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After race interview

Ya know it occurred to me that the interview in the local paper might not last forever on the Internet so I figured I could reproduce it here.

From the Capital Times

Mad City Marathon notes: Sunday best: Marathon suits him just fine

By Jason McMahon

With all the different events and age groups that make up the Mad City Marathon, more than 100 competitors could point to the results and call themselves winners on Sunday. Mostafa Kechmy was not one of them.

But he should have been. Kechmy, a 49-year-old from Kenosha, drew stares and laughs throughout his 13.1-mile trek through the half-marathon. The reason?

He ran the entire race wearing a suit.

“You’ve got to run in style,” Kechmy said. “I’m the first one in the formal division.”

Kechmy had no competition in that category, as the Casablanca, Morocco, native was certainly decked out in his Sunday best. He sported black pants and a black jacket – and a bow tie to boot.

“Why not? It’s a challenge,” Kechmy said. “I’m not running for time. It’s fun – that’s the main thing.”

Like Kechmy, Perry Romanowski found a way to stand out among a crowd of thousands by simply having fun. The 37-year-old from Chicago was one of the most recognizable runners on the course, as he spent his entire 26.2-mile stroll “joggling” – that’s jogging while juggling.

“The motion of running is about the same as juggling,” Romanowski said. “If you do it all in rhythm, there’s really no extras to slow you down. I always figure I’m never going to be the fastest runner, but maybe I can be the fastest juggler. I think today I won this one.”

Romanowski juggled three cube-shaped beanbags throughout his entire race, suffering his only drop two hours in. It’s an exercise he’s completed 19 times now, dating back to his first marathon in Chicago in 1996.

“I thought it would be funny to cross the finish line while juggling. Everybody does something,” Romanowski said. “But when I started, it was really crowded and I just started juggling at the beginning to entertain the runners around me. And then they were just daring me to do it the whole way.”

So he did. Then he found an article about “joggling” in Juggler’s World . Turns out there’s a world record for marathon joggling, and Romanowski wasn’t that far off.

He set about to break the mark, and came within two minutes (finishing last year’s Chicago Marathon in a personal-best 3 hours, 22 minutes). However, two jogglers shattered the mark at the Boston Marathon in April, including one who completed the race in 2:58.19.

Romanowski, who finished in 3:57 Sunday (146th overall), hopes to complete 44 marathons by his 44th birthday. After that, he has another wild idea.

“Someday I’m going to try to figure out how to swim and juggle and try to do the (Ironman) triathlon here,” Romanowski said. “That’s my goal.”

Scientific method: Sunday was a banner day for Madison’s running community, but it was also a bit of a showcase for the UW-Madison scientific community as well.

Defending champion Thomas Brunold, who finished third, is a UW chemistry professor. The heir to his crown, men’s winner Joe Kurian, is a Ph.D. student in toxicology. Women’s winner Kelley Hess is a grad student in astronomy. She followed two-time champ Becca Ward, who was a research specialist in the UW veterinary school.

“You sit in the office all day long or you sit in the lab and you’re either typing away on the computer or fiddling with test tubes. You’ve just got to get out and release a little stress,” Hess said. “Physical pain is one of the best ways to do it.”

Even Christopher Hess is connected, as he’s a UW medical student. He’ll be taking his board exam in a few weeks, and saw Sunday’s race exactly the way Kelley Hess did.

“I’m basically just studying for eight hours a day. I need a break,” Hess said. “It gets me out the door and gets me away from the book.”

Hinners works on her long game: The winner of the women’s 1-19 age group has already made a name for herself on the local sports scene, without ever running a step.

Middleton senior Heidi Hinners, a four-year state golf qualifier who will play for the Badgers next season, took up running as a hobby of sorts and found herself approaching marathon distances in her training runs this spring.

“I wanted to do something to get away from golf. I thought I’d give it a try,” Hinners said. “I’ll never be in this type of shape again. … Now’s the time.”

Hinners finished in 3:42:36, good for 80th place overall and eighth among all women. She said she struggled late in the race, but relied on a familiar pastime to get herself through the rough parts.

“Mile 20, I kind of hit the wall that everybody talks about,” Hinners said. “My dad told me to play golf, play a few holes in my head.”
Published: May 29, 2006

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