Zorinksy Lake Park | bill sitzmann
Four Decades of Running Together Make Active Group of Senior Athletes Some of Midwest’s Most Supportive
You’ll know them if you see them: 13 men, mostly in their 70s, lapping Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake. They’re The Running Men, and their group has been on the road together for more than 40 years.
“We run together on Saturday mornings, regardless of the weather,” says Bob Bruckner, a 75-year-old retired IT executive and part of the group of 13 runners.
“One of the guys has been running for 50 years, while another one has been running for only 19 years.”
For Omaha’s most senior ensemble of informal, amateur runners, a four-decade commitment to pounding the pavement may also make them the longest-running group of trailblazers in the region.
Logging 500 – 1,000 miles apiece annually, the grassroots alliance of executives first began running together in the late 1970s at the Downtown Omaha YMCA, when recreational jogging was an early fitness phenomenon, and mega-chain health clubs, such as 24-hour Fitness and LA Fitness, were yet-to-crest the health-craze horizon.
Tim Glover, age 74, is a retired IT executive and the group’s unofficial organizer, emailing the team with updates and running news, threading the runners together through years of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Of the current group, Glover says, “Some are retired, and some still work either full or part-time. Our common bond is a love for staying active and maintaining our health. We support each other and enjoy each other’s company.”
“We have all run marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. for charities. Some of the guys are triathletes, and have completed several Iron Man races,” Bruckner adds. “Most of us have experienced injuries (pulled muscles, torn ligaments, broken bones), as well as more serious problems: heart attacks, cancer, leukemia and asthma. We have supported each other through the difficult times, and celebrate our many victories in life.”
According to City of Omaha Parks and Recreation, running groups have good reason to choose Omaha as a recreational-training location. In Metro-Omaha alone, runners, enjoy more than 120 miles of paved trails, including the popular Keystone Trail, which boasts 25 miles of concrete track.
Glover says after meeting at the Downtown YMCA in the early days of their careers, and running over lunch hours throughout urban Omaha and Council Bluffs, the group transitioned to the Keystone Trail in the 80s and 90s, followed by Lake Zorinsky in the mid-1990s.
“There is great running in Omaha, from riverfront trails to lakeside paths and some unique spots near the city,” writes Kelsey Parrett, in Great Runs, ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Running in Omaha.’
“With so many cross-city trails to choose from, it’s easy to explore Omaha with nothing more than … a good pair of shoes,” she adds.
Mike Huggenberger, age 68, has been part of the informal Omaha group of running men for nearly 40 years. “We are accountants, bankers, lawyers, truck drivers, police officers, IT guys, and electricians. Most are now retired, some are getting close. We have done races all over the country and globe, experienced about every running injury imaginable, endured the scourge of cancer, and watched our kids grow up and have kids of their own,” he says. “But the most important thing is that over those four-plus decades, we have become great friends.”
While training is an integral part of the group’s goals, the athletes also typically meet for coffee following their Saturday-morning spins around the lake.
Glover says the group’s coffee conversation includes “everything from training tips to politics,” sometimes creating lively discourse.
“So, if you see a group of boisterous old guys at coffee, don’t be alarmed. They’ve been doing it for 40-plus years.”
With an average age of 68, and marathoners who have run the Omaha, Lincoln, New York, Chicago, Boston and Sidney, Australia marathons, it might seem this group of go-getters would have an elite agenda for inclusion.
“We have no formal organization or rules,” says Bruckner. “It’s pretty simple. If you show up, you run. If not, we run without you.”
Meet The Running Men
John Templeton, banker, years running: 38
Bob Bruckner, IT management executive, years running: 40
Tim Glover, IT tech executive, years running: 45
Greg Crisman, company owner, years running: 38
Mike Manna, voting tech executive, years running: 50
Mike Huggenberger, IT network executive, years running: 38
Bill Monahan, trucking executive, years running: 45
John Thurber, public utilities finance, years running: 34
Mike Cimino, Eletech owner, years running: 19
Larry Fasnacht, police officer, years running: 25
Dave McCann, transport/logistics executive, years running: 42
Steve Watson, attorney, years running: 30
Merl Harder, accountant, years running: 35
Big-time attractions. Outdoor recreation. An energy that flows easily between stimulation and relaxation.