Monthly Archives: October 2018


Let’s see if I can get this right.  With thanks to my artery laden monikered friend, plaqueman.  Excellence for yourself is far different than excellence for others.  I’ve taken poetic license and boiled it down to simply  this, what I think he means:  If you are racing for others’ approval, collegial, social, societal, then you are in the sport for the wrong reason.  Key word: racing

Plaqueman, aka Tim Dooling.  One of,  if not the most talented, true distance runners- 5 Miles to the Marathon- in Nebraska history.  We correspond occasionally.   He usually railing on something I’ve written, and the rare agreement.

This sport of ours.  Open and available to all.  Toe the line.  And you are a runner.  If you’ve done good, sound training, that makes you more of a runner.  If you have defined your Exquisite Threshold and dance along that wire when you race, you  are a Real Runner.

There is only one winner though.  Only one person per generation that defines Excellence to its Highest Degree.

Is one runner’s personal excellence any less than another’s?

That is the philosophical question of our time.

Think about this.  Only one can be the Best.  And a lonely best at that.  The solo training, fierce, primal, ancient.  Running turning into Racing.  For meat.  For survival.  Only one may eat, perhaps with a well chosen few, eh Tim?

Think about this too.  All the Rest.  Including your scribe.  Voices legion, louder every day.  Add the din of the hobbyist, lobbyist, fundraising, charity driven, selfie taking posing, watered down hosing, kumbaya making, sidewalk taking, novelty daring, costume wearing, horn blowing, mediocrity sewing, no elite supporting, penguin cavorting.  That’s a lot of ruckus being focused on sides of our sport it is hard for some of us to recognize.  Tim for sure, me too, and how about you?  What are your thoughts?







Please allow a dip back in time.  A time when we would be handed a popsicle  stick at the finish line, take it to the scorer’s table, then  head off for a beer.  We knew the race results would be compiled, tri-folded, stamped and mailed.  And that we’d get them in a week or two.

Pre internet.  Pre social media.  Pre.

How I miss John Fey.  John covered running and racing for the Omaha World Herald for plus or minus 20 years.  The paper didn’t give him a ton of inches but he milked what he could for all of us.

Why the reminisce?  For the second time in 3 weeks we’ve had a marathon in the Omaha metro and had no race results listed in the OWH.

Culture Club.  The paper’s coverage reflects the general malaise of our sport in Omaha.  Starts with our local leadership.  Low expectations, consistently delivered.  Race Results Weakly.


A long and deserved tip of sombrero to the DC West Falcons.  Class C1 State Champs.  Three individual fellas making it to state, taking their Ka-Kaw to Ka-Kearney this coming Friday.

Coach Dan Maline and alum/assistant Devin Hall have turned around the program out in far Western Douglas Country.  No small contribution by  Tristan Nelson as well.  Linda and I have been officially adopted as grandparents by the team.   Five of our Valley 7 Lakes Marathon committee members right there.  Excited to be raising money for  these hard working  kids.  I can’t wait until  we get them completely and properly outfitted.

Ryan McArdle finished 3rd to lead his mates to the title.  Nick Bennett just behind near the one mile mark.

Coach has these kids coming to form at just the right time.  The big fella up front, Will, one I’m keeping a close eye on.

Maddie Wilt is  just a freshman.  If you know your history the name Fred Wilt should have you intrigued.

And a special nod to 7th grader Jack Runde.  4th Overall at the all city meet yesterday at Bryan High School.  Hilly 2 mile course covered in a nice 12:14.  His other mad skills include music and his true love golf.  Proud and mom and dad.


Or, Now More Than Ever.  Or, Perfect Timing.   The Boston Athletic Association recently announced more stringent entry specs for those that are trying to qualify/enter into the world’s most famous marathon.  From the website:

“1) Qualifying times are based on official submitted net time (also known as chip time).
Achieving one’s qualifying standard does not guarantee entry into the event, but simply the opportunity to submit for registration.

2) In recent years, not all qualifiers who submit an entry have been accepted due to field size restrictions.

3) If the total amount of submissions surpasses the allotted field size for qualified athletes, then those who are the fastest among the pool of applicants in their age and gender group will be accepted.”

