Kidding Around for Kidneys

by Ken Willund and Nicholas Heller

On the Second Wind Running Club webpage, under the “Run with Us” (Weekly Events) section, the Lunch Run Group is detailed to run from campus during the noon hour. These self-described “Clowns” do more than just run. Sure the noon runs are beneficial to training, but for the past two years, they have been comedic relief and fundraisers during the Illinois Marathon.

Inspired by Dick Beardsley in 2017, they decided to dress in their best 1970’s and 80’s garb and run approximately a two-hour half marathon with and just-ahead of Dick to pump up the crowd and let them know that Dick was coming. Dick was so impressed and honored that he was planning to join in on the costume party this year, but he sustained an injury during the long winter. This wrinkle did not deflate the enthusiasm of the Noon Clowns - they even looked into ways that they could wheel Dick around the half marathon! ... but decided for the health and safty of everyone involved that this was not going to happen.

Ken Wilund is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health and initiated fundraising for kidney awareness and research. In addition to just asking for sponsors for the completion of the half-marathon in costume, hats were also created. Dick Beardsley, again, helped out with this vision and signed many of the “Beardsleys Bandits” hats to increase the donation received for these hats.

Named for the meeting spot, Fourth and Peabody Track Club Noon Runners have an email group also where meeting time is negotiated and stories are told. Ken has agreed to share some of his story here in hopes that many of you will also see the potential here and hopes that you will join in the party next year!

As many of you know, we often have written race reports describing our efforts, our splits… yada yada yada… following a big race. Often they include interesting tidbits about race strategies and whatnot. And sometimes a light-hearted yarn about an interesting adventure that may or may not have happened along the way. Well, my race reports have typically deviated from the norm. Mainly because I suck at marathons and virtually every one I have run has included some sort of disaster scenario. So this race report will be no different in many respects. Thankfully there were no disasters this time (well… except for Brent, and to a lesser degree, Patrick). Only pure bliss along the course, as I will BRIEFLY describe.

A long version exists, and can be shared upon request, but I think most of you will prefer the shorter version. Either way, I hope you enjoy. We certainly did.

The Clown Posse Race Report

I think everyone is at least generally familiar with what went down during the race. The retro-70’s thing, mullets, gold chains for winners, singing with the bands, slamming beers and jello shots and margaritas…. Watching an alien invade John Popovich’s Body, turning him into a Prefontaine dance machine, etc. Next year I am wearing my Garmin to track the actual distance we ran. Technically we were creditedwith a ½ marathon, but with all of the sprints to the sidewalks, porches, and band stages…. It had to be a minimum of 14 to 15 mile course. But regardless of how far we ran, it was pure bliss the whole way. I BEG everyone to join us next year. If we go 20+ strong…. No telling how much havoc we will reap, how much fun we will have, and how many more memories we will make. Instead of talking more about it… I think a few highlight pictures tell a better story.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of In Passing.