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Discussion: Duluth winter 1971-72

in: Bags

Feb 7, 2021 5:49 AM # 
See it is now 17 below and WC is 42! That sounds like a lot of nights from the winter of 71-72. And to think I ran in a tee shirt, shorts and a stocking cap...haha...times 10. :-0 :-)
Feb 7, 2021 11:28 AM # 
Both the above temps have dropped 4 more degrees. Even the winter of 71-72 this temp and WC would have been tough. I also read where the WC factoring may have been adjusted and those WC's would be rated a little 'warmer' than maybe -46 today would be -50 although I did run in some -50's. Can't remember how many times. No fancy Gore Tex, etc. Windbreaker to block the wind and I guess some type of cheap rain pants...and of course layers of cheap cotton sweats. Wore face mask that would have a frozen block of spit on my chin by the time I got done. Ran around 1200 miles that winter but don't remember the 'official dates' for that as compared to summer of 71.

I've probably told/written this story more than most old geezer's I hate to waste a good story so here goes for the 1,114, 321st telling.

Got caught in a blizzard once (that winter of 71-72) and it taught me to think about the direction of the wind. Had my head up my butt in those days about a lot of things like kids of every generation do. I ran out 4 miles towards the Mesabi Ave area. It was a blizzard that would not let up and may have gotten worse as I ran but I was doing fine...UNTIL I turned. The wind hit me and my sweat chilled and I had 4 miles to run back home with a steep uphill for I guess a mile at least. By the time I got to the back part of base housing the gravel road into the neighborhood (just a few hundred yards then back to paved again was covered about a foot deep or more with snow that was frozen on top.

You could not 'run'. It was step, pause, punch through, step, etc. Luckily it was just that little stretch that was like that. My parents thought I was buried in a snow drift somewhere. My dad was just about to go over to one of the Chaplin's homes and borrow their snow mobile even though he had no idea what direction I had gone.

I acted like it was nothing but I will always remember (well maybe the geezer brain will erase this memory someday) that feeling of dread and at little a little concern if not fear when I turned around into the wind and felt like a total idiot. I faced 4 miles into the wind and uphill of varying steepness until the last quarter mile or so.

My eyes were freezing shut at times. I had to pull my gloves off and melt the ice off my eyelashes. I was sure I would be a eyelashless freak the rest of my life and never marry or have a date. Okay I may have embellished the marrying and date part...but I did think I was probably losing some eyelashes and luckily I didn't.
Feb 7, 2021 6:40 PM # 
Is that when your parents forbade you to go running anymore, and you snuck out the window and ran 24 miles?
Feb 7, 2021 8:11 PM # 
No. You should know the stories of the Bagwellington Phantom Runner are endless and very very long. In the historical account above I ran 8 miles. That run was in the middle of the winter of 71-72, but I do not remember the timing/day of the 8 mile snow run.

In the story you reference I ran way less than 24 miles, but let me diverge to another story before I answer your question. One dark, cold night I ran around 27 miles from your house to Jay's house out in Hermantown or Proctor? It was a small house.

It was late, dark and I was exhausted when I got to Jay's rural neighborhood. At first I could not remember which one was his house. I think I saw his car parked out front and it was like 1am but the details are foggy.

I don't know if I've ever told you this part of that story or if you remember. In later years I came to believe that Koski had played me for a fool that time. You were going to drive me to Jay's. You came up with this wild idea of my running to Jay's instead (thus saving you a long drive). I would not be surprised if you laughed at me for a week as you closed the door. You had pulled my strings and suddenly I was 100% sure if I ran that super workout I would be a Gold Medalist in Olympics.

So out I went into the dark running from your house to Jays. I think part of that route was along Skyline drive but am foggy about the exact route or where Jay lived at the time.

I guess that epic long run would have been fall of 75 before we reported to the USAF in San Antonio? I've lost track of when that mythical long run happened. It was not while in HS because I was running to Jay's place. I don't remember any snow so must have been around November of 75?


The sneak out and run story was at the beginning of the winter Of 71-72 (November?) I believe the temp was something like 15 degrees. Mom being raised an Okie forbade me to run that night as I was certain to freeze my lungs and die.

But let me digress. I was born 9/10/1955 on Rantoul AFB, Illinois so my parents had lived in cold weather then. While living there my dad had his new Buick destroyed by a fire truck that hit him at a blind intersection, probably on Rantoul AFB, due to how high the snow was piled up at the time...1955, 56?.

NOW FOR SURE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION...if you even remember what you asked by now.

So back to that night. I was not a rabble rouser but I knew the winter would be colder than 15 degrees plenty of times (but had no idea of all the 20 below temperatures with WC's in the 20 to 50 below range several times) so I had to do something to salvage my changes at Olympic glory.

