20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weblog Awards Stiff Us

After more than 6 months of unrelenting posting, I have attained a remarkable 5-10 daily visitors and about 30 frequent visitors to this blog. Thanks to all involved. While I would love more participation, I realize that time is a valuable commodity. I will continue to try to entice more golfers for next year's event. I realize most of what I write interests very few, but I try to make up for it in volume. Any ideas or input is heartily encouraged.

The nominations are out for the 2008 Weblog Awards. More than thirty categories are represented. I can only hope for an addition next year of a category for Track and Field/Golfers. I will be sure to be nominated. I doubt I would win, but it would be an honor just to be nominated. Yeah, right.

Be safe for the New Year, and get the clubs ready for a great 8th Annual Tourney!

Addendum: Field Events have been bolstered today by the addition of Paul Souza for next year's tourney! He got in just under the wire for the 20% savings. The rest of you have until 3/31/09 to save 10% off last year's cost.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who I Have Run (With?)

In answer to the previous poll, I never had the pleasure of running with Clark Haley. I think he has said I wouldn't have been able to keep up with him in his PSU days. By the time I could have run with him, doctors had rendered him an ex-runner, except when lubricated with that evil rum. I think he once ran a marathon on NO training!

Uta Pippig was running a few miles on the day before the 100th Boston Marathon, and me and my friends from podiatry school tagged along for a while. She was gracious and nice the whole time, (despite my spelling her name wrong in the poll!).

Alberto Salazar came to the same running camp as I did in 1975. He had just beaten the Soviets in the 5000 at the US/USSR Junior Meet and came to the Blue Ridge Running Camp in Emmitsburg, MD at Mount Saint Marys College. We took several ten milers together, and I could tell then that he wasn't just good, but intense also. Before one ten-miler the coaches convinced me to drink milk for breakfast. Only Alberto came back along the route to find me in the woods. He didn't mind running extra. This was before they made Lact-Aid milk. He moved on to better things in Oregon after that. (I think I gave up milk and singing at the same time in third grade for good reasons!)

Bill Rodgers ran both Maryland Marathons I did in 1976 and 1977. He won one of them. I remember talking to him after the finish. He was ashamed that he only drank one beer and that Ron Hill had already drank 4. He actually went to run a "warm-down" after that. (I have always thought that a marathon encompasses a warm-down on its own!)

And of course, Rob Whiteside and I took many runs together. One of my favorite running partners. Some of my favorites were the runs we tried to create new legacy routes. Probably none of them remain, but we did try.

Great Performances #4: Decathlon

The Decathlon has been selected as the Great Performance #4. By that, I mean all PSU Decathletes get the recognition this esteemed prize confers. The decathlon has always intrigued me since attending Frank Zarnowski's Running Camp in 1975. He is the world's expert on the event and has millions of great stories to tell. He also grew up less than a mile from my home.

Past winners of the Great Performance Award include Don Ziter for his fraternity exploits, Vance Watson, Steve Shisler, Chris Mills and Randy Moore for a great 4 X 800 meter Relay, and Greg Fredericks for his NCAA and American Record 10,000 meter in 1972. Heavy emphasis is always placed on their proximity to the Harry Groves Golf Tournament. If they haven't actually participated, they have shown interest or attended the reunion. The decathlon selection is no different, as there are numerous PSU Track Alumni Golf concurrences.

Prior to my time, the decathlon record was held by Coach Bill Whittaker, one of last year's five champions, (don't ask how that's possible with foursomes!) Numerous decathlon event records are held by Rick Kleban and Tom Kleban, both have attended our reunion numerous times. The overall event record is held by Rick Kleban. And past PSU phenom and PSU Track Alumni Golfer Ryan Olkowski placed 11th at last year's Olympic Trials. We would love to have him again next year, with the rest of his foursome! (Just kidding Ryan, give us a ring.)

PSU decathlon records: First Day: Dave Masgay, 1987, 3,931 pts.
Second Day: James Cook, 1996 3,774 pts.
Total: Rick Kleban, 1985, 7,685 pts.

