Runner of the Month
Runner of the Month is our way of shining the spotlight on a local runner. If you know of a runner that has an interesting story that deserves to be highlighted in an upcoming edition, let us know! It can be someone you admire for their speed, their attitude, their awesome running shorts or any other reason you think the world (or at least our corner of it) needs to hear more about this great person. We'll pick someone from the nominees, interview them, and post a writeup here. Send your nomination to ROTM@northlandrunner.com. If possible, include a phone number or e-mail address for your nominee.
July 31, 2009: Shari Olson
Shari started running when she was 30 in order to get in shape after having children. Her dad and many of her siblings are runners, but Shari had never tried it before. During her first season of running, Shari ran a 5k almost every weekend with her father. While she didn’t feel particularly fast and often finished at the back of the field, she kept at it. Running through the winter and increasing her mileage, Shari completed Grandma’s Marathon the following year.
Since that first year of running, Shari hasn’t looked back. After finishing Grandma’s, she has gone on to complete the following marathons: Disney World, Las Vegas, Paavo Nurmi, Whistlestop, Twin Cities, Chicago, Moose Mountain, and Boston. She has also ran the Superior Trail 25k, 50k, and 50-mile races, The Huff 50k, the Trailmix 50k, and the Voyageur Trail Ultra. Shari achieved her best marathon time of 3:38 at Grandma’s Marathon in 2002.
You may wonder how Shari has been able to complete so many marathons, some of them more than once. Her secret? She simply keeps in marathon shape. "It’s just easier to keep in shape than to stop and start up again", says Shari. Shari runs year-round and anywhere from 25 to 40 miles a week, depending on the season. In a typical year, she completes a marathon or 50k race once a month from April to October.
Besides the fitness benefits, Shari loves the social aspects of running. She and her friends do a long run together once a week and have been doing so for the last decade. One of the highlights of their training program is the Pancake Run. A few times a year the group runs the 24-mile route from Maple to Superior and celebrates with pancakes at Perkins.
Shari is a librarian at Northwestern Middle School, having taught in the school district for twenty years. She is also mother to two wonderful boys and assistant coach for the cross-country team. You may recognize Shari’s name if you run races in her neck of the woods. Shari started the Brule River Lions Run and has directed it for ten years. This spring Shari organized the Pat Moreland 5k and track meet to help fund Northwestern’s new athletic facilities.
When asked for running advice, Shari says to "just keep plugging away". No matter what your speed is, you will improve if you keep at it. Every year you will get better, and you will get to spend time with many great people.
Written by: Kris Glesener
June 30, 2009: Rick Bothwell
How many of you have decided the day before a race to do a 10K instead of the 5K offered? Our runner of the month this month is Rick Bothwell and not only was he convinced the night before the Superior Trail 25K to do the 50K instead, but he decided the next fall to do the 50 miler instead of the marathon. Again – the night before. All on very limited training. Rick shows the signs of being a very crazy man with evil friends!
Rick has lived in Moose Lake for the last 15 years but is new to running – this is currently his 5th year of being a runner. He is an inspiration to me for his ability to take a horrible event in his life and make something positive happen from it. In January of 2004, Rick’s wife died after a battle with cancer and he ended up turning to running as his outlet. He was getting together with friends for morning walks when one day he just decided to run up the hill on their route. That May, Rick planned to walk the Moose Lake run – an event that had been very important to him and his wife the year before and he ended up running the entire way in his jeans and a flannel shirt. Many miles and shed pounds later, here he is now. He still runs the Moose Run every year and helps with the bone marrow drive in conjunction with the race.
Rick’s favorite run so far was an accidental long run on Saturday morning. He hadn’t originally planned on running that day but decided to head out and clear his head. Before he knew it, he was over 7 miles from home with no water or food. Despite feeling good, he knew it was time to turn around and he ran the whole way back – his first ½ marathon. After that, Rick’s thoughts starting turning to longer distance running.
Last year was his best running year yet with over 100 racing miles including the Half Voyager and his first 50 miler, the Superior Trail 50. Again, he was planning on doing the marathon option when he was convinced by one of those evil friends of his to give the 50 a try. While he had his doubts along the way, Rick finished strong and proud and learned much about himself along the way. He’s doing his best to figure out what his body wants for fuel on those long hauls and while a turkey rollup saved the day during a rough section of the 50 miler, Rick prefers a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – easy on the stomach with some good calories.
Rick doesn’t like saying his goals out loud (I completely understand, Rick!) and says he just wants to finish all his races. This year, he has his sights set on the Half Voyageur next week, the full Voyageur, the new Wildwoods race and one of the fall Superior Trail races – do I hear another 50 miler coming, Rick? He would also love to start heading West for some races and see what it’s like to run at different elevations.
Despite his newness to running, Rick already has a great philosophy – Run what the course gives you, it doesn’t matter how fast you get over the mountain just get over it and conquer by continuing. A philosophy we can all use, I think.
Thanks for the inspiration and we’ll see you out there, Rick!
Written by Sam Carlson
May 28, 2009: Dave Pipho
The May Runner of the Month is Dave Pipho, of Duluth. Dave was nominated by David Hyopponen, who says, "I have run many races with Dave, and he is always considerate, helpful, and just a down-to-earth runner."
