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Running in the right place

Moe Johnson Running with Moe

Running in the right place

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Summer is just around the corner and for a majority of people that is when vacations are scheduled. Vacation time varies with different individuals. Some stay home and take on projects to repair the home or yard while others plan on visiting relatives, a sea shore or the mountains, or even visit another country. For the athletic person it probably started in high school when you visited another town to play a game. If you played in college you probably had the opportunity to travel to another state. If you were talented enough to make a National Team you may visit another country.

For the average athlete after a sports career travel to other towns, states, or countries is limited to a vacation to see relatives or maybe attend a business convention in another state. That is one of the advantages of being a runner. There are races all over the United States and almost too many to count just in the state of Texas. The best part is when you visit another city or state to enter a race it doesn’t matter if you are a fast or slow runner. For many runners entering a race in another city or state the race is only an excuse to visit. I know a few runners that enter a race in Las Vegas. The reasoning is that as long as I am here for the race I might as well visit the casinos and shows that are there. And maybe try their hand at the slot machines or gaming tables. They run the race and enjoy the weekend while visiting Las Vegas.

I have had runners from other states that look for races in the near area while visiting a convention in Austin or San Antonio. A couple from the East Coast even took home some medals from a race that we had in San Marcos. Runners will look for a race to enter if they are coming for a convention and it is always nice for them to return home with a race tee shirt from another state to show off to their running friends.

One advantage runners have over other sports is that there is always a chance that some famous runner will be there. The difference that I have found is that famous runners are first and foremost runners and not the ‘do not touch’ celebrities. I had the opportunity to ride in an elevator with Bill Rogers who was a wellknown marathon runner some years ago. He signed my race shirt, ”See you in Boston, Moe”. I never wear that shirt except on very special occasions.

In the Chicago Marathon I found myself running alongside Dr. George Sheehan, a noted author on running. I mentioned I enjoyed reading his articles and book. He said, “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Since we were in the middle of a marathon I thought it best to keep any conversation short.

In Maine one year I was at the RRCA Convention and one of the entrants was Joan Benoit, the first women’s Olympic Marathon gold medal winner. I had a chance to talk with her briefly at the convention. As an average person I would never have had that opportunity. The nice thing about famous professional runners is that they are just that – runners. They will talk to you as a fellow runner and talk about running tips and wish you, “Good Luck on the race tomorrow.”

I was fortunate to be a strength coach for a couple of NHL (National Hockey League) teams and got to rub elbows with some famous players. Since I was part of the team they treated me as one of them. I didn’t realize what an opportunity that was until we walked out of the locker room after practice. There were kids and fans waiting for autographs and a handshake. Some of the players took their broken sticks out and gave them to the kids. They thought these sticks were the ultimate gift of a famous hockey player. Sitting in the bleachers one day Gordie Howe, a legend in hockey, came and sat by me and told me jokes and analyze d the skill of the players. I sort of broke protocol as a member of the team and asked him for his autograph.

Being a runner has the benefit of being able to run in every state in the United States and have a chance to meet and talk with the stars of the running world. I have to admit that the race you enter is usually a famous race such as a marathon in a big city. Meeting a famous runner here at a local race is slim even though Roger Soler, an Olympic distance runner from San Antonio, has entered our races several times. As a runner just keep your eyes open at the races for a chance to meet someone famous.

San Marcos Record

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