Archive for August, 2010

Race Report: Hood to Coast Relay


Talk about an event for Seasoned Athletes!  Hood to Coast is now coming up on 30 years and there are more than a few who have done the event almost every year and a lot who do it regularly.  RITZ contributors are well represented among the various teams, but this post is about my own running club and the event.

This intrepid blogger can’t hold a candle to a lot of the truly dedicated Hood to Coasters, but he did his first in 1987 and the most recent just a few days ago. This makes #6.  The event grew until it couldn’t grow any more.  1000 teams enter and it is getting to where almost as many get turned away.  Pacific Road Runners was fortunate enough to be one of the teams accepted for  2010.

Pacific Road Runners - H2C 2010

Just three members were veterans with nine newbies.  Weather couldn’t have been much better for running, mostly sunny but cool (really cool for some of those late night legs). 

The Hood to Coast Relay  is a challenge for any level of runner at a total distance of 197.2 miles and three legs each to run.  It is also a pile of fun with van decoration, intra-team van competitions and individual challenges and trash-talk.  This time around, PRR entered a mixed sub-masters team, with the oldest member (that would be me) easily old enough to be the daddy of many team members.  But, that is what this race is about, except for those few teams of elite runners that are truly awesome to see.  Everybody just gives their best and most learn new things about themselves.  One thing you learn is just how hard it is to run three 10k’s or there-abouts in something like 16-20 hours depending on the team.  You wouldn’t think some of this stuff would be a recommendation to return, but return we do and sad we are when we try and don’t get an entry.  I can also say it is quite something to learn how you can spend over 26 hours (as was our case) in a van with all those sweaty runners and still go home friends – in some cases, maybe better friends than when you started out.

So, if you hanker to try something new, or had forgotten how much fun this event can be, get yourself organized and try an entry for 2011!

Willis Greenaway Half Marathon


Willis Greenaway was an inspirational “Seasoned” athlete, known to both Steve and Dan.  In 2008, at the age of 86, Willis passed away.  He was a very good runner, but more importantly, a wonderful person.  In 2010, this half marathon, run in Summerland, BC, was renamed in Willis’ honor.  When I (Dan) heard the news, I just knew I had to run this race and so I did.  The following is a rather lengthy report as it is so much more than just the story of a specific race.  Enjoy.

August 1, 2010.  The day dawned with a high cloud haze (or forest fire smoke maybe) in the sky but you could tell it would clear and then get hot.   It did. 

I looked around for old faces, but saw only a few.  That kind of disappointed me because I thought that more who knew Willis should be there to celebrate “his” race.  Then it struck me, that I had left the Okanagan 20 years earlier and that likely, most of the people there HAD run with and known Willis – it was ME they didn’t know!  I felt better.  That little process also caused me to realize that not only had we left Summerland 20 years ago, it was 20 years to the very day.

By the time we gathered at the start, the sun was out and it was getting warm.  The race was started by Willis’ daughter and one of his grand-daughters ran it.  We were off.  The first bit is flat, but some construction on the streets gave a little challenge.  I’m not going to describe the race step by step, so you can relax on that point.

I had realized on looking at the course map that the total route was more or less two 10K training routes we used when Willis and I were members of the Summerland Road Runners, later amalgamated into the Penticton Pounders.  I was pretty familiar with it and at some points along the way, despite the obvious development of certain parts of Summerland, it was like those 20 years had never happened.  Well, not quite, because in those days I would have been going a bunch faster and calling it an easy run.  Also, I am quite certain, even though the route was quite challenging 20 years ago, that someone had decided the hills weren’t high enough and had increased all of them while I was residing elsewhere!

All of that aside, and recognizing that for me this run was about celebrating Willis and his life and contributions to running, I settled into something of a comfortable pace and just let myself enjoy the experience.  Normally, I would have beaten myself up for not keeping pace with some preconceived performance goal, but not that day.  I tried to summon Willis’ spirit to help me.  I can remember seeing him on a long dusty run looking just so happy and peaceful with the biggest old grin you ever saw, as he just cruised along.

