Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Personal Tribute

Figuring that this is my blog, as well as OUR website, this is a tribute to one of the best dogs to have ever lived.

Peke Pom (aka Cinnamon) was a 5-pound Pekinese Pomeranian mix that has delighted everyone she has met over the last 15 years.

Peke Pom (Cinnamon)

Despite her size, she bacame the Alpha Dog following the death of her long-time companion Pookie seven years ago. She also somehow ran the separate Universe of 5 cats that inhabit my home (Camp Snoopy, as it is known).  I'm not sure how any of that worked, but she ran the show with incredible precision and uncanny abilities.

She was a true Princess, and knew it.  But she treated everyone with kindness and good cheer all of her days.  She delighted in frequent sleepovers at neighbor's houses even when we were around.  There were tears in many people's eyes with her demise.

Her beauty was enhanced by a double coat of fur, combining the best of a Pomeranian and the silky long hair of a Pekinese.  She even had natural crimping of her ear fur, a look that was much sought after in the 1980s.

Luckily, we were able to have her cancerous mouth tumor excised and lased, which gave us 3 months to stage a goodbye tour of all of her favorite places.  She was treated with any food she wanted, and sat at a large window every day to rule over her expanded domain.  She never suffered as the tumor slowly grew back.  We can tell she appreciated all we gave to her, which was just a smidgen of what she has given our entire family.

Can't wait to be reunited with her to learn how running an even bigger show has been for her!

Peke Pom and Daughter the Elder.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

1978 NCAA XC Championships

This is a repost of Larry Mangan's post to our Facebook page.  This way even the non-FB readers will get to enjoy the goodness!

On a cold (18 degrees), windy, day back in 1978, on the Yahara Hills Golf Course in Madison, Wisconsin, seven intrepid Penn State harriers jumped off the line to begin the start of a fine, three-year period in PSU cross country history. We finished 4th that day in Madison, and would take bronze in each of the next two years. Each Nittany Lion was of regular college age and from NY, PA and OH. Bordering our corral at the start were the very over-aged Cougars and Miners from Washington State and UTEP. Coach Groves was quite delighted when one of his charges, who will go unnamed, in a fit of anxiety and hypothermia, "politely" asked the folks on either side of us to "speak f***ing english". How did 40 years pass so quickly?

   9 Snyder, Robert 29:48
 54 Zeigler, John 30:36
 61 Mangan, Larry 30:41
 73 Baden, Bruce 30:50
113 Rapp, Thomas 31:11
120 Scharsu, Alan 31:19
129 Wyatt, Michael 31:27

Bob Snyder, running with the Big Dogs!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

NCAA XC Regionals Weekend

There was consistently cold and windy conditions across the East.  The weather added an extra challenge for the Nittany Lion Women.  But they came through and attained their 9th out of 10 years moving on to the Finals.

And Danae Rivers has added to her already great resume by placing first for the Women despite falling in the early race.  With her newly aquired range, she is becoming one of the greats of PSU Middle and Long Distance running.

Photo by John McGraw.
Oh, the carnage I! John McGraw photo

Oh, the carnage II! John McGraw photo

Brave and dedicated Alums! John McGraw photo
 In other news of the weekend...
  • Mary Cate Curran's St. Lawrence team advanced to the Division III Finals at Dream Park in Southern Jersey.  I saw her at one point, but was unable to say hello.
  • Daughter the Younger ran in her first XC NCAA race and learned the valuable lesson about going out too fast!  Hartwick improved on last year's performance.
  • Rob Whiteside's daughter Phoebe placed highly in the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Bethlehem,  PA for her Swarthmore team.
  • Martha White Collin's daughter Valerie also placed highly in the same race with her Carnegie Mellon team moving on to the Finals.
  • John Zeigler and I suffered mightily through a long weekend of Podiatry CME lectures.  John's rewards were many, however.  I took him to lunch at Wegman's for Kung Pao Chicken and got him 50% off on a new pair of shoes at the King of Prussia Roadrunner Sports store! 
Daughter the Younger before the start.