It is with that in mind that the Valley 7 Lakes Marathon should be your spring marathon of choice.  Our race committee has worked for the last 8 months ensuring you the very best opportunity to Run To Your  Potential.

But ask your self this first:  Are You Serious?






Extra big tip of the sombrero to the LRC Racing teams that dominated Market to Market Relay last weekend.  They placed the first 4 teams across the line.  Reminiscent of Team Nebraska back in the day.   It wasn’t that long ago that my Red & White mates were doing the same thing.

I personally got  bored of it.  Only competing against ourselves.   There were few happier people in Nebraska when LRC Racing finally came out.  Real Competition.  No more of mates battling mates.

Mates.   A word that still holds true for me.  And few others.

My top runner was solicited by both LRC Racing and Team Nebraska, looking to add talent to their M2M teams.  Poaching streak alive and well.  How does this foster a real sense of Team, of Real Mates.  When you are out trying to gather runners  from other teams?  At the expense of your own athletes, food for thought for your B runners.  I’d be plenty pissed if I were left off a team for someone that isn’t even on my club.

And to my athlete that demonstrated loyalty.  Thank you.  For being a Mate.  A Good Mate.




First weekend of October and things were smoking on the roads.  The favorite weekend for marathoners around the United States with Twin Cities and Chicago both going.  Two perfect courses for qualifying for the USA Olympic Trials.  Two races that were proving grounds for Nebraska’s best marathoners of yore.

Hellacious footraces in Minneapolis like this:
Twin Cities Marathon Women
1. Sinke Biyadgilgn         2:33:04
2. Serkalem Abrha          2:33:10
3. Sarah Kiptoo               2:33:15

51 year old Eric Barnes of Nebraska City the first and only Nebraska finisher, 2:51:27.

The Twin Cities 10 Mile was our USA National Champs and the battles were fierce.  Scott Simmons loading up his U.S. Army athletes for 7 of the top ten spots.  No Nebraskans in the men or women’s races.
1. Shadrack Kipchirchir               46:32
2. Leonard Korir                           46:35
3. Stanley Kebenei                       46:39
13. Brogan Austin, (Iowa Abalaze) 47:57

1. Sara Hall                                  52:47
2. Molly Huddle                          52:48
3. Emma Bates                            52:51

Chicago Marathon simply a barnburner:
1. Mo Farah (GBR)                             2:05:11
2. Mosinet Geremew Bayih (ETH)   2:05:24
3.  Suguru Osako (JPN)                     2:05:50
4. Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN)             2:05:57
5. Galen Rupp (USA)                         2:06:21

1. Brigid Kosgei                                2:18:35
65. Kayte Partch (NE)                      2:52:47*
107. Natalie Como (ID)                   2:58:47*
* both competed for me back in the day, still damn proud

The White Light Mile in Fremont was fast.  Too fast.  My calibration course victim of Douglas County road resurfacing , correction coming this week, great time had by everyone regardless of the shortage.

I was in the 3rd of 6 heats.  Still start like I own the joint.  Pancake flat, lightning fast, a bit shy.  If I were 30 years younger I would have been in Chicago.  Or Twin Cities.






James qualified for the USA Olympic Trials  Marathon both in 2004 and 2008.  This weekend’s Twin Cities Marathon marks the 12 year anniversary since the last Nebraska male resident hit the standard.  James was nice enough to spend a moment with  us.

Will: Please catch us up on what you and Megan and the kids have been up to over the last 10 years!

James:   Our daughters Ava 14 and Lydia 11 keep us busy. Ava is a Freshman and running cross country so I enjoy watching her compete and Lydia is involved in numerous youth activities.

Will:   In 2001 a former Wayne State classmate suggested you as a perfect fit for my vision of Excellence in Nebraska Athletics, the original Team Nebraska. Thank you Marsha Krienke-Hansen! What were your first thoughts when I reached out to you?

