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Help remember Jim Gilliland

Some younger participants in The Cowtown might not know that Jim Gilliland was the first race director of the event and served in that capacity until retiring in 2009. He had a wealth of friends in the running community and often ran in area events. Jim died in 2012, and Michael Polansky, who ran the first icy Cowtown in 1979 and who helps with several area events, is working with Jim's family to place a park bench at Pavilion #3 in Trinity Park. Michael said the bench costs $5,000 and any donated amount would be appreciated. Checks should be written to the City of Fort Worth. To contact Michael, e-mail him. (cx e-mail address)

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Early stumble might have cost Cora Turner from her goal at the Sendai Half Marathon

By Cora Turner

cora turnerThe temp was around 73° at the 10 a.m. start of the race. Very little breeze, and no clouds. So a little warmer than what we were hoping for. They lined us (the Sister Cities runners) at the front with the elite runners. Since this is a very competitive race, the start was super fast. I guess my feet got tangled up with the other runners around me, because I fell to my knees. I managed to get up before anyone else fell or stepped on me.

The first part of the course was a gradual incline, but the rest (up until the last 4km) was pretty flat and partially shaded. There were five water/sponge stops along the course and fantastic crowd support. The writing on our shirts said "Dallas City" and all along the way, bystanders were cheering us as we passed. In the median along Jozenji Avenue, performers were dancing and beating drums. This was one of the shaded streets and early enough in the race for me to still appreciate the beauty of it all.

At about the 17-kilometer point, the heat and hills started to become a factor. (It didn't affect) just me, but apparently to a few others I passed along the way. At 18- or 19-km, there was a bridge that we had to run up. It was pretty steep and I was really feeling gassed at that point. I saw a runner off to the side massaging his calves that looked like they were cramping pretty badly.

The finish was on the track inside the Sendai City Athletic Field. I was hoping to at least run sub 1:30, but my time ended up being 1:30:17. I suppose I could attribute at least 18 seconds to my stumble at the beginning.

The results list the overall male winner as Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) in 1:01:43 and the over female winner as Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) in 1:11:27. But we saw the top three female winners on stage after the race, and overheard that the first place female was Amanda Rice, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant stationed at Atsugi Air Force Base.

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Lewis George retires from Mellow Productions; hands over reins

lewis georgeLewis George has crossed the finish line with Mellew Productions. He announced his retirement this month and is handing over Mellew Productions to his wife an operational manager Mallory Jones-Fiske.

Lewis said he began thinking about retiring in June 2013 when he sustained a severely broken left arm when a golf cart ran into him while he was placing mile markers in Trinity Park for the Jalapeño Half in Fort Worth. “I spent three days in the hospital,” he said. “And it was kind of like, you know what? I'm still in good shape, I'm in my 60s (67) and I can't do what I used to do.”

That led to the road to retirement. The broken bones in his arm wasn't the only reason he decided to go to the sidelines. He said his mind was still in the 1980s, though the running scene had changed and was changing with the speed of light.

“You can't reach people the old way by placing an ad or passing out flyers,” he said. Communication is more over the internet and more people are accessing information through their phones and tablets. “I realized I had to make the company younger, with fresh ideas.”

Besides, he added, “I'm just tired.”

His first step into eventually forming Mellew was the first Dadfest 5K about 12 years ago. “Doing that race was kind of like a hobby,” he said. After that, he had people come up to him wanting him to direct their events. It wasn't long before he had contracted to do eight to 10 events. He was landing so many jobs that in 2001, he quit his “day job” with an oil company. After conducting races for about two years, he decided to start Mellew Productions and began producing his own events. Among his current 14 events are the Hottest Half, the Texas Half & 5K and the Big D Marathon & Half. One that has grabbed much of his interest is not a typical road race, but the Electric Zombie Run, which is conducted in Dallas and Fort Worth. But that isn't a surprise because Lewis always has tried to make his events a fun experience. He said about 60 percent of the participants at his races say they were there for social reasons and to have fun. He has tried to make his events suit those desires.

What has been ironic about Lewis' years with Mellew is that this wasn't his “dream job.” But, he did like being his own boss and he enjoyed implementing new wrinkles, such as running four of his half marathons in succession. Those who complete the challenge are rewarded with a lifetime $50 fee at any Mellew half.

“People love that,” he said. Lewis said several runners have said the challenge gives them motivation to continue their training.

Lewis said even though he has had several memorable experiences, none surpass that first Dadfest. Besides it being his first race, it also was when his son was born. After the race, he said “I cried like a baby.” He said he was exhausted and exhilarated. The race had been attracting about 800 participants, but that year, between 2,500 and 3,000 showed up. Lewis had six people, mostly friends and family, working the event.

