And they're off!

On this Change of Venue Friday, let me post a story that’s long overdue.

This spring, the State Bar of Arizona fielded a team in the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. I will let team leader David Sandweiss explain more.

Have a great weekend (more photos at bottom!).

As Dave tells it so well …

How Did It Start?

This began last year. As the 2009 P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock ‘n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon approached, I saw on its website that there was this thing called the “Get Fit Challenge.” The Chang’s folks promoted it as a friendly competition to see which organization within a group of similarly sized organizations could produce the most participants. They pitted small v. small employers, large v. large, municipal, gov’t., etc. Being a runner, I thought this was a great opportunity to reach out to the State Bar of Arizona membership, build a team and do some valuable PR work in the process. Our brass told me to keep it “in house,” meaning that only SBA employees were eligible. When I put out an e-mail to the SBA, I recruited one runner. This encouraged me to re-define “in house” to include anyone loosely connected with the SBA. That got me a justice of the peace, a former chief bar counsel and a corporate counsel visiting from Michigan (how he was “loosely connected” to the SBA is a whole other story).

We were determined to do better this year. With grounding in the SBA’s Wellness program, Bar CEO John Phelps scrounged up a couple thousand dollars to offer runners a 25% subsidy of the registration fee, up to a maximum of 75 runners. We circulated an e-blast and posted on eLegal, and ended up attracting about 25 runners. They responded from all over the state. Most were half-marathoners, but we attracted a couple full marathoners. They simply signed up through the Chang’s website using a special code to get the 25% subsidy that we pre-arranged with the Chang’s Get Fit Challenge contact person. I invited them all to my house the week before the run for a “taper” run—after training at longer distances, one eases back on the miles during the two weeks before the event—and food. Three women joined me and wife Kathi for an easy jog through beautiful Paradise Valley.

How Did We Do?

Unfortunately, we did not win the Challenge—we were placed in the Government classification and several agencies outnumbered us—but our people easily won the contest for enthusiasm. We were bigger this year than last, and perhaps will grow even more next year.

 First, let’s give it up for our two full marathoners, Gregory Barry and Don Ennis. Both were in the age 31-35 group and did spectacularly well (they finished on their feet, which is my definition of a win). Gregory had the faster time, at 4:14:54, which, in my opinion, is outstanding for a law student with so little spare time to train.

On the men’s side, Dave McNeil was the fastest (and only) age 41-45 half marathoner at 2:15:37. In the 46-50 group, Robert Baumann ran 1:46:56, making him the second-fastest Bar Fly. In the 56-60 group, yours truly did a respectable 1:51:23, and in 61-65, Bob Van Wyck led a two-man pack, nosing out Ron Ramsey in 2:15:20.

The women did great, too. In the 26-30 group, Angela Kebric eked out a victory over closest competitor Linley Wilson in 2:26:38. Bisi Onisile headed a crowded pack in the 31-35 group, in 1:47:35 (third overall). Our champ, Nicole Farnum in 36-40, was the fastest Bar Fly in 1:43:24, but Stephanie Samuelson deserves recognition for her under-2-hour half in 1:51:30. Maret Vessella (Dave McNeil’s better—and faster—half) triumphed in the 41-45 group at 2:05:22, Pennie Wamboldt (46-50) scored in 2:48:19, and Annie Oakley [sic] was victorious in the 56-60 division in 2:07:38.

That said, as far as I’m concerned, everyone who participated is a winner. For some, it was a first foray into running, just to see what would happen. For others, it was a personal challenge to do something previously thought unimaginable. For still others, it was a return to pounding the pavement after many years off for career or family, and for others still it was just a nice way to enjoy a nice day with friends, to quicken the pulse, lose a pound or two, or just enjoy the desert air.

I hope you’ll keep running, especially since you’re in such great shape—don’t backslide now! I’ll be joining my Saturday morning running friends tomorrow at Vincent’s on 40th Street and Camelback in Phoenix, at 7:00 a.m., to run along the canal and then enjoy the Farmer’s Market-type spread afterward. See you there?

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