Fastest course in the west.

The Good, The Bad And The Weird

Story #22 in a series of 25. Written to celebrate the CIM’s 25th Anniversary on December 2, 2007. By Cynci Calvin.

A 25-year-old marathon, with all its history, logistics and large numbers of participants and volunteers, is bound to produce many interesting stories over the years, and the CIM is certainly no exception. You’ve already read several of these in previous articles, but here are more of our favorites not previously published. Some are heartwarming, some humorous, some not so good, and some are downright, well…WEIRD. Enjoy!

He (Rory O’Dwyer) Says:
My wife and I have been happily married for 16 years, and 10 months, having known each other since December 2, 1990. We first laid eyes on each other at 6:45am in a downtown Sacramento parking lot with a cold and tired group of volunteers being assigned to street corners, but at the time thought nothing of it. The morning was a very cold and damp; everyone bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough-Boy for warmth.

We were all assigned to work particular street corners on L Street, and I was disappointed that I didn’t get the same street corner as my best friend and future ‘best-man’, Joe Johnston. I drove up to my corner at 23rd Street, keeping the engine running and the heater going full blast. Five minutes later another car parked across the street, the driver got out, and my stomach and brain started getting the ‘jiggles’ (shy guys know what I’m talking about when they know they’re going to have to speak to a beautiful woman). She had a hat on, but I could see the whiffs of red hair poking out. Her smile bowled me over. I nearly fell out of the truck trying to get out.

At noon, after the trucks came by to collect the barricades, we said good-bye, but later that day I told my friends and parents that I’d just met the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. Eleven months to the day, we were married in a small church in Clarksburg. Then our limo drove us to 23rd & L Streets for a few photos by our favorite street signs, and continued on to our reception at the Delta King. George Foxworth, the marathon volunteer coordinator who had assigned us to that street corner in 1990, presented us with a congratulatory engraved plate from the California International Marathon that we still proudly display in our home. Thanks to George, Jeri and I worked as volunteers at the same street corner for the next six years until we moved out of town.

Our marriage has been blessed with everything one envisions a perfect union to be. As the 2007 marathon is being held on the same date that we met 17 years later, we’ve decided to participate in the race to make the CIM that much more memorable a part of our lives together.

She (Jeri O’Dwyer) says:
I’m not sure what my better half told you, but, as you can see, thanks to the happy times we spent volunteering with the CIM, we both began running ourselves. I started by running the Victoria Marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. The program was so good, Rory talked me into doing the Maui Marathon with him. Our lives have changed since then; we’ve run the Portland Marathon, Anchorage Marathon, San Diego Marathon, Virginia-Mason Marathon, and last year, Rory ran the New York Marathon, among many other half-marathon runs throughout the years. Thanks to the time we spent with your organization and with George Foxworth, we have endeavored to give the benefit of our exercise to others through fundraisers and sponsorships for organizations benefiting Breast Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Leukemia & Lymphoma, and other cure research.

We will be running the CIM this year, although probably not together. Rory is a much faster runner than I am, but he has promised to meet me at 23rd and L!

The day the train came: CIM 2003
Pace Team Leader Bill Hambrick (below) was having a swell old time, pacing his runners, many of them 40-something ladies trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, to their required 3:50 goal finish time. In the final mile, just after the group made the turn onto L Street off of Alhambra, Bill saw a train whizzing down the tracks at the intersection ahead. A few minutes later his group, stunned, stopped and bemoaned their fate. The train seemed endless, but two minutes later it passed and everyone unhappily hustled to the finish — most of them missing their goal finish time by just that amount.

The next day, Race Director John Mansoor reported the incident to the staff at the Boston Marathon, who responded somewhat casually, “Oh not to worry, we get several train interruptions a year, and as long as we have the documentation on the lapsed time we will grant those people their qualifier.”

The next CIM broadcast email included the following report:

“THAT TRAIN THING!
Union Pacific Railroad wishes to apologize for the miscommunication in their Western system which prevented them from switching their normal route through Sacramento on race morning. They have assured us this was a one-time error and will not be repeated in the future. The Boston Marathon organizers have agreed to accept the entries of those whose qualifying times were affected.”

Supply crisis: CIM 1984
The National Guard proved to be a wonderful resource in the early years of the CIM, but even for this efficient military agency things were not going so well in in the wee hours of race morning. The National Guard truck carrying all the aid station supplies crashed. Fortunately the heroic Guardsmen rose to the occasion and the accident became another training mission. Reinforcements were called in, the supplies transferred to another vehicle, and the event went on without a hitch.

CIM Bonds
On December 2, my father and I will run the CIM together. It will be his 18th marathon and my first one.

Ever since I can remember, my father has been running – back then, it was called jogging. Apparently, that’s not the case. He went from smoking three packs of cigarettes a day to being an endurance athlete. Having run his first marathon at 54-years, he has gone on to run Boston four or five times. For his last marathon, he ran Boston in April 2007, four days before his 70th birthday. Although he “hung up his running shoes,” he qualified to run Boston in 2008.

As for me, I’m a 43-year old woman with a three year old daughter. In the past, I’d run but I’ve never raced. After meeting my husband, having a baby, and putting on some pounds, running a marathon was not in my future although it was something I’d always wanted to do. In the spring, I saw a poster for Team in Training and started thinking about running again. Always goal-oriented, I decided to start running to see how it felt. Since then, I’ve been hooked, waking up before the crack of dawn to get my run in. I joined Team in Training and decided that running the California International Marathon was a goal that I wanted to accomplish.

I decided to mention to my father what I was doing. I expected him to tell me that as a working mother I couldn’t do it and to advise me against it. Instead, he loved the idea – so much so that he’s decided to run it with me! He’s coming from Virginia to run it and has been running on his own as well as coaching me from far. He’s been having such a good time training for the CIM, I think he’s realized that he still has a few more marathons in him!

I hope you like my story. Thank you for giving me this wonderful goal and for increasing the bond of this father/daughter running team! —Gwyne Lauber

Crime scene at the start: CIM 2006
The CIM’s Start Line Coordinator, Dean Cannon arrived at his usual time of 3:00 a.m. to initiate the final details for the 7:00 a.m. start. Instead of the “calm before the storm” atmosphere, the start area was lit up like daytime. Police vehicles, crime tape, and no welcoming greetings awaited him. He was told to leave, that the area was closed, and “So what if 6,000 runners would be arriving within the next few hours.” Fortunately for everyone involved in the CIM, Dean has a strong law enforcement background himself. After he patiently determined who was in charge, he was able to convince the rest of the officers that the “Race must go on.”

This Sacamento Bee article published Monday morning describes the scenario.

Pasta feed cash box stolen: CIM 1986
After a successful first three years, the CIM hit a rough spot when much needed and hard-earned proceeds from the pre-race Pasta Feed disappeared and were presumed stolen. The mystery has never been solved and perhaps is one of the reasons why the CIM has never organized a pre-race carbo load dinner since!