category : ‘RITZ Contributors in the News’


Coach Dan

Coach Dan – Forerunners Learn to Run 5K Clinic

I’ve been waiting for some while to make this post. I am pretty excited about it, too.

I get to talk about something new to the Vancouver running community and a new challenge for me, that also marks the ‘new era’ of the title.

As I write this, Forerunners is in the midst of a SOFT OPENING of its brand new Vancouver store at 23rd and Main. That means there is the original store on Fourth Ave, the one in North Van and now this one on Main Street. The official opening is still a few weeks away and will include all sorts of celebrations, runs and I’m sure a few specials. They have taken advantage of a brand new space to do it just how they want, including facilities you don’t find in most running stores and lots of technology.

MY brand new project, because that is what the title is about, is a new running clinic focus that I have been asked to lead. Forerunners has always been about running for the whole running community, top to bottom. However, because of the accomplishments of the owners and staff, some people have felt it probably wasn’t ‘for them’. It always has been. As an older, not as quick as I once was runner, I am living proof of that.

Welcome to YOUR RUN BEGINS HERE – LEARN TO RUN 5K CLINIC. This is the direct link to the sign-up page.

That’s right, Learn to Run. No experience needed!

OK, so that isn’t quite true. Ideally, we’d like participants to be able to walk briskly for 30 minutes, but we won’t insist. Beyond that, we are going to start with the basics and go from there. When the clinic is done in Twelve Weeks, participants should be able to RUN 5K. Nobody is saying how fast. That will be up to each individual. For those that want to translate this newfound ability into something more, racing 5K should also be an option by the time the clinic is done. The clinic won’t stress racing, but we will provide enough of the basics to let the new 5K runner feel comfortable to give it a try.

Forerunners clinic training group (full and half marathon)

Forerunners clinic training group (full and half marathon)

I have been leading longer distance clinic pace groups at Forerunners for about eight years now. I am somewhat humbled by the fact that I’ve been asked to develop and direct this program. Must be my fatherly (OK, maybe grandfatherly) approach to new runners. Truth is that my pace group tends to attract people wanting to try moving up to the longer challenges of the half or full marathon. In many instances, having made the fundamental decision, they still aren’t always sure about whether or not they can actually do it. Breaking News!!! They generally ARE. I just help them realize it. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the newbies arrive and then as confidence builds, run ‘right through’ my pace group into the quicker pace groups.

Before becoming involved with Forerunners as a clinic pace group leader, I spent five years as a Leader and Clinic Coordinator for the Sun Run InTraining program. I suppose that is where a lot of my experience with new runners originates. That was a most rewarding experience and at least part of the reason I am excited about this new opportunity.

First "Very Social" Run from Forerunners Main Street (April 2017)

First “Very Social” Run from Forerunners Main Street (April 2017)

NOW, before we go any further, you may wonder why a blogger who writes almost entirely for a community of people that are ALREADY accomplished runners, is talking about this as much more than a headline. Well, partly it is personal, but mostly it is because we all know or encounter friends and family, sometimes just acquaintances, who muse about learning to run. Well, for my regular readers, this is my invitation to you to pass this on or make these folks aware of what is happening at Forerunners on Main.

We are going to make this fun and definitely non-threatening. Without getting deep into the weeds on how it will all work, everyone will be able to run comfortably within their capacities, and progress at a personal pace. We’ll start slow and build as we go.  We are mindful that even if some people may not be runners, they could be rather fit and will progress quickly. We have a spot for them, but there are still important things to learn if you are just coming to running: things that will help with training in the long-term and prevention of injury.

I should be clear. This really is for people who consider they are just starting with running. People who maybe run a bit, jog for fitness, or used to be runners and want to come back, may want to consider some of the other clinic options available. There will be options at all three Forerunners locations. BUT, the Learn to Run 5K clinic is happening at Main Street. We are going to start at a very basic level. That said, everyone is welcome, as long as it is understood that the clinic is for new runners.

Most runners know that we do this because it is “FUN”. We enjoy it, and probably all understand why I put the emphasis I did on the term fun. We derive our pleasure from a great many aspects of this thing called running, and pounding through a tough hill repeat session may not look like all that much fun, at least not while in the middle of it. But, when it is over, it usually does feel pretty good to know you did it.

Whatever, my personal goal in developing this Learn to Run 5K program is to help people join this community called runners. My number one goal is to ensure that it is a good experience that is welcoming and comfortable. Big challenges can come later. At this point it is going to be more like: “Come on in! The water’s fine!”

Early Morning Beach Runners - my Favourite!

Early Morning Beach Runners – my Favourite!

As we all know, running is a lifestyle choice: a healthy lifestyle choice. Experienced runners probably don’t much think about it most of the time, but that makes it no less real. I doubt any of us runs to specifically achieve any of the health-based wonders touted on every internet home page you will ever land on these days. But, that doesn’t mean we aren’t achieving at least some of them as a bonus to what we love doing. One of the biggies is the mounting evidence that even relatively modest but regular exercise has huge health benefits. Running is one of the easiest of these to perform. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes. Dress for the weather and off you go. Of course, we all know there is so much more than that to a running life, but at the most fundamental level, that really is about all there is to it.