Spouse the Better and John Zeigler.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Wintry Mix

We all have been there. Snow, sleet and freezing rain. AND 10K to go if you're running. Maybe worse when you aren't!

Bob Radzwich and Jake Bartholomy braved the conditions to watch the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Penn State. Looks like the Women will move on...

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

70 Years Ago!

Horace Ashenfelter III placed 2nd in the NCAA IC4A Cross Country Championships in Michigan NY the highest ever finish by a Nittany Lion. (Curt Stone also 2nd in 1946 NCAA XC Champs.)

Photo from Mike Fanelli, T&F museum.

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Tri Umph!

Our Erwin Shroedinger Endowed Chair for Advanced Physic's daughter finished second in the NCAA Division III Triathlon Championships.  Elizabeth Moore also was named Freshman of the Year.  Congrats to the entire crazy family!!!

E(lizabeth) was 2nd place Div 3. Tough day - puked 4 times in first km of run and had to serve a 10 sec penalty. “Sh*t happens.” Way to grind .

20K bike loop.
2nd Place overall.
Freshaman of the Year.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Another Mish Mash of Submissions

My posting has been erratic at best, and quite pitiful at worst.  I have received submissions that I couldn't get to in a timely fashion.  And I'm lazy besides...


First up, a submission from KKOB which brought to mind the yearly realization of small game hunting season only as we heard gunshots very near to us while running in THE GAME LANDS in early October!

These guys actually saved a lost hunter while out on a run!  (Thanks, Kelly)

Next, another a submission about a high school team coached by from Friend of the Group Martha White Collins in Wellesley MA, the halfway point of the Boston Marathon. Martha coaches the girls team. The boys are actually coached by former Olympian Tim Broe! And Here. These students don't do the old-fashioned blogging like this curmudgeon.  They put together videos about their exploits on a You Tube Channel, The CoolDown!  Good job, Jason Norris.

The CoolDown

In this epidode, they torture a sprinter while trying to get him to run a 7-Minute Mile. Hee hee hee 

Last but not least, Greg Fredericks sent along word of another member of our group retiring.  This time it is from his job, not the track.   Congrats to Joe DeStefano on retirement from the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute.  Joe was a highly recruited discus thrower from Waltham, MA who graduated in 1971.

Joe DeStefano.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Retirement Is Bittersweet

Casimir Loxsom, World Best Indoor 600M, 1:14.91

No one has done more to make PSU Is 800U than Casimir Loxsom. Sure, there were champions before him and champions have come since, but no one was there for as many big moments and for longer than he has been.

Cas announced his retirement from professional running over the weekend:  (Thanks to Ken Brinker for delivering his statement in suitable format.)

In 2005, I was convinced to run indoor track to stay in shape for my first love of soccer. I was going to be a 55 meter runner and hated every second of it. My coach had other plans and anchored me on the 4x800 in my first meet, and I ran 2:07.

Over the next 13 years I developed a love and passion for our sport that I worry sometimes won’t ever be rivaled by future endeavors. I say “our” because what I fell in love with was the special community of human beings who choose this life.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gained two things. The first is a tremendous amount of respect for each and every person that pursues Track & Field at the highest of levels. It’s a smaller community of humans that understand what it takes to be the best and how hard it is, and also how much is sacrificed in the process. I’ve also gained an incredible amount of empathy for those who choose that it isn’t a path they want to walk (or run) anymore.

When I graduated college and signed a professional contract, I wrote myself a letter. I decided that I’d never take a set amount of time off after a season. I told myself I’d start training each year when I felt motivated to. I knew the fall it didn’t come back would be when I’d decide to hang up the spikes.

I made the decision in the past few hours, but really I’ve felt this way for a few months. Today, I am a former professional Track & Field athlete. I can’t believe it’s now, but really there will never be a good time. The decision was made with a very heavy heart, but also with optimism.

I will never be too far from the community or the sport, and truly believe I can play a part in making it better while helping a lot of people in the process.

