Thursday, February 5, 2009

On The Run (October 2008)

(This "On the Run" column first appeared October 2008 in The Daily Progress)

To shake hands with Dan Jordan is like touching history and over the past generation no other person has brought us closer to our community roots than Mr. Jordan of Monticello. This kind and brilliant gentleman has taught us so much about Jefferson and has drawn so many of us closer to that magnificent house on the mountaintop. With his gracious hospitality Jordan managed to help us all feel a part of Jefferson’s world as he magically weaved the fibers of history for us over the past three decades, intimately connecting us to Jefferson and his special home.

Now, as Jordan prepares to retire, is the perfect time for so many of us foot travelers to reflect on his legacy. Jordan, who is an avid walker himself, has passionately advocated for the creation of miles of soft surface public paths. He, along with fellow Monticello exercise enthusiasts like Peter Hatch, have tirelessly worked over the years on creating one of the most beautiful networks of public trails at any historic property in our country. Thanks to their vision, thousands of runners and walkers have been treated to countless hours of free and healthy enjoyment along the tree lined paths that gently snake their way up the mountain top. Like Jefferson, who once said that “exercise is second only to morality”, Jordan truly believes in the long term benefits of a daily walk or run.

And thank goodness he and his fellow staff felt called to share Jefferson’s beautiful property with so many of us exercisers. Thank you so very much, Mr. Jordan…your Jeffersonian legacy will live on for future generations to enjoy!

A Tribute to Carol: No area volunteer has given more to our running community over the past 25 years than Carol Finch. During that time the tireless and selfless Finch has volunteered her time and expertise at well over a thousand not-for profit running events, many of which she has actually coordinated and directed. Carol has had a positive influence at every conceivable type of community running event one can imagine, from kid’s track meets and high school and collegiate cross country races to ten miler and half-marathon road races. In turn, during Carol’s tenure, these events have raised over a million dollars for worthy area causes.

Earlier this summer our local running world was rocked by the sobering news that Carol had been diagnosed with a serious form of lung cancer…a cancer that had also spread to her lungs and brain. Since the diagnosis, Carol has continued to exhibit her usual volunteering dedication by lending a hand at several area footraces, including resuming her role as Race Director for The Pepsi 10K, which raised several thousand dollars for our area Special Olympians in mid-September! Carol, who hasn’t smoked a day in her life, continues to be upbeat and engaged with our running community.

We ask for all who have been touched by the positive influence of Carol’s hard work and friendship over the past three decades to collectively pray for this most special person. We’re all pulling for you, Carol!

Women on the Run: A bevy of speedy women have had excellent performances at events all over the world in recent weeks: 47 year old Andrea Wright finished first at the Maymont 5,000 Cross Country Open race in Richmond in late September; 55 year old Bev Wispelwey clocked an impressive 81 minutes over the very hilly Virginia Ten Miler race course in Lynchburg en route to a blue ribbon performance in her age group; Kara Williams rocketed to a Boston qualifying time of 3:38, through driving rain and 25 mile/hour winds at The St. Georges Marathon in Utah; Becky Keller finished 17th overall female at the World Duathlon Championships in Rimini, Italy, which included a 38:34 p.r. split in the 10K run portion of this prestigious event; and Sophie Speidel, a STAB counselor and coach, finished 25th overall in 28 hours and 32 minutes over the grueling, mountainous 100 mile course at The Grindstone Ultra Marathon in Swoope, Virginia. More impressively was the fact that Speidel finished first among women 40 and over and was the 6th female across the finish line!

Men at Work: The Charlottesville Track Club and the Urology Department at UVa recently kicked off their annual Four Miler Training Program for out of shape males looking to safely make exercise a permanent part of their lifestyle. Over 100 guys are already participating as they have made a pact to lose weight and get into better shape by walking and running with the group. I have the pleasure of serving as coach for this most inspiring group and along with the help of folks like Bill Duxbury, Tom Scala, Bill Blodgett, Jamie Collins, Lyle Henofer, Ed Russell and Manoj Patel we aim to get as many as possible men off the couch and on their feet. The group meets every Saturday at 8:30am outside the UVa track. Come join us, guys!

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