A run of luck with Glen Kamps

The perpetually smiling Glen Kamps.

This morning I met up to run with one of the leading personalities of the Illinois running world. That would be Glen Kamps. We go back a long ways to the early 80s when he was first working for Dick Pond Athletics on the road running and track circuit. The chain of stores is one of the leading resources for running gear (and wrestling too) in the Midwest.

I’ve written previously about Glen because he’s beyond a fixture in the Illinois running scene. In my estimation, he is in many ways the “face” of running for many people in the running and triathlon scene. He’s been appearing at races with the Dick Pond Truck for decades. And about that face: Glen is almost perpetually smiling. It would be hard to find anyone that knows more names and faces in the world of running than Glen.

Our friendship shares history with the Dick Pond brand because along with many other so-called “older” runners in the Chicago area, I shopped for running shoes when the legendary Dick Pond himself sold them out of his garage in Glen Ellyn. Over the years, Glen has lovingly affirmed my running career by sharing recollections of races past and efforts present.

A house wren singing.

These days I enjoy texts from him that often arrive early in the morning. Glen enjoys birds like I do. Some of his texts will feature a dark screen and audio of a bird calling in the trees before dawn. He lives next to one of the best birding trails in central Kane County and some of his bird texts have turned out to be fascinating records of species arriving in migration. We’ve actually gone out birding together a few times now, most recently this past July with his wife as we walked through the Campton Hills Forest Preserve calling up eastern bluebirds and rufous-sided towhees.

But for all of this long association, Glen Kamps and I have never set a time to go running together. We fixed that this morning. It was a joy running with him. The man has an efficient stride. He’s shooting for a half-marathon in a month or so and is working on building his goal pace over the entire length of the race. Right now he’s on target pace with his five-milers, but recognizes there needs to be an endurance base to build upon.

Incremental progress

Over the last year I’ve been doing longer runs and shared with Glen that by adding a mile each week, I was able to overcome some hip tightness and fatigue problems while building overall endurance. We’ll probably do a few more runs together before his target race, a “virtual” competition in which he’ll head to the Great Western Trail to put in his 13.1 miles.

We finished our run at sub-8:00 pace for the last two miles. Glen runs pretty smoothly at that pace, so I think his target or goal pace is achievable. But we’re both seniors and recognize that getting the body going in the early stages of a race is the most challenging part of any effort. So we strategized and I encouraged him that by running negative splits in practice he can rehearse how to spread his racing effort over the length of a half-marathon.

Legacy of support

I am so grateful for people like Glen Kamps in my life. His legacy of support for running is unparalleled. There are a number of groups that hail from the St. Charles Dick Pond store, including Walk to 5K, marathon training groups and the racing team. Each of these helps people achieve their goals at their respective levels.

During our run, he stopped to pick up a shiny dime on Dean Street. “That’s lucky!” I cheered. He explained that his extended network of Dick Pond runners collects found change or empties pockets into a jar and they rallied up more than $1900 to contribute to the Salvation Army. They took the money to purchase food at Aldi Foods. When the company found out about the program, they matched the donation and wound up giving $4000 in food supplies to people in need.

That shows the beauty of incremental caring. Contributions don’t need to be huge to make a difference in this world. It’s all about getting the word out and encouraging people to participate. That’s not always easy, so it’s great that organizations like Dick Pond Athletics gives back to the community.

The Pond franchise is a regional treasure on many levels, and the running community is better for its stewardship. As for Glen and I, well, I’m glad we finally got to run together. Friendships like ours are like a really good pair of running shoes. They never seem to wear out.

About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and genesisfix.wordpress.com Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
This entry was posted in 10K, 13.1, aging, aging is not for the weak of heart, cross country, half marathon, marathon, race pace, racing peak, running and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A run of luck with Glen Kamps

  1. Craig says:

    Chris:

    I’m happy to report that I was an early customer of Dick Pond Sports. There were no running stores down here in SW Illinois back in the early 70’s…. and a nearby coach at Triad H.S. introduced me to the Dick Pond catalogue and we ordered all our Onitsuka Tiger running and racing flats as well as spikes from Dick up in the Chicago area.

    Dick Pond was one of the pioneer mail order retailers of running shoes and equipment in the country… not to mention his van that would go to meets or to schools for “team fitting events.” We were a little too far for him to bring his van down here, though. Tigers were distributed in this country by Blue Ribbon Sports…. and when they had a falling out with Onitsuka Tiger in the winter of 1972….BRS started the Nike shoe brand.

    Dick introduced me to the promotional/sales manager for BRS/Nike back in June 1972 just a couple months after they went into business… and the rest is history! I wore the first pair of Nike spikes in international competition and in a televised competition back in July of 1972 against the Soviets out in Sacramento and it was televised live by ABC Wide World of Sports. Later, that next month, a mailing tube arrived in the mail and I was shocked to discover a B/W poster of me in those historic Nike spikes…. leading the 2 Soviet runners and fellow American Tony Sandoval.

    Those shoes and I …. were the subject matter of Nike’s first sports marketing promotional poster…. and not many people know that. They usually guess that it was Steve Prefontaine…. but Pre wore his trusted adidas spikes in the Olympic Trials 5000 at Eugene in July 1972 and also in the 5000 m. events at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. He did not wear Nike spikes in competition until much later in 1973.

    So, I will always be grateful to the kindness, support, and generosity of Dick Pond…. as he lost a customer (I got my shoes free from Nike and, later, adidas…after that…) but gained a “friend for life.” Glen Kamps just personifies the the friendly and supportive customer service that Dick Pond himself originated way back then… and has done so for decades. Kudos to Glen and I’m glad you two finally hooked up for a run. “And, now, … you know the rest of the story…..!”

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