Personal Best: Kamola hopes passion for running can lead to career 

John Kamola’s wish is to turn what he loves to do into his full-time job.

Kamola leads guided runs along The Embarcadero, through the Presidio, across Golden Gate Park, or he’ll personally customize runs for his clients. The native of Detroit represents City Running Tours, a company new to The City, but already established in other U.S. cities.

“I saw a story on City Running Tours on the ‘Today Show,’ loved the idea, and thought that it was perfect for S.F.,” Kamola said. “It seemed like such a good fit. I got in touch with Michael [Gazaleh, the founder/CEO], and we both had a similar vision on how to make a business out of this.”

A resident of the Bay Area since 1980 and San Francisco since 1996, Kamola’s free time consists of leading the San Francisco Road Runners Golden Gate Park Tempo Run, guiding his weekend running tours or promoting the fledgling business with visits to San Francisco’s hotel concierges.

The 41-year-old former lineman at perennial football powerhouse De La Salle High School in Concord recalls the day in January of 2003 that he discovered his passion for running.

Disconsolate from a 49ers’ playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kamola embarked on a spontaneous run from his Hayes Valley home to Ocean Beach. Rather than catching Muni for the return trip as was his plan, he changed his mind.

“After looking out at the ocean a bit I ended up running all the way back,” Kamola said. “I just broke through the mental barrier about running more than six miles at one time.”

Four weeks later, he ran the Kaiser Half-Marathon.

He soon moved to longer distances, training for and running in the L.A. Marathon later that year. Kamola ran a 4 hour, 3 minute marathon at the California International in Sacramento in 2008, his personal best.

Although he’s done the run over a hundred times, Kamola’s favorite tour includes taking out-of-towners across the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The scenery, the landmark just takes care of itself,” Kamola said. “They love taking pictures and being on this giant red bridge and looking down at the container ships going through.”

Fueled with enthusiasm and a contagious love for San Francisco and for running, Kamola, for now at least, reports to his day job with Penske Truck Leasing in San Leandro. He is confident of fulfilling his dream one day to work full-time guiding running tours of his beloved adopted city.


City Running Tours


WHAT: Offers both guided personalized and group running tours through San Francisco

OTHER CITIES: Boston, Charleston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

INFO: or (877) 415-0058

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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