ABC#126, 2-5-17, for Scott Early Learning Center

Another awesome day! This year, 54 participants gathered at Children’s Home + Aid to run and generously support children in our community with donations that totaled $900. Children’s Home + Aid will benefit even more when some of the State Farm employees/retirees apply under State Farm’s matching grant program. If you contributed by check (of $25 or more), please be sure to apply. This might make a couple hundred dollars difference!
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Laurel Schumacher whistled to get our attention so I could explain the course and then turn the duties over to our gracious host, Lisa Sparks, who thanked us, explained the Super Bowl quiz, recognized Kristen Dixon for her upcoming birthday, and introduced Laura Cordero, Development Assistant at Children’s Home + Aid. Laura thanked us and let us know how important our contributions are, especially this year when they are opening up more classroom space. Our contributions go directly to Scott Early Learning Center which provides affordable child care where traditional daycare may not be within reach.
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We gathered back at the Learning Center for post-run treats including birthday cake for Kristen.  There were many contributions but I was so busy taking photos that I don’t know who brought what except for the coffee cake and birthday cake from Meg Anderson, sausage/egg casserole from Stacy Sheridan, oatmeal-almond cookies from Laurel Schumacher, fruit from Lisa Sparks, and chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling. Thanks so much to everyone! The final order of business for the day was the awarding of the “Super Bowl Party Pack” to Kristen Dixon and her dad, Scott Dixon, the winner of the Super Bowl trivia contest. Thanks to Meg Anderson for putting the party pack together.
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This is the ninth year we have conducted an ABC run for the Scott Early Learning Center.  This year’s $900 brings the nine-year total to $6,427.  The total for all 126 ABC runs is $111,739.  Thanks so much to everyone who has provided financial support, food, and encouragement.

ABC Run #127, for McLean County Child Protection Network, will be held Saturday, March 18 at the home of Robyn Walter and Greg Chadwick.

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ABC#125, 1-17-17, for Sugar Grove Nature Center

Another fun and successful ABC Run! A total of $838 was donated to Sugar Grove Nature Center, including $200 donated by the SHTRs (Shady Hollow Trail Runners), and donations from three other runners who could not make it to the ABC run after the date and location was changed from Sunday the 15th at Sugar Grove to Tuesday night at the Anderson home. The change was made because the driveway and parking lot at Sugar Grove Nature Center was a sheet of ice. In spite of the change, 37 participants showed up Tuesday night. Good turnout!

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The donations will be used toward the purchase of a new microscope camera with upgraded features such as a build-in-measuring element and a wireless connection.  Through a grant several years ago, Sugar Grove Nature Center purchased a camera that connects to a microscope, and then projects the image onto a television screen.  It has been enormously popular, and a program has even been built around its use. Everyone in class is able to see the subject without having to take turns at a microscope, and younger kids that don’t yet have the ability to use a microscope can still examine creatures, plants, and more up close. The moment they realize they are not watching a television show or movie, but an actual object or animal in real time is magical. During a winter class, we placed snow under the microscope and just watched it melt. It was mesmerizing for both kids and adults. Unfortunately, its age is showing.  While it does still project images, we are no longer able to take photographs or videos through the camera, and the power port has become loose, creating an unreliable connection.

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The evening’s running adventure was our neighborhood 4-mile course. I hope everyone was able to join with one of the regular Tuesday night runners to stay on course as we twisted and turned our way through the neighborhood streets.
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After the run, we were treated to a culinary adventure! Thanks to Meg Anderson for all her preparation, including the vegetable soup and the veggie tray. Thanks also to Randy Barnett (and Noodles & Company) for the chicken noodle soup, Sharri Pelarske for the chili, Robyn Walter for the spicy tomato basil soup, Bill Hahm for the apple crisp & ice cream, Laurel Schumacher for the chocolate chip cranberry cake, Jill Usiak for the fruit salad, Angela Funk for the Gatorade and the great variety of snack items, and Bryan Van Hook for the special root beer. Thanks so much to everyone that attended, contributed, brought food, and made it such a fun event!

The next ABC run (#126) will be Sunday, February 5 at/for Scott Early Learning Center.

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Profile on Kate Browne

Profile on Kate Browne

Who inspired you?
I was inspired to start running 4 years ago by, Rachelle Leuty. Her enthusiasm is contagious. #positivepeerpressure

I’m inspired to keep running by all of my friends who have achieved greatness. Each finish line pic I see makes me want to get out there and find some of that sweet success action for myself.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
Free beer at Green Gables on Thirsty Thursdays is worth the price of admission, but the experience of being an LRC member is really and truly priceless. I initially joined for the discount on races and training programs, but I keep current because I want my family to be a part of a community that makes a difference.