James:  Back in 2001 I had a goal of running in the 2004 Trials. When you first contacted me I was humbled and new that any assistance would be better than what I was currently receiving. From that initial conversation I knew the passion that Will had and have an individual take notice of my potential motivated me

Will:   I often insist that Team Nebraska and the Nebraska USATF LDR program was built on your farm strong shoulders. Runner’s World did a story on you called “The Long Shot” portraying your hard work rustling cattle in Western Nebraska. How did the cowboy lifestyle inform your work ethic as a runner?

James:  Growing up with three older sisters we did not have much extra. My parents were hard working and I started working in the summer at a young age. Entering 5th grade I walked bean fields to make money for school clothes we finished a field earlier than expected and I remember running about two miles to the farmers house so he would pick up the rest of the crew while they waited. I was the youngest but did not want to sit for an hour waiting for a ride. My wife grew up on a ranch 45 mile north of Hyannis it is my favorite running spot the soft trails, windmills, rolling hills, and wildlife. It is an endless adventure to run in. The article was an honor and humbling experience I am fortunate for the family I have.

Will:   We share a special coach/athlete bond. Having worked together for both Trials, what stands out most about the training program we utilized?

James:  The training and not the races is what stands out more. I disliked Mondays as it usually brought some sort of a paced tempo run that was difficult. I was always able to finish a hard training session fast which gave me confidence. Workouts were based on race performance and controlled yet the last mile of a repeat session was a measuring stick. At the time I was living in Shelton and the gravel roads were laid out in the perfect mile grid pattern and most fields bisected the grid with a pivot in the middle. Mile markers were intersections field breaks were half mile and pivot heads a quarter the perfect setup for training. The workouts enabled me to go from holding on the last 10k of a marathon to being able to finish a marathon the training program brought my racing to a new level.  I recall Christmas of 2003 doing a 30 mile long run at my wife Grandmother’s in Valentine it was an overcast day lower 30’s the last 5 miles I ran at 5:20 pace Merry Christmas.

Will:   You ran the 2003 USA Marathon National Champs in Birmingham, AL, finishing 12th in 2:20:51. Your introduction to the USA Champs circuit. How did this level of competition help your development?

James:   I felt honored to be a part of the 2003 race. It was my first race on the USATF Circuit I had no idea of what to expect. My entry and travel were paid for that was good enough. The field was small fewer than 40 I knew I had to earn my travel expenses and perform. During the weekend my roommate Fred Keiser took me under his week we ran a majority of the race together and he led me to a qualifying time. I never wore a watch and with three mile to go he stated we need to pick it up or we won’t make the standard. He later told em he was lying & just wanted to see if we could catch 10th he placed 11th. The race directors put on a great event associated with the Mercedes Marathon. When I crossed the line I cried years of hard work and sacrifice became a reality. That experience opened my eyes to the elite level of running I had a taste but wanted more.

Will:   The Trials on the same Birmingham course in ’04. You ran 2:26:09 for 47th overall. Any specific memories of that race that stand out?

James:  Leading up to the trials I was ready. At the Half Championship a month earlier I set a PR for 13.1 on a 110 mile week. My last workout before leaving for Houston it was -16 when I ran that morning. I got off the plane it was 74 and 80% humidity. My goal for the Trials was under 2:19 unfortunately I got an intestinal virus the week prior a trip to the emergency room and 2 liters of fluids helped but 48 hours of no food and I was devastated. Six days prior to the race it was a struggle to walk I jogged a mile five days before and it was like the last mile of a marathon. As I got fluids through an I.V. I broke down and cried in my wife’s arms four years of work ruined by the smallest thing. As I left for Birmingham I recall the snow stacking up & I was looking forward to warmer weather. The race conditions were chilly with a 20 MPH wind and freezing drizzle. I probably would not have raced but I could not let so many people down. Looking back that 2:26:00 is probably the race I am most proud of given my condition.

Will:  Your qualifying run at the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon (11th, 2:22:00) is one of my all time favorite memories. Standing with my USATF colleagues on the finish line, we all seeing you make the final right hand turn 600 meters from the ticking clock. The others offering me regrets, your hitting the mark seemingly impossible. And then a roar from the crowd as you went into a furious sprint over the last 300, gaining back with every stride, before collapsing into my arms as you crossed. I’ll never forget the words you told me. Do you remember what they were?

