The 2020 presentation of the Titus van Rijn Hour—our 22nd year—featured 67 participants, aged 12 to 79, from ten states. National events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against police violence and systemic racism, meant a smaller turnout than in 2019, when we had 118 participants. However, a number of people commented on how glad they were to take up the challenge of a Titus hour this year, and the quality of performances was a strong as ever.
In her TVR debut, Tonya Sanders Lutz (Salem, OR) ran 15,030 meters (~9.34 miles) to claim the women’s title. That mark ranks #2 among the all-time F40-49 TVR performances. On the men’s side, Nathan Campeau (Minneapolis, MN) covered 16,130m (~10.02m miles) to finish just ahead of Joel Wegener (~9.98 miles) for the 2020 TVR men’s title. Their marks now rank 8th and 9th, respectively, on the all-time TVR performance list for M40-49.
A dozen other TVR participants established new top-10 marks in 2020—including a M60-69 record by Dan Meireis, and a wholesale rewriting of the W19U category:
- Bob Aby: 9785m, #5 M70+
- Liz Boyd: 8209m, #5 F60-69
- Dan Meireis: 15025, #1 M60-69
- Ed Muniek: 14700m, #7 M50-59
- Randy Peterson: 14500m, #10 M50-59
- Suzanne Halekas: 14080m, #6 F40-49
- Perry Kemper: 12700m, #2 F19U
- Nicole Theberath: 12600m, #3 F19U
- Keeley Brooks: 12370m, #4 F19U
- Claire Bussman: 11500m, #10 F19U
- Noe Kemper: 14470m, #3 M19U
- Nathan Amundson: 13400m, #8 M19U
Also noteworthy: Ana Forbord (Northfield, MN) covered 12,343m off-track—a mark that would otherwise rank among the top five all-time F19U performances.
Collectively, this year’s TVR participants covered 735,655m (~457 miles). Cumulatively, TVR participants have strode over 14.50 million meters (~9,016 miles) since 1999.
Congratulations to all who participated, and a special thank you to everyone who helped organize Titus hours of your own.
Read on for a brief interview with Dan Meireis and colorful reports from a number of TVR venues. For now, as always, we raise a frosty glass of black cherry soda in salute to each of you. And we look forward to 2021, with the hope of being able to meet up on the track in large groups for another Titus hour.
Andy Roth & Mike Persick, TVR Meet Directors
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Five Questions for Dan Meireis, M60-69 Age Group Record Holder
- How did you find out about the TVR Hour? From Pam Smith. She has always been a bad influence on me. 🙂
- In your race report, you mentioned making TVR your focus this year. Did you change your training to prepare specifically for the Titus hour? In the past I have usually been training for a marathon and TVR ends up being more of a training run. This year with all the races canceled, I made TVR my target. The training wasn’t much different than usual (a couple of speed workouts and a long run every week) but I did taper more this time, and while running I knew I didn’t have to save anything for another race.
- Who or what inspires your running? I love to volunteer at the finish line of a longer race. It’s not the winners, but the middle and back of the packers that inspire me. They are out there a lot longer and have a lot more to overcome, yet they stick with it. Their happiness when they make it across the finish line is contagious.
- Racing flats or training shoes for Titus? NB 1400’s. Or any light weight marathon racing shoe. I’m too old to run for an hour in racing flats.
- If you could become any kind of (non-human) animal, what creature would you pick and why? Peregrine Falcon. Fastest animal in the world, plus FLYING!
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James Umbanhowar (NC) reports: Ironically, given social distancing, I had my biggest turnout ever. Four of us turned up at the 7-lane Riverside High School track at 4pm May 11th for some unseasonably cool weather: partly cloudy with temps in the high 60’s. We kept our distance by using lanes 1,3,5,7 (with lane 5 user Ben switching to lane 2 after one lap). Other than a couple that insisted on taking lane 3 during the middle 20 minutes of the race, nothing too exciting to report, but we all did pretty well considering our ages and fitness levels. For the local prize, it was very close. Race officials spent about an hour consulting online lane distance calculators and race photos. Chris Huggins was determined to be the winner by about 20 meters. We all had mini Cheerwines to celebrate which was all I could find across two pandemic depleted grocery stores. Ben Gaspar then went the extra distance to drink a Boylans black cherry soda at his house, sealing the soda consumption prize. Congrats to all competitors!