So thank you, everyone. It’s been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve been truly blessed to experience the things I have, both good and bad.
I must say I enjoyed watching him run more than anyone I know.  Even Seb Coe, who I often compared to him.  His stride was magnificent and his pacing was always as even as anyone can be in the 800 meter range.  I will let others chronicle his highlights and awards.  I just want to say "Thanks" for all the thrills he gave this washed-up former second-stringer...


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Nittany Lions Are True Leaders

Again, I apologize for the lack of substantial posting.  I have many submissions from my hundreds of readers that I haven't gotten to yet.  Your mother told you, "Patience is a virtue!"

But I needed to post this one first.  Greg Fredericks sent this along and it dovetails with all the talk of the 1968 Olympic Trials we have had lately.

Turns out that the former mayor of Lancaster, Art Morris,  was a PSU middle distance star when Greg was just getting started.  He ended up participating in groundbreaking Altitude Training Testing in Peru and Colorado.

Art Morris.
In 1965, Art Morris, a sophomore distance runner, was among a group of six Penn State track athletes who were recruited to undergo testing at high altitude in Nunoa, Peru (13,000 feet), and Mount Evans, Colorado (14,264 feet).
The study, “Physiology and Performance of Track Athletes at Various Altitudes in the United States and Peru,” was underwritten by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Army and Penn State’s Human Performance Laboratory (now Noll Laboratory) under the supervision of noted physiologist E.R. Buskirk.
Art related that despite the high-altitude training, it did not result in better times when they returned home, closer to sea level.

Art eventually ran a 4:07 mile for the Lions.  Huzzah for a pioneer!

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Way, Way Back Machine Is Rusty

Sorry for the dearth of posting lately.  Work is a four-letter word that ends in K.

But it was 41 years ago that we first heard of the plane crash that decimated Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I remember exactly where I was when we got the word over the radio.  We were nearing the hotel in Williamsburg, VA on a Friday evening in the cross country van driven by Coach Groves.  I was seated in the next to last row between Ray Krombel and Kevin Kelly O'Brien.

Also in the van were Captain Bruce Baden (in the shotgun seat) and Captain John Zeigler.  Others included Jim Clelland, Frit Cooper, Mike Wyatt, Larry Mangan and his Freshman roommate Tom Rapp.  (Did I miss anyone?)  Of course I did!  Campbell Lovett, Dave Felice and Brian Boyer were there too!  Bob Snyder was injured.  (no wonder the van was uncomfortable. 14 of us was too many!)

We were on our way to a meet with Willam and Mary and Georgetown on the grounds of the insane asylum next to the campus.  Coach Groves told us a few stories of escapes from the place. Nice to know when you were alone in the woods during the race.

Our warm-up that day was to run the entire 10K course.  Then the race.  And then the warm-down turned out to be the entire 10K course!  I actually fainted during the warm-down and, as always, the only person who noticed was Mike Wyatt, my guardian angel those first 2 years. I think we won the meet, but I hope others chime in with more.

Incidentally, I became a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd that day when I learned they named the group after their mean gym teacher, Leonard Skinner at Robert E. Lee High School.  hee hee hee

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Homecoming Means Coming "Home" And A Visit With Coach Groves

A Home meet during Homecoming week means a Friday meet.  That means many of us can't swing it. But many certainly did!  Yesterday's Penn State National attracted many Track alums.

The meet went well, especially for the Women, who topped all teams, multiple ranked teams.
In her fourth race donning the Blue & White, Julia Paternain crossed the finish line in 20:30, which marks her third win of the season, two of which have come at the Blue-White Golf Course. Just 11 seconds after Paternain finished the race, sophomore Alison Willingmyre (Wernersville, Pa.) completed the 6k course in 20:41 to finish fifth overall.
Along with Paternain and Willingmyre, Danae Rivers (Derby, Conn.) and Kathryn Munks (Chester, N.Y.) both tallied top-15 finishes. For Rivers, she ran 20:48 to place seventh and Munks took 15th in 21:01. Moria O'Shea (Greensburg, Pa.) rounded out the scoring for the Blue & White as she ran 21:16 to finish 35th.

