Tag Archives: Crim

If It’s to Hot to Run It Must Be July?

 

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The start of the Crim 10 Mile

If it’s too hot to run it must be July and if it’s July it must be Crim time?  Wait you say? Isn’t Crim in late August?  Yes to both, if you want to have any chance of racing a grueling 10 Mile road race then you had better be in the sharpening phase of your training in July.

The Crim 10 Mile Road Race is one of only a few truly elite 10 mile road races in the country each year.  Named for it’s founder Flint area native and former Speaker of the State House for Michigan, Bobby Crim, the Crim has always enjoyed an awesome reputation among runners from all areas of the globe. The first race was on the 4th Saturday in August back in 1977.  It started in mid day and featured hundreds of runners including several “big name” runners who ran to help support the Special Olympics program. It has since evolved into a series of races and special events centered in downtown Flint. Several American records have been set on the course and countless world class elite runners have participated. The listing would take too long to include but the very short version includes super elites such as Joan (Benoit) Samuelson and Bill Rogers.

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Bobby Crim himself !

Back in 1977 my running consisted of a few occasional runs mostly to remind myself that I could still run. It was my first year out of grad school and I was working for an architectural firm in Flint.  I was not aware of the race. Had I been aware, I probably would have at least given it serious thought about entering. Many other things were on my mind back then, most of them involved my wedding day that was only a few weeks from then, so on the other hand, maybe I would not have chosen to compete.

Flash forward to 1984, the year of my first Crim. I left the Flint area in 1978, now had two young baby daughters, and had recently somehow managed to return to a more serious form of running.  I discovered a local running club, The Novi Trackers. This group more than anything else was responsible for my running career moving forward.  Members of this group told stories of the Crim race the prior year and encouraged me to join them at Crim in 84. I  remember being a bit hesitant as I had not raced in anything more than a few miles up to then but was excited to return to my hometown where I established my running roots many years earlier.

Now as summer is past it’s midway point my thoughts begin to focus more and more about my returning to race “The Crim”.  For at about this time each summer, I begin to train a little harder, focus a little sharper, and anticipate a bit more, about the 4th Saturday in August and another return to Crim. Except this year will be much different!

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Stretching out at the starting line, Crim 2015

Oh I still approach Crim like a child approaches Christmas, but this year will mark my 30th running of the Crim!  One of many special innovations Crim organizers have evolved is the establishment of The 30 Year Club. The 30 Year Club was initiated at the 30th running of the Crim in 2006. It consisted of all the 24 runners who had ran every Crim!  Each year since new members are admitted to this now prestigious club of Crim veterans. So this is my year. The 2016 Crim will be my 30th and I have been anxiously awaiting this year’s race for several years now!  Next week it officially begins as I have been invited to my first meeting. I hope to learn much more of what and how the Crim organizers have in mind to help me and about 15 other Crim veterans make this our best Crim experience ever!

Please check back regularly as I certainly plan to post many updates on the rapidly approaching 4th Saturday in August, downtown Flint Michigan!

Thank you and Run Happy

Coach Lee

 

The Tradition Continues

Crim start

Judging solely by the title you might think this is about Christmas or a similar special event. Well, it is about a special event but has almost nothing to do with Christmas. More on the Christmas part later.

This is Crim week, the week prior to the fourth Saturday of August. The Crim 10 Mile road race is one of the best, if not the best 10 Mile road race in the US. It began back in 1977 and while I was working as a young architect in Flint at the time, I was not aware of the race. Back in 77 the race occurred 5 weeks before my wedding day so I had other things on my mind the summer of 77 besides running a grueling 10 miles in the afternoon sun. It has been 30 years now since I first ran Crim and this will be my 27th Crim race. Only a few more and I can join the truly elite runners who also have run 30 Crims and get a 10 minute head start on the field of over 10,000 runners.

So what makes it so special for me? Easy, it’s always been sort of a homecoming. It’s the area where my running career began as a high school runner in track and later cross country for Grand Blanc. Not long after that first Crim, I relocated from the Flint area to Metro Detroit where I continued to run primarily for fitness, not for competition. My passion to run long distances along rural roads or race along the curve of a flat track remained in my blood. Then late in 1983 I hooked up with a group of like-minded runners in the form of The Novi Trackers and I suppose you can say the rest is history.

I ran my first Crim race in 1984 wearing cotton gear and my very expensive $36 running shoes. Back then the race started away from the finish area downtown Flint. It started on the campus of Mott Community College. There were no timing chips, no corrals, no wave, just the national anthem and the gun. Runners lined up as close to the start as possible and dared to run across dangerous curbs and damp lawns to get as fast as start as possible. I vividly remember standing in the crowded start, wondering if I would even finish a 10 mile race my longest race distance was only 4 miles. I just wanted to survive, literally!  It was only about 18 months prior that my father passed away from a heart attack in a room of St. Joe’s Hospital that overlooked the start of the Crim course. I looked to that window and asked him to overlook my race.

