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    UPDATE

With this past week’s decision by a federal judge and last year’s “ruling” from the US Patent Office to assume legal jurisdiction over social-moral-ethical issues, we decided to repost this piece and add a bit more commentary along the way.

As ugly as perhaps our free speech can be at times (and that is certainly a matter of opinion and is debatable), it is a constitutional freedom. Now tertiary government offices and judges get to decide for us. This is scary. What next?

Here’s just a little of what AAH is bothered about, as it relates to disparaging anybody and anything, especially in the world of sports.

– – –

The flood gate has been officially declared open. The Braves, Indians, Warriors, Blackhawks, Hatchets, Vikings, Chiefs, Redmen, Red Devils, Blue Devils, Lady Buffaloes, Lady Bison. And that’s just a short list of high school mascots we can come up with in 3 minutes.

Everybody’s on the chopping block. Good for them. Good for the disparaged. Maybe they deserve it; maybe it’s time. It’s apparently not about freedom – even the freedom to make a mistake or be possibly offensive to someone – anymore. It’s about what society decides in the present mood and how government is obliged to intervene in the place of freedom.

The Louisville Redbirds’ teeth. I have had it with the teeth. It is not only disparaging, but entirely inaccurate to put teeth into the mouth of a cardinal. I don’t care how tough it makes them look. If they were all that tough, they’d go out and win the Rose Bowl. How about this – You win the Rose Bowl and you can keep your damn teeth. Until then, Shut up and peck like everybody else.

Wheaton College Whatevers. The fine Christian college in northern Illinois, where my nephew is headed this fall. Great school. They used to be the Crusaders, but clearly for a Christian school that eventually became unacceptable. For the life of me, even with my nephew wearing the T-shirts at family gatherings, I can’t remember that new ho-hum name. They should have taken our suggestion that they become the Martyrs. That would offend NOBODY.

Evolution. Is it true that a native American artist designed the Washington Redskins logo? Well, maybe he changed his mind in these intervening years. That’s ok. Even the Roe vs. Wade lady later became a Christian and came to oppose abortion. Anything can happen, and we do evolve.

But we also devolve. All in the Family and Archie Bunker are no longer produced, and many consider it close to the most offensive television show ever made. But my wife and I have renewed our interest in watching, thanks to MeTV. Great social and simple human relationship issues are exposed, explored and challenged in every episode.

Did Archie lead us to this? I really don’t know.

– – –

Recently Bob Costas brought the current controversy full front and center – during Sunday Night Football. And he stated the obvious – that it is the obvious elephant in the room.

He went through the historical perspective, showing photographs of the team in their logo emblazoned uniforms as far back as the 1940s. He drew and comparisons with other professional and collegiate teams. He presented the changes made, too – names and logos changed and traditions altered; arguably all for the purpose of righting long-standing wrongs.

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He submitted the obvious, too, that we, generally, the American public, as well as the team, Dan Snyder (the Redskins owner), anyone else, really, that there is no animas, no hatred, no ill-intent. There is only history and tradition.

Still, his conclusion was that we have to admit another obvious fact: the term “Redskins” is unlike any other. It stands alone in its representation of ethnicity and hence, race. And that, in and of itself is, by definition, racist. No others do so. At least, no longer.

Perhaps it was a bold thing to do, to issue forth social commentary on social controversy during Sunday Night Football. After all, we’re sitting down to watch, whether in the stands or at home, to finally, after a long and serious week, and just before the start of another; one more relatively brief respite, perhaps really call it what it is – our national (as well as personal) distraction, to take us away from, perhaps protect us from, the seriousness we’re about to once again embark upon in just less than 12 hours.

12 hours. Then we’re back at it.

Serious and daily and mundane and regular and yet, there’s our next respite – a bright reminder that we actually can make it: Monday Night Football. Our next Big Distraction. Then Thursday Night Football, then Saturday it’s all the college games; mainly Big Ten is all we care about, and Glory Be, we’re back to Sunday. Let Loose. We can make it through the week after all.

And then here comes Bob Costas to drag us down into the mire and stress of serious social issues.

Well, perhaps we need it; perhaps it needs to be said.

It’s just that we’re not quite on that channel – the Get All Serious And Philosophical channel – when we sit down to watch a football game. We’re more on the Relax And Not Think channel.

And Costas has done it before, in Kansas City. He did it over hand guns, any guns, and gun control, or non-control. He’s got a huge platform and a huge opinion and a huge go-ahead, so why not? And seriously, it was an important moment: that week a Chiefs player had just committed suicide with a pistol.

Well, he had to (or got to . . . .) make the morning TV rounds after that honest, expressive moment, to explain, sort out, defend, expound. It doesn’t seem to have hurt him; he just got to press his point a few more times. Apparently his bosses have made it clear it’s his job.

And maybe it is.

Well, Bob, the issue is real; we’re not arguing it’s not. And it’s important, and if we get into a conversation over this one, say, during lunch, or while walking down the hall to the conference room, or while doing a little yard work, we’ll actually get into it. We’ll put some thought into it and we’re ready to see it both ways. Hell, several ways. It is complicated, after all.

And maybe we do think somebody ought to . . . . uh, ought to . . . Uh . . . uh, ought . . . Uh . . .

What, exactly? Somebody ought to what?

Only a few days before this, say on Wednesday or Thursday night this past week, it was Brian Williams of ABC News who opened his broadcast with the question, “Should the Washington Redskins be forced to change their name?”

redskins-logo

Now they’ve got us thinking.

But here’s what we’re thinking about:

The – exact – words – he – chose; the proposition, exactly:

“Should the Washington Redskins be forced to change their name?”

Should they be FORCED . . .

FORCED.

Now all’s a-swirl in which thought to express first, where to begin. How to deal with which problem. How many problems? Many.

Here’s one to begin with:

This one’s so obvious, so common, so knee-jerk, it’s cliché. And one perhaps nobody wants to hear any more. Maybe nobody wants to see it dragged out of the closet and dragged through the muck one more time. Maybe it’s a tired argument now; lost its steam. Lost its shine. Especially in these times in the life of America.

It’s the freedom of speech-thing. The First Amendment to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights.

We’ll not even go into it. It’s tiring just considering the whole discussion, and generally, it seems nobody really cares about that argument any more.

