By Mary Pannabecker Steiner
In 1974 - that's 37 years ago for those of you trying to do the math - I went to the OHSAA state track meet in Columbus. Not to run. My own obsession with running didn't start until two years later.
My friend, Deb, and I - then about to graduate from high school - were at the meet to cheer on a couple of guys. One of them was a pole vaulter and the other a sprinter/short distance/relay runner. What I remember about those two days was that it was hot, sunny, and lots of fun. We sat around a lot, watching and waiting through the preliminaries and finals. But as a track statistician, I was accustomed to that. I don't care what all you football and basketball fanatics say - track is never boring.
As track meets go, it was exciting. But as one might also suspect, we did not spend the entire two days at the meet...and the two days were not without a few glitches.
One of those involved a minor run-in with a Columbus policeman who picked us up when we drove the wrong way on a one-way street after dark. That wasn't the worst of it.
There were three of us in her two-seat 1973 Opel GT and the third person - a guy - was scrunched into the little space behind the seats. We were lucky to get off with a warning from a kind-hearted cop. Of course, I never told my parents about this part of our trip, so now my mom is going to find out. Isn't there a statute of limitations on parental disapproval for poor judgement?
Anyway, this morning while I was running, it occurred to me that one of the guys we were cheering on - the sprinter - will be back in Columbus this weekend. Not to run this time. He'll be watching his own son running a leg of the 4 x 400 relay.
The rest of the crowd will see him cheering like any other proud parent, but I'll betcha anything his heart will be back on that track - that final kick propelling him forward. You don't forget those things...even after 37 years.
Last night my husband looked at me and said, "Are you going to the state track meet this year?" He knows I'm not since we start our own cross country trek in a few days, but he also knows how much I wish I could be there. Next year maybe.
In the meantime, I have one piece of advice for the Bluffton High School qualifiers and their coach, Denny Phillips.
"Run like hell and end the agony." Clarence DeMar, seven-time Boston Marathon winner who won his final Boston in 1930 at the age of 41.