We lost one of our most beloved community stewards late last month. Dave Murphy, who had, over the past 45 years, volunteered at quite possibly more footraces than just about any other person in the country, suddenly and without any warning, peacefully departed this world. And the world that he left around us is most certainly a much better place thanks to the countless ways he gave to his neighbors.
The words kind and selfless just begin to scratch the surface of this wonderful person, who got out of bed for more than 1,200 Saturdays to help record the finishing time for countless runners. Those 1,000-plus events, thanks in great part to his help and expertise, entertained tens of thousands of runners and raised more than $5 million for community causes along the way. Dave was mighty fast back in the early 80’s, often breaking 60 minutes for 10 miles, but his real passion for the sport was in the notion of giving back.
He twice served as the Charlottesville Track Club president, leading the charge in making it one of the best not-for-profit running organizations in the country. He also sat on numerous community boards, including Madison House, and freely gave of his time to those in need. I had the pleasure of serving alongside this graceful and humble man for 12 years as we co-directed the Charlottesville 10 Miler together from 1984-1995.
His steady, thoughtful and patient mannerisms helped to calm this anxious type-A character and taught me to be a better person. I think all who had the pleasure of knowing Dave would agree that he made us and everything around us that much better. Dave was a super Dad, too. As a widower, he raised two sweet and kind girls, Margaret and Alina. Their hearts ache, as does mine, as we miss him so much.
As a distinguished Marine who served in Vietnam, Dave would very much appreciate us remembering him with a collective “Semper Fi” followed by a great big, loud “Oorah!"
By Mark Lorenzoni (June 2019)
We lost one of the volunteer giants of our running community Monday evening. Carol Finch, who quite possibly gave more time serving the greater good of our local running world than anyone else over the past 35 years, peacefully and gracefully succumbed to the cancer that she had so gallantly battled over the last five years of her life.
I had the privilege of serving alongside this wonderful and selfless person at the finish line of many a Charlottesville Track Club race over the past three decades and she never ceased to amaze me with her tireless and determined drive in making sure that literally each and every runner was treated to the very best race experience.
Carol redefined the term “community stewardship” as she freely gave her time and expertise to dozens of not-for-profit foot race events each year. My guess is that at her healthiest she helped run the results of 40 events on any given year. By my rough tabulation these events, thanks in great part to her wonderful leadership, raised over three million dollars for a variety of worthy community causes. Heck, even as recent as two weeks ago she was out helping at The Valentine’s 5K at Old Trail, which raised dollars for our local chapter of Amnesty International. In fact she was so determined to help to the very end, that she actually teleconferenced, from her hospital bed, advice to my daughter and other CTC volunteers, just this past Friday evening, as they registered folks for the MJ8K!
Much of her work was done selflessly and behind the scenes, as she often brought scrambled results home from a local footrace to figure out how to clean them up so she could accurately report them to those who raced in the event, as quickly as possible. And there were many a Thanksgiving morning (and even afternoon) that Carol stayed long after all of the Boars Head Turkey Trot finishers had headed home for their family dinners, so she could finish tabulating the race results for them. Talk about dedication!
And that dedication was an inspiration to runners and race directors alike. In fact, her legacy is all around us as there are countless young race directors, who were trained by Carol over the years, now helping to carry on her wonderful work in our community.
All of us who were touched by this heroic person are deeply saddened at her passing and we will forever treasure the gifts of her generosity. We are already missing you, Carol!
By Mark Lorenzoni (2013)
The Charlottesville running community lost a giant last weekend. After 27 exhausting months of staying one stride ahead of a rare and terminal brain tumor, Skip Kinnier, one of the strongest and toughest runners I've ever known, slowed up just enough and was overtaken at the way too young age of 54.
As I mourn the loss of my dear friend, I find myself reflecting on the extraordinary life of this seemingly ordinary man. After all, he never directed a race, never was president of The Charlottesville Track Club, never was in the sports headlines and was never near the top finishers at a local footrace. And yet, for the past 25 years he was one of the most well liked, most recognizable and most respected runners in town. In fact, all of us who had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful man, would agree that Skip Kinnier was "the best."
When I first met Skip, he was a talented and determined young runner training endlessly to be as fast as possible. During one stretch in the early 1980s he had an amazing streak going, where he ran 10 miles or more every single day for over a year. Incredibly, Kinnier kept the streak alive, even after a blizzard dumped 18 inches of snow on the area. On that frigid day, when no other runner in town even dared to venture out their door, the ever resourceful and upbeat marathoner followed the snowplows around the Fashion Square parking lot, lap after lap after lap, until he had clocked his allotted 10 miles for the day. Skip's dedication paid off as he ran several marathons in the lickety-split sub 3-hour zone, times that us mere mortals would only dream of attaining. Yet, despite his speedy talents, the ever-humble Kinnier never talked about his impressive racing resume. Instead, he would always turn the attention to others' accomplishments. He seemed to gain a greater thrill from congratulating others than recounting his own racing conquests.