PSU decathlon event records:
100 meters: 11.01, Rick Kleban 1985, 858 points.
Long Jump: 23'7.25" Dave Masgay, 1987, 1170 pts.
Shot Put: 48' 9.5" Barry Walsh, 1989, 782 pts.
High Jump: 6' 8" , Barry Walsh, 1989, 831 pts.
400 meters: 47.65, Brian Kelley, 1991, 926 pts.
4,567 First Day
110 meter HH: 14.45, Rick Kleban, 1987, 917 pts.
Discus: 155' 3" James Cook, 1997, 815 pts.
Pole Vault: 16' 2" Rick Kleban, 1985, 892 pts.
Javelin: 206' 2" Shawn Colligan, 2008, 781 pts.
1500 meter: 4:21.05 Tom Kleban, 1989, 804 pts.
4,209 Second Day
8,776 Total

All you distance guys!! Give me your PR's in all the events in the comments, and let's see how we compare. Have any of you actually pole vaulted?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ceramic/Titanium Miracle for Christmas

Barely 6 months after experimental implantation surgery in Suburban Philadelphia, Gary Black has returned to the roads, in search of a PR in the 1000-meter (he thinks he hasn't run it before!). In the past 48 hours he has bowled, ice-skated and run more than 6 miles! (He also has bothered the whole family incessantly.) His first run was 2.2 miles in 23 minutes. Today's 4.4 miler was capped off by the last 2 miles in 9 minute pace. He wishes to shame each and every one of you slackers in the new year! ( He returns to the surgeon on Monday to find out if he is indeed allowed to begin running.)

I again reached my goal of more than 1000 miles in the year, with an additional 900 done on the elliptical just to give my knees a break. I hope everyone else reached their goals, no matter how small, or at least has hope for the new year. Happy New Year, you idiots!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Challenge More Difficult Than Golf

Tim Backenstose relates a successful series of performances in his holiday extravaganza on Broadway (Downingtown!). I told Tim about my experience on the stage as one of four leads in our Senior Class Play at Dover High School (yeah, THAT *Dover High School!). "The Mouse That Roared" was a hit movie in 1959 starring Peter Sellers in several roles, as he often did. I only goofed up one line in three showings, some sort of miracle considering my lack of any short or long term memory! I also related to him that I haven't sung anything since third grade. (I defy any of you to remember me actually singing, and not just mouthing the words, as works well in any church setting.) He, of course, berated me and suggested a duet with him at the next Alumni event. He also suggested that we sing a "Show Tune".

Having thought about it, and desiring never to actually have to do it, I figure a difficult (but I guess not technically impossible) challenge to the rest of you may rectify the situation to everyone's satisfaction. I will relent to singing at the Shisler's Shindig (Post Tournament Celebration) with Tim, if 10 of you signed up already get one other person that has not golfed with us before to sign up. This challenge is real; I am a man of my word. I select the show tune "Ya Got Trouble" from "The Music Man" which can be turned into a duet of sorts, with Tim as my second. This can be performed right at the Pool Table in the Shisler's basement, as pool is the topic of the song (for those of you not really into show tunes!) Tim, of course, must confirm acceptance of the terms and conditions of the challenge.

Update: Tim seems to be amused by the concept. I'll take that as an acceptance of the proposition.

* Steve Stough, among the plaintiffs who sued the school district, is a local high school track coach and fellow member of the York Road Runners back in the day. Bertha Spahr, the Science Dept. Head was my superb chemistry teacher and was present at my podiatry school graduation as a thank you. My best friend's (and cross-country teammate's) father was the custodian at the high school who burned the "blasphemous" evolution mural at the nadir of the brouhaha. The community is still divided 50/50 on the idea of "young earth" creationism. I was never taught evolution until two 400-level courses at PSU (got A's too!). And you all thought I was screwed up all on my own!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1000 Meters from Hell: A Devil of a Race

