Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tom Osler-- Running in the Heat

Tom Osler, veteran of close to 2000 races
Tom Osler's Advice on Running in the Heat During Summers "Dog Days"
by Vera Stek, Courier News

The Olympic athletes will have to contend with the heat of competition as well as the high temperatures and humidity in the dog days of summer in Beijing. As will local runners here in New Jersey.
South Jersey runner and author Tom Osler, who did his share of long, grueling miles in hot-weather races, has some advice for those training in the heat and especially racing in it.
"Running in the direct rays of the sun can be very dangerous. Young John Kelly (Boston Marathon winner) once said: "The sun is the marathoner's worst enemy.' I never train in direct sunlight on hot days."
"Pouring water on your head is extremely helpful. I ran 50 miles on the track at Ft. Meade in 5 hours, 50 minutes in August 1975 and 1977. Both races were on terribly hot, humid evenings. Every two laps I sponged ice cold water over my head. I was constantly covered by cold water."
"Successful running in the heat is achieved by training in the coolest part of the day. Acclimation to a small degree will take place in any case. But it is only a very small acclimation. Ron Daws won the Holyoke Marathon in 1967 (it was the Pan American Games Trials race), in over 90-degree heat, training only in the cool weather of Minnesota. Most of the runners from a warmer climate dropped out."
"Successful racing on hot days is achieved by understanding what you are up against. You start by running at a much slower pace than you would on a cool day. Pour water all over yourself. Then patiently wait for the fast guys to slow down or quit."
For more wisdom from Osler, read his book, "The Serious Runner's Handbook."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Erin Donohue Chasing the Dream


by Steve Politi, The Star Ledger

The thin beam of light bounced away with each stride, illuminating everything except Erin Donohue's path around the track.
She would see the sky.
Then the trees at her side. Erin Donohue South Jersey's first Olympic distance runner since Browning Ross in 1952, Lin-Mark photo of Erin winning the Tim Kerr run
Then her sneakers.
Then the sky again.
"It kind of bobbled around a lot," Donohue said of the flashlight that became her unlikely training companion.
This is what happens when Olympic dreams are chased at night, hours after leaving a full-time job, on an unlit track. This is the challenge when the one person who believes in that quest is the one holding a flashlight like a baton, pushing herself to prove everyone else wrong.
Her coach had a better idea: a headlamp. The Haddonfield native started strapping the contraption to her forehead like a miner each night as she trained, which gave Donohue a clear view of her path ... one that now leads to Beijing.
One month from today, the most controversial Olympics in recent history will open in China, and you no doubt will hear about the bad stuff first. The pollution in the air and the algae in the sea. The human-rights violations and the political protests. The doubts about performance-enhancing drugs that will hover over every world record.
It is almost enough to make you forget what attracts us to the Olympics in the first place -- the stories about athletes who overcome long odds just to compete. Athletes like Erin Donohue.

She is one of the most decorated track stars in New Jersey high school history, winning three national titles and nine prestigious Meet of Champion titles during her career at Haddonfield High.
Teenage stardom, however, rarely guarantees success on the next level. At the University of North Carolina, Donohue was an above-average distance runner. When she graduated in 2005, agents and shoe companies -- the potential sponsors for a full-time track career -- turned to other runners.

