Monthly Archives: February 2016

Running and Running for President – 2016 Presidential Elections

In this political season everyone of the candidates for president is putting on the full dog and pony show to get your vote.  Unfortunately, I believe none of the candidates is in touch with the majority of the tax paying citizens of our great country.  I further believe that their political strategy to get elected is more important to them then telling us what they can actually get done or how they intend to go about it.  For years I’ve believed their campaign agenda and actions once in office are governed by their need to be elected and re-reelected then what is actually good for the country.  The candidates have become professional politicians and not public servants. The end result of years of this Tom Foolery is that I’ve lost all faith in the system.  I’ve also lost faith in our would be “representatives.”

So how will I decide who to vote for in the upcoming presidential elections?

I will endorse the first candidate who will come out and run 100 miles with my running friends and I.  As noble as this challenge is, I’m not sure that is going to happen and here are the expected outcomes from each camp.


Hillary, will declare her acceptance of my challenge on an afternoon episode of the Ellen TV show.  In the days after her announcement she will change her platform to get in touch with the fitness crowd and this one good looking runner from North Carolina.  Come run day, I’ll be left standing alone on the starting line.  When questioned why she did not make the running date Hillary will claim she never got my e-mail.  Later the course of the investigation will prove she did in fact get the email with the classified location and sent it out to her staff over her personal cell phone.  Hillary will never admit to having any knowledge of the proposed run or acceptance of my challenge but later court records and will prove she spend 10,000 dollars of campaign money on running shoes and yoga pants.

On the other side of the isle, things I believe would go much better but yet still ineffective.


Trump, He shows 15 minutes before the posted runtime with all the hoopla of Barnum and Bailey.  Much to my surprise after the show boating and chest pumping “The Donald” does in fact begin to run with me.  Five miles into the run I quit and go home, my ears bleeding from the near constant threats to sue me if this run makes him look bad, proves he is out of shape or affects his standing with FOX news and Megan Kelley.  Days later in the mail I receive a summons to pay for the sweat stains on his cashmere running suit.

In all seriousness our nation is in a real mess.  I don’t believe a single candidate is in touch with the voters.  Do your research, pray and vote for who you feel is best qualified.  My offer to the candidate is still standing, anyone want to run with me?


Honestly, I believe I’ll be voting for Charlie Brown.

Running A Race – Race Director Pet Peeves

Run a race, I’ve ran a few, but too few to mention….So the old song goes, or it’s something like that.


I’ve run enough races from 5ks to 100 milers to know when a race carters to the running community vs. one that is more about turning a profit to fill the coffers of the race organizers. I can spot a well organized race from one that is lacking any organization. It doesn’t take long to size up an event and figure out if it is here for us (the runners) or are we there for them. Even with the best of races I have a few race director pet peeves.

Race Directors, and their volunteers and staff, I Love Ya…and I’m so very thankful for the jobs you do. I never hosted a race, but I’ve hosted a few large car shows, RC aircraft swap meets and been president of a number of clubs and organizations. I know the job you do goes off with very little appreciation or notice. We could never run the races we do without the love, commitment, effort and hard work that you put into these races most often at a cost to you and your families with little or no pay. I’m forever thankful… My post is not meant to dog on any of you but to take a look at a few of the logistical challenges that sometimes get over looked.

#1 Directions to the race site. To many times (more on small races) I’ve come across directions like this: “Once on Long Run Rd, turn left onto Short Road until you get to the old new body shop on the right, then go a little further until you see the big parking lot for the small church.” These directions might be great for someone who has lived in this small town for the better part of all their life. But for me, an out of towner I have no idea how to put that into my GPS. Race Directors, PLEASE make the directions to your race easy for us to MapQuest, Google or loaded into our Garmins.

#2 The missing race location. The city and state of the race location should be clearly identified on the web page, race flyers or advertisement in the national running magazines. Countless times I’ve been sucked into a flashy ad for a marathon and then spend the next ten minutes trying to figure out just where it’s being held. Most times to my major disappointment it’s out of my traveling sphere. Organizers and their PR staff, In my humble opinion the location of the race should be big, bright, bold and easy to find on all race related advertising…no sense communicating to an audience who just can’t get there.