The first half went well enough but as I rounded the corner and came out of the shadow of ‘Giant’s Head’ at about 12km the writing was on the wall with the temperature rising and some of the most challenging bits ahead, that the second half was going to be considerably slower.  I KNEW that ahead (at about 16km – now who came up with that idea???) was Hillborn St and the dreaded “Hillborn Hill”.  I had resolved to just get to the top of it, probably by power walking and not worry about what I “should” have done. 

As you top the hill, you can actually see the house and orchard where Willis lived.  As I spotted it, I was reminded of just how special a person he was.  Many talk about how good a runner he was, and that is certainly true.  When we ran together I was in my early 40’s and he was mid-60’s.  At my best, when a 42 minute 10K and a 20 minute 5K and even a 3:25 marathon was where I was in respect to performance, Willis who was 23 years my senior was doing pretty much the same!  We were so close that you could toss a coin as to which of us would be 10 seconds ahead in any given event. And, he kept on doing it too, according to some of his records.  But, this is just to give context to the fact that he was also a special person well loved by those who knew him.  We were going to a relay race, possibly Hood to Coast, where I will be this coming weekend, but Willis had apples that needed attention (thinning, I think) in a fairly decent sized orchard.  The whole, and I do mean WHOLE, team turned out to do what had to be done so Willis wouldn’t have to worry about it while we were away.  The photo is of the Traveling Willis-Barry’s, yet another relay team put together by the Penticton Pounders for a relay out of Kamloops in the summer of 1989.  Strangely, we all seem a bit younger.

1989 Kamloops Relay team - Willis 3rd from left, Dan 2nd from left

But I digress (I do that, you know).  After I rounded the corner headed for the finish some 4km ahead I really felt like Willis was running along beside me giving me the energy I needed to make my way through the now hot Okanagan summer morning.  To show you though, how all this had calmed my usually very competitively driven self, I spotted a couple of volunteers ahead at the side of the road with a large garbage pail and a stick.  They were busy herding a snake (bull snake, as it turned out, but could have been one of those Pacific Rattlers) into the garbage pail and off the road and course.  To my own surprise I stopped to inspect and ask what was up and observe this good sized specimen of Summerland serpent.   I didn’t top for long, but normally I would never have considered it.  This day was about being in the moment and just letting things happen.  Checking out the snake and thanking/encouraging the young volunteers  just seemed like the thing to do.

The organizers (Race Director, Ron Sherk in particular) had done a great job and every aid station was staffed with enthusiastic and supportive people.  As a race director myself I know just how very important this is.  I mention this because I was soon approaching what was, I knew, the last such station before the finish.  One last cold sponge a bit more water and a few words with the volunteers and I was headed for ‘home’.

The last little bit of the course winds around a couple of corners and although I knew very well where the finish was, it was a treat on turning the last of those corners, to see the finish banner, clock, crowd and timing team just ahead.  Naturally, I did what I always tell others to do: Run strong through the finish and SMILE for the camera!

Smiling wasn’t hard.  I hope I was smiling like I remember Willis smiling so many times, before, during and after races.  There was a special commemorative finisher medal which included a likeness of Willis that to anyone who ever knew him was unmistakeable.  That medal is now one of my personal treasures and always will be.

The Willis Greenaway Half is an event within the Canadian Tire Interior Road Running Series.  The official race report and photo’s by Dirk Handke (see link above) can be found there as well as related materials and eventually information for next year’s schedule and events.

The event is over for 2010, but if you get a chance to try it out next year, go for it.  It will be a challenge (not an easy course and probably hot), but one that is well worth taking on and who knows, maybe like a lot of us out there this year, you will find yourself running with the spirit of the man for whom this race is now named!

Race Report: Run for Change Fun Run/Walk


Start: Run for Change 5K - Vancouver, BC

Sunday, August 22, 2010.

The Run for Change 5K Fun Run/Walk for shelter residents  is now history.  It was an amazing thing to be part of an event that was not for a largely “runnerly” crowd, but rather people out to challenge themselves to just do the event.  Organizers intentionally kept no time and no track of first or last, although in my opinion the last place finisher may have been the happiest of all and maybe the biggest “winner”. 