My room was the basement and it had these below ground window wells with windows that leaned in or out maybe. Anyway I was small enough to squeeze out. I ran 3 miles in about 11:42... a never ratified world record. Unfortunately my mom had felt the cold air and finding I was gone had locked the window. It seemed I was doomed to die after all. Entering the front door I was sure my existence was about to end painfully; however, my mom noted I was alive and well so she conceded her crushing defeat in the battle of wills over running in the cold. Thus I was able to continue running during what was a pretty bad winter even for Duluth and ran around 1200 miles.

I'm sure it's a still standing world record for anyone that went to Central HS...or at least top 5. Could there have been anyone crazy enough to run more miles than that during the winter? I don't know when the exact time frame for the winter miles or the exact amount but it was 1200 something I believe.

Long enough answer? :-)
Feb 8, 2021 2:16 AM # 
First, I can't believe I would ever try to trick you into running that far out of sheer maliciousness! Where did I live?? Was Jay home?

I could've sworn that you went out that one night in question and did three laps up to the base and back for 24 miles. In fact, I have told that story many times. Oh well...
Feb 8, 2021 3:40 AM # 
I might have run 3 times to base but I don't remember it and it was not the night I snuck out to defy my mom's wishes. Koski it was 4 miles to the base. I used to run home from the base commissary carrying my money in a silver insulated bag that we would put ice cream in to prevent it from melting. It was studier than regular paper bag and it held up to my sweating. I would run in the clothes I had worked in bagging groceries for tips (no wage at all).

I do not know what made me do this other than I held Don Jackson in awe, but I stopped at his house twice and talked to his brother Steve I believe. Both times I talked a lot.

The house was about halfway between the base and the housing area we lived in. Later as I pondered on this and I was sure Steve must have thought I was insane for stopping to talk like that. I have no idea what I could have talked to him about. Maybe it didn't bother him at all. I hope so but I bet he was going nuts thinking of a way to get me out of the house both visits. Ironically Don was not there either time. But the first or second time I talked with Steve it came up about my running by and the odd ching, ching sound they heard. I told him it was my money from working, including lots of coins. This solved a great life mystery for the Jackson family.

Koski...a round trip would be 8 miles and 3 times 8 is 24. I just don't remember if I ever did a workout like that...maybe I did. Even though sometimes I seem to remember a lot of details about the past I also have come to realize how much I do not remember and occasionally by some odd means I figure out an old memory that I have is wrong or distorted in some way.

As far as the legendary story about running 24 miles...let me say this. In the John Wayne movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance he (John Wayne's character) had died. Jimmy Stewart plays and old friend who is a Senator and is attending the funeral. He tells a newspaper editor how John Wayne actually shot Liberty Valance and saved his (Stewart's life) but Stewart was credited with killing the slime ball character (played by Lee Marvin) and became a hero and was elected to the Senate because of that. Anyway this editor is disappointed and says when the truth does not live up to the legend...print the legend.

So I only ran 1/8th as far as you said in your telling of that story...hundreds of times no doubt. Maybe one of the other stories above will be a weak replacement. I appreciate hearing you told that story so many times. And the story is in the spirit of how crazy I was running all those miles summer and winter.

As far as the 27 or so mile run I'm not saying you were malicious sending me out into the dark...I've done this with other memories too...where I get some weird thought about the past. Since you don't think you did I believe you. You probably just came up with the idea and I enthusiastically latched onto it and had nothing to do with not wanting to drive me to Jay's.

I ran about 30 miles once in Austin Tx when I was stationed there. I went out for a long run, but I had not clocked the route and it was WAAAYYY longer than I thought. I'm not sure how long I thought it was but it took something like 4 or 5 hours and I had nothing to drink. During that run I ran by a business with a chain-link fence. There were 2 or 3 guard dogs chained up and even with the chain-link fence the sound of those chains rattling as they barked at me was not too pleasant.

My longest run was probably when I dropped out about mile 31 or so in that 50 miler you ran so well in. I wished I had just went into a walk jog routine and finished so I could say I ran a whole 50 miler and I would have a time (though I might not remember it). As far as memory...I am pretty sure I started 13 marathons and finished 9 of them but I can't remember all of them anymore. I may have a log somewhere with that info I'll stumble across some day. AND I might even find that 24 mile workout in it!

Well you've gone and done it. I'll be clawing my way through my mind trying to remember if I ever ran 24 miles back and forth to the base...I just know if I did it was not when I defied my mom. That was a 3 mile loop. I just googled that route...from Kelly Circle out to Arrowhead, down Rice Lake Road and in the back way on Barnes (gravel street then that I believe is paved now) and back to the house. I won't try to figure out if that was/is 3 miles I just remember it as 3 miles.