#3 Age group awards that just don’t fit. I ran this one race really well. Finished near the front, set a personal best and had high hopes. I thought I might be in the standing for an age group award. When the awards/standing were posted I was crushed to find out that my personal best was not only not fast enough…that I had not even made the 50% line in my age group. I was floored…until I noticed that as a 47 year old male (at the time) was running against the 20 something crowd. Competition committee members, please establish the age groups based on some recognized standards or that at least provide a somewhat level playing field. Or am I the only mid 50 something who can’t run with the 20 year olds?

#4 Post a race day schedule of events AND stick to it. This is really important for longer races, ultras and timed races. As a sometimes solo runner for events over 50 miles, I plan my race day support around the event. If the event is providing food as advertised, this is important information for me. In a solo run such as this I plan and count on that meal as an important part of my fueling. On more than one event, I’ve built my race day plan and pacing around the expected “pizza meal” only to come around at the predetermined time to find a bunch of empty boxes.

#5 Start on time. I ran a small to midsized “City Road Marathon” point to point marathon where the organizers had transportation issues getting the “late” arriving runners to the starting line. For the majority that showed up early or on time that called for an additional 45 minute wait. 45 more minutes outside, sitting on pavement or grass with the early morning temperatures turning into mid day heat. 45 minutes into our refueling plan and race day plan. I understand the uncontrollable and I feel for anyone who may have arrived late, but to hold the majority of the field while we waited on the few…just did not seem like the best course of action. Starters….let’s start on time and runners…get to the race on time.

AGAIN thank you to all those who step up and host the races that we get the privilege to run.

What are your race day pet peeves?

Running the Heart and Sole Half Marathon – 26 Lousy Seconds

The 2016 race season started off kind of slow for me.  I signed up for the Miami Marathon, along with the K-LOVE Cruise 2016 but #blizzard2016 also known as Jonas took care of that.  Flights were cancelled up and down the east coast forcing us to hop a rental car and drive from Virginia to Florida.  We arrived safely in Miami just as they were tearing down the marathon finish line.  Turning the page I set my sights on warmer weather, no snow and the Tobacco Road Marathon in March.  For a tune up race and to gauge my fitness I signed up for the Heart & Sole half marathon in Greensboro, NC.


The Heart & Sole Half Marathon and 5k is a small town race and one with a lot of charm.  Arriving with my wife Michele at the race site on a crisp and cool Saturday morning I was not sure what to expect.  The half marathon field was small, around 150 runners, the 5k saw another 50 or so.   What we did find was great parking near the start/finish line and a simple race day package pick up process.  We were also greeted by friendly smiles and a cheerful crowd as we all tried to keep warm.

J&A racing beanie
Julbo Sunglasses
Pearl Izumi champions high tech t-shirt
Race Dots “Don’t be a pin head”
Hinde leggings
Injnji toe socks
Garmin GPS forerunner 201
Pearl Izumi road N2 shoes
Nike fleece gloves
Nathan hand held filled with a mix of Gatoraide and GU gel

The race started off with a simple but effective race brief and a wonderful singing of the national anthem.  I do not know who the girl was but she rivaled the singers I’ve heard at national sporting events.  Great Job…   With the brief out of the way it was just a few minutes before we were off.

The half marathon course was simple and easy to follow, a few out and back legs connected together in and amongst the housing community of Walnut Creek, NC.  Running thru this housing area nestled among mature trees and a lake provided plenty of diversions to keep my eyes and mind busy while pounding out the miles.  The course had a number of gently rolling hills and inclines typical of a North Carolina town but nothing to really compromise your legs.

heart and sole half 2016

When the gun went off the pack did not make haste getting on down the road.  Following the crowd I started off at a pretty fast pace (for me). Normally I start at a conservative pace during the opening miles of a race to ensure success at the finish, but today I decided to test myself and let it roll.  During the first out and back section around mile two I caught a glimpse of the race leaders and decided to count off the lead runners to figure where I was in the line up.  I’ll admit I lost count but figured I was around 33rd or so.

