Monthly Archives: January 2014



Three years ago I took Eric Rasmussen, Kayte Tranel and Kaci Lickteig to the USA Half Champs down in Houston.  I see Luka Thor is listed as entered for this weekend’s race  so I’m pulling for him and my old buddies Meb, Fernando Cabada and Patrick Rizzo.  If you’re interested in what it takes to run with the best see the standards and amenities listed below.  And the prize purse, pretty sweet.

The Houston Marathon Committee and our Half Marathon title sponsor, Aramco Services Company, are proud to host the 2014 USA Half Marathon Championships.

Race Date: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Start Time: 6:55 a.m.

The demand for the USA Half Marathon Championship fields has been fantastic, we have reached capacity in both the men’s and women’s fields.

Qualifying Standards & Athlete Funding Information:

Women’s Qualification Standards

Half Marathon Marathon 10K Travel Allowance Accommodations
sub 1:18:00 sub 2:44:24 sub 0:35:15 n/a Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:17:00 sub 2:42:18 sub 0:34:48 $100 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:16:00 sub 2:40:11 sub 0:33:54 $200 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:15:00 sub 2:38:04 sub 0:33:26 $300 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:14:00 sub 2:35:57 sub 0:33:26 $400 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:13:00 sub 2:33:50 sub 0:32:59 $500 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights

Men’s Qualification Standards

Half Marathon Marathon 10K Travel Allowance Accommodations
sub 1:09:00 sub 2:25:23 sub 0:31:11 n/a Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:08:00 sub 2:23:16 sub 0:30:44 $100 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:07:00 sub 2:21:09 sub 0:30:17 $200 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:06:00 sub 2:19:02 sub 0:29:50 $300 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:05:00 sub 2:16:55 sub 0:29:23 $400 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights
sub 1:04:00 sub 2:14:49 sub 0:28:56 $500 Shared Lodging up to 3 nights

Prize Money:

Place Men & Women Prize
1 $12,000
2 $10,000
3 $7,000
4 $5,000
5 $3,000
6 $2,000
7 $1,000
8 $750
9 $500
10 $250

USA Half Champs Website Header


As with most columns that mean a lot to me I lay awake for a couple of hours last night to ponder today’s musings

Its not so much what I say then as what I don’t.  My challenge is to present my position politely and with aplomb.

This April 5th will be our 8th annual Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail Run.  It has been held on the first Saturday of April since its inception.  Always.

Please like and share our Ni-Bthaska-Ke facebook page with your friends and encourage them to do the same.  Help us promote our fun and challenging and rewarding event to those that might otherwise be censored from it.

And remember the first Saturday of April has and always will be Ni-Bthaska-Ke weekend!

There, I did it without mentioning any names!

Happy Trails to you.  Until we meet again!










We’re all undoubtedly a little anxious to begin our Lincoln Marathon Training.  I’m offering that the Real Work not begin for another couple of weeks and here’s why.  Empiricism.  I’ve coached enough athletes enough times to have found a 12 week program is best suited to most runners.  You stretch it out any more than that and the chance of injury increases dramatically and even more insidious is the early peak.

My NRGE mates are champing at the bit.  All lathered up, raring to go.  To keep them from bolting the corral we’ve been running the Lake Manawa Series and Jerrod has been hitting the No Frills races.  Mick and Craig had this figured out a long time ago, you’ve got to have opportunities to run hard, if not exactly fast, during base building.  You let your legs hibernate over winter and the wake up process puts you at a competitive disadvantage come early spring.

Called my dear sweet Allison to congratulate the Bronco win Sunday night.  Asked her if she worked Peyton’s suite again.  Nah, said she was serving some of the player’s families in John Elway’s suite.  Mile High indeed!

Gary Dougherty Photography will be shooting at this April’s Ni-Bthaska-Ke.  Our first venture with professional quality imaging, just another amenity for those brave enough to tackle the Toughest Trail Run in the Midwest.




Some more LDR relevant information.  Some we got to, some introduced here and now.