The PSU Mens and Womens teams held their Blue-White, season opening warm-up meet this past week-end. In my day, we didn't have a Blue-White meet as it was so cold we all kind of turned gray (grey for you United Kingdom fans!) from frostbite whether we were blue or white. (Remember the Wolfe twins from Kane PA!). There were several good performances, but one stood out as intriguing to me. That would be the 2:23.69 1000-meter time of Ryan Foster from Tasmania, Australia. Chris Mills (an aspiring returning PSU Track Alumni Golfer!) holds the PSU record at 2:23.05. (Although records are sketchy and Malmo, official blog laureate, may be able to help us out on this one.)*

The 1000-meter, having never run it, seems to be a cruel middle-distance event. No half-miler I have ever met seemed to want to run an "extra" 200 meters. And any miler I know was always wary of the distance because it seems to favor the half-milers way too much. Stuck in the middle of two diametrically opposed factions, as it were. It is mostly an indoor event which means the turns are tighter also. I would love to hear from some of you who have run the event. (Larry, Steve, Randy, did you ever run the 1000?)

* Blog readers have responded! The PSU Record is now 2:22.42 by Sam Borchers, with second place being Matt Lincoln at 2:22.50. But we still love you Chris! (Steve Shisler puts in an effort to dethrone Malmo or at least join him as c0-laureate.)

Steve Shisler also adds to the Manley Field House lore, as his 1000-meter PR of 2:28 was set there, despite faltering in the final steps to a hard-charging Steve Balkey (although that's not how Steve put it). In addition, Steve's family shame was revealed at last. Beth (Stever) Shisler is the only All-American in the household!**

** A little birdie (with 2 new hips) tells me Randy Moore ran a sub-2:18 1000-meter after graduation while in Europe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Case for Streaking

Increasingly, streaking has entered the Main Street Press lately. I'm not entirely sure why this is occurring, but recent articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have portrayed the practice. There are numerous other examples as well. Previous to this, streakers have done their thing behind the scenes, not desiring any publicity. Some have practiced this bizarre ritual for 30 years or more. Alas, I have always been a dabbler in the art of streaking, much to my shame. It used to be easy, back in the day. Thin, energized and fast(er), it was never a problem adding another day of streaking to the tally. But then on Christmas Day 1978, it happened. Sick and feverish, I staggered 2 more miles in a blinding snowstorm at 10:00 PM (I really did this!) just to keep the streak alive. The next day I was comatose and incoherent with pneumonia and pleurisy. I still only missed two days of running and ran the NVTC Marathon several weeks later, and a sub 15:00 3-mile in REC HALL a week before that (twenty-three and two-third laps or whatever it was, hitting my elbows on all FOUR corners of every lap). My point being, that streakers are nuts and I am one of them. I'm a piker compared to the rest, but a practitioner nonetheless.

Streaking is defined as running at least 1 mile daily EVERY DAY. The run must start before midnight to count. And it doesn't count for the next day either! The most famous practitioner is Ron Hill from Wales. He has piled on many miles in over 40 years (approaching 155,000), without missing a day. He has run with a broken sternum following a traffic accident, a broken ankle, and following several knee surgeries to name just a few of the hiccups along the road. In America, Mark Covert of California leads the list, never running less than 3 miles any day in 40 years. There are 10 or 11 runners with streaks of more than 30 years right behind him in case something happens! The United States Running Streak Association keeps track of all these things. I have been too embarrassed to even enter my longest streaks, they are so pitiful. My best is 868 days and currently I have a streak of 550 or so, starting 4 weeks after my third knee surgery. Remember, all streakers are nuts, but not all nuts are streakers. (You could be just as nuts as I am!) Anyone have a longer streak out there? (You can comment anonymously!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Google Picks PSU Track Alumni Golf Number 1! And Advice for Several Situations Besides

Not Really! Although it did come up first on the list when someone from Southwest Missouri State University googled "self-indulgent essay topics". (A dubious honor!)