I don't know why I've told these running stories. I guess running 12 miles triggered some brain chemicals that caused me to ramble on even longer than usual...Koski...or should I call you...Steve.
Feb 9, 2021 12:02 AM # 
I only have a minute here, but ...
Jackson: I tried once years ago, pre-internet, to track down Don Jackson. No luck really. But I did hear the he was waaaay out of shape, living in FL, maybe drank a lot and had not contacted his family in years. Maybe I ran into Steve someplace...

24 Miler: I'm sure you did it, in HS. Why else would I know the details? Although I did think it was the sneak out night.

50 miler: walking really wasn't an option for us in those days

Good job on the 12 miler! I'm going to try to get out for a longer run this week. It's pretty damn cold though... not getting above zero at all.
Feb 9, 2021 1:27 AM # 
Now it's 'cold' Okie's it's almost like what you guys have up there. I can handle most cold but I'm worried about traction tomorrow.

Man did you nail the comments...right on point and waaaaayyyy shorter an answer than I would have written. I thought someone told me Don Jackson was dead. What's weird about me stopping by his house is I do not remember him being overly friendly to me. I'm crazy I guess.

I'm convinced you are right on the 24 miler. There is a tiny little buzz in the back of my brain as the nanites are trying to piece together some old discarded brain cells. I probably was keeping a log then. I have old logs but I'm not sure what they are...I have not looked at them in decades. Not sure why.

Dead on with the walking comment regarding finishing the 50M. But I wished I could go back and try to convince myself before I got in the car to walk some. Not sure what I could say but would like to give it a shot. Where's a time wormhole when you need it?

At one point a few days ago the WC was about 60 degrees different between here and there. I guess old man winter decided to come south. I have a 5 mile route that I can run on grass...but this morning the grass had ice on it while the sidewalks just had a few spots versus the bridge I mentioned that was ice for 35 yards.

Some of the really good runners have no interest of dropping back to the pack. Like Robert de Castello of Australia. 2:07 WR but he does stuff like kung foo or maybe karate and I don't think runs much at all...probably in good shape but not running shape. Bjorklund. I would have thought he might at least stay in shape. Guess they left it all on the track and roads.

Well my reply is longer than yours. If only some quality to go with my ultra long writing 'ability'. :-)

Stay safe up there. Watching the logs up there to see who does what. Hardcore had a nice run at 5 below according to his log.
Feb 9, 2021 1:41 AM # 
I keep rereading a lot of the above. I was too harsh when I said playing me for a fool...I meant more in a teasing way but probably you just threw the idea out and I was the one that latched onto it. No big deal. It is 3rd on my all time longest runs training or racing.

Jay was home but I can remember all the details anymore. Where you lived: it was not the 1007 address. It was probably then that your dad read one of my stories. Can't remember which one. Can't remember what he thought of it but you might have said he laughed a lot. I do remember he had the theory if you could run a mile then just run two miles the next day and then 3 miles the next day...or something like that. I guess you could run 365 miles on Dec 31st!

I really do wish that something would turn up on Randy Tyo. Also his little brother seemed to have disappeared too according to one of his sisters, Connie, who visited me and Chrissy out in Sacramento. I googled Stan Niemi and I found by odd coincidence there was one in Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. That is where we went to church. He was listed as a pastor. If it wasn't him then that was odd coincidence a Stan Niemi was there.
Feb 9, 2021 2:07 AM # 
Looks like forecast lowered temps this weekend through Monday highest is 13 and gets to below zero at night. Time to go to Hawaii.
Feb 9, 2021 2:50 AM # 
My dad's theory was that you go out the door and run as fast as you can as long as you can. The next day do it again. And you'll just keep going farther and farther. Based on the myth of Milo and the ox.

So I just searched fb for Don Jackson/Duluth MN and found this:
It looks like him. About the same age.
Feb 9, 2021 6:13 AM # 
See how things get distorted...I knew it was something about running further everyday. I don't know if you would make much money on the book: My Secret To Running Fast by Coach Koski.

Page 1 Chapter one: The Secret
Go out and run as fast as you can as long as you can.
Page 2 Chapter two: The Secret Continues
See chapter one.
Page 3 Chapter three: You Get The Idea
If you haven't figured it out by now please review chapter one again.

The End.

Supplemental material: The book seems short so let me refer you to Attackpoint.Org. Read the log of BAGS and that should keep you busy for a few weeks. Feel free to look at the other logs also.

Reference material:

1. Interview with Coach Koski father of Jess Koski.
2. Attackpoint log of Bags.
Feb 9, 2021 6:20 AM # 
Don Jackson. I only have the 71-72 yearbook so I have a picture of Steve Jackson but not Don. I would not know by looks if that was Don as I remember he had dark hair and the face does not ring a bell. If that it is him he looks in better shape overall than I would have expected. If you say it is him then I'll go with that. Thanks!

Checked friends list and see all the Minnesota connections including Duluth. No Steve Jackson though. There was a Bagley. Of the Bagley Nature Area family no doubt. :-)

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