Laura Castillo, U.S. postal carrier
Why this postal worker runs to deliver letters
With her broad smile and upbeat demeanor, Laura Castillo is happy to engage in conversation. But it takes a sustained effort to keep up with her. Depending on her route, Castillo has been called “Speedy” or other nicknames that reference her gait. She’s the running postal carrier of Sacramento, after all. A former cross country runner at Highlands High School, Castillo, 55, says she prefers a fast-paced walk or casual run between the more than 600 daily delivery locations on her East Sacramento route for the U.S. Postal Service. Her stride is deliberate. Her floppy hat is pulled low on her head. There are usually at least a half-dozen rubber bands on her wrist. Castillo recently took a breath to chat with SN&R about running on her route, customers and braving the elements.
How long have you been a postal carrier?
Six years. They were just asking at the time if anyone wanted to switch it around and go over to being a carrier. I worked inside [the post office] as a clerk for 27 years. I started my career at Royal Oaks, and then I went to West Sacramento, and then I went to the airport for a few years. And then I transferred to Texas. I came back to Sacramento in 2014.
What do you like about working inside and working outside?
Inside, the work is easier. But it’s always the same, working the machines or sorting manually. Outside, you’re outside. You are with the elements. You know, it’s just different. I thoroughly enjoy it, except for the hail. I don’t like the hail. But the customers make the day go easier.
Do you know, approximately, how many miles you cover daily?
Between 11 and 12 miles. It’s a full day, but I thoroughly enjoy what I do. It’s a challenge, and I like a challenge. I have, let’s say, 628, 629—no, 630 deliveries. And there [are] no apartments, or maybe there are two clusters where there are nine or so boxes together. But it’s all individual addresses. It’s all walking and running.
It sounds like a full day.
Yes, if I can get on the route by 8:30 or 9 [a.m.] on a day like today, I might be done by 4 p.m.
Why did you start to run between houses?
It’s just my personality … I’ve also had routes in Del Paso Heights and Land Park … [and] depending upon the area, it’s at least a brisk walk.
How long have you been a runner?
I’ve been a runner since I was 14, so it’s been 41 years. I ran cross-country at Highlands High School. But on the route, the mail is heavy, so I start with at least a brisk walk.
Since you’re on your feet all day, what kind of shoes do you wear?
I have worn New Balance, but I wear Hoka One One.
When you get home, you must be really tired. Do you just want to put your feet up?
Once I get off work, yes, it’s time to relax. But I also go for a run, usually two or three miles, every other day.
Do people on your route sometimes just want to vent?
Yes, they do. But all you can do is kill them with kindness. That’s it. That’s all you can do.
For as long as I can remember, postal carriers always have had the possibility of problems with dogs. Have you ever had any bad experiences with dogs?
Yes. Just today. Two people were riding on their bicycles. Their dog wasn’t really leashed up. The dog saw me and came for me. But the owner called him, the dog hesitated and then went back. The owner grabbed him by his collar. But, yup, I have my spray, right in [my shoulder bag].