The Butlers: Peter and Karen (4th Ave Store)

The Butlers: Peter and Karen (4th Ave Store)

Now, let’s back up just a bit. As much as I have been asked to develop and coordinate this new program, it is really the concept of Forerunners owners and management. Peter and Karen Butler have been the founders and back-bone of the business from the beginning in 1986. The whole thing has been a passion and vocation for them from the very start. They have always supported the running community with high quality shoes and clothing and a rigorous policy on delivery of goods and services. From the earliest days, Forerunners has sponsored running events in Metro Vancouver. They have brought in accomplished runners as part of their staff and in more recent times as business partners. The Main Street Forerunners is no exception. “Coach Carey”, Carey Nelson, is now partnering with the Butlers and long-time manager, Todd Jangula in the new venture. For the past 10 years, Coach Carey has directed a range of clinics including the Saturday ‘long run’ sessions for various marathon and half marathon events as well as the mid-week ‘speed work’ clinics.

Participant Guide Book and Log

Participant Guide Book and Log

The ‘new kid’ in all of this is going to be the Learn to Run 5K program. The fist session will begin May 27, near the end of the Grand Opening Week for the store. It will be a 12 week program. Like each clinic session, there will be a ‘target’ 5K race for those who want to try out their new talent. Nobody has to race if they don’t want to. That isn’t the focus of this clinic. It is called the ‘learn to run’ not ‘learn to race’ 5K clinic. For those who don’t want to race, there will be a “Very Social 5K” from the store or close by, with refreshments after. (I’ve heard there could even be pancakes!) For this inaugural session, the primary focus race will be the PNE Do-Nut Dash (August 20). There is no official linkage and there may be other similar events around the same time. For that matter, one’s ability to run 5K is quite portable and the clinic will finish in mid-August, so a ‘new runner’ may want to take the show on the road to a favourite vacation site. Nothing like a destination race, I always say.

That’s it for now. As I said, I know this isn’t really for my normal audience, but we all know people who WANT to run, so pass this on to them. They’ll be glad you did!

SPIRIT OF THE MARATHON – The Challenge and the Journey

Book Cover - Spirit of the Marathon (by Roger Robinson)

Book Cover – Spirit of the Marathon (by Roger Robinson)

When you aren’t actually running, what else can you do? Well, you can read about running. Watch movies about running. OR, both!

What follows is primarily a book review of Roger Robinson’s newest book: Spirit of the Marathon – The Challenge and the Journey (Humphries Books ©2014). I say ‘primarily’, because the book “….follows and expands on the film Spirit of the Marathon II ……. taking a journey in words and images through the astonishing phenomenon of the marathon, its history, and its meaning in the lives of millions of runners.”

This humble reviewer decided that it was important to understand the movie in order to understand the book. He started by watching the DVD – Spirit of the Marathon II, produced by Jon Dunham. Without giving anything away, the film is based on the Rome Marathon (2012) and the specific experiences of several runners, a pretty fair cross-section of all who participate in such events. As a runner, and particularly as a marathoner who has run marathons with fewer than 200 finishers and more than 40,000, it was a wonderful reminder of why – why I and so many others do this thing called the marathon.

Roger Robinson’s book comes good on its promise to ‘follow and expand’ on the film. The nice thing about a book is that it sits there and waits for you to take from it what you need. All that is necessary if you aren’t sure what you just saw, is to shift your eyes back a few lines or flip back a page or so. That is not to say I don’t know my way around a remote, but there is something nice about being able to pause, without having to “PAUSE”. You can stop and think and even debate, although it is admittedly going to be kind of one sided. And, Robinson gives us lots of reasons to pause and ponder his words, not so much because you might disagree (you might, of course), but rather that he has a knack for getting way under the surface and into the history or background of events. You will likely learn a things about the marathon, how it came to be, came to be what it is and how there is not only a history to the marathon itself, but also to Women’s Marathons.

As a book, with or without (better with) the film, I recommend it highly to anyone interested in running whether currently active or not. For that matter, I would recommend this combo to all those who support us somewhat addicted runners. It just might explain what we are about and why we do what we do.

Roger Robinson contributed to Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, bringing his special talent for telling the tale of running as an activity as well as its history, modern and ancient. Again, this latest book gives perspective like few others on the modern sport of running as we know it today. For someone of my age, the truth of the modern phenomenon of running comes crashing in with the realization of just how NEW it really is. The true pioneers of modern (distance) running still walk, nay run, among us. This fine little book introduces us to a number of them, as does the ‘special features’ segment of the DVD.

We all run for our own reasons, with our own personal goals to be realized. Whether first time marathoners or elite runners striving for podium finishes, we all have personal goals. A dominating theme throughout, and in following the seven individuals profiled in Spirit of the Marathon II, is this matter of how personal the whole thing is. The luminaries who helped get us to where we are today are also profiled in terms of their contributions in this regard.

One of those leaders is Jeff Galloway. Although I never really forgot, seeing the words on paper reminded me that it was Galloway’s Book on Running that got me to and through my own very first marathon back in 1988 – me and so, so many others. From elite runner, Jeff Galloway became one of the trail blazers for modern training and running among the ‘everyman’ (and woman) crowd, where most of us live. He made it OK to take approaches different from the elites and more appropriate for us regular folk. It was Galloway who said it is OK to walk some of the time and actually created the whole ‘run-walk’ approach to distance running.

