The year was 2002, the BIX 7 mile had been awarded our USATF National Championships for the distance. I was serving my first year as the National Championships Chair for Women’s LDR. Several stories that I’ll never forget. First time I had the pleasure of meeting a young lad that would later become the 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist. At the awards ceremony no one knew how to pronounce his name except me. Its ” Mebratohm Keflezighi, you can call him Meb.” We’ve been buddies every since.
And of course hanging out with BIX Legends Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Both are now immortalized with bronze statues along the race route. And Race Director Ed Froelich is cast with his own statue now. Here is the “other” part of the 2002 race I’ll never forget.
The principles: Libby Johnson (multiple time national champ and Olympian), Colleen De Reuk (4 time Olympian), Darren De Reuck (her husband), Karl Ungerean (Iowa, Head Referee), Ed Froelich (RD), and little old me in my capacity overseeing the conduct of the event.
Prelude: Libby had been defeated by Colleen a couple of weeks prior at the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta (at the time it was not a USATF Champs). Libby had questions as to whether Darren had provided some assistance to Colleen as she passed Libby in the final meters of that race. A hard pill for Libby to swallow, being worth around $10K.
Libby was once again nipped at the line by Colleen at BIX. She hustled over to me immediately after crossing the finish line and indicated she was considering filing a protest due to the proximity of Darren to Colleen during the course of the race, for the second major in a row.
It was my charge to gather those involved and let them know that the results would not be official until the matter was resolved. The first and most memorable thing that happened was Ed pushing me in the chest with both hands and telling me “You aren’t going to f*** up my race!” My reply was simple, “don’t ever put your hands on me again or I will kick your ass.” Cooler heads intervened (thanks Karl). and the protest protocol began. Karl and I then collected the videos from the cameras that were strategically placed on the course. Drove around Davenport until we found a video shop where we could analyze the images to reach our official conclusion.
The finding: While Darren did appear in every video, and in very close proximity to Colleen, we couldn’t conclude beyond a doubt that illegal assistance had been provided. After presenting my findings to Ed things went well the rest of the morning.
I remain friends with Ed, Karl, Darren, and Colleen to this day. Colleen and I served together on the WLDR Executive Committee. Darren would end up taking my place as the WLDR National Champs Chair. Karl still inspects and approves my USATF Course Certification paperwork. And Ed has graciously hosted me several more times at one of America’s Great Road Races.
And another favorite memory: Taking Linda to BIX in 2011, she ran 50:46 to win the 45-49 age group, no small feat with 430 competitors in that division. But the sweetest of all was her finishing 2nd Overall Master to none other than Joan Benoit Samuelson.
My rising star Lindsey Greenwood will be running BIX this Saturday. I wish her a great race and a pocketful of memories. Be sure and say howdy to my old buddies Lindsey!