Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 08:02:27 -0400

The Galloway Family


In all the world of running there's no family I feel closer to than one that lives a continent away. It used to be the Sheehans in New Jersey, but that tie loosened with George's passing almost 10 years ago. Now my tightest link is to the Galloways from Atlanta.

You know Jeff Galloway as an Olympian turned marathoning Pied Piper who has led tens of thousands of run-walkers into this event. You also know him as a writer and speaker, and maybe as a running-store owner. I know him as a good friend and as a great family man.

We've solidified that friendship into honorary brotherhood at Jeff's running camps at Lake Tahoe each summer since 1980. There I've seen him as the son of Elliott and Kitty, the husband of Barbara, and the father of Brennan and Westin.

Jeff was once asked to name his greatest running experience. He didn't pick qualifying for the 1972 Olympic team in the 10,000, or helping a clubmate make the marathon team that year, or running in the Munich Games.

"My greatest experience was running the entire 1996 Boston Marathon with Dad," said Jeff. Over the years he has brought both parents and his two sisters to camp. He's working on his brother, who this summer sent one of his twin sons.

The Galloways look on many of the campers as extended family. Some of us have come back for 20 or more summers, and we've watched each others' families grow up.

Joe Cote and Dexter Grindstaff have returned here annually since the 1980s. Children who once came to camp have now made grandfathers of Joe and Dexter. Longtime campers John Blecka and Judi Shaffer now bring their two young sons.

My oldest two children, Sarah and Eric, first came here at ages six and two. Both have married in the past year.

I "met" Brennan Galloway when his mother was pregnant with him. I first saw his brother Westin at the age of one week and already at camp.

Both boys now stand taller than their lanky father. Both are collegiate runners, Brennan at Colorado College and Westin at Wake Forest. We longtimers at camp embarrass them by recalling their childhood antics here.

They've inherited Jeff's high energy level, along with his love of long-distance travel. The best story circulating at this year's Galloway encampment involved Brennan's recent application of those traits.

I'll preface it by telling about my first meeting with Jeff. This came at the 1971 National Marathon in Eugene. He'd driven across the country to that race -- one of many such trips in a sports car he called "Mobley."

Arriving at Lake Tahoe this year, I saw Barbara Galloway playing ping-pong with son Westin. I asked where his brother was.

"Brennan's still driving out from Colorado," said Barb. "He loves to drive."

She asked, "Did you hear what Brennan and some of his teammates did during spring break?" They had taken the ultimate running road-trip.

In 11 days they ran in all the states except Alaska and Hawaii. Their rules were that they had to run a mile on a track in each state and break six minutes in each one.

Brennan later said, "We also took a mile warmup and a mile cooldown each time. Our best day was seven states, so that made it a 21-mile day."

He didn't quote a driving total, but their road mileage has to be even more impressive. Brennan's energy-charged, ever-traveling father is proud of this feat. So are his more sedate honorary uncles and aunts who gather at the extended-family reunion each summer.


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