Vol. 5, No. 7 / Sept. 29-Oct. 6, 2002
Nancy J. Ashmore

Running in Twin Cities Marathon signifies
variety of things to faculty, staff participants

For some it is like climbing Mt. Everest — a capstone goal that they hope to accomplish just once. For others, it is a signal achievement that they dedicate themselves to repeating. For everyone who runs a marathon, however, it is, as Tim Schroer put it, “about so much more than running.”

Schroer (Community Life and Diversity) is preparing to participate in the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM), taking place at 8 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 29. So are 8,499 others, including Christopher Brooks (Political Science), John Kilbride (Advancement), Janice Manning (Physical Education), Katie O’Connor (TRIO), Steve Rholl (IIT), Kathy Shea (Biology), Stacy Tepp (TRIO) and a host of other faculty and staff members.

For some, like Brooks, this will be their first marathon or their first chance to experience what has been called “the most beautiful urban marathon in America.” Others, like Kilbride and Shea, are old hands at making the 26.2 mile trek from the Metrodome in Minneapolis to the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Schroer is somewhere in between. Last year’s TCM was his first ever — the belated crossing off of an item on a “Things to Do Before I Turn 40” list. Less than a calendar year later he’s back for another go. In the meantime, he ran Grandma’s Marathon, held in Duluth. It seems fair to say he’s addicted

Schroer rejects any suggestion that he’s “hard core,” however. He runs about 30 miles a week, he says, some of it with a training partner from Shakopee, the rest in the company of the “Blue Collar Guys,” a St. Olaf group that includes Bryn Geffert (Library), Mark Gelle (Treasurer’s Office), Paul Humke (Mathematics), Greg Kneser (Dean of Students Office), Loren Larson (Emeritus Mathematics), Eric Lund (Religion) and David Wee (English), among others. The “BCG’s,” as they call themselves, pride themselves on running rain or shine. While that may sound intense to many, their motto definitely won’t. “If you can’t talk while you’re running,” they say, “you’re running too fast.”

Kilbride says he runs in order “to socialize and to eat like a slob.” He’s lost count of how many times he’s done the TCM. The principal gifts officer ran his first one in 1983, however — when he was a first-year St. Olaf student — and he’s run about two out of every three races since then, as well as the Boston Marathon in 1999. His goal for this year’s marathon is to qualify again for Boston, which will require finishing in 3:15 or under. Last year he was one of the fastest Ole competitors, recording a 3:25:33 finish — good enough for 650th place, out of 8,500 registrants. (In case you wondered, Joshua Kipkemboi, the winner, finished in 2:14:07, averaging 5 minutes and 7 seconds per mile.)

Kilbride doesn’t wear his trademark bow-tie when he competes, by the way. He actually doesn’t spend much time obsessing about how he’s attired, he says — as evidenced by the fact that several years back he ran in a Charlie’s Angels T-shirt.

The “best week of training”
Shea ran the Boston Marathon several years ago, too. This year’s TCM will be her fourth. Like the others, she is “tapering” this week, cutting back on the miles she runs per week, building up reserves — and trying hard not to think about the race.

Tapering, explains Chris Daymont (Physical Education), is when you focus on maintaining your rhythm and “keeping your legs under you” while eating well and getting rest. The women’s cross country coach trained for and finished last year’s TCM — rediscovering in the process why it had been more than a decade since she’d run that distance. She won’t be running one again, she says. The “best week of marathon training” is the last one, she says with a smile.

Kilbride, whose mileage peaks at about 50 miles per week, agrees. “You can’t really rationalize any of it,” he says about the hard work and the dedication it takes to prepare for and complete a marathon. It might have something to do with the endorphins. It might have something to do with doing something that only a fraction of Americans have even attempted. It might have something to do with the 250,000 supporters lining the route

Clearly, though, as Tim Schroer says, it’s about much more than running.

Look for race results in Monday’s Twin Cities papers. You’ll find the names of these and many other St. Olaf and Northfield runners.