Monthly Archives: January 2016


Starting off today with a big tip, much respect, and nothing but love for my brother, Bruce Newton.  One of the many firefighters to battle the epic M’s Pub blaze.  Worked in the sub zero conditions from 3 am to 6 am.  Home for 1 hour of sleep and then to church at 8:00.  I salute all service personnel as heroes!

Getting along.  Working together.  The intricate equation of egos, agendas, and complex personalities has struck a chord of harmony.  Individuals from across the spectrum are coming together in ways never seen before in Nebraska.  It used to be like Pecos Bill wrestlin a tornado around here.  Something  has changed though, we can all feel it, that positive air.  But what really has changed?  The mindset of adult runners in Nebraska.  Coming together.


Yo tengo Un Buena Idea immediately after November’s Living History Farms.  I reached out to Cal Murdock (Runablaze Iowa) and Randy Wasinger (KC Smoke) and a couple other Midwest region USATF clubs.  Asking them to consider joining Nebraska Run Guru Elite hosting the inaugural Midwest Champions Series.

A lot of progress has been made with Cal committing Dam To Dam Half Marathon in June.  Work on this side of the river has begun with a professional road race management company to host the Good Life’s contribution.

Still not a set event for South of our border, even the Fort Hays Track Club has come up.  In any event there are going to be some Major Bragging Rights on the line this year.  Look, competition is great for our sport.

Each of our clubs enjoy at least a modicum of sponsor dollars to seek out the very best development opportunities.  But budgets must hold sway.   Its expensive to send full teams to NYC for Club Nationals.  Its expensive to send full teams to Tallahassee for Club Cross.

I would offer that some of the very best competition anywhere is right here in our Midwest Region.  Looking at December’s Club Cross shows the Smoke 11th, KC City of Fountains 14th, and Runablaze Iowa 21st.  Nebraska Run Guru Elite wasn’t ready yet to travel.

El Jefe likes to refer to our Golden Ticket holders as “The Virgins”, beats “Debs”, though I expect their dance cards to be to the overflowing about 8:04 or 8:05 am this Mayday.  Going to stretch the fellas to be sure, 10K being their longest Real Race of their budding careers.  We should see a good test at Leprechaun Chase, I’ve been rubbing their noses in tales of lasses laughs.

But I’m most excited for the Lincoln Half.  Supporting our sponsor.  With a couple of guys that I think can win.  And then this little matter of the 2016 Midwest Champions Series.




Thirty three years ago I debuted at the Houston Tenneco Marathon.  Ran 3:11 with no coaching and a long run of  only 14 miles.  Don’t try that at home.  I’d run two more in 1983, Galveston in March (2:56) and Freedom Run in Monticello, IL in October  (2:47).  I  did add some miles to my long runs for the  last two.

Linda sometimes catches me spouting off.  Answering off the top of my head, with words that aren’t my own.  Whose then?  My dear sweet departed sailor of a mother.  A few of her more tame favorites:  When I would petition for some childhood cherishment “Wish in one hand and  shit in the other and see which gets full first.”  Or her pet name for me “Cockyballs”.  Or when she’d been drinking, “I’d call you a ***** but that’s the best part  of a man!”  They only wax more profane.  Yeah, my mom, gone 3 years now this week from lung cancer, she had a mouth and a temper.  I swore as a youth to never follow her example as a parent and thus she shaped me in her own way.  Thanks mom, from me and your grandchildren..

There has been more positive work accomplished for Nebraska LDR in the last 14 days than in the first 14 years of the program.

M’s Pubsicle.  I just coined that.

What I’m going to do with my billion and a half.  Change my property into The Bar None High Performance Center.  Indoor 400 meter track, xc moguls indoors too,  full medical and support staff, kitchen. housing.  And I would get ESPN so we could watch college football playoffs next year.  And some insulation for upstairs.

With the exception of David Adam’s Mile and Mike Morgan’s Marathon, every men’s middle distance and distance record for the Nebraska association will fall this year.