So here’s the next one to think about:

In the past couple of years Ask A Hoosier has posted a couple of blogs that come pretty close to the heart of this matter.

First is our piece, Reading, Hearing, Understanding . . .and Changing History . . .and Ourselves from May, 2011 about the use of – and regret for the use of – and the discarding of – and the covering up of – the evidence, the history, the context, the reconstruction of – the N word.

Second, On My Honor, I Will Do My Best . . . , May, 2013, is the piece written more recently about the issue of gay membership in the Boy Scouts of America. Rather than reiterate, or more realistically, re-exhaust ourselves here by retelling and rearguing the issue, maybe it would be worth your time and effort and intellect to read it. Substitute one issue for the other. You’ll find it’s really the same.

Now, to apply it to the Redskins issue, consider this:

Consider rewriting history and tradition in a similar way that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have been altered and filtered to make – finally – acceptable the stories told by one man.

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One man, said to be one of the greatest writers in our nation’s history, who happened to be the very one who said that choosing just the right word; the exact and best, most fitting word, is what makes all the difference.

The very words he chose – supposedly so carefully with very specific intent – have, at least by some, been discarded.

The result?

Perhaps someday, when enough time and knowledge and accuracy in history and tradition have gone, when all those who were first-hand witnesses to it are gone or at least silent, when all abhorrent written and printed record is put aside in another dark and cold Krystal Nacht revived from another history, then perhaps . . .

. . . . perhaps . . .

Perhaps it will be denied. Denied that it ever happened.

Where is the proof, after all? “Show us the proof”, they could say. And there would be none to be found.

It was Edgar Allen Poe’s character in The Tell-tale Heart who was made insane with guilt because the evidence of his crime, though hidden, was still there.

Floorboards, no matter how thick or heavy, are no match the weight of truth. The evidence was still there, only just beneath the surface. Perhaps because the truth was as the stones of the Apostles – that even they would cry out.

Zangrillo_TellTaleHeart_7

The truth will not be hidden.

So in our guilt and pious or self-righteous efforts to right the wrongs of history, we have found a way – to destroy. Then in the aftermath of destruction, disposal, so convenient and desirable these days, we find a new opportunity: denial.

If all trace is erased, if all record is destroyed, perhaps our guilt can finally be assuaged. Why feel guilt for something which does not exist? Something for which there is no proof. The oppressors are free at last.

Someday, when enough time has passed and people and memory and passion have passed, denial will come so easily. Perhaps that is ultimately what we want.

By the way, the occurrence of the holocaust – the attempted extermination of the Jewish Race – is a truth, a fact of history. And to reiterate this truth, Germany has passed a law that makes it illegal to speak of the holocaust as not truth; that it did not happen. Illegal to speak of it other than as truth.

– – –

The legal control of our words and how we speak.

– – –

chiefquabachi1

For a number of years, I was a student at the Laboratory School attached to Indiana State University. In those days we wore school-issued gym shorts for our “Phys Ed” class. Dark blue shorts with the likeness of a leaf of a sycamore tree and “Young Sycamores” emblazoned on one side. I also remember the university’s marching band equipment trailer, on which was painted on its sides a sycamore tree trunk, with feet and arms, marching, playing a trombone. Meanwhile, Chief Quabachi and his indian princess so-and-so would run out onto the basketball court and football field every weekend in full regalia.

ISU eventually came to their senses, like many schools, and canned the Chief and his side kick, and came up with what is described as “a furry woodland creature” – Sycamore Sam – arguably better than a tree trunk for a mascot, even if it were equipped with a really full crown of giant leaves (sycamores are known for producing very impressive leaves).

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Well, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the woods, by the way; hunting, camping, exploring, and such and 1) I have never seen “a furry woodland creature” that was about 5 and a half feet tall and bright blue and white wearing pants, and 2) if I ever did, I imagine it would scare me about as badly as a raging indian chief in full headdress wielding a spear. But the fear factor was apparently not part of the calculation.

Anyway, Sycamore Sam is in and Chief Quabachi is out.

– – –

Suppose all Native American groups opposed any “external” use of their names or descriptions in any way. What could happen? A particular perspective is that the result would be that we – anyone – never, ever, ever talks about them again.

No mention.

Period.

Silence.

In organized, uniformed athletics, their names, likenesses and symbols are used for what purpose? To honor them? To celebrate their great and admirable qualities? To remember them and their history? Or to publicly, openly, unabashedly mock, deride and scorn them?

What if instead, they were never spoken of again?

Perhaps they would disappear, and – their – our – all – memory of them would disappear. Something like their languages. The lost sounds of their beautiful languages. Silenced.

In athletics and education in this country, we can believe the intent was never to dishonor them. The intent was surely to raise up, recognize and honor – celebrate – the great virtues of another: strength, honor, loyalty, fidelity, and more. And to remember and not forget a people who were the first of this land to embody such character.

We are a flawed people.

We are mistaken in so many things and yet, we are evolving; learning from our history, changes evolving one from another to another, compounding upward, always changing – hopefully growing, hopefully improving.

Should the names disappear from our daily social, cultural landscape when misused? Is force the modus operandi?

Consider these:

Apache Corporation
Cherokee Clothing Company
Blackhawk pencils
Navajo Trucking
Mohawk Paper
Sioux Corporation
Pontiac
Jeep Cherokee
Land O’ Lakes
The Cleveland Indians
the Atlanta Braves
the Kansas City Chiefs
the Chicago Blackhawks

. . . and the Washington Redskins.

Should the Minnesota Vikings be exempt? Why?

How many more are there?

Think of the innumerable high school, college, and university mascots. Wheaton College in recent years experienced the painful and divisive evolution.

When they began they were the Crusaders. When it was over, they were the Thunder. They should have become the Martyrs. Surely that would have been acceptable and better yet, repentant and non-threatening, especially to any of their intercollegiate athletic competition.

Read about them, read their histories. And if you can find it, read about their names. Should they be compelled by law – by some other method – to change their names? Should they be compelled to compensate or make restitution? What should the disposition of their freedom of choice be in the matter? Should they remain free to choose, even if they choose badly in someone’s judgment?

What if in bad judgment for everyone?

