Slow down with age? Not HR's Rick Jones

May 4, 2011

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Rick Jones (left) and training partner Raul Gomez make the rounds of Hood River with Jones’ jersey and finisher’s medal from the Boston Marathon.

Rick Jones entered his sixth decade on Earth April 12. A few days later he was running faster than he had before in previous 59 years.

The Hood River resident auto-qualified for next year's Boston Marathon when he finished the annual race in 3:33.44, good for 52nd in his age group.

That wasn't even the most impressive part of the whole matter.

Jones' bib number was 16076. That meant 16,075 people started in front of him. He passed nearly 8,000 of them on his way to the finish line to finish in 8,722nd place.

Not bad for a guy who just 10 years ago could barely make it up Hood River's downtown steps.

"When I turned 50 I walked up the steps for my birthday and felt like that scene in 'Rocky' in Philadelphia," Jones said.

Jones then set about conquering his own Clubber Lang. He began walking constantly, then running, then running up and down Hood River's numerous hills and moving onto 5 and 10K races and joining the Columbia Gorge Running Club.

A few years ago he began running the Portland Marathon.

"Each time was a little better," he said.

From Portland he moved on to Boston, or as Jones calls it, "The Super Bowl of running."

This year Jones found himself in the perfect starting position, where there were enough people in front of him to prevent him from starting too fast, but enough catchable runners to provide an incentive.

Once he got going, he found the hills in Boston, particularly the supposedly brutal "Heartbreak Hill," to be no match compared to what he had been training on back home.

He began catching and passing numerous runners who had fast times on flatland, but no way to train for the hills.

"All the poor flatlanders had no way to duplicate those hills in their winter training," he said.

While the Midwestern runners were suffering, Jones was having the time of his life.

"I love marathons with a lot of hills," Jones said. "If it was flat I would be bored to tears."

Jones was planning on this marathon being his last in Boston, but because he put up such a good time and auto-qualified for next year's race, he's going back again.

"There is a lot in Boston we didn't get to see," he said.

He gets to be among the first to register for the race next year, which means he will be closer to the front of the pack.

With so many racers behind him, he may just keep dropping his time as he ages another year.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "My knees are still feeling good."

Jones still is not quite sure how he went from barely being able to walk the Hood River stairs to proudly walking around town with his Boston Marathon jersey on, but he does know that he has enjoyed the ride.

"Ten years ago I was more of a 10-yard guy," he said of his former top running distance. "Today I'm a mini-celebrity."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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