Seeing as its near the end of the semester (do any of you still remember PSU hanging onto terms until the mid eighties?) and "term papers" are due, I hope this poor slob didn't use my example of why it was wrong to change the rules of baseball without telling anyone! As I stated before, the only "A" I got on a paper was one I wrote on the way home from an indoor meet at Cornell or Syracuse (I can never remember which actually!). I would advise the SWMS student to get buzzed on two Guinness Stouts and write his essay in pencil without punctuation; it worked for me! Also, I advise any of you non-golfers out there to also have a beer before the second nine holes in our tourney, it always improves your swing noticeably. And my advice to any of you now in college and looking to score a hot cheerleader.... puppies. I only discovered this well into my thirties (long after it could do me any good!). The best kind are Shih Tzus (ask Zeb) or, better yet, Pomeranians. The rich tennis set can't ignore a Pomeranian. Be sure to find them a better home when you have succeeded in your quest, (you obviously aren't mature enough to care for a puupy!) And lastly, its righty tighty, lefty loosey. (and Grand Funk Railroad is best if played at full volume.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Las Vegas Santa Run Today!

Today marks the latest "Running of the Santa's". Last year's event broke the world record for Santas running in a race. More than 7000 entrants ho, ho ho'd down The Strip from downtown at Fremont St. There is a running, (pun intended), competition between Vegas and Liverpool, England for the Guinness Record. (Ask Ziter though, Guinness sucks!) I don't know how Liverpool fared in their rebuttal to Vegas's event record, but I can't see anyone outdoing Vegas when it comes down to dressing as big overweight icons! Today marks the only day of the year that Santa outnumbers Elvis. Each entrant receives a 5 piece Santa Suit for the run, included in the approx. $40 entry fee. A bargain in anyone's book! Here's a Short video of last year's start for all you ADHD alums out there...

Friday, December 5, 2008

PSU Track Alum Goes to Broadway!

Well, almost anyway! 1979 Penn Relays Marathon champion Tim Backenstose will be starring in Calvary Fellowship Church's Christmas Extravaganza in Downingtown PA. Who knew what talents were hidden from the rest of us while at PSU? I dug up the photo of the finish of the race previously discussed on this blog, and also the order of finish, which is quite favorable to "good ole State".

1. Tim Backenstose PSU 2:22:14
2. Mark Stevenson U. S. Navy 2:24:32
3. Dave Patterson Shore A.C. 2:25:05
4. Remo Stirrat Iona College 2:26:26
5. Ed Tueras unaffiliated 2:28:46
6. Brad Althouse PSU 2:30:47
7. Pete Christ Plaisted Hall Harriers 2:31:21
8. Steve Schoenewald Williamstown NJ 2:32:21
9. Chris Winters Wash. DC 2:33:46
10. Dave Spears PSU 2:33:59 ("A"golfer, too!)
11. Don Uphouse PSU 2:34:06
12. Seth Bergman Plaisted Hall Harriers 2:34:38
13. Doug Kent PSU 2:35:49 (my roommate!)
14. Frank Goldcamp Athletic Attic 2:36:19
15. Dave Godin Bentley College 2:36:23
16. Keith Kemper Ursinus 2:36:45
17. David Baskwill PSU 2:37:14 (Doug Kent's roommate)
18. Don Ziter PSU 2:37:14 (sorry Don, they did list me first!)
19. Al Wolfe PSU 2:37:48 (anyone know where the Wolfe twins are?)
25. Rich Prann PSU 2:41:40 (or Rich?)

Anyone filming Tim's performance for the blog recieves reunion entries for life!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Half Milers Everywhere!

The PSU Track Alumni Golf crowd recently added another half-miler! Paul McLaughlin '83 checked in from sunny Massachusetts (ha, ha, just kidding about the sun part). He would love to golf with us provided his kids won't be throwing the javelin and other such pursuits that weekend. I assured him that despite our glut of half-milers, we would still welcome him with open arms.

In honor of the half-milers out there, I have included the two photos of Alberto Juantorena (in 1976 and 31 years later in Osaka, Japan handing out World Cup awards). I have always suspected that "El Caballo" was fueled by things other than Cuban sugar cane and those tasty Cuban sandwiches, but who am I to judge. (I was right about Brady Anderson, Lenny Dykstra and Davey Johnson though!)

And for your video amusement, El Caballo doubling in the 400/800 at the Olympics in 1976!

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