Tell me about your first race:
My first race was the Lake Run in 2014. I must have missed the part of Catch the Wave when Dawn Dieckgrafe said it was 4.37 miles because I thought it was a 5K until I picked up my packet the night before and looked at the t-shirt.

Wendy Anderson ran almost the whole race with me, and I’ll never be able to thank her enough. Around mile 3, when I realized that I hadn’t really trained for anything more than 3 miles, I started to have a panic attack. My vision blurred and it was hard to breathe.

The little voice inside my head said, “What are you even doing here? You’re not a runner. You don’t belong here.” We stopped so I could calm down. Wendy reminded me that I’d already made it more than halfway. That was all I needed to hear. The last mile was ugly and angry and I probably cried a few times, but I made it to the end.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
The Lake Run is my favorite race because I’m a nostalgic person and it reminds me of how far I’ve come since that first panic attack disaster. It’s also the weekend of my son’s birthday so it’s a good time to celebrate.

What race really sticks in your mind, for one reason or another? 
I ran a local Memorial Day race with my brother near where he lives in Chicagoland, and it was my first time running with so many people. It was very laid back and there were a lot of folks just strolling the neighborhood or walking with their charity group. I didn’t feel rushed at all. It was nice not to be the one holding up the volunteers from going home for once.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I’m a big fan of the inner loop, and the stretch of Constitution Trail from Empire to Vernon. But I love to run anywhere I can find trees and wildflowers, basically.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
The Barkley Marathons because it’s as likely to happen as me becoming an astronaut—completely and totally impossible. But if I ever develop the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to run it, that means I must be living my best life.

Here's a selfie of Kate out enjoying a run.

Here’s a selfie of Kate out enjoying a run.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story? 
It’s a bit of a bummer, but every once in a while teens yell insults at me when I’m out for a run. It used to bother me, but now I actually make a point to run outside because of it. I hope that I can be an example to people that “the runner’s body” is a myth, and maybe inspire someone with a body like mine to get out there and run anyway. I hope the next time you interview me, I’ll be able to say that one time I found a chest of gold doubloons or was discovered by a Hollywood talent agent or something much more exciting.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I still haven’t made it to Chilly Chili! In some ways, I’m glad I’m still new to running because that means there are a lot of new experiences left for me. If spectating counts as taking part, I just happened to be in New Orleans at the start of the Crescent City Classic 10K. The costumes were out of this world, and apparently walking the whole course with a cocktail is part of some people’s tradition. It’s basically a big party.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
It’s a blast volunteering at the finish line for Park 2 Park. I love watching everyone in their patriotic costumes running into the Corn Crib. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re wearing a screaming eagle-wolf-fireworks t-shirt.

What are you training for right now?
My goals are pretty modest since I returned to running after some surgeries in 2016. I’m after a first place finish in the ladies’ Footpounder division of The Lake Run. There was a lot of competition in 2016, and I hope there will be even more this year. If you want to follow along on my training progress, I’m on Instagram at @takeupspacewithkate!

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50-State Tandem Bike Challenge

For this, the 12th year of bets, I proposed getting a rider from each of twelve countries but Bob Brandt vetoed the idea because he thought that might be too easy. Instead, the challenge was to get a rider from each of the 50 states. To represent a state, riders had to (a) have been born in that state, (b) have lived there 12 years, or (c) currently live there. This had to be the toughest challenge yet! To find riders, I turned to the magic of social media and the concept of “six degrees of separation”.
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To make a long story short, Facebook friends got the job done, and I don’t think we even had to use all “six degrees of separation” (maybe just three degrees, a friend of a friend of a friend). We got all 50 states and even added Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic for extra credit. We celebrated with a party where Meg made pulled pork, Bob brought a couple of six-packs, and Gregg Chadwick (Mr. Mass.) gave me a 50-state quarter collection to commemorate the achievement.

What a year: 106 rides (49 rides with Meg), 60 different riders (35 new riders), 1,235 tandem miles (545 with Meg). Four riders rode more than once (Meg, Rebecca Payne, Kelly Bowers, LeAnn Poor). Five states had two riders (Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Wyoming). The farthest I had to travel was to Wyoming to ride with Donna Creditor (Ms. Delaware), Tanya Connors (Ms. New Hampshire), and Joseph Connors (Mr. Wyoming). The farthest anyone came here to ride was from China (Robin Schmidt teaches in China and was in the area visiting Anne Schmidt and other family). It was a wonderful odyssey. Thanks so much to everyone for all the great rides, the referrals, and great memories! Here are the riders, listed by state.

