Vidakovich column: Running thoughts at the lumberyard

Mike Vidakovich

Last Saturday morning I headed down to the K&K Lumberyard in Silt to get some kindling wood for the fires I build in my woodstove. I think for me, it would be nearly impossible to survive these cold and dreary winters we have without the heat from that stove. My furnace is in good working order and always does its job when need be, but every time I hear it click on, I can feel the money mysteriously floating out of my pocket.

On a rare, sunny western Colorado morning as I was loading up the back of my jeep near the large stacks of split pine that are available, a yellow ATV with a small trailer in tow came rolling into the yard and stopped across the way from me. I noticed the gentleman inside the vehicle was looking my way and waving, so I waved back.

As soon as he rolled down the window, I immediately recognized one of my old running buddies who still makes the roads and trails of these valleys his home away from home. He looked thin and fit as he stepped out of the car to greet me, and inquire as to my health and well being. I noticed he had his dogs with him, so I went to my car to grab some milk bones that I always carry with me in case I stumble upon a creature in need.

Silt resident Dennis Webb is the man of whom I speak, and many of you may remember him as the former managing editor of the Post Independent. He now works primarily from home as a news writer for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

I have known Dennis for many years and competed against him in more local road races than I can count. I can’t say that I ever beat him, or even came close, but he represents one of the many immensely interesting running souls who I have had the pleasure of meeting during my 43 years of running and racing.

Dennis immediately asked how my running was going and he commented on several of the others in the running community who he knew were still pounding the pavement on a regular basis.

We talked about Silt’s 60-year-old phenom Bernie Boettcher who has been at the top of the running heap for many years and continues to amaze by turning in times that would be noteworthy for those half his age.

I told Dennis that John Stroud and Brad Palmer, both of Carbondale, were still dueling it out in many of the area’s road races, the latest being the Jingle Bell Run just before Christmas in Carbondale. I told him they always seem to finish ahead of me, and I also lamented the fact that in many races, the 60s age group is by far the toughest to place in the top three.

We talked about Basalt’s Ron Lund, also a member of the over-60 crowd, who is still able to keep up with all of the youngsters on the road. Dennis asked if Jim Richmond was still running. I told him that even though he has had a few setbacks, like a recent broken ankle, of course he was still lacing up the shoes.

I think we reminisced more than we gathered wood, but that was just fine. When it was time to go, he told me his dog was named “Cal” after legendary Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken. Being an Orioles fan since I was a boy, I had to get my ball cap with the funny Oriole bird out of my car and show it to him.

On the way home, after saying our goodbyes and hope-to-see-you-soon parting words, I thought of a book I read many years ago called “Kitchen Readings” by Hunter S. Thompson. The book chronicled the many friends, acquaintances, and even wayward souls who would drop by Thompson’s home in Woody Creek to share philosophical meanderings. They would gather in the kitchen always, and talk books, old times, local politics, recent travels, and anything else that suited their fancy.

Reflecting back on the morning, I figured that Dennis and I had our own Kitchen Readings, but the setting was a lumberyard in Silt. Not a bad place to catch up with a friend, even if it was just a chance meeting. But those always seem to be the best kind.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at

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