Bob Hooper

I started running the 4th of July weekend 1977. I was in downtown Chicago with my family, and happened to catch the end of the Chicago Distance Classic. The finish was dramatic with Frank Shorter, Olympic Gold Medalist, edging out the top wheelchair competitor to win the race overall. The race and the finish up Lake Shore Drive to Buckingham Fountain were so exciting that I went home that afternoon, bought a pair of running shoes, and the next morning went for my first 2 mile run.

My first race was Thanksgiving morning, a 2 mile Cross Country around Wampum Lake in Thornton, Illinois. I was able to break 13 minutes, but was a little discouraged because all the High School kids with spiked shoes beat the heck out of the entire field. So in 1978 I though I would give road racing a try and ran several races in Chicago, where no one would have an equipment advantage over me. I began training for the 1978 Chicago Marathon and it turned out to be a success, even though my longest training run was 12 miles. The finish line was the best I have ever seen with temperatures hitting the high 80's it was so hard, but a great accomplishment. Early the following year I ran into John Bobalik and Jim Tarka, and heard about their plan for a brand new running club called the Calumet Region Striders. They had an idea to have local racing and so the 1979 Gold Cup Series of summer road races began Memorial Day May 28, with the Star Register Distance Classic. It was a 10.5 mile race held at the Lake County Fairgrounds. The following Sunday was a 5K, put on by Joe Mis, that is still a Gold Cup Series race 28 years later, and Joe continues to be one of the Striders main sponsors.

I cannot say enough good things about the Striders. I have met so many interesting people and made so many lasting friendships over all these years. To see the club evolve as the years have gone by and watch the membership grow to over 500 has been a real treat, in this day and age where things come and go so easily. The Gold Cup Series has grown from those beginning 10 races into the premier series that it is today. Today it is a club that is turning its focus toward its Junior Striders and because of this it encourages whole families to become members of the club. I am very proud to be a member of the Calumet Region Striders, and to be associated with such a group of positive people.

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