John Douglass reports: The Tucson, AZ edition of TVR was held yesterday, Sunday May 17th, at 6:30 AM on the Mall at the University of Arizona. After many years of hopping fences, staring at razor wire, and once in a while actually easily getting into the Catalina HS track, the past few years we’ve held the Tucson edition on the ½ mile loop on the mall at the U. It’s concrete, sometimes we encounter cars, and other people zip by on their bikes, but hey – it’s conveniently located and has 24/7 access.
Eight brave souls participated this year, some recovering from injuries. While relatively cool at the start, it was increasingly warm as the southern Arizona sun rose overhead. Social distancing protocols were observed, runners taking wide berths as they passed walkers. Nearly 70,000 meters was walked or run this year, an impressive figure. We all had a good time and some (Don), while complaining about downward trends year after year, actually increased their distance this year. Some (Ken) absolutely smashed their modest expectations. Afterwards, we sat in the shade, drank water (sorry, no cherry soda due to pandemic-forced online-grocery shopping austerity), and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company after not working out together these past few months of pandemic.
In addition to the Tucson edition, a single entry from Santa Barbara (Katie Brown) is also included; perhaps next year there will be a larger Santa Barbara contingent as excitement over TVR grows.
Nathan Campeau reports: I ran a solo effort (with an awesome group of supporters) in the rain in Minneapolis. I ended up going 16,130 meters, a pretty big TVR PR for me. No black cherry soda, but I did celebrate with a strawberry Spindrift and that was almost as good.
From Charlottesville, VA Jason Farr reports: I completed 13,900 meters this morning on the Charlottesville High School track. Humidity was around 90%, and I had the track to myself in this era of social distancing. We generally do the TVR as a social run, but I opted for the mental challenge of doing it all alone. It was tough, but rewarding. I love this event…black cherry soda for breakfast!
Dan Meireis reports from Jefferson Oregon Track in Salem, OR: With all of the spring races canceled this year, I decided to focus on the TVR. I had a poor year last year after recovering from multiple Pulmonary Embolisms in January. My goal was to get back to 15k. On May 2nd, my friends Tonya and Jenica came to the track and we ran around in circles for an hour. We did great, but I was 200m short of 15k. I decided to regroup, train for 5 more weeks and try again. This morning, June 11, I went back to the track for a second helping.
The first half felt great. Starting mile 7, I was really struggling and having negative thoughts and felt like giving up. Then “run the mile you’re in” popped into my head. I shut out all the thoughts about how far I had to go and how I felt and just focused on the here and now and breathing. By the end of 7 I found a zone that carried me through mile 8. In mile 9, the end game adrenalin kicked in and I was able to get there. I enjoyed having this race to focus on this year. Thanks for keeping it going!
From the City High track in Iowa City, IA, Suzanne Halekas writes: With everything canceled, I decided to give this a shot (my husband has done it before). So, I went after some cooler weather this morning and headed down to the City High track. It was breezy and cool, with the sun just starting to intensify around midway through.
I think this is the farthest I’ve ever run on a track, and to be honest, it wasn’t totally fun. Definitely a mental grind of ticking off laps for me. I had 32.5 laps in my head as a minimum goal, so when I had time to keep going past that, I was happy/sad. Yay for more distance, but I wanted to be done! Such a funny format — it’s like the finish line moved farther away! I forgot to take a picture at the track, but here I am after jogging home, with my soda on the deck.
From Northfield, MN, Anna Forbord writes: I ran off-track on the Dundas paved bike trail in Dundas, MN and through to Northfield as well as adding on in neighborhoods to reach one hour on 6/12/20. I ran 12,343.67 meters (7.67 miles) in one hour, and I had a GPS watch that recorded my time as well as miles. I ran at 8:15 in the morning, the weather was ideal for running; the temperature in the mid-60s. I had a very good run; my legs felt sore at the beginning but as the run progressed I found my rhythm and maintained a good pace. My mom and sister biked while I ran but other than that I ran alone without my fellow cross country teammates. This is my first time participating in the TVR run and I hope to do it again next year.
Chris Lundberg reports: The 2020 Titus Van Rijn event in Victor, ID was the first official competition held at the Slab Ranch Track, a 300-meter irregular oval grass track, hand mowed in an old pasture alongside Trail Creek with stunning views of Taylor Mtn, the Snake River Range and Big Hole Mountains. Elevation approximately 6,200 ft. The track has seen numerous workouts over the years as well as countless laps with the dogs so it was a treat to finally break it into competition.
