Charter Milers Weather Cancellation
The cancellation of last week's Medtronic TC 1 Mile saddened a lot of folks, but for Roger Grothe, Mark Wirt, and Jose Luciano it pressed pause on their streak of participating in every edition of the 10-year-old event. We talked to Grothe this week to learn why he and his group have made the Medtronic TC 1 Mile an annual tradition.
What prompted your group to run the first Medtronic TC 1 Mile and what has kept you coming back?
We saw a notice online and were intrigued with the concept of running down Nicollet Mall. Most of us were sprinters, mid-distance, and jumpers in college and liked the new challenge of pounding a hard mile. We were in our mid-forties at the start. The first year, three of us ran - Mark Wirt, Roger Grothe, Jose Luciano. We had all done marathons, triathlons, and road races, so this was something new and early in the year during "track season."
What are some of the traditions your group has established around the race?
We start each year in March running hills at the Ford Lock and Dam. From there we slowly move to the track and get the wheels rolling. Eventually, we try to do 10 x 400. The best part of the race is Punch Pizza afterwards. We've done Punch every year. Our friend Jose has 12 children and many of them have started to join the group. It's fun to see children get excited about racing.
Is there a favorite story or two that you reminisce over?
One year someone brought a baton to practice at Macalester Track. We looked up the girls High School 4 x 400 relay times and started trying to beat the time. We didn't quite make it , but it was super fun and forced us to run faster. That's the kind of intensity and focus the TC 1 Mile encourages. I think this is a milestone event for many runners.
We understand one of your group has a streak of 5:30s going? Does he have to train harder and harder for the race now?
Mark Wirt, the fastest guy in our group was a triple jumper in college. He has run 5:30-something every year. With each passing year we are getting more scientific and smarter in hopes of keeping his streak alive. It is getting harder to maintain the speed, but it can be done. We have been using kettlebells to build strength and power. It seems to be working.
How competitive are you among one-another? Is there a year's worth of bragging rights involved?
We really encourage each other and we all have different fitness levels. It's more of a personal challenge - factoring our schedules, pressures, life changes, etc.
I understand you also bring new runners to the race. How did that get started?
We tell everyone about the race. We're amazed more of our friends don't give it a try. As we get older, most runners don't want to train that hard. As you know, running a hard mile is very tough.
What were your reactions when the race was cancelled this year? What did people do instead of the race that night?
We were shell shocked. It was so sad. Our friend Jose lives in Lester Prairie and was parked in front of the Library with 5 of his children when he got the news. His response, "what to do now?" We were all lost. We wait all year for this race and there is nothing that can replace it - nothing. I went and ran on a treadmill 1200 meters hard - just to do something in the rain. Mark stayed in and watched the NFL draft and then ran around Harriet the next day. Jose and his children went to Punch.
Now that you'll have another year to plan your 10th running of the race, is there anything special you might do for it?
We've upped the ante and all want to run our best race ever. Mark is trying to break the 5:30 streak by running 5:20.
Photo: Wirt (left) and Grothe (right) at the 2012 Medtronic TC 1 Mile with women's professional wave winner Heather Kampf.