Local UPenn runner completes own “Covid-19 marathon”

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photo of Andrew Hally running with teammates, including Alex RothAndrew Hally, a Salesianum (Wilmington, Del.) School grad and senior runner for the University of Pennsylvania, was not going to allow the coronavirus to keep him down, despite the track season’s cancellation. So, he came up with a monumental idea to close out his final year of running at Penn—design and run his own marathon course in the streets of Philadelphia.

The inspiring story was covered recently on Philly’s 6ABC News. It is of note for more than just the finishing ribbon with attached bottle of hand sanitizer that his sister gave him upon completing the 26.2-mile course. One of Hally’s support crew in his marathon effort was UPenn track teammate Alex Roth (far left in photo above), son of our own CRR Charlie Roth.

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CRR co-founder Bob Bennett dies at 78

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photo of votive candleIt is with sadness that we announce that CRR Bob Bennett, co-founder of the Creek Road Runners, died on Monday, March 16, at his home at age 78, after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bennett grew up in Washington, D.C., where he wrestled and ran track and cross-country for St. Alban’s, the Episcopal school associated with the National Cathedral. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during which time he ran track and cross-country, competing well among the rival ACC schools. He went west to Stanford for graduate school, where he continued his running with local clubs and some of the West Coast’s elite runners at the time.

photo of Bob Bennett running

Here’s Bob in his heyday in the 1988 Run For Bruce 5K.

Bennett met his wife-to-be, Joan, in graduate school, and they came to the University of Delaware for his faculty appointment in the English department in 1969. Bennett’s love of Shakespeare professionally and the environment as a citizen were second only to his love of running.

Early into his time here in Newark, he joined forces with other advocates to block the proposed reservoir project that would have turned much of one of the areas of what is now White Clay Creek State Park from a natural woodland into a big lake. We Creek Road Runners remain beneficiaries of this civic victory, made possible by Bob and others having fought this proposal.

photo of Bob Taggart, Bob Bennett, and YoUDee

Bob shares the podium at the 2013 Blue Hen 5K with CRR Bob Taggart and YoUDee.

In terms of running, Bob was always one of the best in his age group in the area; his main competitors were CRR Bob Taggart and the late Doug White. In the fall of 1980, he met a young runner who had recently joined the staff at the University of Delaware—Mark Deshon. Together, they conceived of and began organizing the Creek Road Runners.

CRR Mark Deshon remembers:

Bob and I had great times together, beginning when we met nearly 40 years ago after a race on campus. He won the race, and I came in third that day. He and I began training together and remained training partners for the next 20 years.

photo of Bob Bennett running

Bob loved the downhills, shown here in the 2004 Turkey Trot.

In our second race together, the 1980 Turkey Trot 10K, we each achieved a personal breakthrough. Bob and I battled most of the way, he stretching into a lead on the downhills and me catching up to him on the uphills, until the final turn for home onto Barksdale Road. Seemingly out of nowhere, Bob blasted by both Doug White and me—a youngster of 24 at the time, out-sprinting us and clocking in at 34:01 (at age 38!).

I also remember how valuable Bob was to me as I trained for my one-and-only marathon in 1991, sharing both his vast experience and energy on my behalf. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that milestone without him and others with whom I was running at the time. He and I shared many runs and races together, both on the roads and trails.

photo of Bob and Mark

Bob and Mark Deshon pay homage to CRR Jim Fischer in 2012.

Bob was one of my dearest friends, and it was sad to see his decline over the past several years. I’m glad I got to spend some of that time with him—early on jogging in the park, later walking the trails, and most recently (when he neither could get around very well nor remember me), just visiting him.

photo of “Millennium Men” on Dec. 31, 1999

Bob (center) ran the initial Fair Hill trail event in 1999 with CRR Mark Deshon, CRR Vic Kaliakin, CRR Skip White, and CRR Charlie Riordan.

photo of Bob Bennett and other CRRs

Bob shows off our 10th anniversary trail run–event shirt among other Creek Road Runners at UD in 2012.

CRR Skip White remembers:

I remember, starting the fall semester at UD in 1987, suiting up in the (old, old) general locker room around noon and going outside to stretch, where I ran into Mark, Bob, and CRR Steve Cottrell and asked if I could join them. I was instantly welcomed into “the club” and had new friends for life.

Bob and I were a little less than five years apart, so, unluckily for me, every five years we were in the same age category. I can’t remember how many times Bob beat me, but I do remember the two times that I beat him!

 

CRR Bill Rose remembers:

I first met Bob and Joan Bennett at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church around 1990. I quickly appreciated that Bob was a gentle soul who loved teaching at the University of Delaware and sharing with students his love of literature, especially Shakespeare.

