Saturday, September 23, 2006

To Rio

Ah yes Sleep...well it ain't gonna be tonight. Just got done with the TAG group, gonna grab some lunch and drive over to Auburn later to meet up with Olga at RdL. Supposed to pick up the car rental at 3PM. I wonder how she's doing? It's 1:30 now and she's been running since 5:30AM this morning. I'll call George, who's serving as her crew, once I'm on the road. George you're awesome.

Every time I think of RdL, every time I run a 100-miler, one name comes to mind - Tom Rosebrock. I met Tom my first year in ultra at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-miler in 2002. He was 15 then and on his 3rd 50-miler for the year, started running ultras at 14. I was amazed to say the least. He was wearing the race shirt for the Quicksilver 50-miler in San Jose and I was chatting with him about it. We ended up running and talking for the next 40 miles. We were loud, took forever at the aid stations and laughed a lot about stupid amazing time. We both wanted to do Western States. He had enough to qualify for the lottery but was too young to enter. At one of the aid stations we ran into Norm Klein, Norm is one of Tom's mentors and the race director for RdL. He tells Tom at the aid station, "you can come run my race, I'll let you in". Sure enough the following year, at age 16, Tom finishes RdL and he makes it memorable by gutting it out and finishing just 5mins under the cut off time. According to Norm, the kid had problems 1/3 of the way into the race and just gutted it out till the finish. Stubborn like a lot of long distance runners I know.

Unfortunately that 50-miler was the first and last time I would run with Tom. I saw him a couple of times at races but I was either volunteering and he was running or vice versa. In 2004 at the finish line of the American River 50-miler I run into both he and Norm. They were working the finish line, announcing runners as they came in. I congratulated Tom on his finish at RdL and told him that I didn't get into WS - my first attempt in the lottery. Norm overhearing all this hands me an entry form to RdL and personally invites me to run his race. I was flattered but deep down I had my heart set on WS. From the first day I decided to take part in ultras, WS was my goal. Nevertheless I saved the form, heck I was honored.

That summer Tom would die in a motorcycle accident, he was only 17. A couple of weeks later I would mail in my entry form for RdL. It's crazy I only really spent one afternoon with the kid, it's not like we were best friends or anything but that first 50-miler...was one of the best and memorable. Once during our race I looked at my watch and exclaimed to Tom, "I've been running for 8 hours, damn I've never done that before". He just smiled/laughed at me.

After finishing RdL I told Norm that I ran his race because of Tom. I've never been back since. I don't like the last 33 miles:) Somewhat flat and on the bike path of the American River. But I'll be there tonight when I pace Olga for 33 miles. I don't know who I will meet come mile 67:) but she did promise smiles and a good attitude. It should be a nice time out. Running at night is an awesome experience.

To Olga and for Tom, once again.


  1. I googled Tom just now, this popped up. Thanks for keeping the memory of my friend alive. No one ever lived like he did, he would have been something of legend by this time. I miss the heck out of him. We went to middle school and high school together and I'm a marathon runner myself now.

    -Andrew Goble

  2. I just re-read the entry Andrew. Tom is part of my running history and I think about him from time to time. After pacing Olga I would go back to the race one more time to pace my friend Jonathan Gunderson. Both Olga and Tom had bad days at Rio but would run like Tom and finish anyway. Good to know another friend of Tom's.

  3. I knew Tom for the last year of his life, I worked with him. I didnt know him for long but I will remember him forever, he impacted my life with such spirit!!! I think of him often and am glad he made a difference in many peoples lives while he was here. It's nice to be able to read people's words of encouragement that Tom gave them.