Friday, July 1, 2022

The 40 for 40 Race for The

Hello, friends! I am writing to introduce you to my next hairbrained charity running event, the 40 for 40 Race for The. "The what," you may ask as you read my apparent nonsense. "The whatever you want." I answer in a way that provides little immediate clarity. Please bear with me just a little and I will explain.

You may recall that at the start of the pandemic, I set up and ran the Berto 77 at Home Marathon. The event was a success. I ran my first ever marathon entirely around my block and I raised $2,400 for my local foodbank. T and the kids also chose charities, gathered pledges and ran laps. Ryu ran 15 miles over the course of the day. It was fun and we helped our community. Now I'm back with another idea.

The 40 for 40 race for The

This time, I want to include as many of you as runners as I can. This event will take place on September 10th, 2022 at locations across the country. The idea is simple, runners 40 years of age or older will run a 40 yard dash. This run will be live streamed for an audience of how ever may people are interested in seeing 40-year-olds run. The top three finishers will have pledge money donated to the charity of their choice. They will also get a nifty medal. The whole thing will be hosted online and live-streamed by our friends Greg and Doug of Brothers in Booze.

Ok, where does the money come from? 

Great question! We have posted bios for each runner, below. Fans can pledge for the runner they think will win. This pledge is a donation to charity. However, I am working on securing some sort of prize or prize drawing for those who pick the winners. More on that to come. You can pledge on the Go Fund Me page. I will post runner bios here on the post as they come in.

What do I want from you?

Another great question. I'd like you to consider running, or pledging. I'd like you to follow me on twitter (@bertoinpublic) for updates. I'd like you to "Like" the 40 for 40 race for The page on Facebook. 

If you want to run, please DM me on Twitter, or post on the 40 for 40 Facebook page!

If you have any fun corporate connections, please contact me and let's talk about sponsorships. I'd really like to have some prizes donated for the winning pledgers.

All Set?

Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.

Runner Bios:

Check out these runners and pledge for ones you think can post the fastest 40 time.

Berto bing lifted up by two other players jumping to grab a ball during a rugby match
Name: Roberto Santiago

Age: 45

Athletic Bonafides: Played DIII rugby for many years, currently referees rugby, once ran a very slow marathon, still has the same waist size as he did in high school.

Charity: Whole Woman's Health (Texas abortion clinic moving to New Mexico)

Name: Tenysa Santiago

Age: 40

Athletic Bonafides: Distance runner with a marathon and several half-marathons to her credit, once picked up a soccer ball during a match.

Charity: The Randleman Program

Name: Kel Anders

Age: 43

Athletic Bonafides: Recently ran away from a washing machine falling down steps and successfully avoided crushing. Frequently enjoys 1-1.5 miles daily running on what they fondly refer to as “goat trails”. Former 15K runner (before birth of kids #5 & #6). Excellent birth-giving sprinting skills with most rapid birth being 37 minutes start to finish (obviously this skillset will translate to this run). Very competitive and tenacious. But, you know, in a kind way.

Name: Shawn Cochrane

Age: 55 on race day

Athletic Bonafides: Marathon Runner. Boston Qualifier. XC Coach at Canyon Middle School. USATF Certified Level 1 Track & Field Coach. Runs with the Oakland Track Club

Charity: Castro Valley Sports Foundation

Name: Shanda Taber

Age: 40

Athletic Bonafides: Since late 2019 I've been trying to become a runner. I started out only being able to run a half mile to now doing 6-mile average runs. Better at distance than speed, but can move fast if needed. I ran real quick when I was being followed by a bear in Canada. I haven't done any marathons, but I've participated in a few virtual 5Ks and did a terrain race/ mud run before the pandemic. I also walk everywhere so am very used to being physically active. Before running I didn't do a lot of sports, but in my 20s I used to go mountain biking with a group of blind and visually impaired people. We would also go hiking and rock climbing. I'm good at a challenge. 

Name: Dolly Cummings

Age: 63

Athletic Bonafides: My one and only 5k when I was in my 20s ( we don't have to mention my time, do we?).

Charity: Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center, Ruskin, Fl (

Name: Victor Aragon

Age: 47 

Athletic Bonafides: I have completed the Warrior Dash multiple times and ran over 6 Spartan Races. I have run multiple 5Ks and 10ks. I ran the Chicago Marathon 2x. I ran two St. Jude Memphis (Virtual) Half-Marathons.

Charity: St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Name: Jonathan Heisey-Grove (JHG)

Age: 50

Athletic Bonafides: Four time century ride cyclist who isn’t afraid of a little running!

