Top 16 for 2016

We’re a bit behind the usual year-in-review posts, but we didn’t want to miss out on noting some of our personal highlights from what ended up being another productive and memorable year. The race quantity was about the same, but quality continues to improve. Our goal of making every year better than the last continues. Not all of these are about race moments, but all happened on race weekends. The Marathoning for Life top 16 for 2016:

16. Regarding Henry
I used to blog on MySpace, back when people were anonymous and you could throw out opinions and you’d likely never meet any of your readers unless you made a consciousIMG_1521 effort to do so. Being a lot more visible on a race blog makes for cool things like meeting Henry in San Francisco, who recognized us from the blog when he was doing research on Rock n Roll races.  Henry told us he was shooting for 20 races in 2016 (more than we’d ever done!) and went on to set multiple PR’s at the 5K and half marathon distances. Way to go Henry!

15. Hall of Fame Three-peat
I only put this as low as it is because it seemed like a foregone conclusion once we put the
plan in place. I do put it on the list because regardless of how well you plan, there’s always the chance to injury, travel delays and unavoidable conflicts that can derail you. Working the races into your schedule (and making other plans around them) take some serious commitment. We look forward to seeing if we can do this again in 2017. If you get to a Rock n Roll Expo, you’ll see a huge banner with rows of pictures. Ours are below.

14. RNR Los Angeles Candy Crunch
I don’t buy race pictures often, but this one will go down as one of my all time favorites. The Candy Store was actually an idea that we had a few years ago, but we missed 2014 (for RNR Vancouver) and did a PacMan theme in LA for 2015. The fact that the six of us did the entire race together made it something special.

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13. First Steps
Ryan and Virginia had been along the journey for years. Ryan was always on the other side of the table handing out medals and Virginia was working on the 5K distance. This year, they both stepped up and finished their first half marathons – Ryan in Savannah, Virginia in Vegas. It doesn’t look like either of them will be a one-and-done. Note that they both celebrated the accomplishment in different ways.

12. Biggest Hall of Fame Induction Yet – San Antonio
The number of Hall of Famers increased 4 fold since the inaugural 2014 year. Among the 162 people who finished 15 or more half or full marathons in 2016 there were dozens of first-timers. Five people ran the table with all 25 logistically possible events and a handful even finished 20 or more in back to back years. Every person in these pictures has a great story to tell.

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Photo Credit: Competitor Group
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The Rock Superstars who ran 25 races. Not pictured: Will Flynn

11. Chicago Storms
We’ve had an amazing run of weather luck for the last 10 years. Before 2016, we’ve only had significant amounts of rain on 2 out of over 100 races. In 2016, we had a dusting during RNR Nashville and DC and a good soaking in San Antonio. We even had our first lightning-related yellow flag that suspended the RNR Chicago for nearly half an hour. Ron and Al finished the last 100 yards as the announcers told people to find shelter. Susan didn’t have to worry about that as she finished the race 6 minutes earlier – with a brand new PR!

10. The next to 100 Rock n Rolls
Kevin Gonzalez hit the 100 Rock n Roll race mark at Rock n Roll San Diego. Kevin plans to chase world majors in 2017, but he finished 2016 as the All-Time Number 2 for RNR Heavy Medal races with 108.  He has finished 106 half marathons (2nd), 110 total events (6th) and 5th in all time RNR race mileage.

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11. Changing of the Guard
Probably the biggest news off the course was that Rock n Roll founder, “Mr. Marathon”, 12301576_10207587601625553_6517062093939443634_nTracy Sundlun was let go by Competitor Group. I remember the year Rock n Roll Cleveland was cancelled just a month before the event. We got a personal call from Tracy apologizing for the inconvenience, asking what he could to keep our loyalty and come back for another race. It was these kinds of touches that makes going to races more of a family reunion than an endurance event. We’ll miss Tracy. I think a lot of people will.

10. Double Live, Part 4
Mid November will be a highlight for every year as long as Disney and Rock n Roll continue to have the morning/evening race combination. For the last 3 years, we’ve done the Disney Avengers (renamed Superheroes) Half in the morning, hopped a plane and finished the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half that night. 2016 had relatively good weather for both ends of the trip (compared to the windstorms in 2014 and 2015).