The message from the track world was cruel and simple: Get a real job. And so Donohue did, but she took one that would put her just miles from the track where Team USA would hold its Olympic trials.
"I wasn't one of those runners who sticks out, who you say, 'Oh, she's going to be an Olympian,'" Erin Donohue Olympian, Photo by Alison Wade, NYRRCsaid Donohue, 25. "I had to work for it. I've improved a little each year and it's got me to where I am now."
She landed a job as a Nike marketing intern in Beaverton, Ore., and continued training on her own. This is how John Cook discovered her one night in 2005, running alone in the dark. The former George Mason track coach knew Donohue had the potential to become an Olympian, but faced a challenge he had never encountered in his long career.
How can you coach a runner if you can't actually see her run?
Soon, they were both wearing headlamps, working through Oregon's less-than-ideal running conditions. There were nights Cook hoped his pupil would stay away, nights when the weather was cold and raw, when rain fell on the unlit track. Donohue never did.
The coach had encountered better athletes than Donohue, but none more tenacious. Donohue never had perfect form, even when she was winning nearly every event she entered in high school. Other runners would glide across the track while Donohue -- at 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds -- looked like she was trying to punish it with her feet.
Cook made his runner focus on strength training and change her diet. She quit her job at Nike, even though, at first, "she and I looked at each other and said, 'How are we going to sustain this thing?'" Cook recalls. The sponsors came around when her times rapidly improved.
Her best time in the 1,500-meter run in 2007 was a 4:05.55 -- the third best in the country that year. Once considered a longshot for Beijing, Donohue had worked herself into a favorite for making the team.
Her battle wouldn't have mattered if she had stumbled Sunday in Eugene, Ore., during the Olympic trials. But Donohue had come too far to let that happen. She ran the perfect race, sprinting those final 100 yards to finish second and earn a spot on Team USA.
She can start packing for China, and for this trip, she can leave that flashlight at home. The lights in Beijing will be plenty bright. And with all the controversy waiting to unfold in one month, we can only hope they'll spend as much time as possible shining on athletes like Donohue.

Article written by Steve Politi, Newark Star Ledger

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Relax and Win

Inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 1985, Lloyd "Bud" Winter passed away the day before his induction. In a 35-year coaching career, Winter produced 102 All-Americans at San Jose State University (thus its nickname "speed city") and 27 of them became Olympians. Winter also served as an assistant US Olympic Track and Field coach in Rome in 1960. One of the greatest sprint coaches in history, Winter never seemed to get his due despite developing some of the fastest athletes in track and field history, including fellow Hall of Famers Harold Davis, Lee Bud Winter with sprintersEvans and Tommie Smith and the first vaulter over 18 feet-- Greece's Chris Papanicolaou. His influence is still felt today among sprinters and distance runners.

Winters based his mental and physical training methods on relaxation techniques he used to prepare pilots for combat in World War II. Winters taught that relaxation aids speed, quickness, reaction time, endurance, coordination and seeing. According to Winter a champion has to have the ability to relax under major competition: "If you are a tense person, you will perform less well in competition than in practice, you will be slower, move awkwardly, tire more quickly, have fears and anxieties and dread competition. The word sports writers will use to describe you is "choke"."
Winters told his athletes to relax and just "let the meat hang on the bones" and to relax the antagonistic muscles which are not used.
His basic approach to sprinting was a simple 8 step plan:
-Use high knee action
-Use good foreleg reach
-Run high on toes
-Have good arm action Bud Winter
-Maintain good forward lean
-Bound forward, not up
-Run tall, with back straight
-Be relaxed, with loose jaw and loose hands

But sprinting to Winter was both an art and a science. He had a knack of dissecting each of his sprinters individual styles and improving it. According to Speed City Era (

"Ray Norton, then a high school senior, tells the story of Winter watching him run on the track along with a couple of friends days before the national outdoor track and field championships at the University of California.
Winter questioned the young sprinter, and told him that if he were to come to San Jose State, he would make him “the World’s Fastest Human.”
Within two years of his arrival in San Jose, Norton, who competed in the 1956 Olympic trials as an Oakland City College freshman, literally, became the World’s No. 1-ranked sprinter. Teaching the same relaxation methods he had taught fighter pilots during the Second World War, Winter trained Norton to relax while sprinting. Norton later would set or break world records in the 100 and 200 meters, and the 100 and 220 yards six times during the 1958, ’59 and ’60 outdoor seasons."Carlos and Smith 1969 Olympics Mexico City

Although Winter's sprinters Lee Evans and Tommie Smith had their biggest success in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic's winning gold medals, Winter's role in their success was overshadowed by the big story-- the "Black Power salute" on the victory stand by John Carlos and Smith.

Relax and Win

Today Winters books "So You Want to Be a Sprinter" and Relax and Win" are out of print, but his influence is not forgotten. Relaxation is understood to be an essential ingredient for success in every sport and Winter's advice on how to achieve championship performance by not going "all out" is part of his legacy.

To read an interview with Coach Bud Winter:

To read a Time Magazine article on Tommie Smith and Bud Winter from 1967,9171,836764,00.html?iid=chix-sphere

Written by Jack Heath

Sunday, July 20, 2008

1976 Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Team

1977 Gloucester Catholic Track Team, one of schools best, also coached by Ross

The 1970's were also the most diverse musical decade.