I proposed our association championships marathon (Lincoln) host a team competition.  A true team competition and not just an All Star showing.  How to accomplish that?  By following suit of every important club event.  Seven can enter, top 5 score.  There’s no way in hell NRGE can touch the top 3 for either LRC or Team Nebraska.  You stretch it out to 5 and I begin to like our chances (insert your guffaw here), take it 7 deep and the playing field levels out quite nicely.  Try telling my soldiers they have no chance and you’re likely to get what is good for you.

I informed the group about a little known $1000 grant available to offset travel expenses to USA Club Cross next December.  Comes from the national office in Indy, no reason to not take advantage of it, simply need follow a few protocols.

Association Records.  Wasn’t introduced at the meeting but it was in my notes to bring up.  LRC Racing keeps a record page, Team Nebraska has an incomplete one.  We need to harvest from the total knowledge of LDR performances since its inception in 2002.  Individual performance marks, team marks (i.e. Distance Medley Relay, Marathon Road Relay, other track relays, all USATF certified and/or sanctioned events), team national championships (their are more than you might realize), and individual national championships, either open or age group.

Club Hopping.  Another subject we didn’t have time for.  We want to make sure USATF protocol is adhered to when switching clubs.  For example an athlete that runs the Lincoln Mile for one club and then switches to another club for the Columbus Downtown Run Around would not be eligible to score for that club or receive prize money in the latter.  There is an unyielding 90 day rule, it needs to be enforced.  If you need a deeper explanation as to why I’ll happily provide.

Mail in balloting.  Didn’t get to it.  I was told last September by our association President, John Wissler, that our LDR election would take place via mail ballot.  A tiny group, maybe 7, somehow, some way, pulled a shenanigan and convinced John to accept the one sided vote of those present at the meeting.  I was pissed but the fact Michael Rathje was elected to fill Matty P’s term was sufficient balm to keep me from pursuing.  A bona fide mail in ballot is a must for this coming September’s election.  No more trickery!

Market to Market 50K.  Linda & I met with Ben Cohoon in the early winter of 2008, just after the inaugural M2M.  Hoped he would consider making the event our association 50K Trail Champs.  In 2013 it finally was.  I suggested to Ben after Sunday’s meeting that the event would more closely fill the bill of our 50K road championships since it isn’t run on a trail, or at least the mopac is also eligible to be considered a road course.  This will open another 50K hosted entirely on trails  to submit a bid.  Scott Giddings?  Got anything for us?

Officer Protection.  Didn’t come up but is vital to the survival of the program.  We’ve got to make sure those that volunteer aren’t continually harassed by disgruntled (or worse) members of our association.  Dovetailed nicely with Ben Cohoon’s suggestion that we open up our association championship events to an “anonymous” post race survey.  I vehemently argued against allowing nameless, faceless, no huevos, anonymous bashing.  Cited Lets Run dot com’s treatment of me, Linda, and the 2012 USA Club Championships.  Easily googled.

Will Lindgren LDR Founder’s Scholarship.  Established in 2012 to provide a $250 scholarship each to a deserving graduating high school boy and girl.  In the mess that was 2013 it slipped through the cracks.  I suggested a coach from both Omaha and Lincoln (Craig Christians?  Ryan Salem?  Brian Wandzilak?  Shannon Stenger?  Paul Wilson?  Dustin Llewellyn?  Max Kurz?) and perhaps me too as the third (or Michael Rathje or other acting LDR Chair) be established as a panel to solicit and entertain nominations.






Or chicken scratching.  Having to compose today’s musings on the droid, the desktop apparently infected with the bird flu, crap.

Had a hell of a weekend at the Bar None and beyond.  Group run on Saturday morning, me hammering studette Stacy Mangers into a submissive Sunday.  Walt and Pete going long, Dr. Bill hanging on and Linda finding her legs.  Kyle and Jerrod showing up in the wee hours yesterday morning to practice their headlamp running.  Jerrod is pacing Kyle the last 40 miles of Rocky Raccoon.

Saturday afternoon brought local trail legend Ivan Marsh out for his first visit to the ranch.  Good to see my old friend and set the record straight on some foul whisperings. Quiz:  how does $250 turn into $6000?  It doesn’t.   His house warming gift appropriate and appreciated.  And I don’t care how big of an ass you have, you just can’t fit everyone into your back pocket.