Another pioneer in the field is Kathrine Switzer. Yes, there was that single moment in time when she dared to intrude into the exclusive man’s world of the Boston Marathon, but that was truly only the ‘starting gun’ for what followed. Who can forget the images of a young woman being physically attacked by one of the angriest men you may ever see? The angry man was Jock Semple, Race Director. Yet, as Kathrine herself puts it, Jock was just doing what he thought was right and protecting his beloved race. Later, he became a good friend and great supporter of women’s running – it just took a while. On April 19, 1967, K. V. Switzer (#261) only intended to personally challenge the marathon and test her own ability. Little did she know as she stepped over the start line, the path and journey she had launched herself upon. Instead of a weekend adventure, she found herself embroiled in a life’s work, a mission that has changed running across the board.

We learn how women’s running may be an even bigger phenomenon than popular running itself. With the exception of the full marathon, women now out-number men as participants. Women were apparently too fragile to run even 800m in stiff competition. That only changed at the Olympic level in 1960. The marathon had to wait until 1984 for inclusion in the Olympics. I could not help thinking, as I read Roger Robinson’s coverage of all this, that none of these officials who felt women were too fragile for endurance running (ie anything more than 800m) had ever been witness to the process of child-birth – the very thing which they were apparently ‘protecting’ with their ban on women in hard competitive events.

We oldsters need reminding of the things brought out in this book. The ‘youngsters’ who take today’s running as a given, need it even more. The marathon as a mass participation event is a mere blip in time. It is far less than 50 years, probably not much more than 30 that we have seen the real growth and expansion to where 40,000 and more people take to the streets of one or another of our world cities and challenge themselves in the most profound manner. Spirit of the Marathon – The Challenge and the Journey will go a long way to putting these matters into context. It introduces many of the pioneers and heroines and heroes of modern running as well as expanding on the philosophy behind the film and the individuals featured as they take on the 18th Maratona di Roma. Here you will find context – the context that makes it possible for Mimmo, Ylenia, Cliff, Epiphanie, Julie, Vasyl and Domenico to take on their personal challenges.

While I have mentioned just one or two of our sport’s trail-blazers in this review, the book and the movie bring us the stories, thoughts and words of not only Galloway and Switzer, but also Shorter, Rodgers, Higdon, Wittenberg, Radcliffe, Waitz, Gebrselassie, Dixon, Gorman and Kuscsick, with a nod to Bingham (aka The Penguin).

Make no mistake, the story is still being written, but if you want to catch up fast and prepare yourself to watch it unfold, to be part of that unfolding, I would suggest that you get yourself a copy of Spirit of the Marathon – The Challenge and the Journey. And, if you want to meet the everyday heroes of Spirit of the Marathon II and the Maratona di Roma 2012, maybe you should get yourself the DVD too. I’m pretty sure you won’t be sorry!

[Editor’s Note about the Author: Roger Robinson knows a thing or two about running as well as writing. Among his running achievements are Masters records at Boston, New York, Canberra and Vancouver (at 2:18:43 a record that still stands). He ran competitively for England and New Zealand. He has often worked (and continues to do so) as stadium announcer and radio/TV commentator, and as an Olympic analyst. His career as Professor of English Literature has now come to an official end (retired) allowing him to concentrate on the world of running – something he still does himself, though strictly for personal enjoyment. Roger has many publications including his books on running: Heroes and Sparrows, Running in Literature, 26.2 Marathon Stories (with his wife, Kathrine Switzer), and he is a senior writer for Running Times, where you can regularly find his perspectives on running.]



As most readers know, this blog sprang from the book: Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes. Most readers also know that down to the right of the blog page is a link to Trafford Publishing, where it is possible to go purchase one of those old-fashioned hold it in your hand, turn the pages things called A BOOK. Some of you have even done that! We thank you.

More and more often though, I have been asked, “But can’t I get Running in the Zone as an E-Book?”. Well, until just a short while ago, the answer was “No”. I am pleased to say the answer has just become “YES”, and I must add, at quite a bargain, especially when you have to include the various shipping and handling charges for the paper version – and then wait for it to arrive.

So, if you had thought about buying a copy of this book with its 26 outstanding contributors including well known writers and runners such as Bart Yasso, Joe Henderson, Lynn Kanuka,  Roger Robinson, Don Kardong, Rich Benyo, Diane Palmason, Steve King and so, so many more, now is your chance. We covered topics from the how-to of it (Bart), through the long-term magic (Diane) and even the history, both ancient and recent (Roger). Once at the Trafford Publishing site, you can ‘wander around’ through some bits and pieces of preview material before you have to pull your digital trigger on a purchase. Almost like going into a book store and thumbing through a few pages of the paper model. And, if you are the kind of person who just doesn’t think it is a book unless it has paper, and covers and pages, well that option is available at the very same place. The choice is yours.

We are excited to see this option available and hope some of you will be too. One of the great things about the RITZ book is that it is really 26 relatively short and readable pieces by 26 different and authoritative contributors. Everyone was asked to stay to around 2500 to 3000 words, which is kind of what guides most of my blog posts. I’ve tried to stay true to the book format. So, if you like the idea of something with a bit more meat on its bones than the average modern blog piece and yet very consumable in a short time, please do go see what the e-version of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, looks like. We’ll be glad you did!