Though he said he will still be involved with Mellew, he won't be making day-to-day decisions. Lewis, meanwhile, will concentrate on exercising by walking, weight training and swimming. He also plans to do a little traveling. “I'll focus on marketing and money aspect,” he said of his Mellew duties.

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DRC selects Elite Team Training

The Dallas Running Club, which has been working with Olympic Trials qualifier and this website's 2013 Male Runner of the Year Enoch Nadler, has announced runners selected to the DRC Elite Team Training.

The men's team includes: Nadler, Barnabas Kirui, Leo Frayre, Brandon Gillingham, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Strong, Cody Hughes, Agustin Hernandez, Benson Chesang and Jason Trevino.

The women's team includes:  Dawn Grunnagle, Sara Dietz, Caitlin Standifer, Rachel Phillips, Briseida Ramos. The list might expand in the near future.

The purpose was to create a team working together to improve the running elite scene and running scene as a whole. Runners had to meet standards from the 5K to the marathon. The standards and application form is posted here.

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Rock 'n' Roll Dallas and MetroPCS Dallas Marathon offering dual medal

Competitor Group, organizers of the Rock 'n' Roll Dallas Half Marathon and the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon have announced a special combo medal for participants who complete the marathon or half marathon this year. The Dallas Duo medal has a spinning boot with the names of each event on opposite sides. The Rock 'n' Roll Dallas was March 23 and the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon and Half Marathon is Dec. 14. See more information at the Rock 'n' Roll website.

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Share your race experiences -- good, bad or ugly

Runners, like golfers, usually like to relive their greatest and sometimes not so greatest moments. Most have some interesting stories and experiences that need to be shared. Or maybe there is a favorite race that others should know about and you'd like to spread the word. So do it. Tell your tale on this form. Include some pictures if you want. So, what could be easier except for having me write it for you? If it takes more than one form to complete the report, just number each submission as Page 1, Page 2, etc.. Thanks, Charles Clines. Visit the Favorite or Interesting Event Reports.

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*-Note: If you've participated in a marathon and/or ultra and would like to have your name, time and finish noted here, please fill out this form and submit it.

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Notes: The Plano Pacers Running Club inducted three new members to its Hall of Fame. The three -- Bill Johnson, James Gabhart and Mike Picard -- were recognized after the club's Hall of Fame 3K and 5K on Saturday (April 26). Read more....The Fort Worth Runners Club selected its award winners for 2013 Tuesday (March 4) at its annual awards party at The Cowtown office. Runners of the year were John Ross and Laura Nelson; most improved were Jose Loyola and Cathy Buchanan; sponsor of the year was RunTIME Racing Services; and top volunteers who were not board members were Michael Polansky and Lynda Parra..... Enoch Nadler, 26, of Richardson qualified for the Olympic Trials in the marathon in Houston. Enoch, 26, finished 22nd overall among the runners competing in the USA Half Marathon Championships with a 1:03:55. Males needed to finish in 1:05 or faster to qualify for the marathon trials. Two other area runners who finished and missed qualifying were Logan Sherman and Dawn Grunnagle, both this website's 2012 Runners of the Year. Logan finished with a 1:07:24 and Dawn a 1:16:18. The female qualifying time was 1:15 and faster. Elizabeth Eder of Fort Worth already has qualified with a 2:42:37 at the Chicago Marathon....The Cowtown has awarded grants to more than 3,300 North Texas students. Each student received a pairing of running shoes and assistance toward an entry to the Feb. 2014 event. The number of awards increased by 1,200 from 2012. ''Every runner's participation in The Cowtown helps support The Cowtown C.A.L.F. (Children's Activities for Life & Fitness) Program, and we are very appreciative of the community's support for this great activity,'' Cowtown board chairman David Williams said in a prepared news release. Read rest of the release.... The Active Joe has entered into a three-year commitment to support the Western States Endurance Run as a sponsor for 2014-2016. The Active Joe, owned by former DRC president Libby Jones, produces the New Year's Double, the Fairview Half Marathon and the Showdown Half Marathon. Read more about Active Joe's sponsorship...The GE Irving Marathon, which was April 15, moved from the Campion Trail site to the Irving Convention Center to provide more space for the event. Besides the marathon, there is a half, 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun run....The late Don Zetnick, founder of The Runner retail store in Arlington and who was a dedicated runner, is among the four latest inductees to the Texas Distance Running Hall of Fame. The others are Jeff Roth, one of the top runners in the DFW area for several years and owner of a 2:19 marathon time; Brant Kotch, Houston Marathon race director; and Harold Wilson, 80, of Tyler, the fastest 80-over finisher at the Boston Marathon with a 3:53:54 in 2013. The Cowtown, which features multi race distances, was chosen as the top race of 2013. The inductees were announced by Texas Runner-Triathlete News and TexStats.