After devoting five years to his own personal racing, Skip decided in 1986 to pack away his competition shoes and, instead, give back to the sport he loved so much. Over the next two decades he went on a tear of community stewardship like nothing that had ever been seen before, as he devoted thousands of volunteer hours into making this the best running community possible.
During that time of stellar public service, Kinnier helped at over 300 local races (in turn, those races raised over $1 million for area nonprofit causes). One of my favorite stories was when he served as our official lead "pacer" runner for the youngsters at the Discovery Dash races, which, at the time, were still being held on the Downtown Mall. He did this until one year some of the faster kids caught up to and actually passed him before he had paced them to the finish line. Never shy about tossing out a joke at his own expense, the exhausted but upbeat Kinnier came up to me in between gasps said, "I think it's time I worked with you back at the finish line."
He served as treasurer for the Charlottesville Track Club's 750 members for over a decade and one of his proudest accomplishments was initiating a college scholarship fund for area high school track and cross country athletes. Today, those scholarships (which the CTC named after him after his tumor was discovered) annually reward worthy students in need, from close to a dozen area schools, with several thousand dollars for college.
Skip gave so much to the greater running community that he was one of the first recipients of the the CTC's ultimate honor, The Charlottesville Track Club Lifetime Service Award, which is bestowed annually upon an individual or couple who has maintained a leadership role for 10 or more years in volunteer service for the overall good of running in Charlottesville. Skip richly deserved this prestigious award as his service went well beyond this description.
And through all of this community stewardship he still maintained a beautiful balance with his family life. He was a devoted husband, caring stepfather and loyal and kind son, brother and uncle. His work ethic, according to all who had the privilege of working alongside him, was second to no one. For 36 tireless years he was one of the City of Charlottesville's most dedicated employees and amazingly, despite the destructive nature of his illness, Skip managed to come to work each and every day up until 10 days before his death. Before he became ill, Skip would don his running clothes every evening after work and hit the same city sidewalks and streets he helped create. Over the years he became a familiar and comforting daily sight for all who were commuting home from work.
Skip's determination and hard work, his selfless volunteerism, his loyalty to friends and kindness to strangers, his humble and modest nature and his passion for his job, his family and his running inspired all of us who were touched by this remarkable man.
We're already missing you, Skip.
By Mark Lorenzoni (March 2007)
Back in the 1980's, Bruce Barnes was not only one of the fastest runners in an already really fast town, he was also easily one of the nicest!
For 10 years, from 1980 through the summer of his untimely and tragic death in 1990, the handsome New York speedster from Westchester County was one of the most dominant racers in the state and also one of the most popular. Not only could he run a sub-2:30 marathon and a 51 minute 10 miler, he could also go back out onto a course, after winning the race, and cheer on and pace the slower runners across the finish line. He also did something we don’t see as much of anymore and that’s volunteer as often as he raced. At his core, he was hard wired to give as much as he took and that sense of balance between racing and volunteering endured Bruce to all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Last Saturday marked the 21st running of The Bruce Barnes Mile, the popular race named after Bruce, which is run in beautiful Greenwood every year right around the time of his birthday. And Bruce’s mark is all over this special nostalgic, no frills event as it’s a throwback to a time far away. An era when the only time folks could sign up for a race was the morning of the actual event. An era when there was no set race “fee” just an opportunity to lay down whatever the racer felt comfortable donating. An era when there were no technical shirt giveaways or fancy prizes…just a cup or two of water, a few sliced oranges and the assurance that you just completed an accurately measured course and the thrill of seeing your name listed on the complete results that were always posted to a tree or on the window of the volunteer race director’s car.
This was Bruce’s era and because the race is named after him it has taken on a true retro look and feel. Squint your eyes throughout the Bruce Barnes Mile experience and you’d swear you had traveled back to the time of Tears for Fears, VHS tapes and $35 Nike Waffle Trainers. So, every June, folks of all ages and abilities, from 7 to 87-year-olds and from four minute milers to those chugging along at a 15 minute pace, enjoy this special “classic race experience”.
By Mark Lorenzoni (2013)
Patty Workman was longtime CTC volunteer helping with the training programs for the Women’s 4 Miler, Men's 4 Miler and Charlottesville Ten Miler and an inspiration to all her friends and family.