It was early 2015. Team Runnin’ Not Walken had about 8 or 9 of our 12 spots filled. I reached out to Michael and his two brothers, Adam and Ryan via Facebook to see if he had an interest in joining us on this crazy Ragnar Relay adventure that we were going to be attempting for the first time. I reached out again a few weeks later and never heard anything back. Adam would join the team as a driver and Ryan would run with us as well.
Fast Forward to June of 2015 and the vans are all loaded and we’re pulling out of town and I looked at Adam and Ryan and ask, “so what’s Michael up to?” I never heard from him. They laughed and said who knows but it was probably a football related thing. Hilariously, within 20 minutes, I got a text from him….”Hey so that thing that Adam, Ryan, and you are doing, I see I have a Facebook message from you about it! I would have come if I had noticed it! Next year!” We all had a good laugh about it and off we went for that first Ragnar adventure.
True to his word, he hasn’t missed a year since and if it weren’t for that missed Facebook message, he’d be the only other runner, besides myself, who has run all 4 years so far and would be well over 50 total miles run for the team.
The cool part about Michael’s story with the team is that he was most definitely not a runner. He was athletic for his size but he wasn’t exactly “Tinker Bell” out there. Michael played started at center for an NCAA Division II football team. At his peak, he was all of 6’5 and 290 lbs. He didn’t exactly scream “runner” at that point. When he joined the team, he was done with football and dropping weight but I bet he was still every bit of 255 and maybe a tad higher. He only went out and ran 10:30 miles. Yes, he might have been a college athlete and a good 15 years younger than I was but I was running 10’s and I was 50+ pounds less.
What was remarkable too was that he showed up to Ragnar Chicago 2016 with literally no running gear. He had tshirts and shorts but he was running in his football shoes. That year was the hottest we’d ever ran in and due to his two-a-day experience it wasn’t a bit deal to him. He told me that if he felt like he needed to walk a bit, he did. There weren’t any coaches to yell at him around. He brought that easy going and fun feel to the team that year and ever since and it’s been a blast to see his evolution since.
2017 he ran again and performed even better as he threw some 9 minute miles in the mix but he trained even more for Ragnar Michigan and decided to get some running shoes and the results were flat out impressive. On his first 5k that he had to run, he averaged a 7:50. That was two miles at a shade over 8 minutes a mile and the last mile was all downhill, which resulted in a 7:03. I’m not sure what he’s weighing in at but all I can say is that he’s amazing to see out here as he’s cruising down the road.
His enthusiasm has only continued as he’s committed to running Ragnar Michigan and is working towards being in even better shape for this coming fall. Unlike several on the team who have decided to up their game by running a half marathon, Michael is aiming towards running the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in May! I’d say it’s safe to say he’s gotten the running bug and our team is better because he has and continues to join us for our crazy annual adventure.