In the men's 5.2-mile run, the Nittany Lions ran to a 10th-place finish as a team with a score of 252 points. Individually, Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lion harriers as he placed 10th with a time of 25:17.
In addition to Abert, Alex Tomasko (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) finished 43rd with a time of 25:47 and John McGowan (Northport, N.Y.) took 53rd in 25:54. Underclassmen Isaac Davis (Cogan Station, Pa) and Owen Wing (State College, Pa.) rounded out the scoring as they finished 71st (26:08) and 87th (26:14), respectively.
Homecoming Visit: Steve Walsh and Dan Curran. Photo by Greg Fredericks.

Julia Paternain. Photo by Tom Shiffer.

Womens Start. Photo by Tom Shiffer.

Steve Shisler, Bob Hudson, John McGraw and Tom Shiffer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Windy City Makes It Difficult

Tyler McCandless placed 20th (7th American) at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.  The cool, windy and rainy day made it difficult for many runners. His 1:06:36 split led to a gritty second half fighting the weather conditions. Still, Tyler was within 2 minutes of his career best, and in a major Marathon.


Monday, October 8, 2018

"The Michigan" Results

I had the pleasure to make it in time to see the Division III Hartwick Cross Country workout on Friday during True Blue Weekend.  I suppose its like a combo Parents Weekend and Homecoming all rolled into one.

With 2 weeks off of meets, it was a good time for a big workout for all of the athletes in preparation for Championship Season.  And I would have to say that Coach Tom Hartnett had them well prepared for the whole thing.  Each of them had a thorough understanding of the goals and methods of the workout.  Each athlete had their own pace schedule for the 1600/1200/800/400 workout even including the intervening tempo miles!  That ensured the maximum benefit for all the runners from first to last.  In my day, trying to keep up with the top runners ensured a horrible 10K race in mid-week and a collapse for the real weekend race to come.

The workout started and groups of 2 or 3 took off on their own schedules.  And it was remarkable how close everyone was to their prearranged goals.  The resultant scene was choreographed pandamonium.  Here is video I smuggled out from under the watchful eyes of security:

Daughter the Younger held on for the hardest workout in her young career.  All the other runners also survived.  Smiles were everywhere at the finish as the next day was a rare rest day!

The warm down brought out the smiles.

Coach Hartnett keeping track of the pandemonium.

Daughter the Younger hangs on in her 800.

Our Michigan Friend, Jonathon Cross remembers being in the original "Michigan" workouts in Coach Ron Warhurst's first years at U of M.

"Yes. We did that workout in my last couple of years at Michigan.  Those were the first two years Warhurst coached too.  We did a hard mile on the track then ran on the roads (sometimes over to U of M golf course) followed by another hard mile on the track.We went out a gate at the end of Ferry Field from the track."
He added:
"Getting tired thinking about that!"

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Hardest Workout Of Them All?

Daughter the Younger's Division III Hartwick Hawks Cross Country team has 2 weeks off until their 3 season-ending Championship Season meets.  As part of the school's Parent's Weekend, the team will host parents and Alumni for a workout on Friday at 4:00PM.

The workout chosen by second-year head coach Tom Hartnett is "The Michigan Workout" from Head Coach Ron Warhurst.  Tom has invigorated both the Men's and Women's teams by regaling them with the mystique and history of the endurance test he ran while at Division I Sienna.

