I've had the pleasure of knowing and running with a number of friends that have since passed on. Dave Cherico, Doug Zimmerman, Ron Waghorn and Stan Alexander are the subject of my post today. Dave is in the second row, second from the right (The guy pulling both my ears) and Doug is also in the second row, first from the left (The guy leaning to his left).
In particular, David Cherico, who was killed in a boating accident in his backyard back in 2001, was an especially good friend. We spent countless hours running different trails all around Eastern Connecticut. Dave had purchased a Connecticut trail guide, which we used to discover new trails and plan runs. We often ran on the trails at Soapstone Mountain and Gay City State Park because we lived fairly close to those areas. Dave was a co-worker of mine at the Connecticut DEP for many years, a Connecticut wildland firefighter, and an avid fisherman. From 2003 to 2005, I formed a relay team and we ran the Hartford Marathon in his memory. I'm not ashamed to say that during that period Team Cherico finished 1st in their division 2 out of the 3 years and 2nd one year.
Dave and I had talked about submitting a letter with a photograph of one of our favorite spots to Runner's World to see if we could get our spot in the magazine section called "Rave Run." I haven't given up on that idea. It would be a nice tribute to him on the 10th anniversary of his death, in April, 2011.
Unfortunately, my small running group experienced another loss this year. Doug Zimmerman was a great guy and one of the comedians in our group too. We also played softball together for a number of years. He always helped us keep things in perspective. Doug went out for a lunchtime run with several of us and died from what appears to have been some kind of a cardiac issue. We actually ran together for the first 1.5 miles, but split off from him. The strange thing was that he showed no signs of any problem that day. We were goofing around the whole time until we split off. It would have been nice to pay tribute to him with a Team Cherico/Zimmerman relay team, but we couldn't get a team together because of vacations and injuries. We'll find a way to do it at another race.
Stan and Ron were two of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. Both Stan and Ron were good athletes. They also worked for the DEP for a number of years.
Stan loved basketball and played at a very high level while in the service and for years after locally. He was also a very good softball player and played for state and local teams for a number of years. He was one of the guys that helped me when I first started out at DEP. As one would expect, I had a lot to learn after starting work the day after Thanksgiving in 1980. Stan was quick to give advice when you asked for help and had a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, he left DEP in 1986 for a job with a local consulting company. Stan died from stomach cancer in his early forties.
Ron was a very good runner, but his passion was cross country skiing. He used to enter all types of ski races and did quite well from what I've heard. I remember one year we met up and ran the the Manchester Road Race together. I really enjoyed running with him that year. He also organized relay teams and I was fortunate enough to race with him at Josh Billings and the Highland Lake races. Ron canoed with a friend and I ran for the team. Ron died from a brain tumor in his early forties.
I think about these guys often, but especially when certain races come around each year. I hope we all can stay healthy and keep this small running group together for a long time, even after we retire.
Do you have a group of friends that participate in activities together? Let me know.