We are all still waiting for another Suzanne Weeder-Einspahr.






Starting off with good news of the weekend.  Garrett Heath got the win at the Great Edinburgh XCountry 8K in Scotland.  Was the big news him out kicking Mo Farah?  Nope, for this boy’s money it was Joe Moore of the Kansas City Smoke running 13th overall and helping Team USA to the Bronze Medal.

Now to business.  While most of the world was running and cavorting this weekend a few people were busy with flying emails.  Colin Morrissey, Mike Hajek-Jones, Linda Kunasek and your scribe were hammering out language to help guide the office of Nebraska Association LDR Chair.  What’s at stake is our LDR program.  The membership, business, credibility, respect, and very viability of our LDR program.

Our LDR Rules and Responsibilities subcommittee established at last September’s annual meeting now completing our 2nd major task.  Thus far:  1) The LDR Championships Bid Application.  2) LDR Chair Rules & Responsibilities.

We aren’t done yet.

Next up is getting our 2015 Nebraska Association LDR Grand Prix results tabulated, posted, and payed.  The series concluded in September folks, over 4 months ago, and repeated calls for final tallies are not being adequately addressed.  If the results aren’t posted by this coming Friday, and payments begun, the LDR Rules and Responsibilities subcommittee will assume the process.  Last Call Y’all!




The Bar None Ladies.  With the Leghorns (pronounced Legerns) all named Legs.  Red, Two, Mary and Speedy the 4 remaining from our 2014 freshman class.  Twenty four of the happiest laying hens in the midwest!  How happy?  Over the last six months we’ve collected, eaten, sold, or given away over 2200 eggs.

The snow is on the ground and more to come, but no time to lose at the Bar None.  I’ve scoured two dozen and more seed catalogs searching for the rare or new or overlooked.  Committing quickly mentioned names, sometimes in the Latin (Bastardo!), while touring the gardens of my mentor.  New catalogs or amendments or varieties or methods always causing my ears to rotate at alert.  And work on the template that will guide and ultimately and completely be transformed and which I absolutely can’t start without.  The main plot now 80′ x 90′, where will each bed go?  What will go into each bed?  When will it be planted?  When will it be harvested?  What will rotate with it?  How many successive plantings can be achieved?  Building patience into the gardenscape.  Entire beds waiting for their 2 week increment of seeding/seedlings, always planting to the north, ensuring harvest through next fall.  The Grand Design.

Cage Match.  My hands are swollen and bloodied.  You should see the other guy.  But seriously folks, I’ll be here through Saturday!  My digits do resemble sausages replete with fork tracks after converting 50 foot rolls of 6′ fencing into a whole bunch of 3′  tomato cages.  2016 calls for up to 80 tomato plants and each needs its own space and support in order to maximize yield.  I’ve got about another 30 to go.  And then smaller cages for the 50 or so pepper plants.  The main lesson from my first two years?  Give everything all the space it wants.  Including the gardener!


Also working on plans for a permanent potting shed, kind of exactly like this one belonging to my garden guru, Steve Kunasek.  He is not only one of the most knowledgeable and excellent providers of best organic practice produce but is also the brains behind The Prairie Gators.

OMAHA, Neb. --Steve Kunasek runs his Prairie Gator Produce booth during Dundee Day on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in Omaha. The festival featured games, vendors, a parade and an evening beer garden. SARAH HOFFMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

OMAHA, Neb. –Steve Kunasek runs his Prairie Gator Produce booth during Dundee Day on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in Omaha. The festival featured games, vendors, a parade and an evening beer garden. SARAH HOFFMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

1506840_1051664001546954_6829384626546556523_nThe Prairie Gators.  My dear sweet Linda’s brother Steve Kunasek front and center, brother Mike up front right.  I went to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and know damned good Cajun music when I hear it.  These cats know how its done.  Josh Dunwoody front left, Steve Monson rear left, and Joe Watson rear right.