The workout isn't your typical "intervals" workout, as it is one that requires a recovery almost as lengthy as a 10K race if run properly.  Here's a summary of a classic "Michigan Workout" from Competitor Running:
Here’s how to do a standard version of The Michigan:
— Warm up with 2-3 miles of easy jogging followed by 4-6 x 20-second strides.
— Run 1 mile (4 laps) on the track at your current 10K race pace.
— After the mile on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track to the start of where you’ll run a mile at your tempo run pace. An out-and-back stretch of road or dirt loop will work well for this part of the workout.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace, or roughly 20 seconds per mile slower than the mile you just ran on the track.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the next interval.
— Back on the track, run 1,200m (3 laps) at your current 10K pace, aiming to hit the same lap splits you ran for the first mile of the workout.
— After the 1,200 on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track back to the start of where you’ll run your second tempo mile.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the third interval.
— Back on the track, run 800m (2 laps) at your current 5K race pace, or roughly 4-5 seconds per lap faster than you ran your first two track intervals.
— After the 800 on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track back to the start of where you’ll run your third (and last) tempo mile.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the last interval.
— Back on the track, run 400m (1 lap) faster than your current 5K race pace, or as if you were finishing the last quarter mile of a race. Focus on running fast but relaxed—hold your form!
— Cool down with 2-3 miles of easy jogging, stretch, refuel.
Coach Groves adapted this workout for use (or misuse!) by Nittany Lions.  We ran a few in 1979 and 1980.  Our version entailed a 3 mile warm up from Rec Hall (1979) or Beaver Stadium visitor's locker room (1980) to the new track in its current location absent the Indoor Complex.

A timed mile was then run as one group, immediately followed by a tempo run of 2 miles to the Observatory fields past the Deer Pens for the second timed mile.  Immediately after the second timed mile, runners return to the track at tempo pace for the last timed mile, this time in scattered, bedraggled groups.

For those of us in the middle or back of the pack among the large number of distance runners in that day, keeping up with the leaders on the "tempo" runs between timed miles, was not an option.  Merely trying meant running essentially a 10K race (usually on a Wednesday).  This almost guaranteed a horrible race on Saturday if one was on the schedule!  I have to check my logs to see if I have any of these workouts documented with the surrounding races?  Or any of you can check yours and chime in!

Gary Black remembers one of these workouts with Tom Rapp clocking a 4:14 on the final mile, to the taunts of those coming in behind him.  I was nowhere near this event, as I could not keep up with the leaders following the second mile.  But I wasn't in the last group either, and I'm kinda sorta proud of that!

I have reached out to Ben Flanagan, Michigan's NCAA 10K Champion to opine on his remembrances of any Michigan Workouts.  I hope to hear back soon.

I had breakfast with Ben at 2017 Big Ten Champs.
Jonathon Cross, Michigan Alum and Friend of the Group, ran for the first years of Coach Ron Warhurst and may offer some great insights also!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Progeny In The Endurance Ranks

This post features the offspring of friends continuing family athletic exploits in Division 3 Endurance Sports.  I have to say Endurance Sports because noted crackpot and our Erwin Shroedinger Endowed Chair for Advanced Physics has a daughter who apparently received slightly more than 50% of her genes from him!   (Just kidding, Ron Moore.  Ultra-Trail running isn't even slightly crazy.  Wink Wink.)

First up is Elizabeth Moore, who is a triathlete in the new sport of Women's Triathlon at Transylvania University in Kentucky .  She has won all three events so far as a Freshman, and is qualified for the National Championships.  I have a feeling we will be seeing more of her in the future.

Elizabeth Moore

Second up is Phoebe Whiteside, who we all know from her trek of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail with her dad, Rob Whiteside, 2 years ago! Remember, I have also trekked the entire width of the Appalachian Trail and have a t-shirt to prove it. She runs for Suburban Philly Swarthmore College.

Phoebe Whiteside

Third is Valerie Collins, daughter of Group Friend Martha White Collins.  She runs for the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University in the Burgh.

Valerie Collins, 87

Last, but not least is Anne Baskwill, Daughter the Younger, who has found a new love for running at Hartwick College near Cooperstown, NY.  With her previous hurdling activity in high school, she may just run the Steeplechase for the first ever year of Track at Hartwick.

Anne Baskwill, front left
Please forward news and pics of any more progeny in the college athletic ranks!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Many Members All In One Place At One Time (Long, Long Ago...)

If you wanted to get the most group members and Friends of the Group in one race outside of an actual team race, there couldn't be a better one than the Arts Festival Race.  In the early years of the race, it consisted of two 5 mile loops of the campus, starting and finishing at Rec Hall.

Many team members and graduates were, of course, hanging around State College for the hoopla surrounding the rather new Arts Festival.

