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home : sports : sports February 5, 2016

7/3/2013 9:37:00 AM
Running commentary
An informal memorial commemorates the terrorist bombing at the site of the Boston Marathon. photo by Charlie Kanzig
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An informal memorial commemorates the terrorist bombing at the site of the Boston Marathon. photo by Charlie Kanzig

By Charlie Kanzig

In the past month I have had experiences that have given me some new perspectives surrounding my life as a runner.

As a young man, I qualified for the Boston Marathon a number of times, but had agreed to only travel there when a good friend also qualified. Sadly, he never did, and life went on without me taking part in the epic race.

Two weeks ago, I enjoyed a trip to Boston and Cambridge for a school counseling institute sponsored by Harvard and the College Board. On my second day there, I ran early in the morning from my hotel along the Charles River to downtown Boston. My destination was to cross the finish line of the marathon on Boylston Street, but I stopped short of that when came upon the memorial for the victims of the bombings of this year's race. Hundreds and hundreds of running shoes, dozens of hats and T-shirts and other running-related gear comprise the memorial. Workers were making the finishing touches to a commemorative message chiseled into a marble slab flush with the sidewalk.

I remember the day of the bombings and, as a fellow runner, how close I felt to all the participants and spectators on hand who experienced the terror and confusion brought on the event. That the young terrorists chose such a happy event made the sting of their misguided thinking all the worse. However, even in my few days in Boston, I sensed it was a city that was not going to cower. I wished I was 10 years or more younger and much fitter because if I could still qualify for Boston, I would definitely want to be there in 2014 in memory of those killed and injured and as a symbol of not living in fear.

Saturday morning I ran on the Indian Ford trail from the campground back toward town for the first time. I found the trail to be quite pleasant and in good condition. My goal was to run for 60 minutes, which I did with just a bit of struggle. As I lumbered along on the way back, I thought of Sisters ultra-runner Ashley Nordell, who was running at the very same time in the prestigious Western States Endurance Race, which is a grueling 100-mile race in the mountains of California. I need to thank Ashley because grinding out the last 30 minutes of an hour-long run is nothing compared to attempting to run the distance that would be equivalent to running from Sisters over the McKenzie Pass to Eugene, and doing nearly five more miles on the Hayward Field track. Thinking of what she was facing helped me slog on.

Ashley texted me Sunday to let me know that she dropped out after 62 miles in what ended up being the second-hottest Western States in the history of the event, with temperatures topping 100 degrees. She lamented that it was the first time in 10 career 100-mile races that she was not able to finish, but she has plans to run the Angeles Crest 100 in five weeks if she gets cleared medically to take part.

I guess whether it's 62 miles or 62 minutes, we runners just need to do our best for each day.

I am leaving for a two-year stint in South Korea beginning July 23, where my wife, Deirdre, and I will be working at Taejon Christian International School (TCIS). During my interview, I expressed my passion for coaching cross-country runners and explained that I had been doing so since 1983. The headmaster of the school said he understood, but feared that I would be far too busy working and adjusting to a new culture in my first months of work and therefore could not recommend that I coach in my first year. This was a blow, because, honestly, the hardest thing about leaving my job here for two years is stepping away from the fantastic young people currently on the Outlaws team.

In early June I got an email from the athletic director in Korea who explained that the head cross-country coach was pregnant and due to deliver right in the middle of the season. He wondered if I would be interested in assisting her for the first half of the season and then helping wrap things up after the baby is delivered.

Of course I immediately accepted and I honestly believe that no matter how busy I am, it will be good for me to get outdoors every day with the TCIS kids, including my sophomore son Izaak.

So the adage "When one door closes, another opens" has turned out to be true once again.

Next time I write for The Nugget may be from the center of South Korea, which my friendly editor has given me the green light to do. I hope to see many of you out on the roads and trails of Sisters Country between now and my July 23 departure.

Everyone is invited to a "send-off" fun-run and walk from the Tollgate Rec Center starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 6.

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