A few years later the start was moved to downtown Flint and the crowd of runners grew from 2,000 to 5,000, to now over 10,000 for the 10 Mile race. They also now have several other races and events that spread over several days, and there is a full time staff to administer the good work of the Crim Foundation.

Since my first Crim I have had several personal traditions, all have evolved over the past thirty years and I trust they will continue to evolve and new ones started. In somewhat chronological order they are:

  • The first is the Saturday afternoon nap! It’s tough for me to get a good night’s sleep prior to any distance race so by the time it’s over, I am dog tired and need to recover.
  •  I have also always waked very early on Crim race morning, typically awake by 4AM. I get dressed, have a pre-race breakfast then drive up to Flint (about an hour north) and arrive just as others begin to arrive to downtown Flint, including the sun! It’s a dark ride and I enjoy my running tunes while munching on energy food or playing chauffeur to some of my running friends also racing 10 miles.
  •  Then it’s to a parking space, which has varied over the years but seldom beyond a 100 ft radius.

Bill Robin Lee

  •  For the past 20 years or so I drive up to Flint late Friday afternoon to visit the race expo. Pick up my race bib, T-shirt, goody bag, and scope out the Expo. Until 2 years ago the Crim also had a vast array of Crim related merchandise for sale. Posters, hoodies, polo shirts, even chairs and umbrellas. But my favorite has always been the coffee mugs. I must have nearly every coffee mug sold for the past 20 years. Always tastefully designed with the creative artwork by a local artist. Unfortunately this sales area no longer exists. Apparently the Crim Foundation has instead delegated the sales of such items to a major running gear company, not happy.
  •  For many years my pre-race tradition on race morning has been to simply sit on the steps of the Citizens Bank Building which fronts the starting area and simply people watch. I have met people there that morning that I have not seen in decades!
  • The race itself has many numerous traditions, the weather conditions, the start, the course, the entertainment, and the finish line. Perhaps the best feature of the Crim finish are the frozen popsicles and cold wet paper towels racers receive after running a grueling 10 miles in hot, humid, hilly, and sunny conditions. Forget the cool heavy weighted finisher’s medal it’s all about the popsicles and other post race goodies at the finish line.
  •  In early August several years ago I was inspired to sit down and type out a mile by mile description of how to race the Crim course. I titled it “Touring The Crim Course”. It’s a stride by stride of how to strategically race the course and provide a preview of what to expect along the way. I re-issue this 8 page article with update. Ironically, I found my own description very helpful to me during the Crim races since.
  • Post finish line has its own separate traditions. It begins with lining up with other race finishers to receive a hot slice of pizza and a cold beer. Yes it’s probably only about 10AM but this is one morning this combo works.
  •  Just a few feet away from the end of the pizza and beer line tent is a drive way to the parking lot. I have been arranging to meet people at this point for years. Usually people from years ago. It’s also a great spot to simply sit and people watch even after the pizza and beer are long gone.
  •  Up until about 8 years ago that would have been the end of my Crim race day. For the past 8 years I have been a part of the Running Fit 501 Marathon Training group. Each summer we have 50-80 runners race the Crim. Each year we also form some form of team and compete in the Crim Race Team event or our own event. It has always been a fun post race party regardless of how well one raced that day.

501 Crim Start

  •  Ultimately it’s back home for that well deserved nap but that’s not the end of the Crim race day tradition! Up until about 4-6 years ago, you could relive that morning’s race on TV. The local Flint public TV station had perhaps the best race coverage of any race on TV anywhere, yes even including word class events such as the Olympics! WFUM’s team did an excellent job of not only covering the leaders and elites but also the common runners too. They would regularly cut away from the elite coverage and show the middle of the pack runners in live time. I remember seeing myself struggle up the Bradley Hills at the 5 mile mark one year. That shot taught me to look up when running uphill!
  •  The TV coverage is long gone only to be replaced by same day results on the web and many YouTube videos. It’s a different world.
  •  Other ancillary traditions include stopping at my mother’s house in Grand Blanc either the night before the race or post race on my return home. The last such visit was in 2004 as she passed from this life 10 months later. My sister who lives in Flint also sends me the pre and post race clippings from the Flint Journal. I still have many of those old clippings. Good thing because the Flint Journal is also a victim of the digital age.

So, what about that Christmas tradition I mentioned at the start of this lengthy post? Well, I suppose you could say the Crim race extends to the Christmas season in our house too. For the past 6 Christmases I decorate our tree with race medals from that year and medals from my most memorable races from prior years. So adoring the Christmas tree with my medals from the New York City, Boston, Detroit, and Raleigh, Marathons are many Crim medals from the current year and many years prior.

Christmas Tree 2013

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy piece. By the time this gets posted I will be heading up to Flint to perhaps start a new tradition by competing in this year’s USATF, Masters 1 Mile National Championship Race.

Run Happy.

Lee