Evan Fagan - Runner, Triathlete, Volunteer

Evan Fagan is well known in the triathlon and running worlds. He is now 76! Evan started running in 1986 at age 49 and completed his first marathon in 1988. To date Evan has completed 140 marathons plus two 50km ultra marathons!! Evan completed his first triathlon at age 59 in 1996 and has completed 77 triathlons since then including 3 Ironman events in 2004, 2005 and 2010.( getting a podium spot in third place). Evan has also been a member of Team Canada at three World Age Group Olympic Distance Championships – Cancun in 2002, Hawaii in 2005, and Vancouver in 2008. Evan is one of several authors who contributed chapters in the 2005 book “RUNNING IN THE ZONE, edited by Steve King and Dan Cumming. Evan is also featured in a new book on runners who have completed 100 or more marathons, called, “THE MESSENGERS”, compiled by Malcolm Anderson, and published in 2010. Evan is a valued member of Team West Coast. He joined the Tri-Star’s Training team in 2011. In 2011 Evan took part in the Oliver 1/2 Ironman, placing second. Soon after, he underwent radiation treatment and went on medication for prostate cancer which greatly affected his ability to participate in any events for the next several months. He returned to competition in early 2012 and participated in the Island Road Race Series, finishing fourth in his age category. He also won his age category in the 2012 Triathlon BC Provincial Race Series. While in Hawaii soon after, he won his age category in both the Waikiki Swim Club Biathlon (5 km run followed by a 1 km ocean swim). and the 10 km portion of the Xterra World Championship Trail Run on the island of Oahu. While he would very much like to return to long distance events as he did prior to dealing with prostate cancer, he will probably have to be satisfied with the shorter or middle distance events. He is looking forward to more of the same in 2013.

This biographical overview was prepared for updates on the TriStar website.




Steve King - Vancouver Scotiabank Half Marathon - 2011

In what many of us would call absolutely natural, Steve King has been inducted into the BC Athletics Hall of Fame. It has been my pleasure and honour to call Steve FRIEND for a good many years. Although I can’t identify the precise day we met, it would have been about 1985 when we both lived and ran in the Okanagan Valley of BC. At the time, Steve was a member of the Penticton Pounders and I was running with the Summerland Road Runners. Later we became members of the same club when the two amalgamated. Steve’s induction and reasons for deserving this honour are found on this link, and near the bottom of the document. If there was ever a doubt as to why he has been recognized, well, a quick scan of the lists of his accomplishments should settle that matter! And, I will warn you that just reading his list of achievements and ongoing activities may wear you out, but get a second wind and keep on with my commentary here. I think there is more to learn – at least I hope so.

Bob's Border Busters - Hood to Coast

I want to offer my personal congratulations and a few brief comments that may be a little different from the official ones. As may be obvious from the first bit of this posting, my first introduction to Steve was as an athlete – and a mighty fine one at that. Steve was still in a prime part of his competing days, maybe not even quite advanced enough to be a ‘seasoned athlete’. For my part, I didn’t even start this road running thing until I was already qualified as ‘seasoned’. So, not that I was ever in Steve’s class as an athlete although I considered myself a decent runner in those days, my memories of competing against him were mostly the sight of the back of his singlet, as he raced away from me. We were members of several relay teams, including my very first Hood to Coast team. Don’t we all look a good deal younger!?!  (Steve, standing third from left – me, standing second from right.)

But, as good an athlete as he has been (race walker, runner, triathlete) what most people remember about Steve is his warmth and caring approach to other people. Who in our communities has not thrilled to hear him call out our names as we hit the finish of some race? It is always so personal. I will never forget the impact it had on a club member of Pacific Road Runners who was doing his first triathlon. I knew Steve was calling the race, so fed him just a wee bit of information about this chap. Afterwards, I casually asked how that first ‘Tri’ had gone and listened while he described how Steve had given him the treatment every time he passed through transition and at the finish! I know this guy will never forget that race. OK, so there was just a little collusion there, but just because I had passed on the information, nothing said Steve had to do anything with it.

So many times we don’t see the little things that encourage people outside the lime-light. The words of encouragement to new athletes trying something for the first time, including my own daughter Danielle as she prepared to do her very first triathlon. His perspective and encouragement on those of us maybe trying to overcome issues such as injuries is another part of the package. I venture to say that almost everyone who encounters Steve King has their own story, and that is why I am going to just stop now. This is where you can insert your own Steve Stories. And, if you think they are really good, why not add them here by way of a comment?

What I do know is that this recognition is so very well deserved and I want to offer personal congratulations to Steve. I also want to go one step further in noting that behind every good man is a good woman and I know Steve would be first to say that without the support of his goodly wife Jean, so much of what he is recognized for, might just not be possible.



Past Glory

You mean there are times when we don’t run?  Well, of course there are!

In my own case there are several things.  One is now history, in more than one sense, and the other two are “coming soon”.

In the past history category is a story-telling event entitled ‘Before They Were Grandparents’, with a theme of sport for this particular session.  In the coming soon category are the Run For Change 5K Fun Run/Walk taking place August 18, not to mention some related fund raising events. And, in the coming pretty soon category is my newest ‘gig’ as Technical Race Director for the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation – Great Pumpkin Run Walk, happening later in October.

In the case of Run for Change and the Great Pumpkin Run Walk you can definitely expect to hear more as the events get nearer in time. This will probably be the only time I talk about Before They Were Grandparents, so I think I will start with that one.