As we made our way out to the four mile post I fell in line with another guy I reasoned to be about the same age who was running about the same pace.  I figured I would latch on to his bumper and let him do the hard work of busting up the little bit of wind we were facing.  For the next few miles I put be drafting off him NASCAR style with my eyes locked onto his blue shirt and the local scenery passing us bye.  My mind was occupied with keeping up the pace, staying in line with the blue shirt guy in front of me and wondering how many bass were in the lake.

As we made our way to mile five the fellow in the blue shirt and I linked up with another pair of runners.  In this group was a younger kid in his teens and a guy with much longer legs.  Our little group of four made good time rolling along miles six, seven and into eight.  For the most part I found it easy to run in this pack.  A few times I felt the need to pull to the front as it seemed the pace might be falling off just a touch but before long the guy in the blue shirt would reel me back in and take over his spot in front.  I figured why fight it and was happy to let the blue guy shirt go back on point and lead the way.

73-20160206-423(First race in my Pearl Izumi Road N2s,
great shoes)

The section between miles seven and eight were a bit confusing, or maybe it was the lack of oxygenated blood  flowing to my brain.  This section was made up of two out and backs around a central roundabout.  The sign posting here got me a bit concerned that my pace had fallen off.  I noticed a posted sign for mile seven but it seemed I then ran forever before I got to mile eight.  In retrospect I think I saw the the seven mile sign out of the corner of my eye early on while making my way around the out and back near mile six.  This early sighting made it feel like I ran forever to get to the eight mile point.  One good outcome of this was that I pushed the gas pedal down in fear that I had lost some time and broke free from the pack putting some distance between the guy in the blue shirt, the kid and the long legged runner.  Once free of the pack I did a little race math.  I came to the conclusion that on the pace I was running a new half PR was on the table and if I could pick it up some a sub 1:40 finish might be a real possibility.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I do not recommend doing public math during a race.  In the course of trying to predict a finishing time I’ve ran off course, fallen down and turned the wrong way while trying to carry the one, subtract the two and put the decimal point in the right place.

Once the high level math was behind me, mile nine featured a nice climb right after the turn around and led us out onto the what felt like the two longest miles of the day.  I kept reviewing the math in my head as I ran solo down what would be the longest straight sections of the course.  A sub 1:40 was real possibility and to motivate me to keep the hammer down I focused on the runners in front of me.  I tried to reel them in one by one.  Mile 12 found us back in the housing section with slight turns, a few inclines and a rambling route to mile 13 and the push for home.  Glancing at my GPS watch I knew I was target I just had to keep it up.  My legs were getting a bit tired as I climbed a few rollers and made the final right turn for home.  I my wife was positioned at that final turn and was cheering me on.  Seeing her there after she finished her 5k gave me an extra push to get back up on my toes and gun it home.


Rolling into the finish line a PR was in the bag, but I was a lousy 25 seconds short of a sub 1:40 finish.


1:40:25 a new Personal Record by nearly 3 minutes, placing 22rd overall, 3rd in my age group but 26 seconds to slow for a 1:39:59………….I’m happy with that.

Have you ever missed a PR by seconds?


Running Ultramarathons and getting the most out of them

Max King, world class runner offered 6 tips to finish your first ultramarathon.  His insight on training, nutrition, back to back running, pre-race homework, running gear and making no promises is spot on and a great read.

I cannot add to Max’s insight on how to get the best performance at your first ultra, but I wanted to offer my thoughts on getting the most out of your first ultramarathon “experience.”   I went into my first ultra, a 24 hour race with ZERO ultra-experience, no ultra-running friends, and no support system on race day.  I was a lone wolf without the benefits of the pack.  I left that first race with a new personal long distance record, 52.5 miles but more importantly I left with a ton of knowledge, some experience, new friends and a running mentor.

