21 runners have gone the distance to preserve Crim 10-mile streaks
Provided by Flint Journal
FLINT, Michigan — In 1986, Tim Parker was sitting in a bar in Washington state, resigned to missing the Crim 10-Mile Road Race for the first time.
It was already race week. Parker was 2,200 miles from Flint and unprepared to run 10 miles. His Crim streak looked like it would end at nine years.
“I’d just gone through a divorce, didn’t have much money, hadn’t trained at all,” recalled Parker, now 50, who ran the inaugural Crim as a 16-year-old Grand Blanc High School student.
“I was sitting in a bar, saying I’d been doing it for 10 years. This girl leaned over and said, ‘You can do it.’ All of a sudden the bell is going like it’s ‘Rocky.’ I walked six miles to a bus stop, rode a bus three days and ran in a monsoon.”
That was Parker’s closest call during his Crim streak. He’s run 34 Crims and is heading into the 35th anniversary race at 8 a.m. Saturday in downtown Flint.
There are 21 men who have participated in every Crim. Nineteen of them, including Parker, have finished the race every year.
They have scheduled surgeries and family weddings around the race to maintain their streaks. Many have overcome health problems, as they age.
Lance Dunbar of Linden has never come close to missing the Crim, but said, “I always had a fear I might oversleep or something.”
The number of runners who have done every Crim is higher than many major races that started during the first running boom in the 1970s.
Only one runner has done every Cherry Blossom 10-mile race in Washington, D.C., which started in 1973. The Falmouth (Mass.) 7-mile race (1973) and the Bix 7-mile race in Davenport, Iowa (1975) have only five such runners. There are 16 men who have run the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K in Grand Rapids all 34 years. The Utica (N.Y.) Boilermaker 15K has 14 runners who have done every race in its 34-year history.
Shorter races tend to have more “perennials,” runners who have participated since the beginning.
The Lilac Bloomsday 12K in Spokane, Wash., started the same year as the Crim, with 104 runners from an original field of 1,197 finishing every year.
The Bolder Boulder 10K in Boulder, Colo. started in 1979, most recently had 68 finishing every one from an original field of 2,200 finishers.
“Distance will affect numbers,” said Clio’s Riley McLincha, who has finished every Crim. “Half marathons will have less perennials than a 10K.”
McLincha said one factor that has kept a relatively large group intact is that the Crim began recognizing such runners after 10 years.
Their names are painted on the mile markers. They get an early start, special T-shirts and recognition during the pre-race pep rally.
“I’m sure many of us would have dropped out many years ago had we not been given such celebrity status,” McLincha said.
Former Flint resident Terry Heany travels every year from Syracuse, N.Y. to maintain his streak and visit family members and friends.
As the fastest runner in the group, Heany has the unique experience of running alone at the front of the Crim for about two miles before being swallowed up by the elite runners who start a few minutes later.
“It’s very peaceful and quiet,” said Heany, who finished last year’s Crim in 1:22:45. “When they do go by you, it’s sort of like a pack of hummingbirds going by you. They’re not talking. Those guys are focused. All you hear is the pitter-patter of their shoes barely touching the road. I try to get out of their way.”
The runners who have finished every Crim are: Dunbar, Heany, McLincha, Parker, Mark Bauman of Flushing, Ray Fielder of Burton, Jim Forshee of Ann Arbor, Tim Giles of Flushing, Charles Jackson of Flint, Eric Jones of Flint, Ray Knott of North Carolina, Thomas LeGalley of Davison, Tom Martin of Flushing, Daniel Miglin of Tennessee, Bob Nelson of Flushing, Dave Sanders of Swartz Creek, Mike Vance of Flint, Darrell McKee of Harrison Township and Norman Werth of Columbiaville.
The two runners who have participated in every Crim, but have not finished the race every year are Phil Shaltz of Flint and Kenn Domerese of Flint. Shaltz passed out at the nine-mile mark during the sweltering inaugural race and Domerese did only the first two miles last year while recovering from a heart attack.