Before I do, get going, that is I want to say a few words about the title.  The book (Running in the Zone: A Handbook For Seasoned Athletes) and some of its contributors specifically talked about the things related to running that people can do for their own interest, pleasure and benefit, but also to give back to and enhance the community.  I really believe that many people can do more of this sort of thing and have a ball doing it while creating a benefit at the same time.  In the three examples I am going to talk about, not a single step was taken and not a single running shoe was harmed!  In the story-telling, naturally I talked about running and my more or less life-long love affair with it.  In the other two, my role has been and is, to help others enjoy participating in the sport while enhancing their own as well as community benefit from that participation.  The older, seasoned runner is an ideal candidate for this kind of thing.  Experience and love of the sport let us share with others, the place running (of any sort) can have in a person’s life, and because of that love of the sport involvement in the volunteer or charity side of it is an ideal means to ‘give back’.  What better way to contribute than through something you already love?  Thus endeth the sermon.  Now, here is a bit of the story on the three specific topics introduced earlier.

Before They Were Grandparents is an initiative of Bayshore Home Health through community outreach.  We see so-called old people, too often, as a snap-shot in time.  They (we?) weren’t always old.  There is a rich story and history behind each and every person.  BTWG as it is sometimes called by the organizers, celebrates that history and has hit upon the story-telling format to share the things they find in the client group they serve.  When contacted by Bayshore, I was identified by the Pacific Road Runners as “an older runner, who likes to talk and isn’t afraid of a video camera”.  Me?  OK, guilty as charged.

The particular event was to involve several individuals with interesting sport stories to tell.  When I found out who I was to be paired with, my first thought was ‘what am I doing in this crowd?’.  Then, I learned I only had ten minutes!  Seems like I would have to be quite prepared.  There is nothing harder than speaking for 10 minutes unless it is speaking for 5 minutes.  There is a long story about a famous speaker who was asked to address a particular audience.  Without going into the whole thing, his response in a nutshell was if you want me for an hour – I’m ready to go right now.  But, if you want me for 10 minutes, I will need at least a week to prepare.

The clip I have linked here is even more distilled and covers just one part of my ‘story’.  What I decided to do was talk about how running became and remains such an important and satisfying part of my life.  The clip talks about my teen years and very early introduction to running, including an up close and personal interaction with Harry Jerome, something I covered in this blog after seeing Mighty Jerome, the movie about Harry’s life.  What you won’t see, but the attendees saw and heard was how and why I left running for some years and then got back to it, continuing right up to current time and beyond.  And yes, I did cover it in 10 minutes!

A particular thrill was to find that the MC for the event was none other than Red Robinson of radio and rock and roll fame. Turns out we both attended King Ed High and remembered a lot of the same things including the Vancouver Mounties baseball and what a great time it was to sit in the fabulous venue of Cap Stadium (now Nat Bailey Stadium) or when you didn’t have the money, a seat on ‘Scotchman’s Hill’ (aka Queen Elizabeth Park, aka Little Mountain) and watch that Triple A baseball.  My heart sank a little, knowing I was first up, when Red started things off with his own story about being MC for the big Elvis Presley show at Empire Stadium.  Hard act to follow – but I gave it my best!


Finishers - First Annual Run for Change

Run For Change is a small but growing program intended to help individuals intent on regaining control of things in their lives. Although I have been involved almost from the beginning, my main involvement is as the Technical Race Director for the 5K Fun Run and Walk, now officially pending in the calendar as the Third Annual Run For Change Fun Run.  The actual event is scheduled for August 18, starting and finishing at the Athlete’s Plaza in the Olympic Village area at the East End of False Creek.  The first year there were just 25 participants.  The second, the number grew to about 50 and for the Third Annual Run For Change we are thinking there could be as many as 100 participants.  When life has turned on you, it can be a long road back.  Some have found that literally running down that road can help.  Taking on the challenge of a regular training program and from time to time, the challenge of an event like this 5K fun run gives confidence and pride just in the taking on and completing of it.  We have seen people wanting to go beyond the 5K, to the point of training through and organized program for the Vancouver Sun Run 10K.  In 2012 there were 31 people who stepped up to that personal challenge.  Then, to the surprise of many, a small but really eager group went on to challenge the half marathon distance at the Vancouver Marathon and again at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. 

Is this a solution to all the problems of such individuals?  Hardly.  Is it a tool by which they might steady themselves and take the next necessary steps?  Absolutely.  Run For Change was started by Benji Chu and a small group of friends inspired by his leadership but as time has gone on, many more have joined in to assist in building a sound base, including financially, to allow the core work to continue.  Participants are not asked to pay for their activities either on a regular basis or in the actual running events. Even ‘fun’ events cost money so Run For Change has now become the Run For Change Society, and able to raise modest funds to support the goals and vision of the program.  This is a great cause and when you meet the people who have commited themselves to the challenge you have little question in your mind as to why you want to support the effort.

Pumkin Runners in Costume

The Great Pumpkin Run Walk.  I am delighted to announce, and with much yet to come, that I have just agreed (with the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation) to serve as the Technical Race Director for this event.  Naturally, the goal of the Foundation is to engage the community and provide significant funds to support the work of the Hospital. My personal role is to relieve Foundation Staff of some of the nuts and bolts aspects of staging the event, giving them more time to concentrate on the raising of funds, in 2012 to support the work of the Emergency Room.  All of us are planning a great and fun event for the community with family friendly activities, a 5K run or walk route and for those who want to participate, but maybe not do a full 5K, a 1K event option. There will be costumes, prizes, music, post-event food and more at the Great Pumpkin Run Fairground (aka the Peace Arch Hospital parking lot).

