20 Years and Running
Featured Runner: Mike Znak
Mike Znak says one of his “best investments “in life was taking up running. He and his family moved to Red Deer in 1996 where he continued his engineering career with Alberta Transportation. Little did he realize when he joined the Red Deer Runners that long distance running would soon become a passion and lifestyle. With the encouragement of his “new running friends” he joined the Woody's Training clinic and ran his first marathon (age 46) at Woody’s in May, 1999. Over the next 10 years, he ran 20 marathons. Fast forward to May, 2018 and Mike plans to complete his 20th Woody's event.
When he is taking part in this year's run, his thoughts will be of the recent tragic loss to one of his running colleagues, Jeff Strong. Jeff and Mike ran together for the entire Full Marathon at the 10th anniversary of the Woody's race in 2008. This happened to be the same year Bill Neilson ran his 100th which was a historic day that many local runners will remember).
Mike’s two favorite races are the Woody's RV World Marathon RV Woodys and the Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay. Both are well organized, have wonderful volunteers, and beautiful settings where runners can connect with nature and the scenic environment. Mike says he always ran hard at the Relay because he did not want to let down his “senior” buddies on the Central Alberta Masters Team. Of the 22 marathons Mike has completed, he says while many races have something unique to offer, Chicago is his favorite. 40,000 runners participate, and the route takes people through Chicago’s vibrant and historic neighborhoods along the River and Lake. The City strongly supports the race and the energy and excitement generated by the 1.7 million spectators along the entire route is very motivating.
Mike plans to continue his running journey. On his bucket list is to complete the five Abbott World Marathon Majors. He has run Boston, New York, Berlin and Chicago. London remains on his list and recently a sixth Major, Tokyo has been added.
Mike considers himself a “social runner” and likes to share his stories, experience, and encourage other runners achieve their goals. He is so grateful that he continues to have good health and the opportunity to do what he loves and share the joy of running with his friends. He likes to think of Running as a “simple and pure activity and the means to enjoy the little things in life, because one day we look back and realize they were the big things!” His advice to new runners is to start with a few steps, a few walks, a few jogs, and see what path it may lead to.
When the going gets tough in a race, Mike’s motto is “ Cavemen had to run to hunt for his food, Modern man/woman runs to have FUN”.