Steve’s Run never gets old for GunnPublished 12:29pm Monday, July 22, 2013
For 71-year old Ron Gunn, Steve’s Run never gets old.
For 39 years, Gunn has been the race director and during that time the event went from a modest competition to a special race.
When he moved to Dowagiac in the 1960’s, Gunn noticed a lack of races for runners in the area. He started a road and trail race in the summer, while also serving as the Dean of Sports Education at Southwestern Michigan College.
In 1967, Gunn became good friends with SMC President David Briegel.
Years later, a tragedy brought Gunn and the Briegel family even closer. In 1990, David’s son-Steven-lost his fight against cancer. Steven was an SMC honors graduate.
Gunn had an idea when it came to remembering Steven.
“I wanted to do something,” said Gunn. “After a two-year hiatus, I wanted to resurrect the road and trail race. David bought into the idea. What started out as just a road and trail race has evolved into something special. Steven’s symbolic for this race.”
The race, which is now held in downtown Dowagiac, is in memory of Steven Briegel and brings attention to cancer and people affected by the terrible disease.
Steve’s Run will take place this Saturday at 9 a.m. (EDT.). All funds raised from the event will be donated to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Research Fund and/or the Steven Briegel Scholarship Fund.
To register, you can go online at: Steve’s Run. The cost is $25 for the 10K run and $20 for the 5K run or 5K walk. For more information email: Steve’firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Everybody knows somebody affected by cancer,” Gunn said. “People are fighting cancer and this run is in honor of those beautiful people. This event is very special and emotional.”
People can buy fire-up signs to line the course. Those $5 signs salute cancer survivors or are in memory of victims.
A representative from the Mayo Clinic comes down every year for the race.
“In the last 20 years there’s been such huge strides in cancer research,” Gunn said. “It’s not just treatable, but curable.”
Each year, 1,300 to 2,000 people compete in the race, which has a mix of talent and ages. College and high school runners compete in the race to prepare themselves for the coming season.
Last year, Notre Dame cross country teammates John Shawel and Jeremy Rae finished one and two in the 10K run. Mishawaka (IN.) High School standout runner Anna Rohrer was the top female in the 10K race. Rohrer won the national title at the 2012 Foot Locker Championships in San Diego, California. She’s also the defending state champion in cross country.
“She’s not expected to run in the race this year,” Gunn said about Rohrer. “She has another commitment. But, sometimes, things change.”
David Briegel and his wife Camille will be competing in the special event for their son.
“I joke with David not to let a tree pass him,” Gunn said. “His wife is much faster.”