This event doesn’t happen until October 21, so this is just a bit of an advance notice on the event and another fine example of the kind of thing we seasoned athletes can do when we aren’t running.  Around the beginning of August the web site will begin to present, in detail, the 2012 Great Pumpkin Run Walk.  Everyone is welcome!  There is no formal registration fee.  Entry is by donation and everyone can participate in raising funds through pledges.  Stay tuned for all the details.  You can expect more from me on this as we move along toward the big day.



Steve King - Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon 2011

Steve King is many things, including co-editor of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes.  Athletes in BC tend to know Steve best by his distinctive voice as he announces and provides colour at events such as runs, triathlons, ski races and relays.  More than once I’ve been with Steve (at a race expo, for example) and had someone passing, hear his voice, and come over to ask, “Are you Steve King?” Because he is often announcing for big events, many people never actually see him, but they sure hear that voice.

One of the big things about Steve’s race announcing is that he seems to know so much about each finisher, and has a way of making everything sound so personal.  Of course, he has ‘cheat sheets’ with info provided by the runner at registration, but he also has an amazing ability to remember people once he has seen them and will carry that through to other events.  Although I’ve known Steve since about 1985 when we both lived and ran in the Okanagan (he still does, though I don’t), I still don’t know just how he does it!  And, while I know a fair bit about him, including those things beyond running and his public persona, I learned a lot more when John Atkinson interviewed Steve on his Inside The Runner’s Mind podcast series.

With permission, I am creating this link to Steve King – Inside the Runner’s Mind  Part I and Part II.  This is a two-part series, and I have just added the second part to complete the interview.  While you are there, I strongly recommend that you check out Inside the Runner’s Mind, and John Atkinson.  There are some other great interviews there too, but I will warn you now: John shares a belief with Running in the Zone, that there is a place for detailed reporting and discussion on important topics, and he takes the time to explore things with all his guests.  Hint: You might want to pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Steve has a rich personal history, including a number of major athletic achievements of his own.  So, sit back (as I did a few days ago) and enjoy the story of Steve King, told in his own voice.


In the Zone

New CD by Bill Head and the HeadBand

No, I’m not stuttering.  That is the title of a CD with creative ties to Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes and this blog.  Exactly how, you ask?  Well, Steve King, co-editor of Running in the Zone, is a member of the HeadBand and contributes on drums, vocals and what he calls narration.  He collaborated on writing of about half the original pieces, as the lyricist.  Bill Head (and now you see the cleverness factor in the name of the band) is the musical genius, sometimes not only writing the songs, but performing all instrumental parts.  Now that is something I would like to see, live on stage.  I guess he would really have to put his experience as a runner to good use!  Yes, Bill is also a seasoned athlete, too.

Before going on further, I should say that if you want to know a bit more about In the Zone and the HeadBand, just follow the embedded link, but don’t get lost over there at Steve’s site and forget to come back.  I’ve got more to say on the subject. 

Part of the inspiration for this project came as far back as when we were writing Running in the Zone (the book).  As I wrote the last line, I realized that after our first meeting at Steve’s place he took my down to see his new drum set.  He had returned from a band practice just before my arrival for our meeting.  Yep, the very same band!  At the end of the book’s Introduction, you will find a poem written by Steve, entitled “Running in the Zone”.  It is that poem that largely became the lyrics for the song of the same name on this new CD.  Want a preview of that, including a Video treatment?  Then follow the link to Youtube, where you can listen and watch.  Yet another runner, Dirk Handke,  provided the photo montage.  Dirk, who is an awesome photographer is often found prowling about the Interior Road Running races, many trail running events and just about anywhere out in the hills of the Okanagan.  Seems like Dirk  loves running and cycling and takes his camera wherever he goes.  See if you can spot Steve King among the photo snippets of all those people ‘running in the zone’!

What follows is a bit of an aside, but this all reminds me of how multi-faceted most ‘seasoned athletes’ actually are.  It also reminds me how often we become buddies with fellow runners, even running, training and racing with them, forming close bonds and yet not really knowing much about them otherwise.  How often do we go to some event and almost not recognize a fellow runner “with his clothes on”?  No, it isn’t what it sounds like (well unless you are into the Bare Buns kind of running and then maybe it could be just what it sounds like).  What it really means is, in regular street clothes rather than shorts or tights or tech shirts.  But, if we don’t know what our friends look like when not being runners, how often do we also lack a perspective of what they do in the non-running rest of their lives?

Here we have three different people in Bill, Steve and Dirk, all runners, but also musicians, photographers, writers and that doesn’t even begin to touch on their “day jobs”.  I could include myself in the list, because I encounter a lot of people through training clinics where I sometimes lead pace groups or organize the actual clinic, and I can tell you that most of those people only know me as the Leader or Clinic Coordinator.  I am actually having some fun these days as some of my running friends see me performing in a TV commercial, and almost all saying, “Did I see you in a commercial for big screen TV’s?”.  Yep, it was me.  And, that isn’t my day job, either!

Steve King, Race Announcer

Steve King at Scotiabank Half Marathon June 2011

Steve is probably best known as a race announcer and sport commentator these days (although he can claim some pretty fine running accomplishments as well), but none of that is related to his day job.

The last running clinic I took part in, I found out there was a student (or two), an accountant, a ‘head hunter’, a Crown prosecutor and a retired architect to mention only a few.  If you want some fun, the next time you are with a running group where you aren’t all close personal friends, see if you can find out what at least a couple of them do when they aren’t “Running in the Zone”.

And, while you are “Running in the Zone” you may just want to add that inspirational tune to your play-list.  It should keep you bouncing!  So, if you haven’t already, why not head on over to Steve’s site and look into this CD “IN THE ZONE”?