Alabama: Tom Lauritson
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laska: Tyler Lotz
Arizona: Dianna Yoder Doblosky
Arkansas: Jenna Ramey
California: Kelly Bowers
Colorado: Daniel Mestas
Connecticut: Chris Allison
Delaware: Donna Creditor
Florida: Gene Harding, Tanya Gianotti
Georgia: James Auten
Hawaii: Rualani Simpson
Idaho: Tina Techmanski
Illinois: Stacy Sheridan, Emily Gomalchak, Cojo Aforiwa
Indiana: Kevin McCarthy
Iowa: Keith Bowers, Missi Adams
Kansas: Christiana Reader
Kentucky: Mike Eckhoff
Louisiana: Carl Blomquist
Maine: Brigette Van Hook
Maryland: Deb McNamara
Massachusetts: Gregg Chadwick
Michigan: Paul Betts
Minnesota: Meg Anderson
Mississippi: Sarah Anne Cary Welsh
Missouri: Darla Schwertfeger
Montana: John Quindry
Nebraska: Aimee Dzieken
Nevada: Rob McNamara
New Hampshire: Tanya Connors
New Jersey: Erin Furimsky
New Mexico: Nicole Thornton
New York: Nancy Falk
North Carolina: Joy Williams
North Dakota: Chris Hamilton
Ohio: Deb Schumann, Becky Roesner
Oklahoma: Cheryl Dwyer
Oregon: Larry Schumacher
Pennsylvania: Susan DeGennaro
Rhode Island: Michelle White
South Carolina: Robin Schmidt
South Dakota: Diane Risius
Tennessee: Tony Brewster
Texas: Adriane Powell
Utah: LeAnn Poor
Vermont: Bridget McLeese Frerichs
Virginia: Rob Junkins
Washington: Rebecca Payne
West Virginia: Gisette Brewster
Wisconsin: Seanan Alyasiri
Wyoming: Joseph Connors, Tanya Anderson
Washington D.C.: Meta Mickens-Baker
Puerto Rico: Maura Toro-Morn
Dominican Republic: Melin de la Cruz

The 2017 challenge is the “International Triskaidekaphobia Tandem Challenge”. Triskaidekaphobia means “fear of the number 13”. This is the 13th annual bet and Bob has made it so difficult that I’m afraid of failure. Keeping with the “13” theme, I have to get a rider from 26 countries (13 times 2). Bob wouldn’t agree to 13 countries, so we doubled it. A rider can represent a country if (a) born in that country, (b) lived there for 13 years, or (c) currently lives there. Each ride has to be at least 13 kilometers. This is going to be great!

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ABC#124, for Adopt-A-Family

Epic day! Thanks so much to all 71 participants that came to the Adopt-A-Family Center on December 3 to support the Adopt-A-Family program with donations totaling $1,310. This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family and provide funding toward one or two other families still on the waiting list.

At 8:30, Lisa Sparks thanked everyone and told us a little something about the family we are helping. Then Stacy Killian, a 29 year volunteer at Adopt-A-Family thanked us and told us more about the program and how it operates. It was a great experience to see the gifts and learn how they manage to provide for so many families in need. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to: http://www.childrenshomeandaid.org/holidaygiftdrive-central

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After a group picture, we all headed out for the 5-mile adventure, which Pat Sheridan informed me later that we actually ran down a moraine. It turns out the Adopt-A-Family Center is right at a high elevation point between two watersheds (Sugar Creek and Kickapoo Creek). We headed North, down the moraine toward Sugar Creek, took a loop around the Tipton Park trails, and came back up the moraine. Now, doesn’t that sound like an adventure?

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Back at the Adopt-A-Family Center, we were treated to a great breakfast highlighted by blueberry pancakes prepared by Jay Sparks and special blueberry assistant, Larry Schumacher. Rounding out the fare was coffee cake from Meg Anderson, breakfast casserole from Stacy Sheridan, muffins from Robyn Walter, yogurt/granola/fruit from Lisa Sparks, chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling, rice pudding from Cathie Haab, and so much more (coffee, chocolate milk, bananas)! I didn’t get the names of all the food providers but it all so good!

During the breakfast, we were honored to welcome a group of about a dozen BRRC runners. What are BRRC runners? Let’s just say they are a secret running society that held their own 5K race and then joined us to support the Adopt-A-Family program. That was great!