So in 1978, more than 500 toed the line, and among them in order of finish!
  • Greg Fredericks
  • Jim Allahand
  • Jim Clelland
  • Michael Wyatt
  • Bob Snyder
  • John Zeigler
  • Frit Cooper
  • Dan Draper
  • Gary Black
  • Charlie Maguire
  • David Baskwill
  • Bill Kvashay
  • Tom Clarke
  • Don Ziter
  • Kevin O'Brien
  • Hugh Hamill
  • Nick K
  • Carl Bechdel
  • George McWilliams
  • Mark Haywood
  • Brian Mount
  • Bob Hudson
  • Terry Losch
  • Peggy Cleary
  • Martha White
  • Kim Long
Other notable names:
  • Bill Reifsnyder
  • Sam Bray
  • Sue Crowe
  • Karen Hollick (my Podiatry School classmate)
  • Ray Feehery (another Podiatry School classmate)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sometimes My Posts Turn Out To Be Something Entirely Different Than I Intended

I was planning on a post detailing the numerous PSU Alumni Golfers at the Reunion of the State College High School Cross Country team.   But other things struck me as worthy of a post.  Including a party I came across at a really weird time.

While the group does not...
  • condone under-aged drinking
  • condone excessive alcohol consumption
  • condone drinking and driving
this very well may be the greatest party I have ever witnessed...

This was Saturday morning on South Pugh Street, right across the street from the parking garage of our newly adopted Reunion Hotel, the Days Inn.  And that was after the Nittany Lions played a late night game in Illinois.  My hat was tipped to the die-hard partiers who numbered in the hundreds.  They had already begun to scatter by time the first police car came.  Eventually, 4 police cars were there.  There were no arrests and everyone ended up smiling as the crowd happily cleaned up the mess and disbursed.  Like it never even happened!

This was less than half the crowd at its peak!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Another Reunion

Mad Mex was the scene of another reunion last night, with a 75% Nittany Lions concordance.
It was actually a Reunion of the State College Little Lion 4 x 880 yards PA State Champs in 1978!
This included from right to left, Martha White, Bev Pazur, Terry Sweitzer, and Paula Froke. Only Martha left State College for the pastures of UVA.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Barkley Dogs. Even One Named Barkley!

The man in charge of the Barkley Marathons, Lazarus Lake, is every bit of the eccentric stereotype one would expect.  But the man behind Lazarus Lake, Gary Cantrell, is nothing of the sort.

In real life he is a retired accountant who just completed a walk/jog across America.  His feat ended just the day before he had to be back in Tennessee for the recent Barkley Fall Classic.  It took him 126 days from the Atlantic Ocean in Connecticut to the Pacific in Oregon.  Read his daily posts...

Also, it turns out that Laz is an author.  When he found an abandoned dog that had been shot in the rural Tennessee mountains, he saved him.  After twice trying to find a suitable home for the dog, the dog kept finding his way back to Laz.  so he named him "Big" and published all his adventures in book form. 

And even our very own Erwin Shroedinger Endowed Chair for Advanced Physics, Ron Moore got into the action.  At last years Barkley race, Ron couldn't run and was crewing for another when 5 puppies were found abandoned in the wilderness.  All were eventually adopted, with Ron taking one home which he named Barkley.  (I think several others share the same name!)

Barkley, center 2017.

Barkley 2018.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Where Have The Fullers Been?

Well, everybody knows I can't tell any of them apart!  They missed this year's Reunion and Golf Tourney for sanctioned and approved reasons. They have been getting married, having babies and buying houses, is all I know.

And now one has snagged a trifecta of races culminating in the York White Rose Run. ( I ran the first of these, oh so many years ago!)

Brian Fuller, the handsome one, (hee hee hee) won the 5-Mile race in 25:31.  The fact that he was wearing our Alumni Singlet garners him extra mulligans in next year's Golf Tourney.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Getting Better With Age (And Sponsor Bling!)

I plan on taking way too much credit for Ron Moore's continued improvement in his quest to run the Barkley Marathons.  (Honestly, I deserve none.) He ran the baby brother Barkley Fall Classic for the third time yesterday, and had one of his best ultra-marathon performances ever!

