This was my favorite saying for the 12 years I rode herd over Team Nebraska. Along with “Giddyup!” and “In It To Win It“. “Once a Mate, Always a Mate.” It was my way of saying that if you were on my club there was nothing I wouldn’t do for you. And that no matter who you were, you should be Proud that you were a part of Something Very Special. An Exclusive group that represented All the Best of Competitive Running in Nebraska. Each person bringing different talents to be sure, but Pride and Honor being the unquestioned binding agent. Determination and Potential being next on the list, in that order. And Racing next, Often and with Gusto.
That was My Way and it worked Very Well for over a decade.
There are still some that represent Team Nebraska that remember. And others that will never forget. Among those a list of heroes for Nebraska running. James McGown, Suzanne Weeder-Einspahr, Mike Morgan, Angee Henry, Peter van der Westhuizen, David Adams.
It is one of those that now comes back. I’ve often told the tale of how I built Team Nebraska on the back of James McGown. His allowing me to coach him an honor I’ll never forget. Using the daunting original McLatchie Method which led to two consecutive Olympic Trials Marathons. Runner’s World did a feature article on James leading up to the 2004 Trials, “The Long Shot.” About a hard scrabbled cattle farmer from Western Nebraska, up at dawn to rustle the herd, hard 20 milers, and then off to a regular job. No excuses, and like a Real Cowboy, No Fences.
Two favorite memories of James: 1) Receiving a call after he arrived in Birmingham, Alabama for the 2003 USA Marathon Champs (a preview of the 2004 Olympic Trials course) , the biggest city he’d ever been to and more than a little awe in his voice. 2) As he crossed the finish line at the 2007 USA Marathon Championships at Twin Cities, qualifying for his second Trials by a mere one second, collapsing into my arms, me asking “James, what can I get for you”, his reply “A bullet in my head.”
And after retiring from Real Racing winning a USA Trail Marathon National Championship.
James remembers all that too. And it is with delight and promise that I welcome him as Nebraska Run Guru Elite’s newest member. He’ll turn 40 in less than a year and will once again carry our dreams on his shoulders.
Kudos to John Tully for getting half of Friday’s quiz. The 2:56:41 Houston Marathon time belongs to Maureen Larsen. No one guessed the second signature, Christy Nielsen-Crotts with her 1:18:56 Half. I’m sure they remember.