What if it’s even decided, virtually universally, that it’s hateful or hurtful or just insensitive or crude? What if millions say it’s inappropriate?

Is that enough? Should there be a law?

Should such a thing be regulated like a noise ordinance?

If the theory of evolution is to be believed in any form, to any extent, then the progression of this issue will also continue and it will not stop.

So questions remain: What are the implications? What’s next? and Who’s next?

– – –

Postscript

It’s ironic, with all the controversy, every Redskins logo we can find actually seems to depict brown skin.

It’s ironic that on the very day this piece was originally written, the Redskins were defeated by the Cowboys. Well, of course they were. And how hateful is that? The Cowboys beat the Redskins. I don’t even know where to begin.

– – –

For more reading, visit these sites:

Cultural Survival
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_name_controversy

Green America

The World

Native American Imagery in Advertising & Branding

An interesting list: Inc. magazine’s rundown of the top Native American-run companies of 2012:
http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2012/diversity/nativeamerican

As for Tom and Huck, Twain Scholars and observers have their opinions about changing history:

The Wall Street Journal

The Christian Science Monitor

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Graphics Credits

Redskins images: Washington Redskins
Cover image, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: New South Publishers and Publishers Weekly
The Tell-tale Heart image: Rob Zangrillo
Chief Quabachi and Sycamore Sam images: Indiana State University

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My First Mile

On the eve of the first running event I have ever organized, I am doing a lot of thinking, contemplating just how I got here. Many years and experiences and most importantly, people – have led me to this point. I am Race Director of TOM. TOM is The Oberlin Mile, to be run and make history in a small, rural northwestern Kansas town.

tom NEAR FINAL

For many people I have talked with about TOM, “Why?” has been a steady and pretty reasonable question.

The short of it is, because I was led to it. There are two distinct, concentric circles in this miler’s story, one in Kansas, and one in Indiana, and they are also overlapping and intertwined, and one leads on to the other. My story has come and gone full-circle from Indiana to Kansas and back again. And it is the people in my life who have made it so.

– – –

Summer of 1976, I was becoming a freshman in high school. I had been running formally since junior high, but informally since I began getting tired of walking the same path day after day from school to my father’s office downtown, especially with the large, awkward shape and to a lesser extent- weight, of my cello, which I carried to and from school most every day. In a word – boredom. In another word – tedium.

So, I start running it.

It was only, in actuality, 4 blocks if you just count crossing side street intersections; but more like seven blocks if you figure the actual length of the blocks. Still, in my mind it seems a long walk; a long way downtown to Merchants National Bank Building, where my father and grandfather shared their optometry offices. I think if I said to my brother, Ty, “You know, it’s only four blocks from State High to Merchants…” he’d say, “No way!” I guess I need to ask somebody at home to go down and verify it for us. The memory and scale in a kid’s mind sticks, somehow. So for me, it’s still a long boring, tedious walk.

So that’s why I started running it. To get it over with. Maybe not with my cello, but on the non-cello days. That was it. Same old street, same old route got to me. Running it took care of the whole problem.

And one of the ancillary benefits of running was that I had more time to sit in my father’s waiting room to read Sports Illustrated and Highlights, and if I had lots of time, maybe explore the building top to bottom; riding the elevator to the eighth floor and walking the stairs all the way down. If I was really daring, I might stop on the floor that was home to the mysterious and forbidden Aero Club, with its opaque glass section door stenciled with simple yet foreboding black, block letters that understated its secret purpose and barred access to unfit and fearful little kids like me, for example. THE AERO CLUB. Members Only.

The Aero Club. It was easy to just take a look at that door from the stairwell and no closer, and feel a sense that an old scary guy in a black coat and a meat cleaver would come walking around the corner and say in Boris Karloff’s voice, “You shouldn’t be here, kid” and my heart would explode instantly and I’d die right there, on the spot. And that guy would not know anything when the police came asking around and my dad, with tears streaming down his face would’ve said, “I thought he was in the waiting room reading Sports Illustrated and Highlights.” And they’d never find my little pieced-up body. Ever.

So, as you can see, it was worth the run – to get down there as quickly as possible, the adventure, and all. So that’s why I started running.

As I said before, it began formally for me in junior high, upon joining the cross country team. The State High Young Sycamores. Except the High School kids were really the Young Sycamores, and that was because the College kids down the street, at Indiana State, were the Sycamores. So that made us – the junior high kids – the Little Young Sycamores, I guess. Anyway, we felt pretty big, because we had the same name as the college kids – The Sycamores. We were a proud little cross country team.

And most of us – including Mark, Wendell, Matt, David, Todd R., Frank, Rex, some other guys I can’t remember well enough anymore, and I – we ran together all the way to our freshman year, and some on as sophomores, when, at the end of that year, State closed its doors forever. Those of us who were left were all farmed out to the far three corners of the county, spread by the winds of new loyalties and mortal competitive divisions that defined and separated us for the next few years, partly against our wills – to Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South and West Vigo high schools.

But we learned to live with it and eventually to love our new schools. And what was more, we all remained good friends. At my new high school, it was my brother, Ty and my neighbor and teammate, Bill who were my running partners and best friends. And another Todd, who was a golfer in high school, and in recent years has become the runner I still dream of being.

Forty years later and I still run with Mark when I visit home. I travel eastern Colorado and the length of Kansas to hunt with Matt on his small farm, and Mark comes west as I drive east, and we all hunt pheasant together.

I have visited with Todd R. in recent years in Washington D.C., where he has lived the past 30 years working for the FBI and the TSA – and has raised a son who is a runner.

Mark has three daughters who are runners; two even run on the collegiate level.

It was Todd the golfer who invited me to run a half marathon just three years ago (he has run many in recent years), and through that spring-long training process in 2011 we rekindled and revitalized a long and deep friendship.

Bill has been in the San Francisco area for many years now, and bikes, works out, and must run like a near-professional. Now he, like the rest of us, is north of 50, and he’s in the best shape of his life, better shape than all the rest of us put together.

– – –

So my running has been with me now for a long time. But it started with some humble beginnings. Down Seventh Street in Terre Haute, from Cherry to Wabash.

My first mile race was yet another . . . well, milestone in my life. It was the beginning of a sort of love affair with The Mile. And its beginnings were humble, too.