Run for Change is one of those things that seasoned runners can do for others.  Program founder, Benji Chu, and core individuals in the organizing group have countless years and miles of running behind them, but I believe each and every one of those people experienced something fresh and new in this event.  The photographs are courtesy of Pat Cheung and the couple included here tell quite a story.

Post Event Congratulations to a Finisher

Every finisher got a shirt and a unique finisher medal plus the usual post-event food and beverages.  I will soon be back to more conventional races, but this Sunday was possibly the best running event I never ran in, if heart and determination are the measure.  The next time I am starting to sag or hurt in a race, I intend to remember what these 25 participants did out there on a Sunday morning.

Welcome and Introduction to The Blog


Running in the Zone is a living, breathing extension of “Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes” (Trafford Publishing). The book was the idea of Dan Cumming and Steve King, the co-editors, but is the collected thoughts and wisdom of twenty-six amazing people. Those contributors ranged upward in age from 46 to 76, at time of writing. Some, not all, were elite athletes in their day, but all are exceptional in their own ways. Many have told us that the book is a “keeper” because of the heartfelt messages and stories of real people who just love running, whether it be sprinting right through ultra-distance.

Day to day, the blog will be written and managed by Dan, but as we go along, you will be introduced directly to many of our book contributors, as they take turns as guest bloggers.  Some of our contributors are professional writers with widely read books on running and regular contributions to running magazines such as Runners World and Running Times. Others just told their stories with some editorial help from Steve and Dan. Regardless of background, all had one quality: the content was genuine.

We intend to continue that with this on-line publication of our thoughts and ideas about running. We don’t intend to reproduce the book here although we may give a peek at parts of it from time to time. The book stands on its own. We intend to continue what it started, not replace it.

“Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes” is kind of a mouthful, so we trust you won’t mind that we refer to it as “Running in the Zone” or sometimes even, just RITZ (the “family” nickname).

Everyone likes the concept of being in “the zone”, and most of us have probably experienced the feeling. But, “Running in the Zone” is about keeping it going and experiencing it as a regular thing. The key to the title is clarified in the second part, “A Handook for Seasoned Athletes”. It took a long time to choose “Seasoned” as the correct word.  Chronological age clearly has nothing to do with it.

We settled on “Seasoned” because of the many aspects this word brings into the picture. Some interpret it to mean “good” but while true, it is not limiting or exclusive. And, what is “good” anyway? Circumstance defines “goodness”. What would be modest at one point, becomes excellent at the age of 70 or 80 as a few of our contributors now are. What might not even be modest, becomes great when battling a physical limitation brought on by disease or injury. What comes through is spirit and determination. In the end, only one thing stands out as a basic requirement to read or contribute here and that is a love of running and a genuine interest in having it be part of your life for the long-term.

We are certain the blog will evolve as we hear what our readers and  contributors have to say. We are looking forward to providing links to other sites and resources of interest to runners of all ages and stages, but particularly to interacting with you “seasoned” athletes out there. In addition to our book contributors, we will invite other guests with messages appropriate to our audience, to join us from time to time. Our goal is to keep the site fresh. We will be out searching for links and content, but will welcome suggestions.

Finally, we hope there will be much to learn and share here for runners of any age or level of running development or experience. If this sounds like a place you should visit from time to time, then welcome to Running in the Zone – The Blog.

Run for Change


Sunday, August 22 will see the first running of the Run for Change 5K Fun Run/Walk.  This event is part of the Run for Change program initiated by visionary Benji Chu, who has tirelessly been encouraging shelter residents and homeless people of Vancouver to get out and run or walk on Wednesdays and Saturdays and to make a serious life-style change.  With the help of a core group of volunteers and support of shelter managers Run for Change is trying to make a difference.

The 5K Fun Run/Walk starts and finishes by Telus World at the East End of False Creek.  Volunteers and spectators are most welcome to come out and encourage participants.  Event starts 10:00am.