Gary Dougherty has been a fixture on the Nebraska running scene in a variety of capacities.  We have been through a lot together.  A brief intro and my 10 questions for Gary.

“Ran in track in middle school, think ran 4:53 mile in 8th grade? But Futbol & Basketball were my true passions. Didn’t start running again until 28 or 29?. Goal was to simply qualify for seeded pass for Corp Cup 10k <50 min. Then after watching Omaha Marathon, had to give that a try & then just kept extending my never ending goals, like to BOSTON, etc. Most training done at Lake Zorinsky over the years at 4:15am, had to be done by 6am. Wore black shorts, shirts, socks & shoes, so no one could see me; LOL!”

Will: You were a competitive runner, please share your personal bests.
Gary:1 mile indoor – 4:43, outdoor road 4:43
5k – 16:01
5 mile – 27:12
8k – 27:01
10k – 33:43
10 mile – 56:13
½ – 1:15:56
Full – 2:42:20

Will: Who was your favorite competitor? Who did you chase that made you dig just a little deeper trying to beat them?
Gary:  O’man, that’s a difficult one! I’d say probably Chris Stiffler or Ol’ School (Craig Christians), then probably anyone in my original training group I ran with; whom of which I rarely beat. Like Ron Beene, Dave Sutej, Mike Moyer, Mike Vance, Mike Kuckta, and Shannon Stenger.

Will: What do you see as the biggest change in the Omaha running scene over the last 25 years?
Gary: Seems things are overall less competitive than they used to be when I started running in ’96 ish. Even back then, I’d hear from group I trained with how things were LESS competitive compared to late 80’s, seems the trend has continued? Maybe more people have gotten into the healthy lifestyle aspect of it vs. being hardcore competitive? I hear stories how you’d have to break 32:00 to get Top 20 at Corporate Cup back in the day, that’s crazy! Whatever the case may be, it’s positive so long as the individuals pursuant are enjoying their journey. I do think there is stronger focus on competitive running “teams” than 25 years ago. Back then, there weren’t organized teams…just a bunch of talented runners that would beat each other up in workouts & then go to the bar together; drink beers and tells war stories.

Will: You recently retired your online training log “NDORFNZ”. Before strava, before facebook, twenty two years of blood sweat and tears. What is your biggest take away from hosting literally hundreds of runners dreams?
Gary: WOW! Guess I never thought about it from that angle? I guess it’s difficult to evaluate the impact NDORFNZ may have had on people, positive and/or negative. I’d like to think NDORFNZ motivated folks to dream and find their unknown limits, all the while getting that never ending support from NDORFNZ Who’s Now? It was honestly social media for runners before social media really took off and I’m actually very thankful it DID NOT become Facebook or Strava, there’s a positive side to social media, but there’s also a VERY negative side too. NDORFNZ experienced both, I was somewhat naive the negative side when I first started the site, but in the end it all remained a very enjoyable well worth it journey. My biggest take away would be how incredibly blessed I am for the friendships & connections that were created over the years. It’s worth noting NDORFNZ ended up logging around 1.8 million miles over the years and can’t even begin to imagine the PRs that were set endlessly by the folks. 🙂

Will: You ran for Team Nebraska, do you have a favorite story from being a Good Mate?
Gary: Yes! Honestly, I probably wasn’t “fast enough” to be a member. But, it felt pretty cool to get “elite” treatment from Race Directors when attending races. Would’ve loved to have ran a USATF Team XC Champs, but never got the chance. But loved being at races & connecting with other ‘mates! One of my fav shots from Team Nebraska days is racing with good ‘mate Sutej down the final stretch at Bix! Def a keeper!

Will: You’ve also spent the last couple of decades documenting Nebraska running with your photography. Any single image stand out among the thousands?
Gary: Great question! So many shots! Off the top of my head, probably Corporate Cup with Maize Larsen & Seth Hirsch (as youngsters) front & center of starting line sporting NDORFNZ gear. Or of world renowned Ultra Runner Kaci Lickteig breaking tape at Corp Cup sporting NDORFNZ sports bra? So so many photos over the years; or perhaps the Lake Z hill shot of runners feverishly waving? Hopefully I’ve captured some “keepers” for the folks. A Non-Nebraska related shot…the great Dez in a torrential downpour turning left onto Boylston, then owning Boylston on her way to victory in BOSTON.

Will: You had a major surgery that shelved you for several years. You’re running occasionally, how did the time off deepen your appreciation for being able to run again?
Gary: No surgery…yet. 😉 In 2012, after a year of hip issues, a MRI revealed Grade 4 arthritis in the hip…doc said ya gotta stop or you’re gonna need a replacement soon. Quit running cold turkey in 2012. The NDORFNZ folks graciously surprised me with a fund raiser to show their support & appreciation; providing me with a 1,000,000 mile glass plaque to celebrate the NDORFNZ milestone & plentiful funds to purchase a bike; one of which I still ride regularly with wassE. Over this last year started running a bit & playing indoor soccer again, deepens my appreciation for being active and friendly camaraderie with good folks. Figured I’m gonna do what I can until at which point in time it’s necessary. I’ve found it’s actually very manageable & don’t do too bad for a 52 year old gimpy guy! Lovin’ & Livin’ Life, while Keepin’ It Real…motto to live by

Will: If you could offer one piece of running advice to young and developing athletes, what would it be?
Gary: This I’ve learned from the great wassE (Gary Wasserman, National Champion in XC & Track for Wesleyan) with whom I run & bike with regularly. Enjoy The Journey & don’t take yourself too seriously!

Will: Futbol is your first and favorite sport no? Which is sweeter, game winning goal or personal best?
Gary: That’s TOUGH, but I’d have to go with game winning goal (I’m sure my running friends are cringing on that one!)

Will: Gold Medal or Pulitzer Prize in Photography?
Gary: Hmmmmm………I’d have to go Gold Medal; in FUTBOL 😉