Congratulations are in order to Michael Rathje.  He held his very first LDR meeting yesterday in Lincoln and did a fine job.  There are now  some good people working to make sure the program keeps pointed in the right direction.  I attended along with Linda and Kyle from NRGE.  Representatives from LRC Racing and Team Nebraska were also present.  Nice to finally meet Steve Cross, a decent masters runner translating an extensive background in competitive bike racing to Team Nebraska’s board of directors.  You could see his wheels turning and he’s not afraid to speak up.

I was able to provide answers to many of the pressing questions, some posed by me, the group comprised almost completely of new blood.  I don’t mind turning over information to Michael at all.  The 2014 Grand Prix was discussed.  So were association championship events.  And how to increase membership.  Ben Cohoon made salient contributions, as did Jason Zakaras.    So did Mike Hajek-Jones.  Many others respectfully kept quiet and listened, only a smirk or two kept it from being a most civil meeting.  The program I like to call my own will thrive if/when I decide I’m done.

How about another one of those beers Ivan?





Sometimes the deepest truths come from the mouths of babes.  Well I consider Linda a babe and certainly she hit this nail on the head.

For all my ranting and chanting about being a Texan, how everything is bigger (it is) and better (its relative) , and faster (we all are when young), and richer (new money vs. old), and prettier (bouffants, really?) well, folks, it just ain’t so.

Our trip to Central Illinois last year showed Linda my Real Roots.  Daily life at the Bar None confirms what she already knew.  I’m Farm Stock.

Maybe nearly a quarter of a century in Texas inebriated my Midwest sensibilities.    Rubbing elbows with the likes of Willie Nelson and many of his buddies.  Legends of the music industry like Waylon Jennings, Mickey Gilley, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Lyle Lovett, Merle Haggard and Jerry Jeff Walker to name a few.  Actors, Slim Pickens, Diane Cannon, Kris Kristoferson and more.  True tale often told, Willie’s wife of 27 years, Connie, was sister to my best friend Mike Koepke.  That opened up a lot of doors to the entertainment elite.  And no less the outlaws of politics, that scoundrel GWB chief among them.  And heroes of sport, Nolan Ryan, Carl Lewis, George Foreman, and Hakeem “The Dream”  Olajuwan.  And NASA being in my backyard, getting to work with Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  Heroes all.

Yes, all that did instill the Swagger Certain in my hips and on my lips, amplified it far beyond my Midwest roots.

My first 12 years in Omaha were defined by sometimes (ok, often) righteous indignation, incredulous that others would challenge my view of the world, damned yankees, how dare they!  Twenty plus years with a full time, high powered, onerous and demanding business executive further corrupted my own naturally easy going nature.  Some say I took out on others what was so consistently dished out at home, I see now they were to a large degree correct.

But something changed all that.  Beyond and above it all, some how, some way, one person in Omaha saw the Real Me.  The Atwood, Illinois native that grew up with authentic people and values.  The me that cries at nearly every movie, that is committed to helping those less fortunate, that works hard for hard work’s sake, that wants more for others than for myself. The me that is devoted to his children,  ugly divorce not withstanding, something we both share.  That has stood by my side through it all to reveal the Good Man inside.

Linda, thank you and I love you.  For helping me become the man I was meant to be and not the one I thought I had to be.  The Real Me.





Warmed up 2.25 miles at a very pedestrian pace yesterday.  Then a 4 mile tempo run followed by mirror of warm up as warm down.  My first real check of fitness even though sans watch.  Intuitive sense of pace work.  I hit the 1st mile and doubt called me out.  Numerous permutations of workout options swirling inside the noggin, tempting me to abort the discomfort.

Nay!  Told myself that I wanted to be that Tough Guy today.  The runner that faces the pain and then embraces it, challenges it, defeats it.  Hit the 2 mile mark and turned around for the return trip feeling stronger with every passing moment.  Cruised past the 3 mile thinking I’d be happy with this effort for 5K.  Last mile exhilarating.  My legs feel it today and that makes me happy.  I rose to the challenge of mental strength, was acquitted by perseverance and focus, two of its very definitions.  Reflected that I had achieved the desired outcome, pleased that I was up to it.  And began thinking about today’s effort.  End of story.