Luckily for me, he modeled the Nike Dri-Fit t-shirt I had made up to spread the news of my Podiatry Practice to eccentric types in rural Tennessee.  I expect the appointment calls to commence early Monday morning.  Plans are already underway to expand the sponsor equipment to get Ron over-the-top.

Ron was 25th overall (out of >400 entrants) with a time of 9:57:22 in the 50K rugged trail race.

Next up:  How dogs figure prominently at the Barkley

Friday, September 14, 2018

Even His Little Brother Is A Horrible Criminal

We have talked a little bit about The Barkley Marathons before.  Tomorrow marks the "other" race in the Frozen Head State Park in rural Tennessee.  Called the Barkley Fall Classic, the race is only about a fourth of its older, more criminal brother.

Both of these races were conceived by Lazarus Lake (Gary Cantrell) after noting that assassin James Earl Ray only managed to get 8 miles in 55 hours from Brushy Mountain Penitentiary when he escaped following his conviction for killing Martin Luther King Jr.  Cantrell and his friend commented that they could get at least 100 miles in that time frame.  Ray was found huddled and covered in mud and was overjoyed to be recaptured.  The desolate mountainous landcape surrounding the prison posed a more formidable escape deterrent than the waters off Alcatraz.

That's when Gary Cantrell's Dr. Jekyl became his Mr. Hyde, Lazarus Lake.  He made up a trail ultramarathon that is recognized as one of the most difficult races in the world.  In its more than 30 years, only 15  16 people have managed to finish the race.  And it is even more sadistic than that indicates.  Some of the most fit and tough people you have ever met wouldn't stand a chance at the Barkley.

The rules of the race are extraordinary enough, but that only scratches the surface of the eccentricity of the whole thing and the people it attracts.  From the entry requirements shrouded in mystery, to the pre-race dinner of under or overcooked chicken, the mind-boggling items just accumulate.  The start of the race is signaled by Lazarus lighting a cigarette!  Barely a sound...

Just as I am fascinated by mountaineering and Everest, I am attracted to all things Barkley.  But I would never, ever think of undertaking either.  And yet into this world emerged my good friend (on the internet, at least!) Ron Moore, our Erwin Shrodinger Endowed Chair of Advanced Physics.  Ron started out as a brilliant and talented student-athlete under Coach Groves.  He emerged as an accomplished Physicist, family man, and unfortunately, a trail ultramarathoner!  I don't know what happened...

After a stint as the man in charge of the world's most powerful nuclear accelerator, he somehow ended up in Tennessee, not far away from the beast named Barkley.  There is way more involved in this story, but it may take me a long time to ferret it all out.

Ron's goal is to make it into the 40-unlucky souls every year that receive the condolence letter from Lazarus indicating they have been accepted into the big race.  Until then, he has been toiling in many ultras in preparation.

That's where I come in.  I have agreed to lend Ron a hand should he ever get into the Marathons.  I will be a mostly useless member of his crew and sponsor his roughly $2 entry fee and even supply an old PA license plate for "The Wall"  Laz has already built without any congressional approval!  (It's a wall of license plates from the birthplaces of all entrants over the years). I may even haul out Podd 2.0, my RV, so Ron will have a place to await the start of the race and collapse when he is done.

I even managed to supply him with a couple of Nike dri-fit shirts for his Fall Classic race tomorrow.  Let's all wish him luck in the race!

He will need a podiatrist tomorrow.

He is representing all of us.
Podd 2.0 with my modeling partner.

Next Up: An update on Ron's race and just how important dogs are when thinking about the Barkley.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Silver Lining?

This horrible storm in the Atlantic threatens to flood my basement even before it gets here.  We sure have received a lot of rain this year.  But maybe, just maybe, there is a kid who will have just as much fun as I did in 1972!

From the blog archives in 2009...