Name: Joseph Fowler

Age: 46

Athletic Bonafides: Played DIII football. Coached college football. Ran some 1/2 marathons. Currently does at least 1 push up a day, if the weather is clear.

Name: Doug Zeigler

Age: 50

Athletic Bonafides: Played basketball in HS and college. Have been drinking beer for 32 years. Shows how committed I am.

Andy Kleiber

Age: 53

Athletic Bonafides: Ran a ton in 2021 - now mainly biking and Ultimate Disc

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mentored by My Trans Kids

A child with a shaved head wearing a fuzzy blue parka. On the zipper of the parka is a heart shaped rainbow key chain that reads: Queer A F

     The other day someone referred to me as a trans-rights activist. I was struck by it because the label really doesn't fit. I can't be an activist, I don't do anything. Mostly, I'm an advocate for my kids. I write blog posts. I talk about them on podcasts. I tweet. A lot. I take little direct action other than signing petitions and voting. None of that makes me an activist. Being an activist means occasionally being a leader. I'm not a leader. I can't be a leader in the fight for transgender rights because I am not transgender. Leadership has to come from within. I'm not an activist, I'm an ally. Even then, my ally-ship starts with my kids and extends out from there. Being an ally, in the philosophy I follow, means being ready to do what is asked and amplifying the message chosen by the real leaders of the movement. It's being ready to respond when called upon to act, not to have a hand in deciding what those actions are. I do my best to listen to what transgender people say about themselves and to what they want me to say about them. Then I do my best to bring that message with me. That's what being an ally means to me.

    My kids on the other hand, are leaders. Not on a large scale, but they are leaders. Each has taken up advocating for expanded all gender bathrooms at their schools. Lou did it with a petition. Ryu brought the issue to us and helped us communicate with the administration. My kids are happy to talk to anyone who will listen about who they are and what they want from society. I look forward to watching what they accomplish as they get older and start to find their audiences and avenues for engagement. Most of all, right now my kids are leaders and mentors to me. I look to them for guidance on what trans kids want. I look to them when wondering what I should say about a given issue. I use other sources as well, but the kids are right there with me everyday. So I listen to them. 

    Something they don't know, at least not as well as I do, is how much they've been mentoring me through how they live. I've never questioned my gender. Not in any real sense since I was very young, but I do have a memory it and I sometimes wonder who I'd be if I'd grown up now instead of then. I'll relate an anecdote that won't capture the whole of that feeling, but it's the best I can do 40+ years later. When I was around three years old, I had a very strong desire to be a glamorous woman in a ball gown like Vanna White. I didn't feel like I was the wrong gender. It wasn't something I thought about most of the time. But in very quiet moments, when I was alone, I would think about becoming a glamorous lady. I had one of those tool bench play set with the big, chunky, plastic screws and bolts. I hid the multi-colored hardware behind my bed and after I was tucked in, I would put them on the ends of my fingers to pretend I had long painted nails. 

A pair of legs wearing knee length bright yellow socks and white sneakers
    I don't know how long I carried on with that. Thinking back as an adult, I can see that I only did these things when I was assuredly alone because I knew it wasn't acceptable. For the rest of my childhood, I wanted to express myself and engage in activities coded as feminine. In gymnastics, I wanted to do floor routines and the uneven bars. Not because they were for girls, but because they seemed the most fun. I didn't want to wear "girls" clothes, but I did want to accessorize and modify my clothes in ways that only girls were allowed to do. I liked wearing long socks up to my knees. I kept wishing I could paint my nails until about third grade. Still, I always felt comfortable as a cis male. I just didn't want to be the kind of cis male I was allowed to be.    

Berto, a 45 year old man wearing a pink shirt and showing off matching pink nails. He is smiling.
    I don't know exactly what my kids feel about their gender. All I have are the clues and artifacts they can express to me using something as imperfect as language. I wonder if what I felt then is at all similar to what they feel now. I wonder who I'd be if I were growing up now, in an environment where I could wear what I want, how I want and not be told, no. My kids are mentors to me. They have no fear expressing themselves through clothes, activities or words. Watching them has nudged me to accept and indulge in some of the things I've always wanted, but was too afraid try. It's still hard, but I sometimes paint my nails. I wear long socks up my knees just for the feel of it and because I like how my calves look. If I could still grow hair, I'd probably grow it out long and have all kinds of fun with it like I did in high school, when I could get away with it just being a punk-grunge, skater thing. 

So yeah, I'm not a trans-rights activist. I'm not leader. Very much the opposite. I'm a follower, and I'm letting my kids lead the way.