Dave is an emergency room doctor at Saint Mary's Medical Center, having moved to Duluth in 2002. He and his wife Amy are proud parents of Olivia, their six-month-old daughter.
Dave grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota, and started his running career on the high school track team. He was pleasantly surprised that it came naturally to him, and he added cross-country to his repertoire while attending Concordia College in Moorhead. Dave took a few years off from running after college but picked it up again in medical school. While completing his residency in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Dave grew addicted to trail running. When offered a job at Saint Mary's in 2002, Dave jumped at the chance because he knew Duluth would provide many opportunities for trail running and other outdoor activities. Besides running, Dave also enjoys biking, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing, curling, and participating in triathlons.
An avid trail runner, Dave's favorite area to run is the Hartley Nature Center. He also enjoys logging time on the Piedmont trails and the Superior Hiking Trail. Dave often takes along his training partner - his dog Karhu (Finnish for "bear"). Dave primarily runs for fitness and relaxation and refers to his hobby as "casual woods running". Dave does not adhere to a strict training schedule and listens to his body when deciding how far to run and what route to take. Do not let Dave's casualness deceive you, however. Dave is often one of the top finishers on the local race circuit.
This year Dave is looking forward to running both the Spring and Fall editions of the NMTC Trail Series as well as the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. He also has a few non-racing goals. Dave would like to share his love of trail running by spreading the word about trail races in Duluth and helping other people discover it for themselves. He also has a goal of biking to at least half of his races this year. As Dave puts it, it seems funny to drive somewhere in order to run.
When asked what he learned from his many years of running, Dave had three main points. First, Dave feels that you should run because you enjoy it. If you are not enjoying running, you may not be doing it for the right reasons. Secondly, Dave recommends finding a style that suits you. Trail running is Dave's niche, and he recommends trying different styles until you find one that works for you. Lastly, Dave is a firm believer in cross-training. Besides running, he participates in a variety of sports and, most importantly, takes a break in the wintertime.
If you want to meet an approachable, sage, easy-going runner, introduce yourself to Dave at the next trail race.
Written by: Kris Glesener
April 1, 2009: Sara Cherne
Runner of the Month: Meet Sara Cherne
We've all experienced this, you are at a race, standing next to a complete stranger and you wonder, what is this person’s story? Well, if you've ever run a marathon, chances are you stood next to Sara Cherne. This is her story.
A Minnesota native, Sara grew up in Ely, the entry point to the BWCA. She has now made her home in Duluth. This mother of one didn't get her start in running during high school, like so many have. She waited until she was 40 to make her debut. Perhaps this inspired her now police officer daughter to join the cross country team when she attended Duluth East H.S.
Sara turned 60 this year and is still going strong. The marathon is her favorite race distance even though every time, she questions her sanity at mile 19. These thoughts at mile 19 have never stopped her though. Over the past 20 years she has run 151 marathons, several of those were ultras! The most memorable of those was her second Grandmas marathon where she came around that last bend and saw the clock at 3:28. At the sight of knocking 32 minutes off her previous Grandmas attempt of 4:00 it was all she could do to contain her excitement. Sara was even overall women winner at the Pride of Canada Marathon! Of course she was the only woman at that race, but a win is a win! You might not know this but Sara is a pretty quite person, she does however enjoy speaking in formal type situations.
Like so many of us, running has become a part of Sara's life. The reason she runs, she says is, “It's exercise. It's oxygen getting into my system. Its gives me a feeling of independence and strength.” She enjoys running races and the people she meets. Running wasn't always so great for Sara. In the early days she would get side aches, ick! But eventually the side aches would fade. She would run a few blocks with her dogs, which then turned into a few miles. Pretty soon Sara's dogs got wise to her mileage and would hide in their kennels when they saw her coming. These days Sara mostly trains by herself, occasionally running with others when schedules permit. She has even been known to hit the trails with her skis and snowshoes in the off season.
This small town Minnesota gal isn't afraid to skip state lines for races. To date she has run in 27 states! Some of the more notable races include Boston, Big Sur, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Leading Ladies Marathon, Phoenix, Louisville, and Memphis. Sara ran a quirky, smaller marathon in Norwalk, WI in which you are given a flash light for the ¾ mile stretch through a dark train tunnel, neat! This year Sara is registered for Grandmas Marathon and is mulling over races in Atlanta and Colorado-Steamboat Springs. Look for her this year at Fitgers, Park Point, The Whistlestop and trudging along the Half Voyageur course.
An insider’s look at racing with Sara would show you that she likes to stick to spaghetti the night before, and prefers peanut butter toast and cereal on the morning of. Good solid runner’s meals! Everyone has a brand of shoes that just “work” for them, those shoes for Sara are any style of Saucony's. During a race, Sara uses either energy gels or energy jelly beans every seven miles. She is inspired by watching running races and listening to stories told by other runners.
When asked what advice she has for new runners she says, “Listen to your body, especially if trying longer distances. Don't be too concerned about times in racing. Mostly enjoy the feeling of being able to run”. I think all of us, not just beginner runners, can benefit from those words!
Sara isn't looking to hang up the old running shoes any time soon, but knows it's inevitable. She hopes it will be like how Forest Gump quit running, “One day I'll just say, that’s it!” Good plan, but in the mean time...run, Sara, run! So next time you are at a race, look around for Sara, now you know her, and you can share your story!
Written by: Kelly Raether-Prevost