Profile on Paul Bliss

Profile on Paul Bliss

How many years have you been running?

I started running track and cross country in ’78 (39 years). I was in 8th grade and our PE teacher made our class run around the entire campus, maybe a mile, because a few 9th graders were misbehaving.

As we finished I found myself in the top five and my ego/confidence soared. I started running on my own in the mornings, a half mile run to the end of the street and back. I had no idea what I was doing but in my mind at the time I thought I was doing something important.

I wore my school clothes on these runs. Track season was just around the corner and I joined the team running the 660 yards on cinder tracks.

Who inspired you to start running?

Even though it was my PE teacher that was the catalyst to start me actually running, it was in the back of my mind that I recalled seeing the made for television movie The Loneliest Runner (’76) by Michael Landon. Landon used to run home from school every day racing to beat the bus because his abusive mom would hang his pee soaked sheets out of his top floor window for the world to see as punishment for wetting his bed.

He went on to be a successful collegiate track star. I thought I remembered he went on to run in the Olympics but I can’t find anything to verify that now.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?

Runners join running clubs. When I came out to Illinois to house hunt in May ’15 part of my checking out this community was to discover Parkside JHS hosted the IESA State cross country meet, Constitution trail, and meeting Heather and running with Merlin at Green Gables for the Thursday night run.

The Lake Run was that weekend but I left Friday, just missing my first possible local race. Park-2-Park ended up being my first local race just weeks later.

Steven Laning, Jamey Whitlow, Paul Bliss, and Gary Savage hanging out at a race in Nashville.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?

New York City Marathon (’87 and ’88) is my favorite marathon experience. The experience was so grand on every level.

The 3 million spectators through all five boroughs was beyond epic. It was such a great experience I came right back the following year to do it all again.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?  

There are so many but Boston ’16 was quite special because I got to share the experience with Andy Williams and Steve Laning in our almost daily training regimen, our travel group of Carol Pratt, Mitch Hobbs, Amber Ferre, Gene Harding, and so many others back home that followed us.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?

I did in Washington State. My daily go to course went along Deschutes river (5 minutes from my house) and park, home of the now closed Olympia/Rainier brewery, down to the Puget Sound where I’d run along the waterfront boardwalk and marina and around Capital Lake.

I’d often see bald eagles, deer, and a wide variety of birds and critters. The run was 6 miles and could easily be made into shorter/longer as desired.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?

Tokyo Marathon. Running is a great excuse to travel.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?

I did see a bear at close range on a bike trail run in town while I was running with my cross-country kids. I thought it was a dog at first and didn’t think much of it. My lead kid went by the bear before I realized holy smokes there’s a bear between me and my lead runner (50 meters or so)!

The bear took off in the bushes and we kept running as if nothing had happened. It took a while for it to sink in but the adrenaline eventually kicked in and I realized my disbelief.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?

When I lived in Guam (’84-’86) they had a race that still runs to this day called The Perimeter Relay, an eight-person team that goes around the entire island (8 x 26 miles) with exchanges about every 200 yards for 60 miles. That’s 7.5 miles and 60 x 200-yard sprinting legs for each runner.

Every exchange ridiculously chaotic as the van must floor it every time to get to the next exchange. Use your imagination to figure out how we took our potty breaks! Priceless. Excruciating leg pain the next few days but we all could hardly wait for the next year’s run.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?

I used to supervise a water station at mile 10 of the Capital City Marathon and Half in Olympia Washington aka the ’84 women’s Marathon Trials course. My cross-country team got $750 for handing out replenishment for two hours.

I really enjoyed watching the 2,000 runners go by but enjoyed even more watching my kids get excited helping other runners survive their running experience.

What are you training for right now?

My daughter graduates from Oregon in June then I’m taking her to Guam for a week where I served two tours in the Navy for 2 ½ years in ’84-‘86. There is a 5k there we plan to run. When I return Park-2-Park is my next race I’m training for.

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ABC#129/Multi-Sport Day

ABC#129/Multi-Sport Day on May 20 was a great success with $2,235 donated to Timber Pointe Outdoor Center! Although the weather was terrible and attendance was down to 40 compared with 108 last year, we lucked out by having some larger than usual donations and some donations from those that could not attend. Thanks so much to everyone who attended, donated, organized, brought food, and enhanced the day with your enthusiasm and friendship.

The stormy weather caused a number of adjustments, including two different start times for the run (note the two group photos). The first group left before 8:00, hoping to avoid getting too wet (it was already starting to rain when we took off). The weather forecast was for thunderstorms but we were lucky. Three of us (Gary Savage, Tamara Nelsen, and Merlin Anderson) ran the long course and experienced nothing worse than wind and rain and sleet except for one big clap of thunder near the end that made us hurry to the protection of Sterns Lodge.

