Club History: The Early Years

The hardy stalwarts of the Windsor Road Running Group. This ever-changing group was the original nucleus of what is now the Second Wind Running Club.Front row, are (from left) Gene Wicks, Bill Marble, and Dennis Lewis.Standing, from left, are Anne Jordan, Tom Jordan, Jim Acheson (absent but there in spirit), Tony Peresinni, Bruce Winter, Paul Quinlin, and Bob Van Auken. (photo 1985)


Back in the early 70's those who considered themselves to be beginners and fun runners would meet regularly at the University of Illinois' Huff Gym at noon for a run on the South farms. . . . They ran outside all winter long despite the ice and the wind chill, and during the summer they would run at noon during the peak of heat and humidity. They didn't know any better and it didn't seem to bother them. It was during this time and these runs that there was half-serious talk about starting a social running group-and in fact they probably formed it unknowingly at that time but did not formalize it with a name. The group always had lunch and beer together (usually at Murphy's Pub) after the Friday run and nearly always met at Windsor Road and Winchester Drive in southwest Champaign on Sunday morning for a 20-mile run. . . . This camaraderie was, and is, the basis for the club we now have. During the next several years discussion was given to formalizing a Second Wind Running Club, but no real impetus emerged. No one was ready to do the work necessary to plan organizationally, elect officers, and coordinate club activities. For reasons not one hundred percent definable the time was right in the summer of 1983. The Sunday morning Windsor Road running group, containing several "original" Second Wind club participants, had grown and now included with some regularity Tony Peressini, Tom Jordan, Pat Dorsey, Jim Yost, Paul Quinlin, Marvin Brombaugh, Mac Lusk, Gene Pitcher, Leo Ochs, Mike McMahon, Al Morris, and Dennis Lewis. The group wanted to use the camaraderie that existed between them to establish an area running club. On August 22, 1983, an initial meeting was held to determine interest. From that meeting a second meeting was planned on August 28 at Tom and Anne Jordan's home. Many area runners were invited and those who attended elected officers, set club objectives, and paid charter member dues. A regular monthly meeting date was established. During the first year the club was very well received and surpassed expectations by attaining 99 members by August 1984 (including Dr. George Sheehan's paid membership in April). Seems he calls his professional corporation Second Wind. During the first year the club held a Halloween costume fun run, hosted a Christmas Party, established regular monthly speakers at meetings, became responsible for the First National Bank First Run 10K, organized a group trip to the Indy half marathon, established weekly Tuesday Night Fun Runs, published a popular monthly newsletter, held a first annual picnic, and in general provided the ground work for the organization to grow and continue to serve the area runners.From "In the Beginning: A Recollected History of the Second Wind Running Club" by Gene Wicks and Dennis Lewis (originally published in the Second Wind newsletter In Passing, November 1985) An Early Second Wind RaceNearly 500 runners and walkers participated in the Champaign-Urbana Stroh's Run for Liberty 8K race in October 1985. Race Director and Second Wind member Dave Cobb (left) and the ever-present Mike Lindemann of Body n' Sole await runners at the finish line in downtown Champaign. A few years later Cobb would be the co-creator of the Allerton Park Trail Run.The First Allerton Trail Run"As the race directors awoke at 4 a.m. they looked out of their respective homes to see rain coming down in buckets. Gloom suddenly covered the race and there was even consideration of canceling the run." Those are the words of Allerton Park Race Director Dave Cobb in the November/December 1988 issue of In Passing as he and co-director Roland Kehe, both Second Wind members, faced the first Allerton Trail Run on Sunday, October 23, 1988. The race went on as planned, drawing 343 runners. Another Allerton Race Director, Grear Kimmel, wrote in 1993: "The idea [of having a race at Allerton] was such a good one, and such a natural, it's amazing no one thought of it earlier. . . . So why didn't someone start a race out there long ago? We don't know. And neither did Dave Cobb and Roland Kehe when they decided it was time to invent the race." At the inaugural Allerton race, Jim Acklin of Ogden was the overall winner in 30:49. Second Wind's Jan Seeley was the top woman finisher in 38:20. Masters winners were Merlin Anderson of Normal, IL (33:04) and Second Wind's Leslie McClintock (40:22). The first 5.5-mile Allerton trail race, now one of the premier races in the Midwest, had at its conclusion a fantastic food spread, a tradition that continued at last fall's 12th running of the event, when a horde of nearly 700 runners were fed.

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