The Victor event was a solo effort, in light of COVID-19, as well as the local race coordinator’s asinine decision to kick the race off at 4pm with the temperature holding steady and sunny at 88 degrees in the banana belt of the Tetons. One week prior there were 6 inches of fresh snow on the competition surface, so the heat was an extra effort bonus that I hadn’t quite adjusted to. An upside-down sheetrock bucket served as the fluid station, supporting a water bottle containing Tailwind, Berry flavor. In between mad dashes after squirrels and gophers, the dogs provided occasional silent spectating from the yard, but they really just weren’t that interested.
The footing was pretty rough with an abundance of fresh gopher holes and tunnels breaking open as I plodded along and the grass was a little longer cut than would have been ideal, but the views were sublime so it made for a pleasant experience on balance, if the paltry distance covered is ignored. I felt relatively good and if nothing else, fairly consistent. I came through 22 laps in 30:00, so while I did slip a little in the second half, I only covered 200 meters less during the second 30:00 and I feel okay about that. At the end of the race, the temperature remained at 88 degrees. I did a short walk/jog cool down of a few laps and finished the bottle of Berry-flavored drink. I hadn’t made a trip over to the big city to track down any cherry-based beverages so my celebration was somewhat lacking on that front, and as the heat piled onto my brain like a ton of bricks as soon as I finished the race, all thoughts of handstanding were immediately dismissed.
In this crazy year it was a true pleasure to return to the Titus Van Rijn Invitational family and hammer myself silly, with the added bonus of establishing the first Facility Record at the Slab Ranch Track. With any luck it won’t last more than a year. Thanks so much for continuing this fantastic COVID-Proof tradition, I can’t wait for 2021!
From Minneapolis, MN, Randy Niemiec writes: I ran by myself at the Minnehaha Academy track. The temperature was 57 degrees when I started, which is as good as it can get for running weather June 13 in Minneapolis. I ran only 152 m less than last year. I was pretty happy with that considering I couldn’t run at all three weeks earlier due to an injury. If only I had stayed healthy!!! I had a race number at TVR for the first time ever thanks to Kari Campeau. The number is for my daughters, who were born in August and March. Thanks again for putting on the most organized race around.
From Boise, ID, Will Kemper reports: Flag Day would have slipped past without me running a Titus were it not for my 15-year-old daughter who let us all know we would have the opportunity to run Titus this weekend. It was a perfect morning, about 60 degrees with a few minutes of light rain in the middle of the run and some beautiful sunshine at the end. The whole family was in, I ran 2 miles at around 7:15 pace before a tight calf convinced me to walk, the rest of the family all negative split things starting at roughly 7 (Noe 14), 8(Perry 15) and 10(Daphne) minutes per mile and getting considerably faster for their second halves. I wish someone would teach me to pace so well. The Black Cherry Soda (Henry Weinhard’s) never tasted so good. (When you are not exhausted and dehydrated that thick syrup goes down more easily.)
Nichole Porath, head XC coach at Northfield HS (MN), reports: This year we had a smaller number of participants as they all tried to do it on their own at various times. This is something we look forward to every year! (I sadly could not compete as I welcomed our son into the world on June 4th – haven’t run since. Next year!)
Kirk Reynolds reports: The Claremont (CA) edition of the 2020 TVR was not run at Pomona College’s blue track (discouraged because of the closed campus, despite an ID card). Instead, Emma DeLira and Kirk Reynolds ran in the water settling grounds northeast of the campuses. The Strava map might look like an out-and-back run, but it was actually a single loop: up the Claremont side of the drainage canal below San Antonio Dam, and down the Upland side. The canal still has water rushing down – maybe snowmelt from Mt. Baldy?
This non-track running loop provided a study in contrasts, a comparison of two worlds. The canal is the boundary not only for Claremont and Upland, but also Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. Going uphill in Claremont, one runs on a gravel road within a predominantly white, upper middle-class Southern California burg, with 52.2% female population, and a median age of 39.5 – while you look north at Mt. Baldy.
After the hairpin turn, going downhill in Upland, one runs on a gravel road within a predominantly white, upper middle-class Southern California burg, with 52.2% female population, and a median age of 38.5 – while you look south at the valley.