Time to get a little tempo going.  It’ll behoove your fitness.  We are offering Two Rivers Winter Fitness Series,  Craig has No Frills, Mick has Manawa.  Get out and get some.

Or stay in and get some.  Early 2016 talent will be displayed on the tight turns and clomping boards of running indoors.  The provenance of collegians and the few that dare yet dream.  Stays in the blood, and indoor is a blood sport. Its rough, its tough.  Its Real Racing at its most up close, pointy elbow, blocking out, team tactics, sweaty curses, gashed shins and dive through the finish tape drama.  What’s not to love?

January 10        Doane
January 17       Husker, Dordt, Doane
January 24      Wesleyan, SDSU, Central
January 31      Nebraska, Buena Vista, Concordia
February 7     Husker,  SDSU, Doane
February 14  SDSU Invite, Iowa St., Concordia
February 21  Nebraska


That’s where almost every single body falls.  Somewhere close to the median.

Older, battle beaten veterans slowly slip to the left though the skew is oft rewarded for durability.  Others populate our end of the spectrum.  Penguins chief among them.  But many others for many reasons.

But most of us are middling.

Farther up the right of the scale is vigor and the ability to heal quickly and recover with a nap and consume your high fructose corn syrups and stay up late and cavort and gallivant and over race and every other privilege of youth.

Youth has its middle too though.  Its the ones that are knowledgeable about and dedicated to doing the necessary extras, the others, the little things that when all put together make the big positive difference in the subset.

Also on the plus side are the blessed, the life long athletes.  Tough, gnarled, sinewy, bony most likely, ectomorphs.  Enough life time miles for the work to have been done.  And the Christians and Garcias and Woods and Ivanovs and McGowns, that they still occasionally fly, should be an inspiration to us all.

We’ve got some talent training up for the Lincoln Half.  The way of the sport, it will be the youngsters that make the biggest splash.  I guess I’d have to say that I expect the fastest, deepest combined group of Nebraskans in the race’s history.  With all the clubs, hopefully sending their best and most fit, it should be a barnburner.  And if we can get some density of talent at every level, well the cream rises, at every level.  Team based training and competition, breaking through the middle.

We’ve got a couple of the life long athletes that will be running in our kit.  Ron Olsen will be running the  full, the only person to have run every single Lincoln Marathon.  And Roxi Erickson, 11 time Lincoln Marathon winner.  Roxi, supplicating to new ministrations, at 52 will be going for sub 3 and the masters title.

Get out there and boost your stock.  Raise your bar.  Keep scooting to the right on the health/wellness continuum.  The middle, its mighty crowded..


One of my most treasured mementos is a now tattered tank top with a big red lobster forming the letter “M” in the words “Maine Running Camp.”  From 1996, my hosts on the carriage trails of Acadia National Park were Andy Palmer, rest his soul, and John L. Parker Jr.  We hung out for a week and became fast friends.  Back  to the tank top and what’s on the back because that’s what counts.


In youth it is more rightly called piss and vinegar.  But as boy matures to man, the p&v transcends more mellow balsamic.  The key, in athletics at any rate, is capturing talent, and desire, and drive, and good head on shoulders, at the limited if not precise intersection of stallion and stud.

An admitted small but decently relative sample size of American National  Class talent at Sunday’s JaxBank.  Peeling back a layer I found that 10/ 14 women that hit <1:15:00 were under the age of 29.  Of the men under 1:05:00, 23 of 27 were under age 29.  I’m most encouraged by the 5 men and 4 women under the age of 25 that hit respective excellence.

Tanner Fruit is in the sweet spot at 27 with a 1:04:30 personal best.  That’s :18 faster than Nebraska’s last sub 1:05 guy, Mike Morgan, whose 1:04:48 launched his career so many years ago in Houston, his own balsamic days.  And puts him on the list with Mike and James McGown as the only male US Olympic Trials Marathon qualifiers in a generation.