Many of the contributors to Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, are writers with their own publications.  One of those is Earl Fee, author of The Complete Guide to Running – How to be a Champion from 9 to 90 (© 2005, 2007 2nd Edition Meyer and Meyer Sports) and now author of the newly minted 100  Years Young The Natural Way (Trafford Publishing).

What does it take?  Earl Fee may not have ALL the answers, because really –who does?  However, he does have a lot of ideas, insights and opinions, and at 82 years of age, holds multiple age class World Records in track and field events.   So, who can argue?!?

Earl’s contribution to Running in the Zone was entitled Aging Slower Than Your Competitors.  It amounts to just a taste of what you will find in his new book.  However, it is important to note that 100 Years Young is not specifically a book for runners or athletes.  Nothing stops such folk from finding useful information between its covers, and some parts of the book are primarily of interest to athletes.  However, the information shared will be of much more general interest to people wishing to live a long, productive and happy life. Some (me) would suggest that some form of vigorous physical activity is necessarily a part of such a life and that message certainly tends to come through in this book. 

Earl tends to run the shorter, sharper distances but if the marathon is mostly a state of mind, well then the effort he has put into 100 Hundred Years Young must surely qualify as being of marathon character.  Not counting index, table of contents, etc., this book comes in at mighty 634 pages.  It seems that Earl wanted to cover his topic from stem to stern and not ask the reader to go chasing down other published work to get the details.  But, not to worry, you may not have to read every word of 100 Hundred Years Young, which is not to say you won’t want to do so.  Chapter 1 is really the condensed version of what follows, as each subsequent chapter expands on specific topics.  And, even in those more detailed chapters, Earl generally gives you the condensed version of the message supported by detail you may or may not require, depending on your perspective and how you feel about such things.  But, the material is there if you want it.

Much of the secret of such healthy longevity is common sense, yet it is always amazing how often it only registers when some authority with the credentials to speak, puts it out there for us to see.  There may be a tendency, based on Earl’s age and perspective, to think of this book as targeting older people.  That is not really the case because the point is made repeatedly that the lessons on offer are meant to shape a life-time of habit.  Almost everything proposed will help a person live longer and better, but if you only start when you are already 80, the impact may be minimal in the greater scheme of things.  That said, there are many studies that now show how octogenarians in seniors’ facilities, benefit from exercise, strength training and dietary considerations.   But, if you are wishing to add twenty years or so to your life, you may want to start a bit sooner!

Earl has divided the book into logical sections on the Body, Mind and Spirit.  The chapters further sub-divide the major topics in nutrition, physical training, prevention (illness and injury), spirituality and sex, just to name a few.  Sex?  Yes, Earl is quite candid about sex, including its place in a healthy senior life-style.

Perhaps not every chapter will demand the same depth of consideration by every reader, and while the author has done a great deal to keep topics self-contained, there are plenty of references which some may use to dig even deeper into a particular issue.  Some offerings may invite debate or controversy, but there is nothing wrong with that, especially when it causes the reader to really think about the subject.  You may not agree with the thesis, but you will be forced to consider the points raised.

Want to know about healthy habits, nutrition, exercise, spirituality – even tantric sex?  Earl has something to say.  His fundamental thesis, as interpreted by this reviewer, is that it is far more what we do (how we live) than who we are (genetics) that will determine how long we actually live.  There is some evidence of the truth of this in the way whole populations thrive and extend life enormously when given a good diet and good (basic) medicine – even our own western societies.  Just check life expectancy changes in the last 100 years.  This point is further proven when we look at the impact of bad habits and how they so effectively undo much of noted the progress.

Earl and his trophies

Earl, The Book, His Trophies

Earl does not deny the impact of good genetics (he makes full disclosure that his mother and a couple of her sisters lived past the age of 94), but even if you believe yourself pre-programmed to a certain life-span, you have the capacity through life-style decisions and practices to short-change or optimize that potential.  The whole thrust of 100 Years Young is optimization (and maybe just a little bit more)!

So there you have it!  Can you actually adjust your habits and life-style to live to be 100?  Don’t know.  Can you improve your chances of approaching 100, or of improving your quality of life?  I think so.  Earl Fee and 100 Years Young the Natural Way will be a help in achieving your greatest potential for a long and happy life.

To purchase, 100 Years Young the Natural Way simply click the link to Trafford Publishing via the embedded link here or in the first paragraph, or go to Amazon and search the title or author.  For an autographed copy, contact Earl directly via e-mail at (cost is $33 including tax, shipping extra).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not necessarily because of  100 Years Young, but stimulated by the references to a good many studies of varying sorts, I feel compelled to offer some personal comment.  As someone trained in research and the interpretation of research, I feel it important to comment on the nature of epidemiological studies.  That is a pretty fancy word, but it boils down to the study of available observations.  There is nothing wrong with properly done studies of this nature (of which I am pretty sure Earl Fee is well aware), but the interpretation of such studies is fraught with danger and the average reader just wants to get to the proverbial “bottom line”. 