The run was definitely off-track, but still enjoyable, and going through this area thankfully meant we didn’t need to keep the pandemic facemask on for long periods. Over the hour, we covered different distances on our GPS watches despite running together, but the average of the two was 6.975 miles.
Then we returned to the Von’s parking lot, and downed some sweet black cherry sparkling water.
Erik Brooks reports from Winthrop, WA: Saturday, June13, 2020. Under truly great conditions (55 degrees and overcast) at the Liberty Bell High School track, my daughter Keeley and I both returned to Titus after several years away. On the heels of a COVID-altered track season involving multiple solo 800s, 1600s, and 3200’s it was a different race for sure, but we were both feeling pretty familiar with the idea of pace and relative isolation on this beautiful little track in Winthrop, WA.
Thankfully, the pace for a 1-hour run is quite a bit slower than your typical 1600 — not that I was following my own advice in the early going. Keeley ran the event to near perfection and settled into a consistent rhythm with little fall-off at any point. I was ambitious but feeling good in the first half… but the last few laps dropped off due to biomechanical difficulties that stubborn resolve could not quite overcome. We both suffered just enough but were pleased with the effort! A Hanson’s black cherry soda was easily procured on the drive home. Until next year. Maybe!
From MN Pat Foley reports: The Band of 10,000 Aches completed their 17th annual TVR one hour run/walk. We had 19 people participating at a variety of locations this year. One person got on the Carleton track at Laird Stadium, our traditional site. Others ran on the middle school track, a paved 505 meter loop in a development, a cinder track in St. Paul, a loop at the entrance to the Minnesota Zoo and one brave soul ran his on the Western State track in Gunnison, CO at an elevation of 7,700 feet. (Actually, he did not have a choice because that is where he lives.) A few of us had the traditional black cherry soda, but we hope next year we will be able to gather in one spot and have a more traditional TVR run/walk.
From the Montlake playfield track, in Seattle, WA, Patrick Niemeyer writes: I was going to bail on this year’s events but saw some late participation and decided to opt in. I wasn’t sure where to go for adequate social distancing – the first track I drove by was locked, the second I’ve used in past years, but too many people are walking on it. The third was juuuuuust right. Which means there turned out to be a ~4 step mud puddle at about 160m the width of the track, so nobody else really used the track at all. Except two ducks. This was also my first totally solo TVR, so it was some new kind of experience, but I’m thankful you have helped drive participation again this year!
From the Port Jefferson High School track (Port Jeff, NY), Alan Kim reports: As I got to the track shortly after 5 on a Sunday (Flag Day) morning, a flock of seagulls came in low over the trees and landed in the center green. I took this as a good sign. The cool and dry conditions made it fairly easy to stick to 1:50 quarter splits. Two or three people showed up by 5:30, including a haughty lady and a gentleman whose interest in social distancing lapsed as the laps wore on. The seagulls ascended. I’ll have to wait for my biweekly shopping trip to pick up a can of black cherry soda.
Elizabeth Boyd reports from Winthrop, WA: After a morning of blustery winds, we ventured to Liberty Bell High School in Winthrop, WA for another hour on the track. In light of the COVID pandemic, four of us spaced ourselves across the lanes and ran a respectful distance apart. Partly cloudy skies, temperature about 63 degrees, 11 mph winds from the NW – but the gusts on the back stretch felt significantly stronger than that. As always, the hour felt interminable and short at the same time – the paradox of Titus.
Having missed the past 2 years due to injury, I was just happy to be out there. Andy put in a great effort; John kept a steady and focused pace; Lyn walked her way into her 78th year. The celebratory cherry juice and soda tasted especially good this year.
Carter Schloman writes: I ran off track on a 1/2 mile straight path in Elko New Market, MN. My experience was as follows: Mile 1, normal warm-up feel, 8:23 pace; Mile 2, Normal, 8:38 pace; Mile 3, legs are sore but just mentally, 8:37 pace; Mile 4, pushing through sore legs, 8:36 pace; Mile 5, feeling amazing! 8:28 pace; Mile 6, getting fast, 8:25 pace Final Mile, breathing intensely, must push through. Very fun and difficult run!
Nathan Amundson, Northfield, Minnesota, writes: I love this workout but also hate it. It is very fun and I love doing it but I do not like the soreness that comes with it.