The Wigwam Blog

April was a busy month, just the way I like it. My plan included 3 races, all with one purpose, training and building miles towards the 24-hour race I plan to do in May.


The first race was the Trail Breaker Half-marathon. Doesnt sound like it would be too helpful, but it was more than just the mileage I was looking at. The race was an attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for most runners linked together. We tethered 103 runners, 68 women and 35 men and completed the task in 2 hours 58 minutes, including a short toilet break and broke the record.


The purpose for the group was to raise funds for Life Striders Therapeutic Riding Center and the hook was to get people to join the attempt at the GWR by asking them to commit to raising $250 each. We raised over $30,000.


Running a climbers rope through a climbers apparatus attached to our race belts, we strung out nearly 300 meters from start to finish. Along the route there was a road of pea gravel to which we diverted. In the distance I saw one portable toilet and thought, you have got to be kidding.


Once the final runner, Robin Gohsman, the organizer, cleared the running course, we made a gentle U-turn and then stopped. We were instructed to let out some slack in the rope, ladies step to the right, gents to the left, turn our backs to each other and take care of business. The road was then known to be one consisting of pee gravel. It was probably another GWR, but because it could not be documented, there would be no submission.

A week later, I participated in a few activities at the Boston Marathon Expo. I joined Wigwam and ShoeBuy.com at their booth to draw the winning ticket for a gift basket of socks, a gift certificate and other goodies.


Just prior to that, my wife and I had our photo taken with Dick and Rick Hoyt of Team Hoyt and I had Dick sign the book his son wrote, One Letter at a Time which chronicles his life as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Told he would be a vegetable, by doctors at birth, his parents ignored their prediction and he went on to a life of accomplishments.


As I was leaving the Team Hoyt booth, I heard my name called and turned to see a familiar face, Brigette Sharp. We chatted and said I had to go to draw a ticket for the raffle. She said, draw my name and I told her I could not guarantee that. I then departed and worked my way over to the Wigwam booth.


While there, my host Dave Krueger, of Hopkinton, MA and my wife purchased several pair of socks. Dave also threw his ticket in the raffle box. Then the time came for the drawing. Two interns from Northeastern, helping at the booth, held the box of tickets. I jumbled the tickets and drew the name of Brigette Sharp, of Texas and Mary Gustafson, the Wigwam representative, announced the winner.


Brigette was injured and unable to run and would be cheering for her husband Jerry this year. Winning the prize took a bit of the sting away of not being able to participate. She thanked me and her smile beamed from ear to ear.


Monday morning, Patriots Day, I ran with a controlled pace. I decided to pick it up a little and run a bit faster over the final 10k. The Newton hills and Heartbreak behind, it felt good to run with the sun shining and a nice breeze on a warm day. Well, warmer than Wisconsin had been for training.

Finishing, I made my way to meet Dave and my wife Chris and Kathie and Bob Norman who both finished and had traveled with us. I saw Dave sitting outside soaking up the sun and waiting for me. He took me inside the atrium of the Westin Hotel and Chris had my warm-ups ready for me. I changed and was making up a drink of Life Shotz when there was an explosion.

I was on the second floor overlooking Copley Square and the Boston Marathon finish line medical tents, when the second one exploded. I looked out and saw people running from the finish line area. Because the hotel had shaken, we thought the explosions might have been in the building, and went outside.


It was there we learned more, from spectators that were fleeing the scene. A well-orchestrated team of first responders took action. We then were told to clear the streets and went back into the hotel where we met the Normans. Now, all reunited, we got the car from the parking garage and attempted to make it back to Hopkinton, where the race starts, to gather our luggage and head for the airport.


It took 2 hours to negotiate the blocked streets and the traffic congestion, as the police locked down the area. We had time to pack our things and leave for the flight that was scheduled to go off on time. Until we got home we had not seen anything of what happened on Boylston Street, near the finish line. We watched for an hour once we got home and were saddened by the useless loss of life and the injuries to innocent bystanders, those there to cheer for us.


The following Saturday, I was in Madison, WI, to participate in the Mad City 100k USATF National Championship and WI-USATF State Championship. I brought along an object I picked up at this venue on April 7, 2007, when it first hosted the championships.


In 2007, I was going after the 55-59 American age group record for my wife, who was dying of cancer and did not have long to live. I was doing what she wanted me to do. I felt uneasy out there, nervous too. I noticed a soccer ball floating along the shore of Lake Wingra, on my left. The ball was pushed by a wave and I saw the name Wilson on it and thought of the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks.


Each lap I was talking to Wilson and telling him I would be back to get him. I remembered Hanks character had lost him, not recalling it was a volleyball, at sea and I had found him and would not let him go. Following the race and breaking the record, I went back and got Wilson and he has been with me since.


Honoring my wifes memory, I have returned to the Boston Marathon each year. She passed away on April 19, 2007, two days after I returned from Boston and many times I spoke to Wilson to help clear my head. This year I wanted to honor the Boston Marathon victims and decided to bring Wilson back to Lake Wingra to help me.

Timo Yanacheck asked for 26.2 seconds of silence before we started. He gave me the honor of starting the race, among those assembled and ready to race, as I had been in Boston on that tragic day.


My wife, Chris, crewed for me at the finish post. On top of the post she propped Wilson. It was good seeing her there on each of the ten laps of the 10k course, but also knowing Wilson was there, as he was the day I broke the record for Gail, my wife of 39 years.


I had a steady run at the pace I hope to maintain at the 24-hour run in Steenbergen, NED, and won the national title for my age group and for open and masters in the state championship.


We all will experience tragedy in our lives, but dwelling on the negative will not do any of us any good. Dwell on the positive and create better memories.


If you would like to help the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions, go to

https://onefundboston.org and make a positive difference.

See you in a few miles.roy

Written by Roy Pirrung at 00:00

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