It was at Boy Scout Camp, on a gravel road loop surrounding the camp property. I was in my Scout uniform – everybody was: the shorts, the shirt; both green. And most memorable – the socks. They were the knee-high green official Boy Scout socks held up by the elastic garter with a dark green tassel attached; real throwback to the way-back days of Lord Baden Powell’s British Empire days of Scouting. I don’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wearing my neckerchief, too.

At the sound of “Go!” I took off. I’m pretty sure those tall socks and garters all fell down in a wad at my ankles almost immediately; I remember what it felt like – sliding down in a heap, feeling loose and messy sitting on top my Adidas Country’s.

Adidas Countrys

(Remember them – the Adidas Country? My first running shoes, and the same model I ran in all through junior high and high school; two pair and two high schools total over those years. The Adidas Country’s began with John, Mark’s older brother, the cross country hero of State High as far as all of us little seventh-graders were concerned. He was a locomotive and amazing. He was the “end-all” to us. Whatever he had – we’d better have it, too. And he had Adidas Country’s.)

And of course, those socks.

I distinctly remember how weird – and uncomfortable – it felt, my socks down there, all screwed up. But I didn’t slow or get distracted. Dressed totally wrong, not ready for competition – except in my attitude.

We raced up the long, gradual sloping road, with crazy, chaotic flashes of sunlight and shadow on the gravel surface, driven by a steady breeze, beneath the massive oaks and maples in full leaf.

I kept going, and don’t remember much of anything about passing anybody else – I remember running pretty much alone. Well, it wasn’t running camp, I know; it was Boy Scout Camp, but it was my opportunity – and I took it.

With about 600 yards to go, I made the sharp up-sloping right turn into the camp property and under the looming gateway with “Camp Krietenstein” carved and painted in bright yellow on the high overhead beam, and found my second wind and a rush of speed as the course flattened out and the gravel got smaller, easier to navigate.

I was pounding and driving now; mechanical and methodical – well-oiled with my head up and steady, fists loose, focusing more now on steady, deep but intensely labored breathing, blowing hard through pursed lips, eyes locked on the farthest visible point of the course, finding a new and well-orchestrated rhythm between my elbows coming up and my chest rising and falling; knees rising and feet reaching, trying to go on the balls of my feet now, pushing off and pushing back; not even trying to listen for foot falls behind me; only concentrating on my pace and rhythm, trying to pick up even more speed. I knew I had it if I would keep this up.

I was all alone.

I shot out from the narrow tree-lined section of the road into the openness at the parade ground and crossed the finish line.

I won – and my younger brother, Ty came in pretty soon after. Most significantly for me – I still remember my time: 6:25.

6:25.

My first mile. Maybe not Meb or Jim, or Seb or Wes, but that’s ok. It’s mine. I didn’t even get a prize. I didn’t care. I got the win, and I got that time, 6:25 – my first mile. I treasure that memory more than virtually any possession I have ever had.

And I have loved the mile ever since.

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Postscript

I think I owe thanks to a number of guys in my running life. I have recently called several of them and thanked them – for their inspiration, the shared experiences, and in some cases, most of all – their friendship. Running together, especially over decades, does and maintains something special between us.

This story is dedicated to a few guys I think of when I think of my life of running.

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To Mark, for being my pick-up running and Fast Track Mile racing partner (and this is the bare minimum of what he truly is to me as a friend and brother).

To Ty, my blood brother and dangerous, adventurous winter running partner. I miss running and spending time with you.

To Matt, who was built like Jim Ryun and ran like him, too. I am grateful we, along with Jim Ryun, share Kansas between us now. I am anxious to see you again when Pheasant season arrives.

J Roscoe at KU
To another John – John Roscoe – though we have never met, I watched you from afar as a little kid learning to run in Terre Haute, hoping to steal a glimpse of the legendary Great Roscoe running through town, home on a visit from KUs’ cross Country team, or training for the World Cross Country championships or the Olympic trials or home training for Boston. Thank you for starting The Mayor’s Cup Mile, which in turn inspired me to found The Oberlin Mile. Perhaps you have no idea how far and deep your inspiration has spread, even to this day.

To Gary, also with whom I have run the Fast Track Mile, for inspiring me as I have watched you organize Run Through the Jungle, a benefit to support a large exotic cat sanctuary in rural Indiana. As important as running is, you have been a brother to me in things far beyond this earthly race.

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To Todd the golfer-turned-runner, for simply inviting me to run with you and reigniting a dear friendship.

To Greg, for inspiring me with your dedication and commitment to the improvement of our home community and the running community there and beyond, but also for what you and your family have done in the creation of Cross Country Town USA. To bring the NCAA Division I Championships and other significant running events home to Indiana is a great accomplishment and a great thing for home. I can only say that I am both sorry and relieved I did not get to run directly against you in high school. I have a pretty good idea how it would have turned out.

To Bill, my other faithful neighborhood running partner and close confidant; my “Brother across the road.” I can still see the five-foot-long black snake we both almost trampled because we were running without our glasses and thought it was a tree limb in the road. At the last moment we leapt over it – high. I am glad you recognized it first! Like Gary, our friendship goes far beyond just this.

Jace finishing the FastTrack Mile

And to my son Jace, who ran the Fast Track Mile with me in 2012. No greater honor could I have to have you as my running partner.

– – –

Read more about TOM, The Oberlin Mile here.

Read more about The Mayor’s Cup Mile, now the Fast Track Mile here.

Read more about Cross Country Town USA and the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course here.

Read more and the Run Through the Jungle here.

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Colts’ Greg Toler

Greg Toler makes AAH’s Top 5 list for October. Why? Because he inspires us.

Toler-Matt Kryger-The Star

When you begin to worry about your kid’s future, or that you don’t have the resources to give your kids all that you wish you could, or just when you think all’s gone to hell in a hand basket with kids, generally; with families, with fathers, fatherhood, or the lack of it – there is a story of overcoming and going on, and achieving that may remind you that any one moment we may only see things dimly; that it may only be a brief snapshot from the full album of life.

When we become parents, we’re responsible for a lot; more than we can calculate, and much more then we can really grasp. Perhaps just enough to convince us we ought to panic. Or to get on our knees.

