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Tracy Sundlun, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
May 5, 2011

Club 33’s Cinco de Mayo meeting was called to order by President Bonnie Schwartz. Bonnie began by recognizing the elite SEAL Team that made our world a safer place this week. Bonnie thanked them and all of the men and woman of the armed forces who take such great risks for all of us. Bonnie also introduce her new two-step crowd control program – a golf tournament “QUIET” sign which will now give fair warning before her famous nine iron comes out. Leane Marchese spoke the lyrics of a song about 100 years of life for the Inspirational Moment. Steve Hubbard, who told Leane he doesn’t want to stop at 100, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by “God Bless America” accompanied by Larry Showley.

Rudi Brewster was Club 33’s president in 1980, a year when the Convention Center, the Trolley and Horton Plaza were still just ideas on the drawing board. Sandy Purdon explained Rudi’s interesting protocol for Rotary fines: $1.00 for getting your name in the paper, $2.00 for getting your picture in the paper and $3.00 for getting on television; quite a bargain for fame. Sandy then brought us today’s news, sponsored by Cheryl Wilson and St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services.

Rotarians at Work Day was another resounding success. Bonnie and Wayne Goodermote made it to nine of the projects and personally witnessed the gratitude of the recipients of helpful Rotarians. Cheryl Wilson made a Senior Services announcement about Older Americans Month and its theme of Connecting the Community. “Get out there and walk this Saturday,” encouraged Bonnie! There is still plenty of room for Rotarians looking for some healthy exercise and good fellowship at the Club 33 Walk on May 7, 2011. After getting his attention, Bonnie turned the podium over to Jim Hughes. Jim had the privilege of starting the first leg of a Mike Conner Club 33 trifecta. Jim presented Mike and his wife Judy Thompson with Paul Harris Fellows awards. Leg two of Mike’s trifecta was receiving his blue badge from Bonnie.

We are counting down the days to Club 33’s Centennial year. Ben Clay gave us another pitch for Tux ‘n’ Tennies, a night with the San Diego Symphony and Credence Clearwater Revisited on June 25, 2011. And remember the great opportunity to win a new Mazda sports car. Its exciting to drive and likely more gas efficient than any car Ben is now driving.

The final leg of Mice Conner’s amazing day came in the form of a wonderful presentation he and Judy made about their inspiring three-week trip to India. Mike and Judy recently returned from a Rotary Friendship Exchange they called “21,000 Miles Of Adventure.” Accompanied by a captivating slide show, Mike and Judy took turns recounting their adventures in witnessing many tremendous Rotary accomplishments in India, making new Rotarian friends and sampling the customs, food and sights of India. The trip culminated in their participation in National Polio Immunization day. Thanks and congratulations to Mike and Judy for their dedication to service above self.

A trifecta of fines then followed. Claudia Obertreis’ promise that she would improve Bonnie’s golf game did little to persuade Judge Bonnie. The Head North golf tournament at the Crosby sounds like a great event, but Claudia left the meeting with her wallet $250 lighter. Mark McKinnon’s suggestion of a perfect Mother’s Day gift, a personalized discounted subscription to San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine, met with the same fate. Vince Mudd took a different but equally unsuccessful attempt at limiting his fine. First, he tried sweet talking Bonnie. Princess Bonnie smiled but Judge Bonnie stood her ground. “What about Rudi Brewster’s $2.00 fine for getting in the paper?,” Vince asked. “That was so long ago and is SO not going to happen,” was Bonnie’s unflinching response. Sensing defeat, Vince generously agreed to double his fine to $500.

Our Rock and Roll program began with Bonnie’s introduction of Chair of the Day, Budd “Hollywood” Rubin, retired dentist to the Stars. Budd presented the visiting Rotarian, Denver Bowen, with a new concept in oral hygiene, a mouthwash that you can swallow after swishing (we all know it as Pinot Noir). Budd was a logical choice to introduce our speaker, Tracy Sundlun, of Rock and Roll Marathon fame. Budd himself has run 15 marathons, and was one of the founders of the Rock and Roll Marathon. Budd has also been a passionate supporter of the fight against leukemia.

Tracy Sundlun has quite a distinguished past. The son of a former Governor of Rhode Island, Tracy was, at 17, the youngest Olympic track coach ever. Tracy left New York to come to San Diego with a modest goal. Not only did he want to create a spectator friendly marathon, he wanted it to be the largest inaugural marathon in history. With 7,500 runners in its first year, the Los Angeles Marathon held that record. Tracy set a goal of 8,000 runners. Let’s create one giant musical block party, he thought, and the name Rock and Roll Marathon was chosen. Since its start in 1998, this race has become a San Diego classic that 271,861 people have run. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for charities and the Race is now in multiple states.

Tracy gave us some amazing statistics about the San Diego Race. The 2011 Race will raise an astounding $11,000,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Foundation, and bring some $54,000,000 to San Diego’s economy. The Race will include fifty running Elvi (the plural of Elvis), 55 bands, 800 porta-potties, 1,000 cheerleaders, 5,000 orange cones and 950,000 paper cups. This amazing and successful event however had quite an inauspicious start.

We often learn from our mistakes and the 1998 inaugural race put on by what was then Elite Racing was no exception. Father’s Day was picked as race day, which just happened to coincide with the opening of the Del Mar Fair and the X-Games. One hundred forty-four permits had to be obtained. When the City discovered the Race would block entry to Harbor Island, an $80,000 temporary bridge had to be built to allow access to cars driving to Father’s Day brunches.

There were many positives that day. The Race sold out with 19,981 entries, smashing the record of 7,500 who ran the inaugural Los Angeles Marathon. Half of the 1998’s Race entrants were woman, which was unheard of in those days. The 1998 Race was the first marathon to use online registration, which was unfortunately still in its infancy. One confused entrant actually entered 42 times. As your editor can attest to having run the Race that day, a problem with traffic control delayed the start time by 38 minutes, an eternity for those waiting to begin a 26.2 mile race. The cooling June gloom cloud cover burned off at 8:00 a.m. and temperatures quickly soared to 80 degrees. Water stations were unprepared and unable to service so many runners.

The Race was a great financial success for everyone but Elite Racing. San Diego’s economy received a $35,000,000 benefit. The Leukemia Lymphoma Foundation received a record $15,600,000. Elite racing lost $1,000,000, not the sort of business model that would take first place at Camp Enterprise. But Tracy and his team, which has included many Club 33 members, persevered, and the success of Rock and Roll has been amazing. Thanks Tracy for creating a classic San Diego event and for helping generate so much money for so many worthy causes.

Editor: Andy Liska

Photos by Paul Nestor