24hr2012(From my first Ultra I brought home more
than tired/sore feet and a wooden trophy)

  1. Talk to other runners – Unless you ‘re gunning for a race win or some other milestone, an ultra is the perfect place to learn a few things and make new friends.  The slower pace and longer distances provide the perfect backdrop to talk to other runners.  It might be during a pitstop, or when you meet up with a group running the same pace. Whenever the opportunity comes up ask about their past experiences, favorite races, and lessons learned.  Not only will this help the time and miles fly bye but it will also make you that much smarter, better prepared for your next ultra.  I entered my first ultra a complete rookie. I was unprepared (knowledge wise) and knew very little on how I was going to get thru the day.  I left much smarter…many of the lessons I learned came from the conversations I had during the race.
  1. Spend time with the Race Director – If time allows (after all the RD is pretty busy during the event) spend a few minutes thanking and chatting with the RD.  Most RD are veteran runners who have a world of information to share.  Many love to invest in new runners and enjoy seeing new people succeed in a sport they love.  During my first 24 hour race, the RD ran a few laps during the middle to later stages of the race and I was fortunate to run a few miles with him.  I gleaned a ton of information, gained a running mentor and made a good friend from this race.
  1. Stop and smell the roses, the sand, the trees, and the wind – Most ultras are run on trails, in city parks or some other type of natural setting.  For many city runners this may be the first time in a long time that your exposed to nature.  Take the time to stop and see the beauty of the natural setting around you.  On one lap in the middle of the night, I noticed for the first time in years the sounds of frogs off in the distance, I saw fireflies dancing in the night and noticed how calm the world is after everyone goes to sleep.  This race took be back to some simpler days…
  1. Help someone else when they may be struggling – Everyone has a low point during a really long race.  No matter your talent level if you see someone struggling take the time to lift them up.  A smile, a kind word or talk them thru a low point and the reward you achieve when they finish is better than any trophy.  During one particular race I was hurting myself, when I came upon a young lady who was moving pretty slow.  Ignoring the pain I was in I took the time to introduce myself, offered a few words of encouragement and told her as long as she was moving she was still in the game.  A mile or so later we said goodbye and I moved on.  Later in the night I saw her a few more times she was looking much better and even smiling.  After the race out of nowhere she came up to me and told me because of my kind words she kept going.  To me it wasn’t much, to her it helped her to keep moving.
  1. Be flexible – Going into my Ultras I normally have three goals, an A goal (best case time/mileage), B goal (fall back goal, normally slightly slower/shorter than my A Goal), and my C Goal…to simply finish.  I would like to say I’m tough enough to always battle thru to make my A goal, but a marathon is a long way and many things can change.  An ultra is a much longer race and a world of things can set the best laid plans, training and hopes astray.  You can’t let a missed goal ruin the whole race.  I went into my first ultra thinking I could run 100 miles in 24 hours, it looked easy on paper…and I had a plan.  Well that plan fell apart early on and I had to adjust.  In the end I was so very happy to have logged 52.5 miles in my first ever ultramarathon.  I came home sore, and a winner.  Without adjusting my goals, I may have been defeated and never toed an ultramarathon starting line again.

run24(I tried to keep a smile,
even when it rained for 19 HOURS)

  1. Keep Smiling – No matter how bad your race is going, your still alive and running.  Always remember there are millions of people who wish they could do what you’re doing at that moment in time.  Instead they are trapped in hospital rooms, tied to medicine bottles, starting chemo, in battles with their own minds or worst saying goodbye to this world and farewell to their loved ones.  No matter what smile when you run, because someone wishes they could. 

11124485_1008632309147925_5967563728340585244_n(A lot of good friends in this picture, #Run4Life)

The ultrarunning community has made me the runner I am today.  Without the support and advice of other runners, without the help and friendship of my mentor George, without smelling the roses, without the victory of others, without new goals and without my smile…I would have been a beaten hulk of a runner.  But today I’m an UltraRunner and a better human being.

Julbo Eyewear, Sunglasses – Ultra Marathon Protection – Running Eyewear

Julbo Eyewear, Sunglasses – Ultra Marathon Protection – Running Eyewear

73-20160206-423(Setting my half marathon PR in my Julbo Sunglasses)

Very few things in my running kit are worry free. Are the batteries in my GPS going to last? Did I mix my recovery drink correctly? Will my shorts or shirt chaff?

The one thing I don’t have to worry about are my Julbo sunglasses.