At some point in a child’s development, sometimes even in the most dire circumstances, we hope he or she gains an awareness, and it is a growing, deepening awareness of themselves, of the world around them, and somehow, part of the miracle of life is that they become independent, and begin to make their own decisions; they choose a path for their lives. Not all, of course, but even just one, then it is good.

Greg+Toler+Cleveland+Browns+v+Indianapolis+I0VwMZRtjsal

Miracle.

Greg Toler seems to have come from somewhere out in that wilderness, and as the statistics bear out, it’s what too many children experience – especially black children, disproportionately so: life without a father.

But life with a good mother and a good aunt, too. And from within himself, a drive and desire, and talent practiced and driven and trained and disciplined into a man and athlete to be recognized and needed.

Not only is he changing the life of the Indianapolis Colts, but the lives of those he touches.

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Standing up in front of a crowd to speak publicly can be tough.

But to be inspired enough to speak the words to inspire others is . . .well, inspiring.

For that reason, Jeff Thompson, head coach for the Terre Haute South swim team and the Terre Haute Torpedoes, makes AAH’s Top Five for September.

Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South Vigo swim coach and head coach, Terre Haute Torpedoes

We’re concentrating on Key Words – those that represent the way these extraordinary individuals think and conduct themselves.

The subject is three high school swimming pools but a simple and important statement was made that speaks to something more. Much more.

And it was not lost on us.

AAH is not going to dive into the conversation, but instead we want to zero-in on a simple but powerful and inspiring statement.

The Terre Haute South Vigo swim coach said a few things while expressing his support for a new aquatics center to serve all the Vigo County high schools, including “[It] is the right thing to do,” and to “give the community ‘something to be proud of for the future.’”

But what really caught us was this, from the Tribune Star, speaking before a group of 300 people at a school board meeting:

“He . . . said it’s time to ‘dare greatly.’”

– – –

Those two words: Dare Greatly.

– – –

For standing up publicly and speaking simple words that carry such inspiration, expectation, and exhortation, we say, “You’re in,” Jeff – Top Five.

– – –

Each of the individuals in this month’s Top Five is a person who acts on their inspiration and in turn is an inspiration to others. You can select this link to see who the others are in the AAH September Top Five list: http://wp.me/pwfad-13O

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We’re pretty impressed with Danny Etling’s skill as an athlete, but we’re even more impressed with his character. He’s one of our Top Five for September.

Danny Etling - Photo by Paul Siegfried

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We’re concentrating on Key Words – those that represent the way these extraordinary individuals think and conduct themselves.

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Danny was not chosen as Purdue’s starting quarterback for the 2013-14 season. . .

. . . but he knows there’s more to the game than that.

– – –

Danny Etling’s Key Words:

“’It’s not too hard to ignore [which quarterback gets more “ball time”] once you get into the practice, because our practices are fast-paced and you don’t have a lot of time to think about that kind of stuff,’ Etling said. ‘It’s really a team thing and it’s all about the team. That’s one thing they’ve really strived to nail into us. It’s not about you, or how much you’re playing, but it’s about the team. There’s really no room for selfishness here.’”
– – –

Etling of Terre Haute, was interviewed by the Tribune Star during Fall Football Camp in West Lafayette this past week, and was competing for the starting QB spot going into the 2013-14 season.

For more reading on Etling, check out this Indy Sports Legend article.

For his perspective on what it takes to get the job done, and his attitude toward the important things in life, Danny makes AAH’s Top Five.

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Each of the individuals in this month’s Top Five is a person who acts on their inspiration and in turn is an inspiration to others. You can select this link to see who the others are in the AAH September Top Five list: http://wp.me/pwfad-13O

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Introduction

The following article is republished here with permission from the author. I found it posted at the Bruce McLaren Trust website while generally reading about Formula One drivers of the 1960’s and ’70’s.

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Mr. Eoin Young is a distinguished and celebrated auto sports writer, and his heart lies squarely in open wheel racing – and primarily Formula One, so he has my attention.

As a New Zealander and Formula One expert, Mr. Young encapsulates in this piece the historical and social experience – the phenomenon – of Indy, from a well-informed and knowledgeable outsider’s perspective.

In 1970 he went to Indy as a writer, but cheered on the teams and drivers of the cars bearing the name of one of his best friends, Bruce McLaren.

He wrote with the eye of a highly experienced, professional journalist, of course, which he is, but also from the multi-faceted perspective of a Formula One aficionado and more impressively, a founding director and teammate, but most importantly, close friend to his fellow New Zealander.

– – –

McLaren initially hired in 1963 him as his personal secretary. When Young asked him what a secretary was to do, McLaren didn’t know exactly; he just knew the other drivers had one, so he should, too.

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Today the name McLaren not only permeates all F-1 history, but continues to dominate the sport (notwithstanding the powerhouse team Red Bull and the resurging Mercedes). Until the beginning of the 2013 season the formidable and attractive team of Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton regularly took turns streaking their way to the podium in the flashy and unique silver livery of the McLaren MP4-27 chassis.

So far, as Lewis has removed to Mercedes and begun a renewed upward trend (most notably with a fourth win in Hungary, tying another legend there, Michael Schumacher) 2013 has seen Jensen, his new teammate Sergio Perez and McLaren struggle to continue their top-shelf performances, now an automatic expectation of the storied team. What is so significant in this is that after so many years after McLaren’s death his name and legacy – his team, in the form of the McLaren Group – are one that others still aspire to be like. Simply remarkable.

Eoin Young is a living legend himself, having not only written about, but lived, worked, played, and essentially raced with so many of the greatest.

Insert sales pitch here: Another of those greats was the Brit James Hunt.

It is one of my personal habits (and faults, perhaps): I like to recommend movies. Ron Howard’s soon-to-be released production, Rush.

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Young wrote a biography on James Hunt, and while he states he was not so much a fan of the driver Hunt, he was very fond of him personally. Consider reading his book, James Hunt – Against All Odds, after you see the movie.

Even if you’re not an F-1 fan, you’ll find a quite dramatic and compelling human story. It’s what we find in so many stories: Ultimately it’s not really about Formula One or racing. It’s about people and their relationships – tragic, amazing, inspiring, heart-rending, redeeming. It’s about the power – and fragility – of life itself.

