Monday runners continue tradition
I believe it was in the spring of 1997 that I loaned a book called “Tuesdays with Morrie” to my friend Bob Willey. Books were always one of the main topics on our agenda when we shared a run up to Sequoia Glen together. Some of the other general discussion items included softball, upcoming races, and any philosophical questions that may arise in regards to the mountains, the clouds, and the flowing waters of Mitchell Creek. It was hard to get in a great deal of conversation while running almost two miles straight uphill. Oxygen is not a commodity in abundance. Most thoughts were bandied about as we sat by the rushing stream at Sequoia Glen.
Willey always seemed to know what books, and particular authors, I would enjoy. He got me going at an early age on Kurt Vonnegut. He handed me a book several years ago titled “Sick Puppy” by a man named Carl Hiaasen. I ended up reading every Hiaasen book on Willey’s bookshelf, chuckling from beginning to end. A few years back, Willey suggested I read the works of Richard Brautigan. Willey had a copy of two Brautigan books, “Trout Fishing in America” and “A Confederate General from Big Sur.” I read them both, and ended up bugging the ladies at the Glenwood Library to get me all the Brautigan books in print. The last book Willey offered up to me, before he passed away two years ago this July, was a book called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. Willey gave me his usual, excitable endorsement as he proclaimed, “You gotta read this one, Mike!” Of course, I loved it. I’ve read it twice more since that time.
“Tuesdays with Morrie” was written by Mitch Albom, and is a memoir about a student who gets to spend time with his old college professor who is dying of a neurological illness known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The book is about the ever-twisting road of life, and appreciating the good times and the bad, while cherishing the wonderful folks that surround you. Willey enjoyed the book, and decided that he should give a name to his group of runners who met each Monday on my porch in honor of the book. “Mondays at Mike’s” was christened as the name the regulars who trudged up Mitchell Creek Road to Sequoia Glen each week would carry with them. Willey’s good buddies Jack Green and Joe Mollica were the counted on participants in the early years, but the group run became ever more popular as the years passed and such notables as Karla Richards, Andrea Sprung, Darrell Stanley, Larry Rose, Jim Richmond, Lisa Hartert, Paul Driskill, Adriana Ayala, Fred Kirschbaum, Ann Deyarmond, Christine Smalley, Sage O’Neil, Martin Pearson, Kim Worline, Andre Dubois and Rick Voorhees have all joined the running ranks at one time or another.
The group now meets at different locations on the first Monday of each month and has taken on the new name of “Willey’s Monday Wanderers.” The tradition that Bob Willey started over 20 years ago is being carried on in fine fashion as the “Wanderers” meet for a group run, with some good conversation and refreshments following. There is quite an age range among the group, as is the pace at which they run. No matter, fun and exercise is the order of the day when these characters meet up, and they never seem to fail to accomplish their objective.
Willey would be proud.
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.
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