The new phrase I’m already sick of is “crushed it”.  As in a particular workout.  Baloney.  If you are crushing your workouts you’re not doing enough.  I pushed the first mile yesterday, endured the second, persevered the third, and focused on the fourth.  While I didn’t “crush” the workout, it didn’t “crush” me either.  But the margin between the two was satisfying and executed to perfection.  Tough guy.

I’m going to be pulling for the Denver Broncos this weekend.  My dear sweet Allison prepares desserts for guests in Peyton Manning’s vip suite.  She doesn’t get that it is kind of a big deal, just a job for her.

We’re on our way to our 100th entrant into the Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail Runs.  I’ve reached out to all former winners in hopes of making it a fast race.  Local trail and ultra studette Kaci Lickteig will make her debut and is the instant favorite on the distaff side.  Kerrie Bruxvoort’s event record of 1:02:25 will almost certainly fall.  Ivan Marsh’s mark of 52:20 could also be in jeapordy.  Or not.  Read yesterday’s column, its mendacity was loosely inspired by Ivan.

A man needs only two things.  A good library and a good garden.  When you add in a good woman and a good dog life becomes sublime.

And finally, harvested from the web this morning:


Back in the 80’s, East Texas, about half way between Castor Plunge and Otis.  Deep in the Piney Woods National Forest.   A few of us used to run the annual Spiral of Death 13K Trail Challenge.  Single track, long forgotten Tonkawa Tribe trails.  Waist deep swamp crossings.   Cypress trees, burdened by Spanish Moss, menacing, dappled darkness,  tenuous to treacherous footing.

No awards, no timing, no t-shirt, nada.  Start and finish at Joey LeBlanc’s decrepit cabin.  His piece of the swamp built on lost generations.   One of the Original Thirteen Families to escape Northern Persecution, trekking from Prince Edward Island south until only marsh and swamp lay before, and beyond the Gulf of Mexico.

The only race amenity a huge cast iron pot, suspended over open flame, drowning ladles full of rattle snake gumbo.  Tastes like chicken.  A keg of Abita Purple Haze,  bacon pocked cornbread, and little sympathy for the few of us that dared tackle the Spiral of Death.  Sounds like a fun race and it wasn’t.  Damned creepy too.

Joey gave the command “Geaux!” and would in a moment be lost in the fog that often descended on our start.  We could hear him rustling and splashing up ahead, the only way to keep from losing oneself completely was to keep him within ear shot.  Not many could and that explained the low annual turnout, always the same 8-10 runners.  Tormented cadre.

The swamp is haunting, living, moving with ebb and flow.  The course would by nature change every year.  You could tell Joey delighted in the futility of our chase, us laboring, he cavorting.  We needed our keenest senses simply to follow him.  Once we were all huddled waist deep in the shadows wondering where to go next when he popped out of the murky waters right at our feet, laughing and off again in an instant.  No one ever beat him.

Hear’s the rub though.  Joey only ran this own race.  Even though he was able to best by far a handful of the most talented runners in Texas.  We knew it fruitless to encourage him otherwise and just accepted this denizen of the Piney Woods for the Free Spirit he was.

More curious was the fact that Joey was always Joey in the very strangest of senses.  We would comment that he remained seemingly unchanged from year to year.  Was it the gumbo?  The chicory coffee?  While the rest of us raced from our mid to late twenties and into our thirties Joey just didn’t slow down.  Or age.  At all.

I visited Texas in 2016.  Retraced memory into the depths of the darkened conifers trying to find Joey’s cabin.  Local inquiries revealed no memory of the man.  I  found a long unused logging road that was vaguely familiar and finally to his shack.

The front porch was caved in, moss covering nearly the entire structure.  I made my way to the door half expecting to smell the wonderful viperous gumbo.  No aroma and no answer.  I hung around a while reliving memories of the race and of Joey.   Winds rustled ancient pines as I walked back to the truck.  Then the unmistakable laugh.  Joey fast approaching from the East.  Just returning with a medium sized gator slung over his shirtless shoulders, bound for the Dutch oven no doubt.  He seemed not at all surprised to see me, almost as though he had been expecting it.

