Behind The Numbers

The Runner Breakfast

By Harry Hall

Most who attended the June 10 annual runner breakfast walked a bit slower, and maybe more stooped. Over the decades, talk that once centered around setting PRs and winning trophies, now centered on the latest prescriptions and operations that often include hip and knee replacements; war stories about victories over a/g competitors have been replaced by victories over cancer.

Approximately three dozen runners met at the home of Clyde and Beca DeLoach, the couple who have hosted this event for 16 years. These were never national class athletes, but several could boast of sub-3 hour marathons and impressive Boston finishes. As a Masters runner in the late 70's, Clyde clocked a 2:37 marathon. Bill Parmelee, winner of the first Cowtown Marathon in 1979, and annoyingly still looking decades younger than his 60+ years was on hand, as was John Pritchett, the ubiquitous race announcer, and Richard Widener, the 90-year-old WW II veteran who ran 50 miles on his 50th birthday, and a few weeks later, completed the Boston Marathon in 2:39. The headliner was probably Orville Rogers, the 99-year-old who has rewritten the 90+ age-group record book. Rogers earned internet fame via a youtube video where he and Dixon Hemphill battled in an indoor 60-meter dash at the Masters National Meet in Albuquerque. Coming from behind, Rogers edged the 92-year old Hemphill in a photo finish.

Almost out of place was first time attendee, Angela Moore. Moore is a college student who has, in the last few months, lowered her 5k PR from 20:39 to 18:41. Years before her birth, the others at the breakfast party were recording their best times on the road and track.

But on Runner Breakfast morning, none of that matters.

Some of these runner relationships go back to the early 70s, when the athletes would marathon-train 20+ miles on pre-dawn Sunday mornings, struggle through intense interval training, and grueling hill workouts that resulted in the hopes of taking home a trophy or improving on a PR. More importantly, they have experienced and shared stories of marriages, divorces, basked in the glow professional advancements, the birth of children and grandchildren, and mourned the loss of loved ones. Through it all, the group hung together. Oh, their interactions are less frequent than when they regularly met for training routines, but the fraternal bond still exists and in some ways strengthened, and the runner breakfast is their opportunity to catch up on friends' lives and laughs.

As usual, the DeLoaches have prepared their home with the guests' needs in mind. There's no shortage of tables, chairs, food or good company.

While everyone enjoys the fresh fruit, breads, yogurt, juices, coffee, the homemade egg and sausage dishes, it's one of those rare occasions when the food is secondary; this event is about reminiscing and reconnecting.

Harry Hall's bio

Harry Hall

Harry Hall grew up with the North Texas running community. While running for Irving MacArthur High School in the mid-'70s, he set several school and meet records, and ran in the Texas state cross-country championships. He continued running after college, completed a total of 18 marathons, including two Bostons. At the 1982 White Rock Marathon, he clocked his PR of 2:27.

Harry spent several years coaching collegiate track and cross-country and working as a personal trainer. In the late '80s he entered the professional writing world, covering athletic events from local races to the Olympic Trials and other national sporting events. His work appeared in several publications, most notably Runner-Triathlete News, Health and Fitness Sport, and the Dallas Morning News.

He continued moving from athletics to communications, and even wrote two books.

The first, released in 2011, is based on his experiences in radio, Toastmasters International, and teaching public speaking. It's titled, Help! Everyone is Staring at Me.

In late 2014, Harry completed a 12 year project when he released, The Pedestriennes, America's Forgotten Superstars, the first book ever written about the professional female endurance walkers who from 1876-1881, dazzled America with their on and off track exploits. It's won three national writing awards and Competitor.com included it on its list of, "Greatest Running Books." It's also been turned into a screenplay.

Both books are available at www.amazon.com and www.harryhallspeaks.com

Harry lives in Grand Prairie with his wife Susie, their teen son Zane and Zane's best friend, Scamp (Pooch) Hall.