Now, on to the reason we’re here. The following story is Eoin Young’s account of the 1970 Indianapolis 500, the first he attended. It is his view of a piece of history, of the Brickyard during some of its greatest days.

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I was a Rookie at Indianapolis

By Eoin Young

– – –

I was a rookie at Indianapolis, journalistically speaking, and before I arrived in the Hoosier capital the picture people had painted for me was anything but encouraging.

indy_66 - E Young Indy Rookie Feature - McLaren Trust Site

It had been abdominally described to me as the culinary armpit of the United States. I was assured that as the plane began its final approach to Weir Cook Field the pilot would crackle the following message over the speaker system: “We are now approaching Indianapolis, please set your watches back 15 years…” In fact he didn’t actually say that, but after a fortnight in or around the Speedway I began to form the impression that all the descriptions bore more than just a grain of truth.

You may be interested to know that the place for good steaks and antiquated race atmosphere is St. Elmo’s in a sleazy area downtown, that the night life swings at the Holiday Inn Northwest and doesn’t at Howard Johnson’s across the freeway. HoJo’s room service didn’t even extend to a pot of coffee. And their barman figured he was doing you a favor just standing there.

In Indiana they don’t encourage moving drinkers. Signs caution you to drink sitting down. Don’t move your drink to another table, buddy, the barkeep will handle that tricky operation. In the garage area at the track a sign warns against attempting to smuggle in girls, shorts, or beer. Bruce Walkup fought a losing battle with the gateman because he was wearing Bermuda shorts. Would you believe these guys take their vacations to work at the track?

During the race the boozers, carousers, and sleepers in the Indianapolis infield probably have something. I was sitting on the grass just through the fence from the human zoo down at Turn 1, and I couldn’t follow the progress of the world’s most famous contest of speed, skill, and ballyhoo any better than the soberest of them could. And they looked as though they were having a lot more fun than I was.

Mrs. Unser Sr. went down to the victory circle for the second time in two years to collect the rent money from youngest son AI. In 1968 it had been Bobby. Al won the 500 at a reasonably leisurely pace slowed with a quarter-hour yellow light to 155.749 mph in his Johnny Lightning Special for sponsors Topper Toys and Firestone, and Ford, and Parnelli Jones and George Bignotti.

Statistics also gave the chance of rain on race day as 30 percent, and at 11:20 a.m. 40 minutes before the start umbrellas started sprouting like mushrooms all round the oval. It looked like being a tomorrow race but the humid gray skies were just teasing. The start was delayed half an hour and then it was delayed a further half hour when Jim Malloy’s racer dragged a radius arm out of the monocoque and walloped the wall on the pace lap which played hen with the grouping of the field which was hardly military in ranks of three to begin with.

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The race really started at HoJo’s at 5:30 a.m. when the alarm call came through and we set out for the track. We could have eased the haste until after the all-night waiters had been swallowed up. When the gates opened at 6 a.m. there was a fair amount of action. At one gate a gridful of motorcyclists were waiting with revs wound on and the charge down into the tunnel was really something. Especially when the lead rider laid it down in the darkness. The all-night waiters were generally less than sober when the track opened and the continued supping throughout the night had turned most of them into either lovers, fighters or sleepers. Steve Krisiloff, who qualified on the first day and was first to be bumped, got bumped again when he walked into a fist and collected a 15-stitch cut above one eye. His assailant relieved the dizzy driver of his wallet as well.

Denny Hulme arrived out at the track early with his hands bandaged for his second day out of the hospital and sat himself on the pit wall to watch the endless stream of wall-to-wall marching girls and bands. And celebrities. And don’t forget the biggest drum in the world. It was carried on the back of a pick-up truck with a hefty drummer on either side swinging alternately with giant bats that threatened to turn the truck over.

Two and a half million people waiting for action and the spitting rain didn’t fill the drivers with great confidence. Graham Hill was all dapper in his role as non-combative commentator for closed circuit TV, with arch-rival Jackie Stewart joining him from up in the tower. He took time out to assist Denny in the appraisal of some of the better suspension characteristics in the parade.

Down at Turn 1 the zoo was getting restless. The half hour delay from rain had only partly dampened spirits and with the second delay with the pace lap crash, other diversions were arranged. Blanket tossing earned a lot of attention and applause until the law arrived. A respected protector of law and order in Indiana is known as a Billy Bad-Ass for some reason.

Rain delayed the start of Indy this year. Here Al Unser's crew holds sheets of plastic over the car while Foyt enjoys the scene

Rain delayed the start of Indy this year. Here Al Unser’s crew holds sheets of plastic over the car while Foyt enjoys the scene

James Garner, film star and sometime race driver, received instant recognition from the caged section of the community when he wandered down with Larry (“Big T”) Truesdale, boss of Goodyear’s racing activities. Mr. Garner conducted one vocal group through the opening lines of “Back Home Again in Indiana” to wild applause.

The excitement as track owner Tony Hulman did his piece about starting the engines neared hysteria. Everybody waved and shouted to the drivers on the pace lap as though they honestly believed the drivers heard or cared.

Johnny Rutherford led into the first turn, courtesy of A. Unser, Esq., who didn’t feel like taking his line on the inside if it was going to trigger a shunt. That’s already been done. It reminded me of Bruce McLaren’s story of the 1966 fiasco. He had been watching down at Turn 1 and when he saw a car arrive into the corner without any front wheels, he was about to turn to Chris Amon and say, “that’s a funny way to start a motor race!” when he realized he was alone on the bank. Chris had seen the wheels in the air and departed. As it turned out he was one of the few casualties in the crash because he tripped over somebody’s wheelchair and gashed his leg!

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Al baby took the lead, kept it and cooled it, while Rutherford rode shotgun and all the other hot dogs tried to be third. My little lap chart was progressing in a surprisingly accurate manner as Lloyd Ruby marched up through the field from his lowly 9th row grid spot, but my mistake was in checking figures with the tower. Apparently instant electronic lap scoring isn’t a feature of the Speedway yet. The electric eye was watching a race already ten minutes old. So I gave up and sat in the sun fighting off a doze. So much for the electric excitement. Peter Revson parked his McLaren not far away with magneto failure. Again. So I was able to do something constructive and ask him what had happened. He didn’t know. It just stopped.