Me almost 60 at the time .  Joey, the same boisterous and boundless energy and I would be a liar if I told you my blood didn’t run cold to see that he had not aged a single day in the decades that had passed.




Nancy Hobbs is a dynamo hum.  We served together for 10 years on the WLDR Executive Committee.  Her bailiwick being MUT.  That of course being Mountain, Ultra, Trail Running.  I watched her battle the USATF powers that be, finally grinding them into submission and getting MUT added as a full fledged Sport Committee under the auspices of LDR.  Read as funded.  The U.S. is now recognized as a perennial medal contender at the World Championships for mountain running.  Both with strong individuals and teams.  She’s my kind of gal.  Nancy’s beau is Garry Harrington.  He is screening Rising From Ashes in Omaha on January 30th, I hope you can plan on attending.

Rising From Ashes, the award-winning feature-length documentary about Team Rwanda, will premiere in Omaha on Thursday, January 30 at 7 p.m. when the cycling film screens at the Aksarben Cinema on South 67th St. The event is sponsored by the Omaha Pedalers Bicycles Club. Rising From Ashes is a joyous and uplifting independent film about the development of a national cycling team in Rwanda, a country still affected deeply by the genocide that tore the East African nation apart in 1994. Advance tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at Tickets at the door will be $15.

Rising From Ashes FRF poster


On Monday of the same week (27th) I will be the featured speaker at the marathon training clinic for WECRAWL (West End Closet Runners and Walkers League).  Topics will be
1) Should I wear my race number on the front or back?
2) Is it OK to complain to the race director that the course was off according to my garmin?
3) Is it marathon or mary thon?
4) If I decide to take a short cut (its soooo far!) but still cross the finish line does my time count?
5) What’s all the fuss about a certified course anyway?
6) Which fuel belt and hydration pack matches my new shoes?
7) What makeup should I wear, I look terrible when it runs more than I do
8) Is it ok to run the race as a burglar?  Oh, bandit I guess is the term.
9) Can a friend ride their bike alongside me?
10) Proper bicep flexing technique for that finish line photo!


As promised today’s Major Sponsor announcement.  But first, a brief field report from the
Bar None.  I can see my breath as I’m typing this.  Linda, Jedediah, and I had a neophyte, rookie, beginner, greenhorn night.  Snuggled down tight under several rashers of blankets.

Rule #1 for 2014- Check the level in the propane tank every 30 days.  Heat and our gas cook top depends on it.  Help is on its way this morning, as good a story as this will be down the road we’re ready for it to end.  Thanks to Bob over at Knudsen’s for putting us on top of his Monday morning list.  p.s. Heat is on at 9:00 a.m.!

Now the real business of the day.  Nebraska Run Guru Events, LLC is proud and happy to announce that Omaha Steaks has been added as a Major Sponsor for the Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail Runs!
Omaha Steaks, founded in 1917, is an Omaha, Nebraska-based, fifth-generation, family-owned company that markets and distributes a wide variety of the finest quality USDA-approved, grain fed beef and other gourmet foods. Today, Omaha Steaks is recognized as the nation’s largest direct response marketer of premium beef, available to customers by calling 1-800-960-8400, online at or at retail stores nationwide.

Omaha Steaks join Cabela’s and Upstream Brewing Company as Major Sponsors of Ni-Bthaska-Ke.  You will now be able to refuel and enjoy Omaha Steak’s  tasty hamburgers as part of your post race festivities.  And wash them down with some of the best craft beer (or root beer) in the Midwest!

Check out my new page up top, “Running For Dummies“.  In it I’ll try and answer some of the frequent questions I’ve received in the mail bag.

And just for fun this picture from January 2011, featured as cover page for chapter 13 in Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton’s BAREFOOT RUNNING STEP BY STEP.  Describes Barefoot Benny Foltz and my contribution to barefootin in Nebraska.

Its a classic!