Twenty (or so...) Questions with Mike Lindemann

By Bruce Butler

This month we were lucky to catch up to our two Twenty (or so) Questions interviewees – Mike Lindemann and Jan Seeley. First up is Mike Lindemann. Most of us know him as a co-owner of Body n’ Sole Sports, starting in 1979. He is also a charter member of Second Wind Running Club. He is married to Liz and together they have three daughters – Laura, Allie, and Rachel. He is also the Head Basketball coach of the Parkland women’s basketball team, and has been for the past four seasons (you may remember they had a deep run in the national tournament last year!). Additionally, he has directed the Champaign County Freedom 4th of July Race for the past 20 years. Of course, right now he is performing his duties as codirector of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon coming up in April. If all of that is not enough, read on!  

1. How did you get involved in running an event like the Illinois Marathon instead of running a race like the Illinois Marathon?

Jan Seeley and Mark Knutson came to me because ever since the Freedom Marathon at Allerton Park, I always had a route that I thought would be fun to race through Champaign-Urbana.

2. Do you have a mentor that has helped make you a better race director?  

Jan Seeley. She helps me keep track of all the little details that need to be covered to make the Illinois Marathon successful. Whenever we have a request from sponsor, volunteers, or runners, “no” is never an option.  

3. What’s the best advice you ever received?  

Never rest on last year’s race. Make the next one better.  

4. Do you get tired of people asking, joking or whining about the weather on race day?  

Not really. It (the weather) is always the race director’s fault!  

5. What are 3 things every Illinois Marathon runner, from 5k to 26.2, should know?  

1. The volunteers are the best you will see in any race. 2. Enjoy the moment. 3. Don’t show up 5 minutes before the race.  

6. What parameters were considered when setting up the course? Was Memorial Stadium the only spot you really wanted to have the race finish?  

We wanted to showcase the whole community of Urbana, Champaign, and the U of I, without crossing any railroad tracks. And Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center offered the most parking, and the Stadium Finish was an added bonus.  

7. What is the most frequently asked question?  

Toilets – toilets and toilets  

8. What is your occupation and how do you fit being a Co-Director of the Illinois Marathon around it?  

Co-owner of Body n’ Sole. My first race directing job was for the Christie Clinic Run for the Health of It (25 years ago, before becoming the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon), and I also directed the last Freedom Marathon at Allerton Park in 1982.  

9. How has the Illinois Marathon changed the running scene in Champaign County?  

Plus side: More active people in community, more healthier people in community. Negative side: There are too many races now.  

10. What is the best selling Illinois Marathon merchandise?  

Quarter-zip pullovers and beer mugs  

11. I watch the relationship you have with your co-director and it seems the two of you get along extremely well. Has it been that way since day one?  

Yes, Jan has always understood, for the most part, my half sentences. I go from one topic to the next before I finish the first topic.  

12. Besides agreeing to do this interview, what’s been the biggest mistake or learning moment as the Race Director?  

Two years ago, when we made the call (along with city officials) to call off the 2014 Illinois Marathon. We learned so much of what to do or not do, hopefully we will never need to use it.  

13. Since you are also a runner in addition to being the Co-Race Directors, here’ a few running questions. What’s the worst running injury you’ve had?  

I am currently running on a right knee replacement. 14. What is your typical weekly mileage? 20 miles per week  

15. What’s your go-to shoe right now?  

Asics Kayano  

16. What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in a race?  

When I ran a P.R. in the St. Louis Marathon, maybe November of 1983, last 10K took me 45 minutes. I guess at some point I should have taken some water.  

17. Can you get yourself out the door without a group or running partner?  

Yes, I enjoy running alone.  

18. Which PR are you most proud of?  

St. Louis Marathon 2:42  

19. Since running in the Illinois Marathon is not possible, what races do you look forward to participating in?  

Any race that is out of town, that people don’t know me.  

20. And lastly, describe a perfect April 21-22, 2017?  

22,000 people – Not one negative comment, 22,000 smiles!

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of In Passing.