It’s only a mile … |

It’s only a mile …

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

Most distance runners are oddballs – in a good way, and they’re all pretty nice people.

I feel highly qualified to express my opinion on this fraternity since I joined their ranks in the late summer of 1980 when I tried chasing my running rival, Jim Richmond, around the Glenwood Springs High School track for a mile, looking at his heels the entire way.

“He shouldn’t have beaten me,” I lamented. “It’s only a mile.”

He beat me again that autumn when we ran our first-ever race, the Take the Money and Run 10K in Aspen. Even though I had on my new Nike waffle racers and was feeling supremely confident, Richmond beat me to the finish line once again wearing his old, high-top Adidas basketball shoes.

I just shook my head. This running stuff is painful.

Thirty years later, I still shake my head at the start of a race when I look around at the kindred spirits that are gathered.

I really believe they can be broken down into two general groups. There are those who enjoy spandex, wear matching outfits at all times, listen to music while they run and log most of their miles on a treadmill. Then there are those who look like they could be one of the Merry Pranksters, riding on the day-glo school bus in Thomas Wolfe’s book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

For those of you who may remember the book, on the back of the bus was a large sign that read: “Caution, Weird Load.”

Both groups have one thing in common, though. They go out and hurt a little bit every day for the sake of their physical and mental health, and then a little more on race day.

“It’s only a mile,” I told myself, as I stood at the start line and readied for Sunday’s Mother’s Day Mile in Glenwood. The race is my annual test to see how slow I’ve become at the distance.

I usually try to concentrate and block everything out as the time for the starting gun approaches, but there was so much anxious banter among the competitors in the over-40 age heat that I decided to try a different approach and listen to the thoughts, hopes, gripes, good wishes, and goals of those around me.

Since many of these locals may not wish to be identified in this column, I will borrow a line from the old TV drama “Dragnet,” and change the names to protect the innocent.

“I ran a low 20-minute 5K in Carbondale yesterday, so we’ll see what happens,” said the local newspaper writer.

“I’m feeling good, really good. It’s nice to be here,” were the thoughts from the gentleman who is responsible for keeping the classrooms and hallways at Rifle High School clean and shiny for the students and teachers.

The lady who makes sure many of the area high school students stay on track to go to college seemed a bit apprehensive.

“I’ve been a little injured, so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.

My insurance guy, and longtime friend, was fired up and ready to go: “I ran a 6:20 on the track a couple weeks ago, so I’m shooting for that area.”

Following the race, a former principal said it was good to be back on the roads following a six-month layoff.

“I missed running – all aspects of it. Running becomes part of you.”

The consensus opinion before, during and after the race was that Nancy Reinisch and her stable of volunteers did another exceptional job in benefiting the Advocate Safehouse Project and making sure everyone had a quality experience at the Mother’s Day Mile.

And thank you for the rose at the finish line. I gave it to my mom.

In closing, I want to send out a tribute to Andy Dunn and Mark McReynolds, two guys who dominated the local running scene several decades ago.

Dunn, who ran all of his races under the alias of Ok Corralis, was only caught in a race once in his life. That’s the night Della Cornwall, the manager of the Glen Theatre, lassoed him and tossed him out of the theater for unruly behavior. Dunn should have known better than to mess with Della. She was one tough rascal.

Hat’s off to you, Mark. You made the long distances look simple as you covered them in the blink of an eye. If not for that balky back, I know you would still be out on the trails.

Thanks for the memories.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent

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