I first raced against Bob at a 5K at St. Thomas’s in October 1993. I remember it because it was my fastest 5K ever, and he beat me. My last run with him was a very nice couple of miles at the end of December 2014, at the annual Fair Hill trail event.

photo of Mark Deshon and Bob Bennett

Bob is at peace and having fun on Creek Road with Mark Deshon in 2017.

Bob wrote a book, Romance and Reformation: The Erasmian Spirit of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, which was published by the University of Delaware Press in 2000. The “Erasmian” in the title refers to the great Dutch humanist Erasmus. Like Erasmus, Bob was a scholar and a humanist. I am glad I knew him. I will miss him.


Bennett leaves behind his wife, Joan, and adult children Miriam and Aaron, their spouses, and three grandchildren.

> University of Delaware memorial article
>
Bob Bennett’s obituary

Three CRRs pirate a good time in Florida

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photo of April AndersonCCR April Anderson and her husband, CCR Bruce Hubbard, ran the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K on February 22. Anderson wanted to try out the competition in her new age group (75-79) and got second out of 32 women, which, because she finished within the top 10 percent of her class, netted her a mug and a doubloon award. There were more than 10,600 participants in the 5K. Anderson’s time was 37:41 (37:01 chip).

She was aiming for something in the upper 35- or at least 36-minute range, but it was too crowded, especially at the beginning. Anderson reported that there were five corrals but (as is often the case) many of the runners did not go into the correct corral for their average speed and just stopped and walked in front of her, congesting the way and slowing her down. Hubbard’s finishing time was 42:57 (42:33 chip), slowed a bit by the same issue.

Anderson says, “I hope I can report a placing in the Shamrock Sports Fest in Virginia Beach. I bought a cool medal hanger with a picture of a long, rural road that says ‘There will be a day when I can no longer do this. Today is NOT that day.’ But, at 75, who knows!”

Arrrrr! CRR Rachel Mroz details her Gasparilla Half Marathon experience, which included nearly 4,200 other finishers:

Escaping the “winter” in Delaware to head to sunny Florida for a weekend? Sign me up! The Gasparilla Distance Classic is a weekend filled with four races—5K and15K on Saturday and Half Marathon and 8K on Sunday. Runners can opt for challenges by signing up for combos of the races. I just did the half. 

photo of the 2020 Gasparilla Half Marathon medalWhile not part of the Gasparilla pirate festival in Tampa, this race keeps with the pirate theme and has an awesome medal (don’t judge, but I only do races with good medals)! 

The run is very well organized, and the course is pancake flat with views of Hillsborough Bay along Bayshore Boulevard for 80 percent of the course. With the half marathon capped at 6,500 runners, the course never felt crowded. It was my first time doing the race, and I will definitely do it again and maybe try one of the challenges next year. 

The weather was perfect for running—51 degrees at the start with very low humidity. My chip time was 2:37:22 [2:42:41 gun], which I’m happy with, considering (1) the amount of training I put in (not extensive), (2) the stops along the course to take photos (including one with Chewbacca), and (3) just generally taking my time to enjoy the course and the views. Got a shout out from the finish-line announcer who corrected his pronunciation of Newark to “New-ark” as I was crossing the line. 

Runners are allowed to hang out in the Convention Center before the short walk to the start line, so that means a real restroom, a place to top off the phone battery, and a comfortable place to get some pre-race stretching done.

Can’t guarantee the perfect weather for next year, but if you want a super flat, fast course and to escape Delaware for a few days (maybe next year will be snowy?), this is a great race to do.

Our own elite runner

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With this post, our very own world-class runner, who grew up in Newark, Del., is officially recognized as a Creek Road Runner.

photo of Sam Parsons in CRR sweatshirtCRR Sam Parsons, shown here giving his genuine thumbs-up to our association while wearing the classic CRR sweatshirt, is a professional runner with Colorado-based Tinman Elite who has been a force to be reckoned with on the track since his high school days at The Tatnall School. In 2018, he became the first Delaware native to break the coveted 4-minute mark in the mile run.

Past posts have highlighted his rise to the international stage.

Parsons is the son of Newark residents CRR George Parsons and CRR Christina Parsons.

CRR to take on NCAA-related voting role at UD

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photo of Avron AbrahamCRR Avron Abraham, University of Delaware faculty director of the Center for Academic Success and University Studies and a faculty member in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, will assume the role as the University’s Faculty Athletic Representative, beginning in May 2020.

In this position, Abraham will become the the official voting delegate for the University on NCAA matters and works with UD’s Faculty Board on Athletics.

“I have served on the board for the past two years, where I have gained an appreciation of the time and effort that our student athletes invest to ensure their success both athletically and academically at the University of Delaware,” Abraham said. “It is my hope that, as the Faculty Athletic Representative working closely with the Faculty Athletic Board, we can help support our student athletes as they strive to meet their goals, both inside and outside the classroom.”

Abraham, who is not running anymore due to physical limitations, hosted Creek Road Runners’ once-upon-a-time-annual Lower Slower 10K social run.

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