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MOPS run brings father, son together

Staff writer

For the past three years, Drew O’Neill has been running long distances competitively, and Rick O’Neill has been tagging along.

Drew was the first to cross the finish line of the Run For Your Momma half marathon race — 13 and a half miles — Saturday at Marion County Lake. The 22-year-old finished the race with a time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, which was a new personal best.

Drew wasn’t done running. He met his father Rick, who was also running the race, at the last water station and accompanied him for the last mile of the race.

Rick, 53, ran competitively during his 20s and 30s, but he hadn’t raced for 15 years before Drew started participating in the sport. Now, half marathons and marathons give the father and son team a chance to do something together.

Races give the O’Neills an opportunity to bridge the distance between them; Rick lives in Salina, where Drew grew up, but Drew lives in Prairie Village.

The O’Neills are often at opposite ends of a race.

“What I do isn’t called racing anymore; it’s called running,” Rick said.

But, father and son both love running for the same reasons. Both Drew and Rick mentioned that running gives them a feeling of calm. Racing also gives them a challenge.

“It’s cool to do something, when there are other people who can’t,” Drew said. “It puts everything in perspective.”

Drew has been running a race once a month to eventually build up to running the Quad Cities Marathon Sept. 26 in Moline, Il.

There’s a good chance Rick will be there running with his son.

Other competitors

The oldest competitor in the half marathon was also training for a marathon, although he isn’t quite as confident about his chances of finishing a 26-mile race.

“A marathon is two half marathons back to back,” Ray Grundmyer Jr. said. “Maybe, I could have gone another 4 miles today.”

Grundmeyer, 73, of Wichita said he has run many half marathons but has never run a marathon.

“The least I can do is run one marathon,” Grundmeyer said. “I had a friend who turned 70. He ran 70 miles on his 70th birthday.”

Grundmeyer is preparing for the Prairie Fire Marathon Oct. 10 in Wichita. He uses a technique where he runs for 10 minutes and then walks for a minute repeatedly.

Grundmeyer is originally from New Orleans but moved to Wichita because his son Ray Grundmeyer III is a neurosurgeon in Wichita.

Grundmeyer is originally from a different state. Two runners were originally from a different country.

Mikael Sarrazin and Oliver Harasse finished second in the half-marathon relay. They work for Airbus in Wichita, but are originally from Toulouse, France.

A bigger turnout than expected

Fifty contestants signed up for races on Saturday, 30 just for the half marathon.

“We had a fantastic turnout,” Carlson said. “It was definitely a pleasant surprise.”

The proceeds from the event go to Mothers of Preschoolers of Marion County.

Despite having more runners than expected, event organizers received rave reviews from participants.

Drew O’Neill said the course was well marked and he appreciated the abundance of volunteers on the track providing drinks.

Grundmeyer said there were more than enough aid stations.

“It was a really well organized race,” Grundmeyer said. “It’s one of the best half marathons that I’ve been to.”

Results

Half marathon

50 and older, women: 1. Marlys Plett, Hillsboro; 3. Robin Davies, Marion.

3200-meter run

12 and younger, women: 1. Mary Leihy, Hillsboro. Men: 2. Devin Soyez, Marion.

13 to 18, women: 1. Rebekah Basore, Burdick. Men: 1. Jordan Hett, Marion; 2. Nicholas Davies, Marion.

19 to 35, men: 1. Kyle Hett, Marion; 3. Roman Hofer, Marion.

36 to 50, women: 3. Toni Ottensmeier, Marion.

51 and older, women: 1. Brenda Rhodes, Marion. Men: 1. Greg Bowers, Marion; 2. Jim Christensen, Marion.

Last modified Aug. 19, 2010

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