Jack Brabham had arrived late for qualifying because his crated car was delayed with truck strikes. He put his Offy-¬powered car on the 9th row with Lloyd Ruby, and then set about sorting it out.

Some doubters in Gasoline Alley wondered whether Jack would make the field, but the general opinion was that if Jack couldn’t make the grid with the car he was quite capable of qualifying the crate the car came in.

His Offy was really pouring out the horsepower and Mark Donohue reported after the race that the Brabham had him out-gunned on the straight with his new Lola-Ford. Sorry, Sunoco Special. “If Jack hadn’t waved me through, I’d have had difficulty getting by,” reported Captain Nice to team boss Penske.

Jack’s race ended with a Goodyear-smoking slide through the chaos surrounding Roger McClusky’s wreckage at Turn 3. Jack came into the pits with square tires, some down to the canvas, and took on fresh rubber as is mandatory at the Speedway. He went back into the bunched field creeping round under the yellow and being herded through Turn 3 on the grass to dodge the safety workers cleaning up the muck on the track. When the green came on, Jack turned the wick up and passed several cars but then the fire went out and he pitted with number one piston in pieces. Bobby Unser also went sad in the down paced yellow running while he headed the pack which also included brother Al and hot-to-charge A.J. Foyt nigh on a lap down and unable to improve because the Unser family had him surrounded.

Bobby’s engine lost manifold pressure and he trickled round to the finish with what was then a 2.4-liter normally aspirated Ford V-8. Foyt dived out of the pack on the green, unlapped himself and set out to try and catch Al but then the Coyote’s 2-speed box had a seizure and the top cog went up the slot. This left SuperTex in low running that TurboFord mutha just as high as it would go. Eleven-four made the Ford really wail as he crept along below the pit wall. It finally expired and AJ was given 10th place three laps down on the leaders.

The Foyt crew had done quite a job getting four cars in the lineup, but when it came to pit work on the boss’s car they weren’t so razor sharp. Fighting fractions of seconds on the track in his pursuit of Unser, AJ arrived for his pit stop to find the lot so cluttered with Coyotes that he couldn’t find a place to park. He made another hurried lap by which time a space had been cleared. In his haste to get out on the last pit stop he departed before the last wheel jack had been removed. When the power came on, the wheel dropped to the road flinging the jack over the wheel and coming close to beaning Mr. Foyt.

Donohue came in second with the immaculate Sunoco Lola. Penske certainly does the job right. I think he plans on winning next year. He has to keep that Lear in the air and pay for the groceries somehow, although I believe American Motors have taken care of that for the next few years.

Mario didn’t star. The McNamara started out just fine, but after four or five laps the handling went sour and by his own admission in the papers the next morning he was an accident looking for a place to happen. Oddly enough Mario took to the grass in the place where the accident did happen and clanked over something that rectified the handling problems.

– – –

It was a bad year for road racers, except for Donohue and Gurney. Bruce McLaren had made up his mind beforehand that he wasn’t going to drive anyway, Denny Hulme fell victim to nasty fuel burns on his hands when a breather cap snapped open during practice and he watched the race with bandaged hands, while Chris Amon called his attack off after (a) seeing the extent of Denny’s burns, (b) seeing Bobby Unser run four laps in the Amon McLaren for a pair at 166 when the best Chris had managed all month was 163, and (c) he was generally unhappy with the whole operation. He was fighting a losing battle and he knew it, so he went home. Hulme tried to persuade him to at least have a try at qualifying but Amon left Denny’s hospital room saying, “no way I’m going out there again. If I do, I’ll probably wind up in the room next to you.” We pondered on the chances of them getting a twin room if this should happen.

Denis Hulme was a spectator this year after suffering burned hands as a result of fire in his McLaren-Offy.

Denis Hulme was a spectator this year after suffering burned hands as a result of fire in his McLaren-Offy.

John Cannon was thwarted at every move in the Bryant Heating and Cooling Volstedt. He hung one on the wall in practice, but the engine in the other car just didn’t want to go, and it wasn’t until it finally blew and had to be changed that they discovered a crack in the intake manifold. Tony Adamowicz was robbed by his own Indy inexperience as well as that of his crew. The yellow was flashed at him by mistake during his first lap and he slowed to 160.829. He picked up for two at 166 and one at 164 but the damage had been done and he was bumped by Billy Vukovich on the last day. His crew should have hauled him in earlier. The Adamowicz tale became worse.

Having another try in a Gerhardt-Offy he was trying to summon up the boost pressure in one of the turns when it suddenly came on strong and kicked the tail out. He spun twice (deliberately, he said) and to retard his progress up to the wall again he slammed his foot on the brake. Hard. Harder. CRASH. The problem was that the good Tony hadn’t driven the car before and the pedal he was pumping to the floor just happened to be the clutch which was in the center where the sprint car drivers prefer it. “It was in the center, and I knew it was in the center,” bemoaned Adamowicz at dinner that night. His natural reactions had overpowered his recently attained knowledge. Sam Posey lost three Offy engines with burned pistons and then walloped the wall because, at his own admission he had come into the turn at twelve-tenths and locked up the back brakes.

The three McLarens circulating in line astern on the first day in May really shook up the establishment. Nobody did things like that on the first day, let alone funny-car road racers. The funny cars were awarded a certificate “of recognition in the field of car design for the Indianapolis 500” by the Indiana section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. And just about everybody remarked at the high standard of construction and preparation. Chief Engineer Tyler Alexander (now a director of the McLaren team) enjoyed the compliments to begin with but finally started to smoulder as the month dragged on and he thought the plaudits were being premature and laid on a bit thick. But they were certainly deserved.

Peter Revson was the logical choice to replace Denny because Peter had done a good job for Brabham last year finishing fifth after starting from 33rd and last place on the grid. He had also driven Formula Junior cars with the Mayer brothers way back when, and Teddy was pleased to have him in the team. Peter was hopefully trying to inject some life into the story about Floyd Davis who qualified 33rd in 1940 and the following year started from 17th position and won. Revson fulfilled the first part by starting 33rd last year and at one stage in the proceedings he was 17th in the line-up although he spoiled his statistical chances by moving up to 16th when Krisiloff was bumped.