When we entered Stearns Lodge, we noticed the small crowd appeared to be in party mode. I know Meg’s coffee cake is good but maybe not that good! Turns out, a contributing factor was that our organizers, Kevin McCarthy and John Pratt, tapped the keg after they made the decision to cancel the swim and the bike ride. Cool – craft beer for brunch! They also made the decision to hold the cookout as scheduled because the weather was clearing by late morning.

So what did Kevin McCarthy say about the change in plans (and tapping the keg early)?

Thank You! This was incredible. In spite of threatening weather, people came to the Multi-Sport Training Day to enjoy friendship and community and to support children with developmental needs. Friends from different clubs, with different affiliations were all in one place to enjoy being together and supporting our community. A truly great day!

Through the wonderful generosity of those that joined us and those that sent in contributions, we raised over $2,200 for Timber Pointe Outdoor Center and Easter Seals. And since we started this fun idea, Multi-Sport Day & ABC Runs have generated over $12,000 dollars for Timber Pointe and Easter Seals.

There are many to thank. The principal organizers are Merlin & Meg Anderson (ABC runs & Lake Run Club), John Pratt (Masters Swimming & Lake Run Club), Colleen Klein (Tri-Shark Triathlon), and yours truly Kevin McCarthy (Tri-Shark Triathlon Club and Lake Run Club). But this is truly a team event with many helpers needed to set up the swim course, set out beverages on the run course, lead bike routes, lead trail runs, man the grill, shop for food, order and deliver supplies, line up lifeguards, supply swim caps, ensure participant safety, etc. We may have canceled the swim and the ride but volunteers were still needed to be ready. Thank you!”

ABC Run #130 to benefit St. Jude will be on Sunday, July 16 at Meryl Brown’s home.

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ABC#128, 4-15-17, for The Baby Fold

April 15 had many happy returns. Great weather, great participants, and an awesome $3,078 donated to The Baby Fold by the 94 participants and three others that could not attend. Both the total attendance and the amount contributed are records for The Baby Fold ABC Runs.

Aimee Beam, VP of Development and PR at The Baby Fold, was a great host, greeting us as we arrived and making sure we had water and sports drink. Before we ran, we awarded a new traveling award for “ABC Top Team” based on participation.  This little award, a baton, spurred friendly competition to increase attendance. Be Strong, with 15 participants, won by edging out strong competition from Gold’s Gym, Often Running Racing Team. Fleet Feet, and 261 Fearless. After the group photos, we headed out for our run. Some did the 3-mile route up the trail to near I55 and back, some went to the end of the trail and back for a total of 7 miles, and some chose to go farther. Erin Furimsky was the most ambitious by covering 20 miles, including 11 miles before the official start time.

The post-run pot luck feast was great as usual, including coffee cake and a casserole from Meg Anderson, banana bars from Cindy Friedrich, cookies and cuties from Annette Lobdell, and more. The large turnout (44 more participants than last year) was a surprise, so Sharri Pelarske cut her run short to make a quick grocery run for bagels, cream cheese, and bananas. Thanks so much to everyone for making this event great fun and another huge success!

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ABC Run#127, 3-18-17

ABC Run #127 was Saturday, 3/19/17 at Robyn Walter’s home. Great event with a total of $825 donated by 42 runners that attended plus two runners that mailed a check. Thanks so much for supporting the McLean County Child Protection Network! If you are a State Farmer and you donated $25 or more, please submit your donation to State Farms matching program.

It was a good day to run – 37 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Runners chose between a 3-mile and a 6-mile route. Those that ran the six mile route got a refreshment stop (sports drink, water) at 3 miles. Kevin Fahling and Erin Furimsky turned this event into a 15 miler by clocking 9 miles before our official start, then were kind enough to slow down and let me run with them.  Back at the house, Robyn Walter and Gregg Chadwick were great hosts, organizing the food buffet and mixing mimosas. Once again, this was one of the most fantastic post-run food fests! Thanks much to the following runners for the great food:

Robyn Walter – spiced buckwheat pancakes, chocolate pumpkin muffins, mimosas
Gregg Chadwick – bubble & squeak (you’ll have to google this)
Meg Anderson – coffee cake, sausage/egg/hash brown casserole
Stacy Sheridan – egg/veggie casserole Dennis Roesch – bananas
Bruce Sutter – bagels & cream cheese
Katy MacMann – hulk muffins
Tammy Knippenberg – almond chocolate milk
Judy Bauman – fruit
Lisa Sparks – Watergate cake Kevin Fahling – chocolate chip cookies

Great event! Where else can you get such a great brunch with a great bunch of people and know that 100% of your donations go to a great cause?  We have now completed ten runs for the McLean County Child Protection Network (six of them hosted by Robyn & Gregg) with total donations of $7,918. The total for all 127 ABC Runs is $112,564. Thanks again for the food, donations, and friendship.

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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.

Sugar Grove Monarch butterfly wing Sugar Grove praying mantis leg

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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