Bob Davis was born in 1951 in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, the son of a high school physical education teacher who coached track and cross-country for thirty-eight years. Glenn Davis was National High School Track Coach of the Year in 1979, and cluttered a basement with an impressive array of athletic equipment to fire the wild imaginings of superstardom in his son. A college professor now himself, Bob earned a doctorate degree in organic chemistry the same year as his father's award. Bullied into a road race after twenty years of non-competitive running, Bob completed his first Connecticut town May 21, 1988, the Bethany Road Race, "a flat five mile that despite my high fitness and generously cooperative weather, I fervently believed would kill me before I finished." Two hundred-fifty awards and one thousand thirty-one races later, he completed the one hundred sixty-ninth and final town of Connecticut, Ashford, February 26, 2012, as a virtual run. It was to be his last race before suffering a major heart attack later in October. As the youthful illusions of grandeur faded, stress relief and a means of dealing with loneliness drove the obsession to run. It was easier to to be alone when truly alone, than alone among people. Ironically, as race participation blossomed, so too did lasting and genuine friendships. Life is what happens when we are making other plans. Conservatively, his knees register in excess of seventy-five thousand miles, three circumnavigations of the globe. His advice for fledgling racers, "Always remember that you are doing what only a fraction of one percent of the population is capable of doing. Regardless of your place finish, you have finished ahead of every one of them." He is in the final lap of completing a book describing the quest for the one hundred sixty-nine towns, entitled "Running in Circles".
Karen Rogers was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the youngest of two girls. Her father encouraged participation in sports at a very early age. Softball was played in the backyard of their home or at the playground down the street. At Norwich Free Academy, Karen participated in softball, basketball, archery, badminton, tennis and soccer which involved running up and down the field as a center. At that time of her life there was no such thing as track and field for women. These sports weren’t varsity sports at the college level either where she started running with a friend.
Her passion for running evolved after attending an early 1970’s workshop for her profession- Physical Education. Rhythmic Running was the title of the workshop and according to her, loved starting out slow and then sprinting. After that workshop she started running in her backyard where her father would cut the grass and announce,” Your track is ready!” She would run the periphery of the yard many times and then sprint down the middle of the yard. After getting a few “runner’s high’s", it led to a realization to continue her running out on the road. Her first official race was not until the Spring of 1979. It was the Midas 10K in Meriden. She recalls that she didn’t know a thing about pacing and started out sprinting with the 6-7 minute milers. After about a mile she had to slow down and averaged an 8-9 minute mile after that. She recalls her husband being there telling her to speed up at the end but in spite of it she managed to cross the finish line somewhat at the back of the pack. She continued to enter races locally with the intention of getting the T-shirts. Most of these T-shirts (300+) are in four quilts commemorating her first race, Connecticut races, Mount Washington Road race and marathons.
Throughout 4 decades of running and racing Karen has received many trophies, ribbons, plaques for each race distance she has entered in Connecticut (and Massachusetts). One highlight of her career has been placing in the Niantic Bay Half Marathon at the age of 60 and then a month later placing in the Cape Cod Marathon. “It was unimaginable dream come true!” according to her. Unfortunately, she left after running these races long before the awards were distributed. The ultimate highlight was racing in all 169 Connecticut towns. This goal was set in 1998 after racing in the Bunny Boogie in Darien. Tallying up the towns at that time yielded about 30, mostly shoreline and a few inland towns. She began to wonder how doable it would be to race in all 169 Connecticut towns. The determination and perseverance to race in all 169 Connecticut towns became very apparent after racing 50 races in one year- 1999. It became crystal clear for her that it was indeed the pathway to pursue this goal rather than running 50 marathons in 50 states. Her new goal provided her with a sense of fulfillment which, according to her , "Traversing this beautiful state allowed me to view the topography, architecture, history, meet many people and inspire people to run". Another highlight of Karen's running career was meeting others who had the same goal. The DEBTiCONN group was established a few years ago which has now morphed into the "Run 169 Town Society" of Runners/Racers with over thirty dedicated runners led by a King and Queen.
For Karen the mission/goal of racing in all 169 towns was accomplished in Ledyard, Connecticut with two other DEBTiCONN’s- Rich and Ben. Although a virtual run, the goal was completed on World Run Day, November 6, 2011. She has only six virtual races and looking to validate the towns of Andover, Bridgewater, Cornwall, Ledyard, Scotland and Sterling. When asked what her next goal is, the answer has been to bike around Connecticut. In the meantime, it is absolutely thrilling to see over thirty Society members coloring in their maps. She pledges to be there to support DEBTiCONN’s as the first Queen. Karen's advise that she passes on to her students is “Never, ever give up!!!!!!” Keep on being active whether it is running, biking, swimming, walking, dancing or all of the above!!!!! These are thoughts from a potential book Karen will be writing some day when she is not running/walking/biking……or working part-time.
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