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At a combined age of 136, Star Spangled Spectacular Ride/Run elder statesmen are eager to hit the SL streets again

Thursday, June 12, 2008

There's an infamous photo going around town, labeled 2008 Ride/Run. It features two vultures sitting on fence posts.

"I hear that Schall and Gailey are entered again this year," one says to the other.

"Well, you have to have a sense of humor about it," laughs Jim Schall, half of the twosome of attorneys who have been a part of the Storm Lake Star Spangled Spectacular Ride/Run for some 20 years of Fourth of July mornings now.

Jim Gailey, of Newell, at age 71, and Schall, of Storm Lake, the youngster of the pair at just 65, will indeed be entered again, and they encourage others to join them.

"Oh, it's a great event - I hope Storm Lake always has it," Says Gailey. "I like the fact that men and women can do the same event, all ages and makes of models of folks and even an old model like me.

Compared to running such an event on a track, the Storm Lake scenery makes the event a tourism attraction in its own right, he says.

"The atmosphere is a lot of fun - competitive, but just a good group of people who do it," Schall adds. "What could be better than going out to run and ride a bike on Fourth of July morning, getting it done in an hour and 15 minutes or so, kicking off the holiday,"Schall says.

Gailey, an avid recreational runner for many years who puts in about five miles a day, had encouraged Schall to get into running.

In fact, Gailey is a veteran of about 10 marathons and many 10K races. He thinks he has run in all but one Spectacular event over 27 years.

"I had been doing some jogging, and entered one 5K when we started, but he is by far the better runner, while I may be a little better on the bike, so as a team, we clicked pretty well," Schall said.

The Ride/Run is an unusual event in which members of a team trade off biking and running, "leapfrogging" their way along the scenic course around the lake.

How long will the duo keep competing? "My goal used to be to run one of these at age 60. Now I'm 65 and the only goal I set is to start and finish," Schall said. "As long as the feet and knees hold up, why stop?"

Don't think that the vulture-fodder is slow, however. They usually finish right in the thick of a pack full of athletes often less than a third of their age.

"It used to be that the oldest class was a combined age of 100, but I lobbied to get a 120-and-over class going. Usually there are a few teams in that age bracket, but last year we were the only ones," Schall said. "Our combined age is 136 this year, so I guess it's time to start lobbying for a 140-and-over class. I don't know if they'll go for that," he laughed.

"We do hate to finish anything but first," he says.

Last year, the pair ran into troubles. Schall was biking, looking for Gailey to make an exchange.

"He was wearing a bright aqua jersey, and that's what I was looking for, but he had rolled it up under his arms because of the heat, so I blew right by without seeing him. I was over a mile beyond when I turned around to double back to try to find him."

"That won't happen again," Gailey stresses. Even so, they beat a lot of runners and bikers much younger than themselves. "We surprise a few people," Schall says.

The pair encourage running and biking for all ages, and not just on the holiday.

"I don't know if it keeps you young, but I do know I feel better all day when I get my run in. It's motivational. And it keeps me from smoking, which I quit 40 years ago to start jogging," says Gailey.

"These are activities you can do on your own, to your own schedule. It gets you in shape, and once you have set a goal and met it, it's a real feeling of self confidence," Schall adds.

One year, they were introduced at the awards ceremony as "the winners of the Viagra set."

They don't mind. "We don't take it all that seriously," Schall said. "In fact, I have to admit that that was pretty funny."

Here's how to enter this year's Ride/Run event:

Registration forms for the 29th annual race are available on-line at the Chamber of Commerce website - www.stormlakechamber.com. Click on Attractions, click on the Star Spangled Spectacular and then the Ride Run. Participants can print out the application then return it to Hugh Perry, P.O. Box 1125, Storm Lake, IA 50588.

The Ride-Run kicks off the Star Spangled Spectacular Fourth of July activities with registration from 7-7:20 a.m. at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Lake Avenue. The race begins at 7:30 a.m. with a route around the lake. Water stops are available along the route.

One team member rides the bike ahead and leaves the bike for their partner, and so on. Once the team crosses the finish line together, their time and place is recorded.

Age categories are male/male, female/female and coed with ages of the teammates combined - 36 and under, 37-59, 60-79, 80-99, 100-119 and 120 and over. Plaques are awarded to the overall winning team with medals awarded to the top three finishers in each category. All competitors receive t-shirts.

Entry fee is $20 per team if postmarked by June 25. Registration forms postmarked after June 25 must pay $25 per team. The race is limited to the first 100 teams.

For more information regarding the race, contact Hugh Perry at 732-1646 or perrylaw@iw.net.



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