I’ve wore my Julbo Venturi, sunglasses on a number of training runs, long runs, a half marathon and the JFK 50 mile ultra marathon and they have proven themselves to be maintenance and worry free.


From their website: The Venturi was designed with input from our internationally successful trail running team. They’ll support optimum performance over whatever terrain a run traverses. With a wide field of vision and photochromic Zebra lenses, the Venturi offers a clear path to better mountain vision. Comfortable for long wear with grip temples for hold, these are streamlined and lightweight sunglasses bearing the new 3D Fit Nose for versatile fit.

FIT: I have never been happy with the fit of my sunglasses in the past. And to be honest, I was ready for that again, BUT these babies fit right out of the box. I was very surprised and very happy, Nothing to worry about here. Where sunglasses in the past gave me sore spots if wore to long, I wore these during every mile of the JFK and not contact point pain.

PROTECTION: I’ve worn these during some warm weather runs, windy run and cold weather outings. And as far as my eyes were concerned they knew no different. My eyes normally water during cold or windy days but my Julbro glasses offered such great protection from the wind that I had no watering eyes.

STYLE: These simple sunglasses have more style than I do… I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on how good they look.  I’m no GQ man but that little bit of attention makes this old dude feel good.


If you struggle with finding the right eyewear to protect your eyes while out on the trails, hiking up a mountain path or simply out on the town give Julbo eyewear a try.

Checkout their website, follow them on Vimeo and Like them on Facebook.

Running, Fast, Flat and on Tobacco Road

Do you want to run fast?

Do you want to set a new personal record, qualify for the Boston Marathon, run a sub four or five hour marathon?  If you have one of these marathon benchmarks on the horizon why not load the deck in your favor to achieve your goals.  To ensure the marathoning odds are in your favor you’ll need a course that is flat, fast and with very few turns.

In my next of the woods, Virginia, North/South Carolina and the surrounding states, the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, North Carolina is the answer.

Course Highlights

  • Full and half marathon run the same course for 2.5 miles to and from the American Tobacco Trail (ATT)
  • Full marathon has 21 miles on the ATT and the half marathon has 8 miles on the ATT
  • Very few hills and a downhill finish help runners achieve their fastest times
  • Minimal turns on paved roads and minimal vehicular traffic on the course
  • Main entrance into USA Baseball Complex at Green Hope School Road is open for easier shuttle and vehicle traffic
  • USA Track & Field (USATF) Certified Courses
    tobaccoroadmarathon10 percent of Tobacco Road Marathon runners qualify for the Boston Marathon; that’s why the event, conducted on the fast, flat American Tobacco Trail is known as a “Boston Qualifier.”  
    I will not be gunning for Boston, my sights are set on my second sub four hour marathon, on March 13th come run with me and set your sights on your personal goals whether that be Boston or beyond.

Running for Life, My Battle Within

A Guest Post by Ken.

Three unexpected words can destroy your life and attack you without compassion or consideration.


In September of 2015 I took my health and being physically fit for granted.  After all, for the last 22 years the Army has insisted on regular fitness tests, eating well, annual physicals, preventative medical care, and countless opportunities to be active.  So much so that I, like many of my brothers and sisters in arms, embraced leisure fitness as refuge from daily stresses.  At 43 years old, regularly running 5Ks, 10K, and Half Marathons rewarded my hard work and devotion.  As retirement was right around the corner, imagine my shock, to hear three unarguably evil words “YOU HAVE CANCER.” from my Doctor.

When the Grim Reaper unleashes his weapons the devastation that ensues impacts every part of your being.  The universe as you know it implodes into a singularity of compressed fear, anguish, and mortality.  Nothing prepares you.  In a rush tests were run. Radioactive sugars pushed through my body to measure the extent of the cancerous invasion letting my Doctors plan the battle.  The news got worse and the strategy changed compensating for the aggressiveness of my Enemy.  In the span of only five days I transformed from being a Warrior for our country to being a Warrior fighting for my own very life.  My loving wife became my support group forming “Team Ken” deciding then and there this would be a fight to the end with her at my side.  On day six, our first battle lasted nine hours as I lay afraid on the operating table while the surgeons went to war.  There was a victory!  My liver was not invaded after all and could be saved.  Sadly, I lost significant parts of my colon and rectum and gained a lengthy recovery.