Free flying Dr J mirrored the 76 Rams Cross Country Team The 1976 Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Team coached by Browning Ross was best known for setting a school record of 19 victories (19-4). Looking back, the team matched the free wheeling era of the 70's and the ABA with Dr J perfectly-- besides the Afros (on white guys), the team went all over south jersey to run against anyone. It was the last year that Gloucester Catholic was unattached-- not yet in the Olympic Conference and the Running Rams traveled in Coach Ross's volkswagen van to run against the top teams in every conference in south jersey.
Browning Ross's first meet at Gloucester Catholic four years earlier gave no clue as to what was to come. The Olympian watched as 10 Paul VI runners crossed the finish line holding hands against his squad. Within 2 years his team had a winning record of 11-9 then the Rams became one of the elite teams in South Jersey.
The 1975 squad featuring senior Mark Worthington (who later ran for Villanova) junior Jack Heath and soph Mike Browloleit won 18 meets-- often running 3 races a week. The next year the teams 19 wins included victories against Haddonfield, Pennsgrove and Pennsville, Catholic League Champs St Joe's Prep, Paul VI, State Parochial C Champs St Augustine, Tri County Conference Champs Clayton Triton, Kingsway, Washington Township and other top teams.
The Running Rams often took the first 3 places behind Heath, Browoleit and Jim Plant, or at least 3 of the top four places, at one point reeling off 15 wins in a row.
Browning Ross would load the team into his volkswagen van on the way to a meet. Then with a quick look back to make sure his top 3 runners were on board Ross would say: "OK, we've got 7 guys, lets go!" Late arrivals would get there on there own-- and they usually weren't late again.
Ross always kept a light hearted reign on his free spirited team.
Senior Heath won 16 races and set four course records that season and became the schools first State Meet of Champions qualifier (in the first year at Holmdel) Juniors Mike Browoleit and Jim Plant followed closely, usually before the other teams top runner (all three runners were Annunciation of Bellmawr products as was Drew Desher the fifth runner and Rich Traub a frosh and the seventh man). Other runners on the Rams record breaking squad were Alan Cipolone, Joe Daly, Joe Gambogi, and Jim Connors (also Annunciation and Bellmawr).
The 76 team was a close knit bunch who expected to win and usually did. The team ran their meets at Stonybrook near the Gloucester County Y in Woodbury, and practiced in Gloucester and on various wooded trails that Browning would discover. (Then as now Gloucester Catholic does not have it's own fields.) In 1976 ponds freezed solid throughout the winter in south jersey. Many of the October and November meets were bitter cold. Temperatures for the Columbus Day meet at Clayton were 29 degrees.
Ross often greeted his victorious team with "You guys ran great... a little faster and you'll be running the times I ran in 3rd grade!" Before a race, Ross would often break the tension with: "OK good looking guys up front!" Of course he would then proceed to ask half a dozen of his runners to line up in the back. It got the desired laugh every time. While other coaches were making their runners nervous and tight with last minute instructions they couldn't follow; Ross was relaxing his team.
When asked by his runners why the team was racing so much Coach Ross laughed: "It's the Athletic Director, he thinks the cross country team is like the baseball team and can race every day! They'd schedule us for a double header if they could!" Ross made sure to protect his charges and ran them easy enough so no one got hurt all season. The Rams finished the season with a school victory mark that will never be broken (teams run far less meets today usually only against fellow conference division teams ) and a life long love for the sport and the quiet man that coached them. Note: Ross's 1977 track team featuring many of the same runners also became the first winning track team in the school's history.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Best Type of Training

From Running Research News: The best type of training to increase your fitness:

Which will have a bigger impact on your performances?