We have completed twelve years of ABC runs and had another really great year.  Total contributions for the ten ABC runs in 2016 totaled $15,376.  The total for all 124 ABC runs is $110,001.   We have supported 28 different charities.  Here are the top 10 charities:
$16,367 – St. Jude (14 runs)
$14,553 – The Baby Fold (13 runs)
$10,347 – Timber Pointe Easter Seal Camp (7 runs)
$9,045 – The Seedling Theatre (7 runs)
$7,634 – Sugar Grove Nature Center (11 runs)
$7,093 – McLean County Child Protection Network (9 runs)
$6,239 – Heartland Head Start (9 runs)
$6,020 – Adopt-A-Family (7 runs)
$5,527 – Scott Early Learning Center (8 runs)
$5,223 – Boys & Girls Club (9 runs)

Thanks so much for all your support!

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Merna ASE

Cold temperatures for 2016, but seasonal for any other year, mild winds and greatly appreciated sunshine greeted the 2016 Merna ASE (Another Stupid Event) crew. Following the run, folks enjoyed cold beverages, good food, great cookies and the 2016 version of the infamous ASE mixed drink. Great regrets for those who missed this annual tradition. Look for another chance to enjoy the ASE experience in February.

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ABC#123, for Boys & Girls Club

ABC #123 on November 12 generated an amazing $876 in donations for the Boys & Girls Club. Thanks so much to all 48 participants for your support and for all the great food and fun. The $876 donated this year is easily the most of any of the nine ABC runs for the Boys & Girls Club. The grand total for all nine runs is now $5,223.

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It was a great new venue, thanks to Stacie and Pat Sheridan for doing such a wonderful job of hosting!  The choice of running courses added a sense of adventure. To make sure runners knew where to go, Pat printed maps, marked the course with red and yellow ribbons, and personally led one of the three running choices. The choices were: 5-miles on pavement, 2.5 miles on pavement, and 5 miles on grass.

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ABC#123 also included door prizes, an auction, and a water bottle flipping contest.
The door prizes were awarded to Annette Lobdell (a pin-on compass) and Dave Ploense (an ABC shirt).
The auction was a cool ceramic art piece donated by Erin Furimsky. Lisa Sparks was the high bidder. Thanks, Erin and Lisa for giving the total donations a nice boost.
The top two in the water bottle flipping contest were Carrie Mack and Kevin Fahling.

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ABC Run #124 to benefit the Adopt-A-Family program will be held on Saturday, December 3 at the home of Lisa and Jay Sparks.  We hope to see you then.

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ABC Run #122, for Heartland Head Start

Super event at Sugar Grove Nature Center: 71 participants donated an awesome total of $1,590 to Heartland Head Start which will be used to upgrade their playgrounds! In our ninth run for Heartland, we easily topped the 2006 record of $698. Thanks so much to everyone for your support and a special thanks to Shady Hollow Trail Runners for the $500 donated in return for volunteering at their Evergreen Lake Ultra trail race. Several ABC runners and friends of Heartland Head Start spent a fun 5 hours volunteering. Volunteers included Deb Schumann, Brett Leifheit, Sharon Cochran, David & Darlene Weber, Meg & Merlin Anderson.

Thanks so much to our hosts: Angela Funk (Director, Sugar Grove Nature Center), Whitney Chesher  (Outreach & Communications Specialist at Heartland Head Start), Sharon Cochran (member of Friends of Heartland Head Start), and David & Darlene Weber (members of Friends of Heartland Head Start).

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We had a great mix of ABC run veterans and newbies. Among the newbies was a group from the Be Strong gym. Thanks, Drew Witted, for encouraging your group to join us. It was an inspiration to see Matt DeMatteo power his conventional wheelchair to a PR distance of 4 miles.

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The menu was awesome as usual with casseroles, coffee cake, bagels & cream cheese, fruit, cookies, snack items, coffee, orange juice, apple juice and so much more. With so many food contributions, I was unable to keep track of who brought what. Thanks to DoubleTree hotels for adding the batch of cookies.