Open abdomen surgery is no joke.  My optimism for a speedy recovery never faltered but I accepted the harsh reality of a six to nine month healing process.  The 18 inch scar and all my abdomen muscles (as well as the internal plumbing) began the slow campaign of healing.  Roles became reversed.  My loving wife became my Warrior and caregiver as I sat helpless.  A restricted diet led to shedding 20 pounds that I could scarcely afford to lose.  Simple tasks like getting out of bed, reaching for a glass, or sitting down comfortably seemed impossibly hard and painful.  A full two months passed before the strength returned to simply walk around the block.  By the end of December the ability to lightly jog for about 3 minutes came back.  January saw the return of the highly prized Sit-Up and being able to run lite intervals at a 2min walk/5min run pace!  Confidence was returning along with my strength and hope.

Onward to Victory!  No one goes to war without a plan, to do so would invite disaster.  So here we are, at the New Year and a second chance at living.  I’ve signed up for a 5K in February, walk-or-run, I will cross that finish line.  Victory will be mine.  A 10K in March.  Another Victory.  I plan to run a Half in June. Another (probably painful) Victory.  And by October of 2016, I will cross the finish line of a Full Marathon (probably very slowly).  VICTORY!  CANCER WILL NOT BEAT ME!  The importance of returning to running drives me as much as returning the love from my family back to them for their support.  Running is my Zen that reminds me I am alive.  Each step forward is a Victory.  I suspect that each of us in similar circumstances have found that Zen state to mentally cope with the experience and knowledge that the Grim Reaper is still watching…I am doing everything possible to defeat Him.

Aside from the invasive open surgery I am one of the lucky ones.  My Doctors believe that we won and I stand about an 85% chance of surviving the next five years.  This comes at a cost of continuous surveillance through more testing for signs that the Enemy is re-attacking and the constant fear that I’m not safe and may need Chemotherapy.  Others are not so lucky.  Colorectal Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and is increasingly attacking those of us under 50.  The survival rates drop dramatically the longer colorectal cancer goes undetected.  If recommended for colonoscopy…please don’t hesitate.  It’s painless and you don’t remember a thing…it could save your life too!  For more information visit the Colon Cancer Alliance at


About the author:  Ken Haynes is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army originally from Reno, Nevada.  He credits his wife with providing the much needed love, emotional and physical strength needed to fight his cancer.  They currently live in Evans, GA, and are re-planning their retirement.  The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Army, Department of Defense or the US Government.

UPDATE: I finally made my over 50 “old man physical” which I have been putting off for 18 months because of this post from Ken….you should too. – Brian

Running the Grand Canyon – An ULTRA Marathon

I’ve often wondered what the first explorers thought when they came across the grand canyon.  At some point that first person had to be making their way to some innocent destination, maybe moving across the country, looking for a new homestead or trying to find some lost cattle, animals or a loved pet. Thier travels would bring them to the edge of the great cavernous landmark. That first person had to stand on the edge of the canyon wall in awe and wonder. They may have also harbored some fear.  How was this get void created and how am I going to get across it.


I’ve visited the Grand Canyon once.  In 1991 with my wife, my mother and daughter we stood on the south rim where millions had stood before us and collectively marveled at the shear wonder at the beauty of the place.  Myself, I stared in wonder of the lucky modern day explorers who choose to venture into the canyon.  I stood where millions had, but wanted to go  where only a small percentage had…into the canyon.

elevation-profile grand canyon r2r2r

When I started ultra running, I loved (and still do) reading about different races. These stories  exposed me to adventure runs, 100 mile races and races across the mountains I also learned of runners running the Grand Canyon.  This challenge spoke to me…running the Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim maybe be one of the biggest challenges of my life….and this May myself and a small team of friends are going to just that.  We are going to start on the south Rim and run into the canyon to the Colorado river then proceed to the north rim.  Once there, we will trek back with a goal of completing our adventure in under 16 hours, but anything under 24 hours will be considered a win.

Is this an easy run? At approx. 48 miles with 20,000 feet of elevation change, I would say not.