Carl Williams replaced Amon and he was a driver I had personally never heard of, however in the last couple of seasons he had driven back-up cars for Granatelli and Foyt and so obviously knew his way round in USAC circles. After a minimum amount of practice in the car he qualified at 166.590, and the demanding Mr. Mayer was well pleased with his choice of a number two driver. Mr. Williams also won favor with McLaren by turning out a very tasty barbecue steak at his apartment.

I liked the story about Amon who had been battling time, the walls and the track in general but being totally unable to raise a competitive time. Harlan Fengler came down the pits and cautioned Christopher to keep low out of the groove if he couldn’t go any faster. “Keep low?” Chrissy is reported to have replied, “Hell, if I run any lower I’ll be driving round the golf course!”

Eoin Young - IMS 1970 starting grid - A Unser Sr Win - B-W Trophy

Pursuing the driver statistics we were told that Jack Brabham was the oldest at 44, and Mike Mosley youngest at 23. Dan Gurney was tallest at 6 ft. 2 in., and Mario Andretti shortest at 5 ft. 6 in. Mario was also lightest at 138lb and Jerry Grant heaviest at 200lb. The average age of the 33 starters was 33.7 years, the average height 5 ft. 8 1/2 in., and the average weight 171.5 lb. There were 31 married drivers and only two bachelors: Peter Revson and Art Pollard.

I’ve decided that Indianapolis is a twin race to Le Mans. The race is a dead bore, an anti-climax to the enormous build-up during qualifying, and the day after it I already decided I won’t be back again. But I’m sure I will be.

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You may read Mr. Young’s biography and more at the Contributing Writers page.

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ftm2013

July 4th, 2013: The Fast Track Mile, presented by the Wabash Valley Road Runners.  

It started many years ago as the Mayor’s Cup Mile…

To this point I have never believed there ever was an actual cup. I expect I never saw it because every year I ran it the winner had happily hauled it off long before I finished.

Two summers after I graduated from high school I ran the inaugural 1982 Mayor’s Cup Mile, straight down Wabash Avenue, from 3rd to 14th (streets, that is, not race results).

It felt like a high-speed gauntlet, and it seemed that as we ran we were on a sort of display, flanked on both sides by spectators and storefronts.  The competition was serious, with serious runners coming from all over the place – every high school in the area and even beyond; college runners, too. And no-kidding grown-ups who ran to stay in shape. It was fast and exhilarating.

I was anxious to compete. It wasn’t like high school now; for the first time I was independent of a team, of any external obligation to perform well; it was just me.  I was free to do it or not, and it felt like a new sort of competition. It was a new sort of responsibility, too – I was responsible only to myself this time. It felt like some sort of new freedom.

Well, almost.

Ok. The whole truth is this:

I actually had this peculiar “independence” experience my first summer after graduating from West Vigo High School. My running-hunting-BB gun wars-adventurizing buddy, Mark and I ran a race – a 5k, I think – from somewhere downtown to Deming Park. While I don’t remember much detail, the one key detail remains vivid in my mind: Mr. Phillips, my elementary school principal in West Terre Haute FROM THE LATE 1960’S beat me.

I was stunned. But I was also incredibly impressed.

My respect for him was always strong. And it had been violently intensified during second grade when, after catching me and a couple of other boys throwing erasers at Melody Dillingham – twice – and he told us to get in his office NOW (which of course, was way too close to Mrs. McDermott’s classroom anyway, just around the corner practically). He yelled and slammed the world’s largest paddle on his desk to emphasize each – word – as – he – declared – our – lives – would – be – snuffed – out – in – a – blazing – instant – of – hard – wooden – pain. I can still feel the heat of fear that we were consumed in as we sat petrified in his office, crying, or going in our pants, or both. I won’t name names, but as I remember, they’re spelled R-o-b-b-y-C-o-o-p-e-r  and  D-e-n-n-i-s-M-o-r-g-a-n.

I’m sure they’ll let me know.

(I have said this before: if I could possibly find Melody now I would apologize to her. Perhaps, at least sometimes, justice lies in lingering regret. I am sorry, Melody.)

Anyway, I respected Mr. Phillips immensely even then.

Then years later, he doubled-down on the whole respect phenomenon by smoking me in this race. He instantly transformed into a hero for this naïve and perhaps formerly a bit arrogant college student.

– – –

So came July 1982 and the Mayor’s Cup Mile. Over the three decades  – exactly, I should note – since then, I have run it – now the Fast Track Mile – several times. My best time (that I know of) was achieved in 1993, when I ran a 5:34-something.

But I consider that my best race came in 2001, because two particular people were there: my 5 month-old son, Jace, perched happily in his baby backpack and again my friend Mark, who ran it with me.

(In the end, Mark was gracious and ran right along with me. Not far from the finish line, I said, “Come on!” and we kicked it up. He let me take third – in our age group – I believe, because he appreciated the one-thousand miles I drove to get there; I’m pretty sure there was no other reasonable way I could have beat him. You’re a good and loyal friend, Mark.)

– – –

I didn’t reach 5-anything last year, but that’s not what was on my mind.

Jace, then 11, ran it with me. Again I was running on a team – the most significant team I have ever been on, and it was a different kind of competition; not anything like high school. For the first time I was not only the leader of this team, but I had a special sort of external obligation to perform well, and it is far more than just running well.

Jace finishing the FastTrack Mile

We saw so many people at the start I recognized from my growing up and living years in Terre Haute, and to be on the starting line with my son was an experience of fulfillment; there was a sense of having come full circle, and it was gratifying.

Jace took off fast, as I thought he might. Though he was inexperienced, he was enthusiastic. He got a little burned out after the high-speed start, and we had to walk briefly a couple of times. But as those last few blocks neared and the finish line came clearly into view, I said, “Ok, Jace. See it? It’s time. Let’s go. You can do it!”

And man, did he.

He took off like a shot and finished about ten yards ahead me. It was beautiful. And my wife shot the picture to prove it.

– – – This year my friend Mark’s daughter, Annie, and another friend, Paul’s (who is, himself, a top-shelf runner and first-place finisher in his age group in the Fast Track Mile) son, Justin are the WVRR scholarship recipients, and we are very proud of them. Ask A Hoosier.com is again proud to promote the Fast Track Mile.

Go, Annie and Justin, go.

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