As you plan your workouts, you probably wonder from time to time about whether tempo sessions or interval workouts have a larger effect on your overall fitness. Tempo sessions have been a mainstay of running training for over 40 years, and they are thought to have a positive influence on lactate-threshold running speed, a key predictor of performance. Interval training has been around for even longer, and many experts link interval work with upgrades in speed, running economy, and aerobic capacity, which are all decent indicators of performance potential.
To examine the relative value of interval and tempo training, New Zealand Olympic great Peter Snell and his colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Human Performance Center asked some well-conditioned runners to focus on either tempo running or interval training for a period of 10 weeks (1). If the name Peter Snell rings a bell, the researcher from Texas Southwestern is the same Peter Snell who won a total of three gold medals at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics and also captured two gold medallions at the Commonwealth Games in 1962. Snell's world-record performance of 1.44.3 for 800 meters, accomplished in February, 1962, remains the New-Zealand national record to this day. After his running career ended, Snell earned a Ph. D. in exercise physiology and has been a researcher at Texas Southwestern since 1981.
In Peter's research, one group of runners carried out tempo runs twice a week (the rest of their running was moderate-paced effort). These tempo workouts involved running for 29 minutes at a running speed which roughly corresponded with lactate-threshold velocity - the pace above which blood-lactate levels begin to increase dramatically. The average intensity during these sessions was about 70 to 80 percent of maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max).
Runners in a second group carried out no tempo running at all but instead conducted two interval sessions per week. During these interval workouts, the runners cavorted through 200-meter intervals in 33 to 38 seconds and performed 400-meter intervals in 75 to 80 seconds, completing a total of about three miles of interval running per workout. Exercise intensity during this interval running averaged 90 to 100 percent of VO2max.
After 10 weeks, the runners from both groups ran 800-meter and 10-K races. In these competitions, the interval-trained runners fared far better than the tempo-tutored harriers. For example, the interval-based runners improved 800-meter time by an average of 11.2 seconds and bettered previous 10-K times by 2.1 minutes.
Meanwhile, the tempo-training devotees shaved just 6.6 seconds from their 800-meter times and upgraded 10-K running by only 1.1 minute, roughly half the improvement achieved by the interval-trained competitors. VO2max soared by 12 percent for the interval runners but nudged upward by only 4 percent for the tempo-trained runners.
These results were observed even though the tempo-trained individuals engaged in a far-greater amount of quality work over the 10-week period. Specifically, the tempo runners completed 58 minutes per week of tempo training, while the interval individuals spent just 31 minutes per week conducting fast interval effort. This led to a 270-minute edge in quality training for the tempo group over the 10-week period.

Despite this apparent disadvantage, the interval-trained runners gained considerably more physiological and competitive fitness. A key lesson to be learned here is that intensity is always the most-potent producer of fitness; it is a much-stronger stimulus for improvement than training volume and workout frequency. When you conduct your intervals at 90 to 100 percent of VO2max (and at higher intensities, too), the amount of fitness gained per minute will always be greater, compared with the running capacity accrued at lower intensities. As you can see from Snell's research, each minute of high-quality work can sometimes produce twice as much gain in fitness as double the amount of lower-quality exertion.
Incidentally, recent research has discredited tempo training as a powerful booster of lactate-threshold speed, the adaptation with which it has been traditionally linked. The problem is that tempo training, carried out at close to lactate-threshold velocity, by definition produces very little increase in blood-lactate concentrations and thus does a poor job of stimulating muscle cells to get better at clearing lactate from the blood. Blood-lactate removal by the muscles is a key component of improving lactate-threshold speed.
Note, too, that interval training is superior to tempo running when it comes to matching training paces with goal race speeds (unless you are planning to run only 15Ks and half-marathons). This is obviously a good thing from the standpoints of enhancing goal-speed running economy and mental confidence. As Snell pointed out in a telephone interview with Running Research News, "Perhaps the best way to train is to spend the maximum-possible amount of time running at a pace which is closely related to the demands (or pace) of the race you're shooting for, without getting overtrained."
So what kinds of intervals would work well for you? 1600s at 5-K pace, 800s at four seconds per 400 meters faster than 5-K pace, and 400s at eight seconds per 400 meters faster than 5-K speed would all be very productive. During such interval sessions, each jog recovery can last about as long as the duration of the preceding work interval. Especially for the 1600-meter intervals, it is smart to pare down the time-lengths of these recoveries over time, as you get fitter.