In some instances, epidemiological studies are the only kinds of studies that can be performed ethically.  For example, you can’t just feed people poison so you can find out a) when they get sick and b) when they die.  Sometimes, you can study what happens when people do consume our mythical poison by working back from observed facts – such as what happens if you smoke.  The problem that requires full vigilance is that in some instances there will be a very high statistical correlation between Fact A and Fact B, but absolutely NO cause and effect.  Good studies consider this, but a huge amount of such material out there has not been tested in so rigorous a manner, particularly that published in more popular magazines and journals.  All smokers die, so there is a perfect correlation between smoking and death!  BUT, every non-smoker dies, so there is a perfect correlation between not smoking and death.  Smoking does not cause death.  Death is natural.  Death happens.  Death is part of living.  Where the rubber hits the road in a cause and effect sort of way, is in regard to how long smokers (generally) live or what we call longevity, and maybe of which maladies they tend to die.  As an exmple of how some of this works; in my Dad’s family of 6 kids, all smoked like chimneys, four died of lung cancer, one of completely unrelated issues, and one lived to the ripe old age of 94.  Interestingly, there were three boys and three girls and two of each lost their lives to lung cancer. But, I repeat, they all smoked heavily.  The lung cancer victims all died relatively young – age of 60-70 for the most part.  And, just to take this one step further, there are some “old” genes in my family.  I have many relatives that lived into their 90’s and a few who actually did what Earl is proposing – lived to over 100 years of age.  So, it is probable if not provable, that those lung cancer victims actually short-changed themselves on their genetic potential.  Of course, this is totally anecdotal, which leads to another caution I would offer regarding certain types medical reports.

In many instances, medical reports/studies are of very small sample groups.  Often, these are based on observations of a doctor or team of doctors within a practise and are valid to publish in a learned journal meant for other practitioners who may or may not have observed similar maladies or treatments/cures.  Others in the field can sometimes use such reports to consider their own observations and build a collective information base of real importance.  Viagra is basically the offshoot of a cardio-vascular medication, which was observed to have another rather interesting effect!

The problem with these limited and more or less anecdotal reports comes when our popular media find some of these perfectly legitimate technical reports and then popularize the findings as if they had meaning far beyond the context in which they were actually reported.

I have gone on a bit about this because such information is all around us.  Earl has been pretty careful, I feel, but it is always important for the reader to consider the nature and source of the information.  Earl, unlike many writers, has taken real pains to reference his sources, so that a reader could dig deeper should she or he wish to do so.



Roger in full flight

I was thrilled a few days ago, to receive a notice about a new book of the same title as this post.  To those familiar with running (the doing) and writing (about it) the name Robinson will be quite familiar.  Roger, among his many other credits is a contributor to Running in the Zone, both the original book and this blog – just a matter of days ago, as it happens.  When I first saw the title and handsome cover, my first thought was that Roger had published something of a memoir.  On further inspection and communication with the man himself, I learned that the book is ABOUT Roger and written and published BY his many friends from both his professional career and his life as a runner and writer on that topic.  The best way to introduce this book is to just quote from the release I received.

Running Writing Robinson

Edited by David Carnegie, Paul Millar, David Norton & Harry Ricketts 

Roger Robinson, Emeritus Professor of English, has been honoured by his wide circle of close friends and admirers from the worlds of elite distance running, sports journalism, creative writing, academia and many others with the publication of Running, Writing, Robinson by Victoria University Press.

Edited by colleagues in the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies, the volume has over fifty contributors, ranging from Lorraine Moller and Roger’s own son Jim among the runners, Tim Chamberlain and Lynn McConnell among the journalists, Fiona Kidman and Joy Cowley among the creative writers, Patrick Evans and Lawrence Jones among the academics, and Mike Hill, Phillip Mann, and Jeremy Commons among former colleagues at Victoria University Wellington.

Anne Else read the poem with which that her late husband, Harvey McQueen, saluted Roger in the book, including lines that acknowledge Roger’s service to both running and university:

            I recall gyroscopic feet pounding

            track & pavement, mile stretching to

            marathon, athlete’s gossip, speaker’s

            rostrum, announcer’s microphone

                                    * * *

            Unsung, the diplomatic bureaucrat

            weaving easily through university,

            educational & public service politics

Another contributor and colleague, Stephanie Pietkiewicz, was quoted at the launch for her reminder of Roger as a teacher and writer as well as a runner: “He opened the lecture. . . . His objective not merely to get to the destination, but to show us meaning’s journey through language. This was no mere intellectual examination; it was textual cross-country. . . . His writing pulls you into its pace, all slow acceleration or sudden surge, unput-downable, unstoppable till the very last full stop.”

Made up of memoirs, tributes, poems, running essays and literary essays this book will please anyone who shares Roger’s love of running, writing and fascinating people.

Even the few words of the release information will create an appetite among those who know Roger’s career from any of the many obvious perspectives mentioned.  Just to be clear, Roger is still very much with us.  Most people never get to read such writings about themselves as they seldom get written until the subject has gone on to that “great marathon in the sky”.  No, Roger, is not only “with” us, for those in Vancouver, he will be physically with us at the beginning of May when he and Kathrine Switzer, his goodly wife, will be helping to celebrate the BMO Vancouver Marathon’s 40th Anniversary running.  Roger has a long and glorious history with the Vancouver Marathon including that in 1981 he set (and still holds) the masters event record at 2:18:45, which in that particular running was also good enough for third place overall and many years could have been good enough to take the win.

So, if you are a fan of Roger, get yourself a copy of this fine tribute, then come out and hear him speak in Vancouver (details from the marathon web site).  Maybe you can come up with some out of the ordinary questions to put to him that go beyond the usual “so what was your favorite – best –  most satisfying race?”

Congratulations Roger!