October 1, 2008

Lake Tahoe Marathon

Robert E. Decelle family. Mom Ludine, and her daughters, April and Karen

As you can see by the title, it says Lake Tahoe Marathon, that's only a small part of the great things happening there! I've known race director Les Wright for a number of years seeing him at many race expo's throughout the year. Last week I was the guest speaker at his races, what a wonderful time I had!

I flew from Austin into Reno, Nevada and then took a bus for the one and a half hour trip to South Lake Tahoe. I stayed at the Horizon Casino Resort which is in Nevada but only two blocks from California! It's a two hours time change so by the time I got in and unpacked I was whooped from traveling all day!

Wednesday morning it was up early for a track workout, I was a little worried about the altitude (6500 feet) and how it would affect my workout. I wore my heart rate monitor and to my surprise, it was like I was running back home in Austin! (It really hit me the next day though!) After my track work out I went to Les's home where I did a fun run on the mountain trails with Les and a bunch of other runners that were in town, it was gorgeous!

The rest of Wednesday was spent walking around town and doing a little sightseeing.

Thursday morning I was up early for a nice run, and my quads were killing me! It felt like I had just got done running a downhill marathon! I was later told by my good friend Bart Yasso from Runners World Magazine that because I had done a hard workout the day before in high altitude that's why my quads felt the way they did, makes sense to me! After my morning run I quickly jumped into the car and went to the local golf course where I was the invited guest to play 18 holes of speed golf! In speed golf you can carry up to 3 clubs and you run the course. I played with just one club (5 iron) and at 9AM I took my first shot and off I went! It was the most fun I'd ever had playing golf! It took me just a little over 45 minutes and I shot 116 for 18 holes, I should play golf like that all the time!

Thursday evening I was the guest speaker at the "Triple Marathon" banquet. What's the Triple Marathon you might be asking? On Friday they run a marathon, on Saturday they run a marathon, then on Sunday they run their last one as part of the regular Lake Tahoe Marathon! Then there was the Super Triple......a marathon Friday, marathon Saturday, then at midnight Saturday they ran the entire 72 miles around Lake Tahoe!!!

My talk went very well and I had everyone laughing and nice and loose for their big endeavor over the next few days.

Friday was another nice sightseeing day for me, the Lake Tahoe area is stunning in its beauty!

Saturday I gave two different talks at the race expo then on Saturday night was a guest on the "Pasta Cruise" out on Lake Tahoe for the runners....incredible! While at one of my talks I met April Carter along with her sister Karen and their mom Ludine. We got to talking about things and I find out that her dad is Robert E. Decelle, it made the hair on the back of my head stand up and I got goose bumps! In 1982 I was awarded the Robert E. Decelle Award for the outstanding distance runner in the United States. That award has always meant a lot to me but even more now that I know who the man really is and what its all about! Here is a little information on Robert E. Decelle and his brave son, I'm very touched!

Captain Robert DeCelle Jr.
Robert Jr.

Born in 1945, Bobby was always active in a variety of activities. He earned his Eagle Scout award, outstanding track runner for Alameda High School, running 1:58 in 880 and 4:20 for the mile. He served as a Missionary to Japan for the LDS church and upon his return was drafted into the army in 1966. Bobby graduated from Officers Candidate school in 1967, attended flight schools for helicopters in 1968. In 1970 he was assigned to So. Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star with 5 palms.

On February 15, 1971 while attempting to draw fire away from ground troops, his helicopter came under heavy fire. Though he was critically wounded, he managed to fly from the scene, saving his crew members and his helicopter. He was awarded the Silver Star, National Order of Vietnam, and the Purple Heart award. He passed away February 21, 1971 in Bien Hoa due to complications from his injuries. The Lake Tahoe Relay was then named in his memory.

Vietnam fort named in honor of Robert Jr.
Robert DeCelle Sr. Marking the Course

Robert E. De Celle, Sr. Robert E. De Celle Sr., De Celle Memorial Tahoe Relay founder and president, passed away in 1997, two weeks after the 33rd annual relay had taken place. He was 78 years old. Bob was an active participant in the sport of running for all of his adult life. His interest was kindled when he discovered the running talent of his son. Robert, Jr., for whom the Relay was named, after he died of wounds received in Vietnam.

He began a long career in the administrative areas in U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country through many position in the AAU. Some of his accomplishments included: Traveling over 10,000 miles to measure and certify courses, such as the Dipsea, and reinstating the Bay-to Breakers. He increased the number of long distance events from 10 to 46 in the PA AAU, and campaigned to allow women to compete in distance events.

Bob was an Administrative Assistant at the 1968 & 1972 Olympic Games, Team leader to World Cross Country Championships in Morocco and South East Asia, and Liaison Officer to the Pan American games in Columbia. He was meet Director for the Oakland Indoor Invitational, and the list goes on…

Bob was also active his entire adult life in the Boy Scouts of America, earning his Silver Beaver, and in improving his beloved city of Alameda, Ca.

The De Celle family feel that Bob's most significant contribution to running was his devotion to high school athletes and their programs, in improving the quality of these programs, and in making sure that the high school arena had a voice in the sport at large.
Bob's spirit and influence will live on in the De Celle Memorial Tahoe Relays in this year, and in the years to come. We will miss him!

Bob's daughter April Carter will serve as the race director.

What a incredible family!

Sunday morning it was up early for a nice 12 mile trail run in the forest and then time for me to take the bus back to Reno for my flight home.

My huge thanks goes out to Les and his staff for the wonderful time I had! I once put on a 10K race years ago and said never again, that's a lot of work!

For Les and his staff that would be like going on a vacation! Here is a list of the events they put on over a period of 3 days:

Friday: Kayak and Swim
Saturday: Bike, Tahoe Triple, Tahoe Super, Triple A la Cart and Marathon
Sunday: 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, 20 Miler, Marathon, 72 Mile Ultra, Triple Marathon,
Marathon Relay, Swim Triathalon and Kayak Triathlon

Thanks again Les, keep up the great work you do promoting health and fitness, you are a true winner and inspiration!



Peter Lubbers said...

Hi Dick,
It was great to meet you after your talk at the Triple Buffet! Your presentation was the most entertaining of all the ones I have attended (this was my 5th year).
And guess what, I went on to win my third super triple.

Robert said...

Dear Dick,
It was such a pleasure to meet you in person. What an inspiring man you are. Thank you for telling the history of our race and the story of my brother. This will be our 45th year putting on this event. You inspired me to go out and try a little harder. Our family is privileged to honor your great achievements.