The funds raised by all nine runs for Heartland add up to a heartwarming total of $6,239.   Thanks so much to every participant for your fellowship, sharing food, and generous financial support.  Your support helps Heartland Head Start achieve their mission to “enhance the lives of children and families by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for 3-5 year old children and their families who meet the federal guidelines in McLean and Livingston counties in Central Illinois.” For more on Heartland Head Start, visit http://heartlandheadstart.org/

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ABC Run#121, for Seedling Theatre

ABC Run #121 on August 13 was a great success. An amazing $1,035 was donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to: (a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being awesome hosts. (b) 51 attendees (and 5 other contributors) that donated a total of $1,035. (c) Often Running, for donating several cool items for our drawing. (d) Connor Byrd, for donating four dozen free range eggs for our drawing. (e) Seedling Theatre for donating tickets for an upcoming performance to our drawing. (h) everyone who brought the delicious food! Too many to recall but Jeff Crumrine won the harvest basket that Laurel Schumacher gave at random to one of the food contributors.

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Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults & adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. Each year Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, sends a heart-felt note in appreciation for all our support. This one says it best: “I don’t know quite how to say thank you in the most appropriate manner, so please just know from the bottom of my heart how grateful the entire Seedling Families are for what you are doing for their children. I listen to their stories quite frequently about how Seedling has affected their lives.  It is always heartwarming, occasionally teary-eyed and sometimes even funny. Believe me, these families are overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors for Seedling Theatre and sincerely appreciate your efforts.  So, from the depths of my heart…..thank you”.

ABC runs just keep rolling along. After 121 ABC runs, all of us who support ABC runs have collectively raised $106,225 to help 27 different local children’s charities. Seven of these ABC runs have generated a total of $9,045 for Seedling Theatre. Thanks a million to everyone who has supported these extremely worthwhile causes.

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Profile on Mike Eckhoff

Profile on Mike Eckhoff

How many years have you been running? 
I started regularly running at some point in the winter of 2011/2012.  Somewhat on a whim, I decided that I’d try to run a half marathon (Illinois), so I started training around that time frame.  I had run some 5k races before that, but never could get myself to be motivated enough to get out and run more than a couple miles at a time.

Who inspired you? 
Like many others, my doctor (or some less than stellar results from a blood test).  I knew that some changes needed to be made, and that was around that winter of 2011.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I thought that I’d take more advantage of the group runs and such than I have been able to, but with a couple really busy kids, I run when I can and use my membership to discount race entries.

Tell me about your first race.
Even though it wasn’t technically my first race, I’ll say the Illinois Christie Clinic Half Marathon in 2012.  I had trained, and felt pretty good about things going in, but I still had no clue what to expect when I actually went through the race.  I really had no plan, and was a thought I could bank time early, since I felt good, and adrenaline could keep me going.   Let’s just say that didn’t quite happen, and the last few miles were pretty rough.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I like the 12k Lake Run, because of the scenery around the lake, and the post-race party.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
For a couple reasons, I’d say the 2015 Illinois Christie Clinic Half Marathon.  I PR’d that day, which was exciting, and it was in conditions that I could not imagine running in.  Everyone’s heard the stories (if you weren’t there), but it was miserable.

Do you have a favorite route that you run? 
I like to mix things up and keep things interesting.  I’ve done a lot of playing around with map my run, and like to find ways to stay close to home, but not duplicate a path that I’ve done.  There tends to be a lot of zig-zagging in my Garmin maps, but to me, it’s better than an out-and-back route on  a straight road.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
Just this summer, I was running with my daughters and a middle school cross-country team from B/N.  I was helping to chaperone the faster group, and there was one young man that bolted out, and ran ahead of the group.  I was towards the back, because another boy was struggling a bit to keep up, and I wasn’t going to let him fall out of sight.  The leaders knew where to stop, and decide whether or not to keep going out, or head back to the start.  As I got there, a couple of them were talking about whether or not they were continuing (The turnaround point was about 1.75 miles from the start, so heading back would be a solid 3.5.)

Well, the young man that led the whole way asks if he can keep running, and I say “Sure, I’ll go with you”.  So I sent the other kids back to the start, and we take off to a point unknown.  I immediately asked him how far he wanted to go, and his response was “As far as your legs will take you”.   I chuckled to myself, and I didn’t say anything to him at that point, but I made sure to point out how far we’d be going if we turned around at 2 and 2.5 miles.  He said he wanted to go another .5 miles and make it a total of 6 for the day.  I let him control the pace for 5 of the 6 miles we ran that day, but I think that he learned a valuable lesson that day about challenging old dudes that you really don’t know.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
Most of my volunteering has been done at middle school track and cross-country meets.  It’s a lot of fun to see the kids working hard and making such progress from the beginning of the season to the end.

What are you training for right now?
Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak in a few races before this, but right now, I’m focusing on the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis.

Mike on the finish line of Monumental Marathon.

Mike on the finish line of Monumental Marathon.

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