Retired from GM, Gary lives in Michigan and writes for Michigan Runner. Through the loving support of Art & Jenny McCafferty, Gary has become one of the better known figures or cast of characters in road races across the U.S.
Gary normally volunteers to pace either a half marathon or marathon team at least twice a month. He does video interviews (see runningnetworktv.com) and when he and I are at the same event, it is the Gary and Larry show.
My belief is that, to paraphrase a line used to describe Frank Sinatra: It is Gary’s World, and we just live in it. Gary’s descriptions of his races and exploits give one the chance to live vicariously. In the end, Gary Morgan loves the sport of running and has made thousands of runners and walkers experience in races all that more memorable. We also hear that he is a mean dancer at the post-race parties.
Here is Gary’s description of the new Kalamazoo Marathon, that rose out of another long time event:
Image via Wikipedia
Mr. Ubiquitous, aka Gary Morgan, reports:
Saturday afternoon I
get on the road and do the I-94 express to Kalamazoo. I’ve been here a
lot over the last 30 years as some of my friends ran track and cross
country at Western Michigan in the early 1980’s. It was always fun
coming over and visiting them for the weekends. Then in the 1990’s I
would come to race walk in the Borgess Runs. I won the 5k racewalk 10
straight years in a row. That was a previous life when I used to train
to win races. Now I’m just participating and out for the adventure. It’s
a little less stress now and that’s a good thing because the human body
really doesn’t like for you to beat on it forever.
I get to the Raddison hotel and I get my number at the expo. I paced
the 2:45:00 half marathoners. For all of you who like numbers thats
12:35 a mile. The small expo was limited to the sponsors of the race.
Gazelle Sports had the most space as they were selling stuff for
Sunday’s race. This was the inaugural Kalamazoo Marathon, although this
race, the Borgess Run for the Health of It, has been going on for 31
years. It started out as a 15k race and grew to a 5k, 10k, half
marathon, and walks. This year they went big and put on a marathon. In
the 1980’s world class runners would come and run it. There’s a lot of
history with this event and more was coming with Sunday’s event. I met
up with the world famous race director of the Grand Rapids Marathon, Don
Kern. He was telling me about some of his past adventures and plans for
this year. Don is the man living life bigger than reality and I love
it. He had a booth at the expo and was registering runners for his race
in the fall.
What was really neat is the Kalamazoo Marathon’s 50 state challenge.
The first person to register from each state got a free pair of New
Balance shoes. I heard they had at least 46 states represented at the
race. I ate at the pasta dinner and it was delicious as they even had
chicken with it. It was all good. After dinner I ran into photographer
extraordinaire Carter Sherline. We walked around town and had a beer at
Bell’s Brewery. I called it an early night because early mornings come
up fast when race time is 7:30 am.
Another marathon Sunday and Kalamazoo is rocking this morning. This
town was excited about having its first marathon. The TV stations were
out in full force along with 7000 runners who were doing one of the
three races: 5k, half or full marathon. Chris Crowell, part owner of
Gazelle Sports, was the announcer. I met him at Western Michigan
University when he was running there and we always meet up in Kalamazoo.
He does a great job announcing races and is full of enthusiasm. The
music is pumping and everyone is ready to run on a fantastic sunny day.
The race starts and finishes at the Nazareth Center/ Borgess Health
& Fitness Center, a great spot for races as the Borgess Run has been
here for years. I get my 2:45 pacer sign and line up at the back. Lot’s
of first time racers are here today and I give them lot’s of
encouragement. The National Anthem is sung and the gun goes off. It’s
always a thrill to be a part of a inaugural event and this is no
different. I cheer on the back-of-the packers and they seem to like when
I get them excited about being here.
The course was very scenic and gave a great tour of Kalamazoo. There
was new pavement on certain sections of the course; there’s nothing
like running on new pavement. Lot’s of bands and DJ’s are playing music.
I thought I was at a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. There are also lot’s of
spectators. Two major hills are on the course: one at the 8.5 mile mark
and another at the 12 mile mark. The rest of the half marathon course
was fairly flat. I come in a little early at 2:44:08 ahead of my
scheduled arrival time of 2:45. I was amazed at how many spectators
there were in the last half mile. At the finish spectators were five and
six deep cheering on friends and family. For the last few months I kept
on hearing how excited Kalamazoo was about having a marathon and this
truly confirmed it. The medals were really nice and a super band played
at the post-race festivities which included a great beer tent.
It was a fantastic day for Kalamazoo. I’m really grateful I could be
a part of this after all these years of being in this sport. Pacing at
this race was pretty special this weekend as Borgess and Kalamazoo keep
on putting on this great event every year.
Next, I’m on the road to Fredricksberg, Virginia for the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) convention this weekend.
Keep on running–
Leave a Reply