucy and my wife Selina joined in the fun. Watch Lucy’s race, and read about the race here:

I’m looking forward to running two races this weekend! See you next week.

Race #11: Zimbabwe Run

Race 11 wasn’t as exotic as race 10. After my long flight back from Argentina on Thursday, I decided to keep it simple and run the Zimbabwe Run One Mile race on Sunday. My youngest daughter ran it the past couple of years, and this year I ran it with my wife and eldest daughter. Family running is great fun — what’s better than spending time with your family and getting some exercise in too?

Family fun at the Zimbabwe Run. Hugh, Lucy, and Selina. The girls have their new shirts!
Family fun at the Zimbabwe Run. Hugh, Lucy, and Selina. The girls have their new shirts!

Watch the video above to get a feeling for the race — this is my eldest daughter Lucy in action, running in the seventh and eighth grade girls race. (Click the HD icon at the top for a better viewing experience.) We’re very proud of her — she’s taken up running in the past year, and grown to love it.

The Zim Run is unique and for a great cause: it’s a fundraiser for orphans in Zimbabwe. As you’ll see in the video, it’s mostly on grass and two loops around St Joseph’s school in Mountain View. It’s run in age groups: first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and so on up to high school and post high school.

The good thing about running one mile is that it only takes between 5 and 8 minutes for most people run regularly. Mentally, it’s easy to say to yourself at the half way mark that the pain will stop in three minutes and to keep going. I was whispering encouragement to myself after 3 minutes. You can’t do that in a 10k or a half marathon.

Anyway, I came about seventh or eighth (the results aren’t available yet). I ran the race in 6:20, which isn’t too bad given the course, and isn’t too good given it’s a mile. The winner ran it in around 4:30. I beat my wife by about 19 seconds (that’s important!). But, most of all, we’re very proud of Lucy’s efforts!

It’s a great family event — I might see you there with your family next year. We’ll be there.

So, what about next weekend? I’m glad you asked. I’m looking for a race to run on Saturday, and I know I’ll be running the Wildflower Run in Morgan Hill on Sunday. Might see you there!


Weekly update: we’ve raised $22,099!

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks in fundraising for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. We’ve now raised $22,099 since February. That puts us 42% of the way to $52,000, and I’m 19% of the way to 52 races this year.

Please help!

It’s been a great first month, but personal donations have slowed. I need your help — if you can share the fundraiser with your friends on Facebook, you’ll be helping me even more. Just write a few words about why you donated and share this link:

Ready to race in Buenos Aires


What’s happened in the past week?

We had our second major corporate donation to the fundraiser. Thank you, Pivotal for the $5,200 contribution! (Plug for them below, keep reading.)

This week, we also had generous donations from Bev and Ross McNaughton ($100), Daniel Miranda ($50), and Megan Ford ($25).

Thank you to all of you who’ve contributed — it’s pretty amazing that 77 companies and people have joined together to help the GBS/CIDP Foundation.

The running has been great in the last week too. Last weekend, I ran in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the Carrera UNICEF 10k por la Educacion. The picture above is a selfie at the start line, and you can see nearly 20,000 people lined up behind me ready to race. It was an amazing experience, and I’ve posted a race update over here:

Who are Pivotal?

They’re an exciting new company that was formed by the EMC Federation, and they’re building the next generation of enterprise software for all companies. Their most prominent and exciting new product is Pivotal Cloud Foundry, a platform-as-a-service offering. I have plenty of great friends and colleagues at Pivotal (I worked there in 2014), and they’re certainly looking for great new folks to join their teams — ping me if you’d like an introduction! Ping me also if you’d like to learn more about them.


Race #10: Carrera UNICEF por la educacion

This race was an 8 out of 10 on the exotic scale. I flew 14 hours to the second-largest city in South America, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and raced with around 20,000 people on Sunday. All in the spirit of raising money for the GBS/CIDP Foundation and the great work they do. Which reminds me — if you haven’t donated, I’d love you to join the wonderful people who have.