The Houston Half is coming right up  A week from this Sunday, last chance.  Same elevations, flat and fast, keeping fingers and toes crossed for perfect weather, and seeing another example of young American talent on display.  I for one, can’t wait!

And for you youngsters, you talented ones, with the desire and the drive, and the good head on your shoulders, let’s do this!







Two meanings.  Same result.

I’ve nicknamed Richard Fannin “The Conductor”.  He with the baton in his hand, orchestrating a community to rally behind a dream.  But not his own.  The dream that 41 athletes achieved at yesterday morning’s Jax Bank Half Marathon.  I hope you read my interview with Richard on December 10th.  Twenty seven men.  Fourteen women.  A symphony of excellence, directed by a man in athletic wear not a tux.

“The Conductor”.  Richard was sporting an official race clock instead of a pocket watch on a chain.  A Jax Bank ball cap instead of the round short bill.  A keen eye for talent instead of the grandfatherly reading glasses.  But punching tickets all morning long .  Forty one clicks on his counter.   Forty one dreams realized.

My notes:

For the men there were 5 men from the 20-24 age group, my favorite runner 21 year old Arya Bahreini of Edmond, OK 8th in 1:04:26,  There were 18 qualifiers from the 25-29 age group.  Including Nebraska native Tanner Fruit  finishing 13th in 1:04:30.  Only 3 qualifiers in the 30-34s with my old buddy,  Mr. Fabulous, 33 y/o Fernando Cabada finishing 2nd overall in 1:03:25.  One of the highlights of the morning had to be 43 year old Kevin Castille qualifying with an otherworldly 1:04:33.  Finally for the men, legend Gary Romesser, 65, won his age group in 1:27:38.

For the ladies there were 4 athletes from the 20-24 age group.  Led by 22 year old Dylan Hassett in 1:14:07.  There were 6 runners from the 25-29 age group including race winner 26 y/o Stephanie Dinius of Brookline, MA in a speedy 1:13:41.  Interestingly there were no qualifiers from 30-34.  The 30-35 ladies picked up the remaining 4 qualifiers.  Of special note one of my oldest buddies, Kim Pawalek, married to Keith Brantly, she a national marathon champ and  he a 1996 Olympic Marathoner- by now Kim is 44 and won her age group in a fast 1:26:38. And from my age group 57 year old Sandy Dailey from Eureka, MO cruised to the top in 1:27:12.





The buzz has been well received.  Our TRWFS kicks off a week from tomorrow and from early indications The Rust Buster 5K should be a smashing success.

Here’s a few reasons why:

Proximity.  Ten minutes west of Omaha.  It appears people dig the fact that they don’t have to drive 30 miles or 30 minutes to get their fitness on.

Amenities.  For your $5 drop in fee you get USATF Certified courses.  And home baked goodies.  And hot chocolate.  And official results.  And restrooms.  And plenty of parking.  And entered into our series ending Grand Prize Drawing for some very sweet swag.

4th annual Two Rivers Valentine’s Day Run.  The gem of the series, ($30 at, keyword Two Rivers Valentines Day Run) but the chocolates and wine and roses make it the perfect way to celebrate with your sweetie pie.  1.5 mile run/walk, 5K, & 10K available.

Closed course.  Two Rivers State Park is a 1.5 mile loop with either extremely little to no traffic.  I’ve experienced some hair raising near misses during  some of my winter races on open roads, scary.

Protected course.  TRSP’s 1.5 mile loop is protected from the buffeting winds that we’ve experienced at other winter races.  Even our Valley Forge course last year at the YMCA was far too exposed.

Clear course.  My old buddy Mike makes sure to keep the roads well plowed.  Both leading into the park and the loop course.

Low key as you want to be.  Or as fast as you need to be.  The competition, if that’s what you like, will help test and build your fitness.

We aren’t the first winter series in the Omaha Metro.  But we’ve learned by listening to you and from personal experience.  And proudly proclaim to offer the best option for your January/February fun and fitness.