Courtesy of Owen Anderson. Owen Anderson's new site:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Team Incorporates Yoga

The Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team has been incorporating Yoga Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team concludes practice with Yogastretches into their workouts since 1980. Like running, yoga can offer life long benefits. Any runner that wants to increase flexibility, improve blood flow to muscles, reduce tension and just plain feel better can incorporate yoga as part of their stretching routine. For the past 10 years, the team has worked to increase their flexibility with some of the leading yoga experts in South Jersey including the Lourdes Wellness Center (including David Egan) and the Kennedy Health Center in Voorhees as a regular and enjoyable part of practice.Desiree Bartlett Yoga Instructor, Prevention Magazine

Above and below, the 2007 cross country team stretches with Laura Bonanni of Fitness Yoga Studios after practice.

Prevention Magazine frequently publishes articles on Yoga

Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team concludes practice with Yoga Instructor Laura BonanniYoga Pose from Prevention Magazine

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mel Sheppard- A Champion to Remember

Mel Sheppard wins 1908 Olympic Gold in 1,500 meters beating Britain's Harold Wilson

A century ago, South Jersey's Mel Sheppard won the first of his 4 Olympic Gold Medals
By Phil Anastasia, Inquirer Staff Writer

One of America's greatest Olympic champions was a South Jersey native who ran his first race as a Philadelphia schoolboy.
He was a fierce competitor whose humble background and dogged determination made him a personal favorite of President Theodore Roosevelt.
He was a former street tough - a self-styled member of the "Grays Ferry Roaders" gang in South Philadelphia around the turn of the 20th century - who ran so fast and so well that U.S. middle-distance stars have been chasing his accomplishments for a century.
And they haven't caught him yet.
One hundred years ago today, Mel Sheppard won the first of his three gold medals at the Olympic Games in London. A century later, Sheppard remains the last American to win a gold medal in the 1,500 meters.
Sheppard also won the 800 meters and anchored the U.S. sprint medley relay team to a victory in those Games. At the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, he won a gold medal in the 4x400 relay and a silver medal in the 800.
Four Olympic gold medals, three in world-record time. An Olympic silver medal. Seven AAU national titles. World indoor records in the 600 and 1,000 yards.
All that athletic glory springing from such an unlikely background - plus an eyewitness brush with the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic - make Sheppard one of the more compelling characters to emerge from the Philadelphia area.
But 100 years is a long time: Today, Sheppard might be the most famous athlete that most people never heard of.
"He should be our Steve Prefontaine," said longtime Haddonfield track and cross-country coach Nick Baker, referring to the late Oregon running star.
Sheppard was born in 1883 in Almonesson, a section of Deptford Township in Gloucester County. He lived there, in a twin house, for the first nine years of his life.
"What I remember most is swimming in Almonesson Lake," Sheppard wrote in his autobiography, Spiked Shoes and Cinder Paths, which was published in serial form in Sport Almonesson Lake, Almonesson NJStory magazine (newstand price: 5 cents) in 1924.
At the time, Almonesson Lake was a rural body of water popular with fishermen and young boys who would tie ropes to trees that grew near the shoreline. For most of the first half of the 20th century, Almonesson Lake was a recreation spot for boaters and swimmers, with amusement rides near the current location of Auletto's Caterers.
At age 9, Sheppard moved with his family to Clayton, and got a job "rolling jars" in a glass factory for $9 a month. His family moved to Haddonfield a few years later, then to the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia when Sheppard was about 15.
Sheppard wrote that he had jobs "pulling tacks out of shoes" and as a messenger boy, but that he also joined the Grays Ferry Roaders, a street gang that clashed with rival gangs such as the Ramcats, Pine Streeters and Race Streeters.
Sheppard wrote that the Ramcats were his gang's "special enemies, with whom we would fight when we had nothing else to do."
Sheppard's emergence as a world-class athlete was astoundingly sudden. When he was 17, his family moved to West Philadelphia, near Fairmount Park, and he joined the Preston Athletic Club.
About the same time, he enrolled in Brown Preparatory School, in the Odd Fellows Temple at Broad and Cherry Streets. The building, erected in 1893 at a cost of $1 million, was demolished in 2007 to make way for the Convention Center expansion.
Sheppard wrote that his first race was a 100-yard dash in Washington Park in Philadelphia. He finished third.
