Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc.)
A: My daughter and her family, which includes three of my grandsons, settled into the northern Black Hills and provided the impetus to retire and relocate after a lifetime in Minnesota. The area with its outdoor emphasis has provided for new running activity motivation and participation. My daughter and youngest son have long had running involved in their fitness routine, but my oldest son took it to a different level by actually developing a career and living from running. While I typically led by example (‘Dad was always out running so thought I might as well’), my wife Heidi was always the coach and mentor in the family. Heidi virtually single handedly went on a two year mission to have the cross country program reinstated in our small high school. Our oldest son became a state cross qualifier, university All American, and now a university cross country and track and field coach. Along with his running wife and my other two grandsons, they reside east river.
Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
A: Unhappy in my mid-20’s with my fitness level led me to a lifetime running lifestyle. I ran for a year before running the 1978 Denver Marathon as my first road race. I think this was the first indicator that I was uncoachable as the running boom led me to four 10K’s in a weekend, running the Omaha Marathon six days after Brookings, and running the Twin Cities Marathon fourteen days after Sioux Falls, as examples of what not to do in your running career. To date I have completed over 370 races from one mile to the marathon distance, including seventy six marathons. The entry fees have not been too shocking as I come from an era when a typical entry fee could be four dollars with a shirt or two without.
I made a concerted effort to not be a ‘streak’ runner in the 1980’s when I set an annual goal of 3,650 miles and not missing a day for the year. I met my goal but began skipping running on New Year’s day to eliminate that happening again! Fortunately, or unfortunately, two streaks are driving forces in my current training. In 1980, my Worthington, Minnesota running club began the King Turkey Day 10K held in September each year. I am one of two runners who completed the 40th consecutive run in 2019. Responsible for processing the results each year, I had to assure the club members I would finish timely to get the job done. I had some amazing volunteer help that made my job easy though.
The other streak is the Twin Cities Marathon which started in 1982 and now there are fourteen of us as Charter Club members who have completed thirty eight straight years. A strained calf muscle in 1986 at the St Paul Cathedral with only a quarter mile to the finish could have ended the streak virtually before it started, and a hamstring in 2017 created a long walk, but otherwise have been extremely blessed in relation to injuries. The Charter Club has had some interesting stories over the years including the casual smoker who passed away from lung cancer, and the member doing an alternative swimming pool workout and slipped on the exit ladder shattering his kneecap. The ‘one day at a time’ cliche clicks through my mind quite often.
Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?
A: The chat. The joking. The long lunch break. Tucking in when it was windy. Walking for a friend. Curing all the running injuries. Solving not only all the running problems, but also all the life issues. If you wanted someone to go faster with you, they would. Hammering it out on any given day. Helping to qualify for Boston. Gathering the agenda for the running club meetings. Planning the local 10K race. Scheduling the weekend long runs. The idea someone will be there for you. Coming from a career office setting, having that standing appointment for a weekday noon hour five mile run for over thirty years became a group run standard and a key basis for a running lifestyle. The BHRC and local running communities have provided great group run opportunities, although with a new flexible schedule, the solo runs will be more prevalent with the daylight hours.
Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?
A: When leaving my medical professional in Minnesota prior to moving to the Black Hills, she indicated it can be somewhat traumatic for people my age to make such a move. That is how I view trail running to date. The Bear Butte/Ft Meade/Alkali trail run was awesome, but some others have been much more challenging especially in relation to footing, snow and ice. The experience and views have provided a new incentive to run and train, but the conversion from a preference for the roads will be quite a transition.
Q: What is your favorite distance or race?
A: Training and recovery from the marathon can be time intensive, and the pace demands of the 5K’s and 8K’s can be a challenge, so races in between are preferred. If you are ever cruising down Interstate 90 on your way to the Chicago Marathon, and need a five mile training run, be sure to swing in to Worthington, Minnesota and make the trek around Lake Okabena. It is the basis for the King Turkey Day 10K and is a great run.
Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
A: I have been fortunate in that the Boston qualifying time has been a challenging but attainable goal. When I ran my first marathon in Denver in 3:03 I had no idea my age level qualifying time was 3:00. Two years later though when I ran 2:53 at Grandma’s, I was well aware my qualifying standard had been lowered to 2:50. It eventually turned out great though in that the 1982 Dick Beardsley/Alberto Salazar duel year was also my first Boston. Living in southwestern Minnesota, I had become accustomed to seeing Beardsley at local Brookings/Sioux Falls road races. I returned again in 1983 but after that the BQ became a benchmark for my training. I was able to have a BQ time for thirty two consecutive years but had not returned. Looking forward to the 2020 return trip with some great BHRC members. The thirty thousand starters should be interesting after the 1980’s when the finisher count was around five thousand.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
A: The sense of health and wellness along with the competitive spirit have always been rewarding, but the most rewarding are the people and friends that I have met through running.
Q: What is your favorite running memory?
A: Boston marathon for the prestige, tradition and history! Honolulu marathon for a vacation run! Marine Corps marathon for the monuments and race route!
I often reference the time I passed Olympian Frank Shorter like he was ‘standing still’ at the Honolulu Marathon. In reality he was sitting on the curb relacing his shoes at the twenty mile mark but soon resumed the leisurely pace for him as he earned his guest appearance money.
Garry Bjorklund, a legend in the Grandma’s Marathon, and University of Minnesota running history, showed up at a local 10K in Everly, Iowa as a favor to his high school running buddy who coached there. I do not know if I appeared fast that day, but he asked what pace I was going out at. Enjoyed the first mile at conversational pace, but he soon disappeared ahead.
Q: If I didn’t run I’d……….
A: With such a long running lifestyle it is difficult to pinpoint what endurance activity would replace the health enhancing benefits received. While sporting activities such as tennis and golf have always been of interest, the access to Black Hills trails and hiking is a new exciting option.
Q: Tell us a little trivia about your running?
A: While I do not consider myself to be superstitious, for some unknown reason I have virtually never worn my marathon finisher shirts. Pulling out the tote periodically triggers the memories and reminiscing, whether good or bad. Really was not an issue until the moving purge started after living in the same home for over thirty years, but appears it will continue as we settle in our new location.
Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?
A: Organization and planning primarily dictated by the race distance.
Q: What are your running goals for the future?
A: The continuance of participation in the Twin Cities Marathon and King Turkey Day 10K will tie up two race dates for years to come. The idea of running the same 10K for fifty years (ten more to go) seems reasonable, but 50 years of the same marathon (twelve to go) will be more challenging. Otherwise, I am looking forward to more participation in Black Hills area events.
Q: Who inspires you most?
A: After so many running years, I recognize there have been an endless number of running friends who continue with positive attitudes, efforts and goals. I have gained by recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of all.
Q: What advice do you have for new runners?
A: Persistence and patience. No matter how large or small the goal, continue to recognize the positive and revel in each progressive step. The inspiration garnered from each new friend along the way will push you to new limits and experiences.