James:  Twin Cities in 2006 was a gut check! I recall a pack of about 20 of us that ran together for about 15 miles. Around that point it broke apart and I was feeling strong leaving them and shooting for a top 10 spot. At about 22 miles the distance reared it’s ugly head and I was holding on, at about 23 miles I gave up 10th place but tried to hold on. At 24 miles I realized a qualifying time was in jeopardy. I asked the kids that at coached at Sidney High if it was OK if I skipped their conference meet to run the race. Our big theme was finish, how could I get on a plane knowing I ran 26.2 miles to come up 30 seconds short. I remember closing my eyes for a moment thinking it was only 2 laps around the Sidney Cemetery where we frequently held practice, FINISH! Once I turned the last corner I could see the finish area things got blurry. With a quarter mile left a volunteer moved to scream in my face you can make it dig deep. I lost body functions and remember when I came too I needed a restroom I could not have made it another step. I was just trying to get to the arms of Will. I think my first words were where is a bathroom???

Will: The Trials in NYC ’08. 2:25:10 for 69th overall. Running the criterium course through Central Park. The tragedy of losing Ryan Shay during the race. What did you bring back to Nebraska from that race?

James:  The Trials in 2008 I knew would probably be my last as father time catches up with everyone. I remember turning the first corner and seeing myself on the New York Time Square Big Screen Running in the Trials. I smiled and thought a young boy from Cairo Nebraska on this stage I was truly blessed. The crowds of spectators of Central Park was special it made the event standout. Unfortunately I was following the collapse of Ryan Shay and as I ran by the paramedics were just arriving. I did not even realize who was in need or what was going on that event has made me think of my own well being. A tragedy to the sport on one of the biggest stages.

Will:   You are Superintendent for the Brady School District. I know you coached while in Sydney, are you still working with your student athletes?

James:   Brady started a cross country team 3 years ago and this year I have taken a volunteer role with the team. I enjoy giving back to a sport that has given me so much.

Will:  Are you still running? Do you still have any competitive goals? Maybe some Run Guru Elite, Inc. age group records?

James:  I still run every morning so if ever passing through on I-80 I’m usually crossing the overpass just west of the Brady exit at about 6:10-6:15 later on the weekends. My competitive days are over until I enter a race than my mind says you can beat this or that person the my body says what in the hell are you doing. My body wins out but once in awhile I tote the line.


My old buddy Jim Estes swung through Waterloo, Nebraska yesterday.  His first time on Good Life soil.  On his way to Minneapolis where he’ll serve as Elite Athlete Coordinator for this weekend’s Twin Cities Marathon and our USA 10 Mile National Championships.  The women’s  race in the 10 seems to be of particular interest with home town girl Sara Hall doing battle with Molly Huddle.  There’s your Monday morning tip.

Jim served 12 years as the USATF LDR Program Manager in Indy.   Jim had the “dream job”.  Overseeing every aspect of our elite programs.  Flying 150,000 miles a year to events.  Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cross, National Championships.  All of them all of the time.  One of the most liked and most respected people in our sport.

Our friendship goes back.  Jim and wife Camille owned the Fleet Feet store in Louisville, KY.  He ran for the LDR Division Chair at the 2002 USATF Annual Meetings in Kansas City.  The  same year I assumed the Women’s LDR National  Championships Chair.  We would work together closely for over a decade.

In 2006 Jim and I took the USA team to Japan for  the Yokohama International Ekiden.  -The same relay format that will be part of the Valley 7 Lakes Marathon.-   Our supper with Mr. Tanaka-San, the head of the Japanese Amateur Athletic Federation, one of the most memorable of my life.

Jim asked how long it had been and I honestly couldn’t remember.  We spent two hours at the Bar None table, discussing everything that shaped the modern era of athletics in the U.S.and Nebraska.  How it has changed, why it changed, and the future.  How both of us still retain an unflagging dedication to American athletes.  How we have found ways to continue, despite all circumstances.  Serving.

Most of all though it is our friendship that has remained.  Through it all.  I often hear that the friendships you make are more important than anything else in our sport.    You know what.  That is  right.

Thank you Jim Estes for being my and Linda’s  friend.