The Best Week of My Life

1972 was a great year. Nixon was at his peak, the Vietnam War was about to be ended and Americans had been on the Moon 5 or 6 times. My sport was basketball, and I needed to get much better at it to compete with the likes of teammate Curt Clawson (who later became the greatest shooter Coach Keady of Purdue ever saw, including Michael Jordan!) I opted for the prestigious Pocono Mountain Basketball Camp run by Coaches Bill Foster and Harry Litwack. I headed off with spirits high and with ridiculous sneakers not really suitable for basketball.

My joy turned to ecstasy when I found out that David Thompson was going to be my Coach for the week. After his sophomore year at NC State, he wasn't yet a household word, but he was certainly one of the premier young players in college ball. His teammates Monty Towe and Phil Spence were with him. Tom Burleson had gone to another camp.

The first day was spent getting to know the camp layout and the set up for the coming week of intense drills, practices and games. Then, the rain began. Hurricane Agnes had hit Florida and meandered up the East Coast, delivering torrential rains which was only was made worse when it stalled over land. Worst hit happened to be where we were in the Poconos. All roads were washed out and we were marooned at our camp. Only the two indoor courts were usable by the hundreds of kids there, many counselors staying elsewhere weren't available, and we were on our own mostly. Lord of the Flies type stuff, may I add?

When the bridge over the little stream leading to the indoor courts washed out when it became a raging river, we improvised by swinging across the stream on a rope hanging from a tree. Those little kids that invariably fell in were retrieved downstream with the help of a dam we fashioned out of canoes left over from the camp's previous life. We never lost a single camper! Each day became worse with the rain and the inability of anyone to reach us from the outside. The menu deteriorated noticeably each day, with meals becoming a mish mash of whatever was available. The nightly movie reel (the World War II flick, Triple Cross) was repeated each night, and all of us learned the entire dialog by the end of the week. We were able to shout the words to the entire movie before the actor would, which somehow never got old. I remember the joy on David Thompson's face with this each night, pure innocent joy. I find it hard to believe that he later ended his basketball career in the throes of substance abuse.

Days were spent watching the college guys play pick-up basketball. Only one court at a time was available, as they tore down rim after rim with spectacular alley-oops and jams (Monty Towe and David Thompson invented the alley-oop!) none of us could believe. Those handy with tools would remake the backboards and rims on the one court as the players switched to the other.

Players were true amateurs in those days, and none of them was receiving any money outright, just room and board (eating the same crap the rest of us were!). We supplemented David by putting quarters on top of the backboards. Any quarter he jumped up and retrieved was his by default. And he pocketed a lot of change that week. I've been challenged on this many times, but I saw him do it hundreds of times. His vertical leap was unbelievable, even with just one step. He had a kid follow him just to hold all of his quarters. And I would have volunteered for the duty if someone else hadn't gotten there first!

It was a simply magical week, and I didn't mind eating Cream of Wheat for three straight meals by the end of the week. When the rain finally stopped and my parents picked me up, I was amazed to see all of Pennsylvania flooded. We didn't have a TV and no one bothered listening to the radio, we were there to watch basketball and there was none better than what was on the court live.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Physicists Solve An Age Old Riddle, One Of Our Own Is Amazing, And I'm Disappointed No One Cares About My First Modeling Gig

Physicists have figured out the answer to the age old riddle of "what came first, the chicken or the egg".

And it's both!  It has something to do with quantum Physics and evolution.  I sum it up as this: An almost-a-chicken and another almost-a-chicken got together and did what almost-a-chickens do when Barry "Almost-a-chicken" White is grooving and an egg was created.  But in that egg, a mutation of some small stature made what we call a chicken, and voila, we have an egg and a chicken at the same time. 

Meanwhile, congrats to Doreen Statare McCoubrie in her American Record Age 55 Mile time of 5:30.31 !!!  Unbelievable talent and range.

And here's my first foray into modeling.  I got the oppotunityto pose with the Nittany Lion to promote the Grange Fairgrounds Campground.  The billboard is on 322 just south of Seven Mountains.  The Grange is a great place to tailgate for Nittany Lion games.  Check it out. 

Photo by Greg Fredericks.

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