"The longer races were more fit to my nature," Sheppard wrote.
In 1904, Sheppard won three races while representing Brown Prep at schoolboy events held in conjunction with the Olympics in St. Louis - a foreshadowing of his success four years later in London.
Sheppard qualified for the 1908 U.S. Olympic team by winning the 800 meters in the Olympic trials, which were held at Franklin Field. Sheppard
He set sail for London on June 29 with about 100 other members of the U.S. team on the liner Philadelphia. He wrote that the track team trained on "a cork track on the promenade deck," and noted that javelin throwers amused themselves by tying ropes to their spears and throwing them at sharks that approached the ship.
The 1908 Games were the first to have an opening ceremony. About 2,000 athletes, representing 22 countries, competed.
There was a fierce rivalry between the American and English teams, fueled when American shot-putter Ralph Rose did not dip the U.S. flag in salute to King Edward VII. Rose's refusal became standard practice for U.S. athletes in the opening parade.
Sheppard was a surprise entrant in the 1,500 meters - he hadn't even run the event in the trials - but won his heat in 4 minutes, 5 seconds. The next day, he set a world record by winning the final in 4:03.5.
"If it was necessary to die at the finish, why, that would be perfectly satisfactory as long as I hit the tape first," Sheppard wrote. "It was the proudest moment of my life."
Sheppard won the 800 meters in 1:52.4, another world record. And he was the anchor man on the sprint medley relay team that won another gold medal.
About a month later, Sheppard and the rest of the U.S. team were invited to meet President Theodore Roosevelt at his summer home in Oyster Bay, N.Y.
"The president was particularly interested in Mel Sheppard and asked for him several times," the New York Times reported Sept. 1, 1908. "The great middle-distance runner was compelled to describe his races . . . and the president listened with great attention."
Roosevelt was particularly interested in the 1,500 meters, which he called "the greatest race I ever read about." Sheppard told the president about the event, then pulled a Moroccan leather case out his pocket and handed it to the man known as the Rough Rider.
"This is my prize for winning the event," Sheppard said of his gold medal. "I would be honored if you would keep it."
When Roosevelt refused, Sheppard said, "I have two others, and I will not miss this one."
When Roosevelt accepted, he told Sheppard, "This will be one of my most treasured President Teddy Rooseveltpossessions."
In his autobiography, Sheppard described Roosevelt's reaction this way: "The president was like a schoolboy who won his first ribbon."
Sheppard later wrote to Roosevelt asking for help in acquiring a job as a customs inspector at the Port of Philadelphia. Roosevelt's personal secretary wrote back, and Sheppard got the position.
He later was transferred to the Port of New York, and he was on duty the night of April 18, 1912, when the RMS Carpathia arrived with the survivors from the sinking of the Titanic.
From 1906 to 1912, Sheppard was America's best middle-distance runner. He won seven AAU national titles, and barely missed another gold medal in the 800 meters at the 1912 Olympics. His time of 1:52 would have been another world record, but teammate Ted Meredith edged him at the tape and won in 1:51.9.
When his running career ended, Sheppard turned to coaching. He was a civilian athletic director at military bases during World War I. He served as a field secretary for the Playground and Recreation Association of America, traveling the country to help set up leagues and playgrounds. He was the coach of the U.S. women's track team at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
For the last 20 years of his life, Sheppard worked for Wanamaker's in New York as recreation director of the Millrose Athletic Association. He died in 1942 in Queens, N.Y., at the age of 59.
"He was kind of a rough-and-tumble individual," said Howard Schmertz, 83, who served as meet director of the Millrose Games from 1975 to 2003.
Schmertz's father directed the Millrose Games from 1934 to 1974, and was an attorney for Wanamaker's during Sheppard's time with the Millrose Athletic Association.
Looking back, Schmertz said, "In those days, everybody knew Mel Sheppard."
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223 or
Note: A yearly South Jersey cross country banquet is held every fall in Almonesson with close to a thousand in attendance. Ironically, at the banquet there is no mention or thought for the former Olympic Gold medal winner Sheppard-- a fellow distance runner who once lived only blocks away. At present there are no town memorials or monuments to Sheppard nor is there a memorial race in Shepards honor in his home town of Almonesson or Deptford NJ.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

1976 Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Team Where are they now?