That was a fun race! A festive atmosphere, plenty of sponsor booths, lots of families, and almost everyone wearing matching UNICEF t-shirts. All along the course there were cheering crowds, who were probably two or three deep along the railings over the last quarter mile. The course itself was flat and wound through parklands on closed roads and past the Antonio Vespucio Liberti stadium, home of C.A. River Plate, the famous Buenos Aires soccer team.

Selfie at the start line
Selfie at the start line

The warmup beforehand was an experience. Perhaps 5,000 people joined in a choreographed aerobic stretching session with (I presume) a local fitness personality. He was accompanied by loud American rap and dance music, and a costumed hippopotamus. Following that, everyone shuffled into the start chute and lined up over a quarter mile waiting for the start. Fifteen minutes later, we were underway.

We're ready to race. If you look carefully, you can find me in my trademark sunglasses
We’re ready to race. If you look carefully, you can find me in my trademark sunglasses

The 10k race itself felt like a half marathon. I was glad it was over. The humidity of roughly 80% and the temperature in the 80s was tough on a Californian who’d just arrived. I ran a relatively slow time, but that wasn’t really the point — it was an amazing experience.

Crossing the finish line
Crossing the finish line

This week, I’m thinking I’ll keep it simple, and run a race I’ve watched for the past three years. My daughters and wife will probably run it too. It’s a one mile time trial that raises funds for a Zimbabwean orphanage, and it takes place at an elementary school in Los Altos, CA. Looking forward to it!

One month, $16,624 raised!

Thank you to those who’ve donated to the FiftyTwoFives fundraiser: you have joined a network of special people! For those who haven’t, I need your help: head on over here and contribute:

We have raised $16,624 in one month ($15,074 through IndieGoGo, $500 in direct donations to the Foundation, and the remainder in matching corporate donations). We are 32% of the way to $52,000, and I’m 17% of the way to 52 races in a year.

How else can I help? (I’m glad you asked!)

If you’re looking to help that little bit extra, please do two things: “like” our page on Facebook at, and “plug” our campaign as a status update to your friends on Facebook (cut and paste this URL:

What’s happened in the past week?

This week, we had our first major corporate donation to the fundraiser. A huge milestone! Thank you, Medallia for the $5,000 contribution! (Plug for them below, keep reading.)

This week, we also had generous donations from Justin Pascoe ($250), Hassan Sawaf ($100), Adrian Colyer ($1,000), Oana Constantin ($50), Aaron Safronoff ($100), Raj Arasu ($250), Ron Gura ($50), Shane Smailes ($250), John Pluhowski ($100), Han-Shen Yuan ($100), Aamer Hydrie ($100), Naren Chittar ($25), and Teresa Langshaw ($100).

They join (in reverse order of donation) Colleen Hawes, Aurora Gillett, Kara Dunford, Stephanie Kochar, Stefan Mee, Debankur Naskar, Guy Schory, Ranjan Sinha, Shalini Agrawal, Dayna Saunders Fullmer, Sanjay Ghatare, Nish Parikh, Gretchen DiNapoli, Janine Shaw, Melanie Plumb, Jim and Penny Walsh, Felicity Broadbent (Woolacott), Shanthi Acharya, Scott Prevost, Ramana Thumu, Jamil Valliani, Farah Ali, Valerie Nygaard, Jenni Johnson, Melissa Berger, Kiran Nagarur, Matt Madrigal, Gene Cook, Wilson Pang, Srini Gottipati, Bhupendra Jain, Venkat Sundaranatha, Brian Johnson, Eliot Gillum, Lilian Chee, Karen Weaver, Oliver Hurst-Hiller, Angela Lau, Mike Mathieson, Antoine El-Daher, VitalFit LLC, Praveen Jayaraman, Katy Chu, Rosie Williams, Jay Weiler, Prathibha Alam, Luis Guitan, Ross and Laura Comer, Dane and Jill Glasgow, and Nate Lyman.

Quite a network of special people! I will thank contributors here every week, starting now.

Who is Medallia?

They are the best company that many of you haven’t heard of, and taking the customer service world by storm. They enable companies to capture customer feedback, understand it in real-time, and take action to improve the customer experience. Their customers include everyone you know and love. If you’d like to learn more about them, ping me — I have excellent connections to the team, and they have open roles for software engineers, PMs, and data scientists.