9. The 100 Half Marathon Club
We joined the 100 Half Marathons club late in 2015 and it dawned on us how many of our friends are close to or past that incredible milestone. Juan ran his 100th at RNR Mexico City, Tawni reached the 100 mark at a rainy Rock n Roll DC, Hyalker got there at Rock n Roll San Diego and John did the same at Rock n Roll Vancouver. We weren’t on hand for a few more including De Moe (Mayors Marathon, Anchorage). At least three more friends who are on track for 100 in 2017.

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8. The Next Generation
This was one of those non-race moments that made me appreciate the people we’ve come img_5927in contact with over the years. We met Ann Wessling on a flight from San Diego to Phoenix and I credit (blame?) her for getting us started on the Rock n Roll circuit when she told us about the 2011 expansion and the new Rock Idol Heavy Medal.  She and Peter are among our best friends, so when we went to RNR Denver for the weekend, we wanted to have a mini baby shower for the expecting mom and dad. Ann had baby Juliana a few days after Rock n Roll Las Vegas.

7. Winners at The Biggest Loser Race Series Chicago
As we mentioned on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast earlier this week, we love this series because it gives us a chance to compete in a walk division. Both Susan and I took first place in our divisions with Susan finishing 3rd overall. We had a great time catching up with Christina and also cheering Jen in for her first half marathon finish.IMG_4200

6. Going for Gold
I loved this moment because I know how much it meant to Nalani and Drew.  Drew had been wanting to get the 10-race Rock Idol medal since it came out in 2011. Even though they redesigned the medal to be the Gold Record, 2016 was going to be the year. After starting out with a badly sprained ankle and Nalani nursing a tweaked knee for most of the year, we finished RNR San Antonio with Nalani getting a PR. Picking up the Gold Record was an emotional moment after such a long road.

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5. Catching them All – the next 100 Rock n Rolls
Rock n Roll San Jose weekend was Al’s 100th Rock n Roll and 300th Half marathon. There were a lot of moments that will stick with me from the weekend including Beth and Jim surprising us at dinner Saturday night, catching a Charizard during the 5K and Al beating Roger Craig to the tape to finish the half. It was a relaxed race, but it gave us a chance to find out a lot about Al’s extensive experiences. Al is tied for fourth on the all time list for total RNR events at all distances, 4th in total race mileage, and 3rd in half marathons.

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4. The First Lady of Rock n Roll
Sherry became the third runner and first woman to hit the 100 Rock n Roll mark at Las Vegas. She finished 2016 at second all time for total RNR events at all distances, second in total race mileage and as high as second all time in RNR full marathons (records before the Remix era are admittedly very sketchy for fulls). She’s also a cancer survivor which makes this achievement all that much more special.

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3. A Red Shoe Surprise
We have friends who don’t ask for much and like to stay under the radar. I get that, since I’m kind of the same way. But when we found out Kamika was going to finish his 50th Half marathon state in a small race in Iowa the same weekend as Rock n Roll Nashville, it was something we just couldn’t pass up. Somehow we able to keep it secret and show up to surprise him before the starting line.

2. 26.2 Miles with too many Hearty Breakfasts
We knocked off continent number 6 for full marathons in July at the Victoria Falls Marathon. This wasn’t just a moment, but an entire week worth of unforgettable experiences ranging from safaris, lion and elephant walks, aerial tours of the falls. The trip was arranged by Marathon Adventures and every last person on the trip was an absolute pleasure to spend time with. The race itself was challenging and Susan was in the position of having to drag Ron to a heat-induced, cramp-filled finish. Just one more continent (Asia) to go!

1. The one race you wish it actually DID rain
We capped off the year with Ron’s 50th birthday by doing the Honolulu Marathon. Race day was the typical hot and humid Hawaii in December, and the pace was as relaxed as the weekend. Even though the race itself isn’t my favorite, it’s hard to beat being in Hawaii when you’re done.

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There were a lot of other moments, milestones and people we remember from the year, but capturing them all would make for an even longer blog than it already is. Special thanks to John Pannell for following the numbers, Southwest Airlines for the companion pass, Rock n Roll for keeping up the TourPass program, SportHooks and Allied Metal for the cool medal hangers, Sport Medicine Institute and TEAM Clinic for keeping our bodies able to maintain the schedule and to our gypsy and Black Sheep friends and family for making each trip worth writing about.

We’re already into our third weekend of 2017 and are one race blog behind. Time to start catching up again!

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