The 1976 Gloucester Catholic cross country team did not have had state of the art training facilities. They didn't have a school bus-- the 9 team members traveled to meets in their coaches volkswagen van. They didn't even have a conference to call their own, but that freed the team up to travel throughout south jersey running against the best teams in the southern half of the state as they won 19 meets becoming the most successful boys cross country team in the schools history (See 1976 Cross Country Team Part 1 post). One thing the team surely had was a world class coach in Browning Ross and a strong desire to have fun and to achieve despite the obstacles. The team and the coach were a perfect fit. The desire to succeed and overcome obstacles is still evident in the lives of the team members today. The members of the "Bicentenial" 'GCHS '76 team have gone on to success in their personal and family lives and are scattered far and wide. Here is a look at what the team members are doing today:

Mike Browoleit
lives in the LA area now (Reseda CA, as in Tom Petty's song:"it's a long day, living in Reseda"..). "You can see my kids (and me) at I do a lot of things with my boys, ages 10 & 13 - hoops, the beach, soccer, baseball, etc.) but Mike Browoleit and sons, a multisport familythere isn't a week that goes by that I haven't thought of Browning Ross in some way, shape or form. My oldest son swims, the youngest plays soccer, and I'm always able to give them pointers on pacing, breathing, mentally preparation and the like, all learned from BR. And as the years have rolled by I've proudly stated that my cross country & track coach was a two-time Olympian. Not many of us get to say that!"

Alan Cipolone is currently a software developer for Alcatel-Lucent, an umpire for Brooklawn Little League, and a trustee for St. Maurice (Brooklawn) parish. He is married (Cathy) with three children, with the oldest (Andrew) is a freshman at GCHS. "I recall the times that Browning brought us up to the state meet in Holmdel in his Volkswagen bus, and the laughs we had on the way up. If you lifted up the carpet in his bus, there was a hole where you could see the road moving underneath! That was nice of Browning to give us state-meet exposure. The memories of that are even sweeter because, for 24 years, I worked just a mile from Holmdel park at a large Lucent facility, giving me the opportunity to re-visit the park and those great moments of the past."

Joe Gambogi- "I live in Leesburg, Va with my wife (Cindy) and our two kids (Matt-14 and Bridget-12). I work at the U.S. Geological Survey as a Mineral Commodity Specialist. My illustrious running career came to a screeching halt after high school, but in my 20ʼs and 30ʼs, I ran 10ks, biathlons, and triathlons. I even managed to finish a couple marathons (always finishing firmly in the middle of the pack). I was born with a bad hip. In September 2006, I had a total hip replacement. The surgery went well and last summer my wife, son, and I entered as a relay team in the NJ Sprint Triathlon. My son, Matthew, is now running for the NOVA Athletic Club and will be running high school cross country next fall.I really enjoyed running with the Joe Cindy and Matt Gambogiteam in high school. I don't remember lots of details, but I do remember we always had fun. Browning Ross was a great guy. I always remember his advice at the beginning of a race: "Go out fast and pick up the pace." One story I do remember is one that Mr. Ross loved to retell. When I was a freshman, I hurt my foot during XC practice. So I went to Mr. Ross and asked him what I should do for it. His reply was "Just rub peanut butter on it. You'll feel better". After running on it for a few weeks, I went for an x-ray and discovered I had a broken small bone in my foot. When I showed up at practice in a cast, Mr. Ross told me I just did not use enough peanut butter and gave me one of his dry "hee hee hee" laughs. I always though it was pretty funny."

Joe Daly retired from active duty Air Force after 14 years in 1999 and retired from the Reserves this past January as a Master Sergeant . While active, he served in Okinawa, Japan and Tampa Fl. Joe then transferred to Fairfax, Va. in 1995 and worked out of the Pentagon until 1999 as a Network Engineer with Mantech International, and then took a position with the Department of the Navy as a civilian Government employee-- as the Operations Joe Daly now helps coach daughter ShannenManager and Chief of Network Engineering for a global Network Manager Center. Joe lives in Northern Virginia and recently celebrated his 24th wedding anniversary with wife Ann. They have two children-- a son Joe, who is 23 years old and is currently in Graduate school working toward a masters in Psychology and a daughter, Shannen, 14 years old and a freshman at C.D. Hylton High School. "It seems my daughter received all of the running genes. She is running track and cross country. I have very high aspirations for her. She is currently running the 400, but, I foresee her moving up to the 800 & 1600. She wants to attend Oregon University.Keep an eye out for her name, she WILL be going somewhere. "