DONE…we did it, check out my report on this amazing run here.


Running and Life, A Meeting With McFarland USA Coach Jim White


“Do It Anyway” Coach Jim White quoted a few lines from Mother Teresa’s inspiring poem during his morning devotional and motivational talk on the 2016 edition of the KLove cruise.  Coach White talked for 45 minutes sharing his thoughts on life and behind the scene details from the hit Disney movie McFarland USA (2015).  Mr. White also discussed how following his core beliefs, work ethics and his coaching instincts lead him while developing a cross country program to guiding his teams to Nine California state cross country championships.

Sitting down in the front row of an expansive theater with my wife, Michele, we listened to Coach White intently.  To be honest I wanted to hear his story of faith and equally I wanted to gain some of his insight on running and training.  I wanted to be a better man and a better runner.  I left with an improved insight on life.

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

Coach reasoned that he believed a key to his and the team success was grounded on that he viewed the members of his cross country team as more than just runners.  In White’s eyes the boys were more than a simple means  to an end and more than a group of troubled teenage boys in a depressed community.  Although coming from the other side of the tracks, Jim saw and respected each runner, each student and each family as unique and valuable people.  In suit he treated them that way, he got to know them, their families, their culture and their struggles.  Some within the school district and community at large questioned his motives, questioned his thought process on building up the person first and his team second.  He did it anyway.

The movie McFarland USA depicts the success of his team and their championship season of 1987 perfectly with a gripping and captivating storyline.  Although coach related that “there are some “Hollywood” additions to the story to make it more appealing on a wider scale.”  I’ll cover more on that subject later in this post.

“If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.”

With the success of the McFarland team the community gained allot of positive attention the team also gained some opposition, Mr. White explained.  As the nine championships began to add up the surrounding school districts, many with much larger populations and talent pools, wanted the much smaller school of McFarland to compete at a higher divisional ranking then their admission numbers supported.  Coach White could not stop this un-leveling of the field, so the McFarland cross country team won more championships anyway.

“What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
– Build anyway.”

Coach Jim taught in the McFarland school district as a Life Science and Physical Education teacher  for 40 years, at the middle school but never at the high school as the movie portrayed.  Jim explained that was a little bit of the “Hollywood additions.” He reasoned it seemed more natural to the story line for him to be a high school teacher.  Many would think with his success with the cross country and his students rising success in the classroom that everyone would have wanted him to continue within the school system.  Coach White related that even with the success of the team some could not wait for him to retire.  Jim explained that some within the political education system were intimidated with his standing and influence within the school board.  Coach explain that most members on the school board he had in his classes.  Coach White ignored these motives and built a program of success that continues to thrive even after his eventual retirement.

Mother Teresa’s Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Coach White worked into his allotted time his perceptions of Hollywood film making and the road that brought McFarland USA to the big screen.

**  The McFarland story was acquired by two other film making companies before Disney purchased the film rights (twice).  Both companies prior to Disney did nothing towards developing the story/film.  Their contracts eventually expired.

**  Disney purchased the rights, including book and speaking rights and developed the first screenplay at a cost of nearly $500,000.  Executives eventually “trashed” the story.  Following this initial dead-end, some Disney executives were still compelled with the McFarland story so much that they again purchased the rights for a second time and offered the feature role to Kevin Costner. At Costner’s request they developed the present storyline.  This storyline Costner believed was more in line with the accurate reporting on the team’s success as presented by CNN, BBC, and ESPN.

**  White never coached football, was never fired from a job nor taught at the high school.

**  Jim still maintains contact with many of his students and alumni runners of his cross country teams.

** There are three White daughters not two as portrayed in the movie.


After Coach concluded his talk I got to spend a few minutes with him.  While talking with Coach White, I was able to share with him some of my running adventures as well as ask him a few questions about his running program.  Mr. White shared with me that Danny Diaz, one of the original McFarland runners is preparing to run the Badwater Ultra Marathon.  During our discussion I thanked him for investing in his students, for opening doors for his runners and for showing them what they could do, compared with coaches I had in Junior High School who told me what I could not do.

Have you seen McFarland USA?

What are your thoughts on this story?