See you next time!


Race #9: Jenny’s Light 5k

Some races are just races. Others give you insight into someone else’s life and important causes. This is a race that matters.

Jenny’s Light is a charity formed after the untimely death of Jenny from postpartum depression. It aims to improve and save lives through increasing awareness of postpartum mood disorders. Since its inception a few years ago, they’ve raised over $400,000, and it was our pleasure this morning to contribute by running their annual race. If you’d like to contribute too, head over here. (We sent over a few extra dollars too.)

Speaking of things that matter, my fundraiser to fight GBS matters! We’ve raised nearly $11,000 in less than a month for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. I suffered from GBS — which wasn’t fun — and I’m working to help others who have the misfortune. Please head over here and donate to support the cause.

The Race

This race was at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos in California. It’s a beautiful park, built along the Los Gatos creek trail, with the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad as the center piece. Very flat and all pavement.

It was a cooler morning in Northern California. It took a while to warm up, and we wished we’d brought along running gloves. If you live on the east coast of the US, you probably hate me now. Sorry.

It was a fun race. A family, mothers, strollers friendly vibe. There was a kids run, a 10k, and the 5k that we ran. The 10k and 5k had regular runner and people-pushing-a-stroller divisions. The 10k took off at 10am — a daylight-savings-started-today friendly time — and 5k at 10:05am. What made it extra special was two families from our girls’ school, and other friends being there — it’s great to see families out together, and you can’t beat exercising as a family.

The start wasn’t a ton of fun, but that’s Vasona Lake for you; I’ll come back to Vasona Lake later. Lots of kids running like crazy, then stopping, tying shoelaces, waiting for Dad, and generally trying to get themselves hurt by fast moving “running back”-like guys like me. Anyway, survived that, and had a fun race on a meandering course.

The Jenny's Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA
The Jenny’s Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA

Super well organized race. It started on time, no problems with the timing and awards, and the friendly vibe flowed through. I’ll run this one next year, and hopefully for many years to come.

As to a time, well, I came seventh overall in 21:46. I wasn’t feeling the best with a slight cold, and just never quite got in the groove. Still, I was happy with the result, and I’m looking forward to Buenos Aires next week — a 10k through the streets of Argentina’s capital!

Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny's Light 5k
Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny’s Light 5k

Running Races at Vasona Lake

Races at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos tend to meander. It’s a beautiful place to be, but its designers clearly weren’t thinking about 5k racers when they laid the trails. I reckon I’ve run around ten races at Vasona, and everyone’s been different — and they all involve lots of corners, doubling back, and generally running a snaking trail.

Which reminds me of the worst race I’ve run. It was at Vasona Lake, and maybe in 2012, and was a “first annual *something* race”. (Pro tip: don’t sign up to run in the first annual anything.)  There were no course markers, and no marshals on the course. I’m moderately confident that the leader of each pack of runners ran a different course, leading to maybe ten different races being run. I crossed the line in a suspiciously slow 25 minutes. Several slower looking people had been over the line for 10 minutes, and several faster looking people crossed the line at the 30 minute mark. I’m mellow about that king of thing. Several people weren’t. Chaos ensued.  Anyway, got a nice t-shirt.

Well, that’s race #9 in the books. I hope you’ll join in supporting my fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation, and follow my journey to 52 races in 52 weeks.


We’ve raised $7,499!

We’ve actually raised $1,300 more than the total that’s shown on our IndieGoGo Fundraising page. How?

Two amazing people, Jim and Penny Walsh, donated $500 directly to the GBS/CIDP Foundation on my behalf. THANK YOU! They then put in for a matching donation from Salesforce, contributing another $500 to the fundraiser. Thank you, Salesforce!

eBay has an amazing donation matching program too! Angela Lau, Janine Shaw, and Bhupendra Jain put in for the matching donations, contributing another $300 in addition to their already generous contributions. Thank you to them, and thank you, eBay!

So, as of today, we’ve raised $7,499 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation!

Thank you to all 54 of you who’ve donated! To everyone else, please donate — even a dollar makes a difference!