Drew Desher
is presently living in Calgary, Canada. Wife Ann and children Colin 14 and Kaley 12 will be joining him in June from Alpharetta Georgia. Drew works for CH2MHill in Calgary and is still running-- now with son Collin. Kaley is interested in dance and Collin is a pretty good hockey player and has been running with his dad. Drew reports he has recently began to gap his old man on some runs. Drew is the senior project manager responsible for an $800 million project. A Canadian Oil Company is Drew and son Collinworking with CHM2Hill to extract oil from sand. The large amount of oil in the hinder lands of Canada is found in the sand. Up until now the cost to extract it was too high, but now that oil is over $100.00 a barrel (ouch!), it is cost efficient to do the extraction. Drew remembers: "There were a few races that were so cold that we didn't want to get out of Mr. Ross's van. The season wrapped up in November so it couldn't have been very cold. I have no problem now running in the 40's with no sweat gear and running down to a temperature of 0 with all my gear on. I must have been a wimp back then and it wasn't as cold as we imagined it to be. "

Jack Pyrah Jr is a professional musician living in Shrewsbury NJ. Jack is the son of the late Jack Pyrah, Villanova National NCAA Hall of Fame coach. Jack's bands "The Rumrunners" & "Rose Hill" have Jack Pyrah Jr.performed with the likes of Rick Danko (The Band), Jefferson Airplane and Blind Melon, among many others. Jack is currently teaching music and writing and recording music and still running. Jack recently ran and placed well in a March race named for his dad, Villanova coaching great Jack Pyrah Sr. in Gloucester New Jersey.

Rich Traub Has been married to wife Jill for 18 years and has 3 kids, Taylor, Aaron and Rich TraubMackenzie. I am a senior partner with a well known Chicago law firm of Freeborn and Peters--head of the Real Estate Group and an Executive Committee member. I love to travel with my family and have been to many countries watching international soccer. I moved to Chicago after going to Notre Dame for undergrad and law school. I loved Browning. He was just a tremendous person. I remember him always telling us to heal an injury by putting peanut butter on it. I remember clearly that I only found out about how great a runner he was by reading a Runner's World article. He never said a word to us. I remember his weekly write ups on us and his motivational speeches followed by an aw shucks chuckle. Some of my fondest memories come from that team!"

Jim Plant lives in Boca Raton Florida with his wife and daughter and is a lifeguard in Pompono Beach, Florida. Jim continued his running at Stockton State under Villanova Olympian Larry James. Jim is still an active runner and swimmer and frequently an age group winner in Life Jim Plant has saved dozens of bathers on his surfboard over the yearsGuard run/swim competitions. Jim is also a professional musician and is presently remixing his two CD's sound clips can be found at his website

Jim has made a big difference in the quality of life where he lives-- helping to clean the water where he works (See previous Jim Plant to the rescue post). Jim remembers the closeness of the '76 team and most of all the fun. "I owe almost everything I've accomplished to Mr. Ross."

Jack Heath and wife Maryanne have 3 children-- Sean, Elizabeth and Brigid who enjoy a variety of sports including track. Jack ran at Rowan University (for another Olympian, Oscar Moore). At Rowan he set the school record in the Steeplechase and was captain of the cross country team (24:56 for 5 miles). He is presently an Information Technology Specialist for Social Security, works in security for the Jack with daughtersPhillies and is the Gloucester Catholic Boys and Girls Cross Country coach. Jack was coached by Browning Ross again after college and ran the Boston Marathon twice during this period. Jack has been coaching at Gloucester Catholic for 22 years and is approaching 200 wins for both the boys and girls teams. "I was lucky enough to coach with Browning for a number of years and see him almost every day. His favorite Browning sayings: "When the going gets tough, quit." and "It's just as easy to run fast as it is slow. " "I really feel Browning would want me to carry on the tradition that he started."

Finish of Penns Grove meet one of the teams 19 victories in '76