Story #9 in a series of 25. Written to celebrate the CIM’s 25th Anniversary on December 2, 2007. By Cynci Calvin.

They keep coming back!
As the popularity of the CIM increased among all levels of marathoners, recidivism became a healthy trend. There are 16 on the CIM Honor Roll, entrants who have finished all 24 CIMs (more about them in Story #20). Five-, 10-, 15-, 20-, (and coming soon… 25-) time finishers are presented with special awards each year as they achieve these milestones. The CIM’s elite runners are no exception. In the early years, Fraser Clyne came from Scotland to compete in the CIM five times (1984 – 2nd, 1985 – 7th, 1986 – 6th, 1987 – 6th, 1989 – 4th). Christine Kennedy, Ann Trason, Kathy D’Onofrio, Rosa Guitierrez, Christine Iwahashi, Sharlet Gilbert, and Jen Pfeifer are among the many women who have placed in the CIM’s top 20 multiple times. Miguel Nuci, Alfredo Vigueros, Christopher Zieman, Chad Worthen, Mike Dudley, Miguel Tibaduiza, Domingo Tibaduiza, Paul Zimmerman, Rich Hanna, Dennis Rinde, Jose Aispuro, Mark Hoefer, Rob Anex and Joe Rubio are some of the men who fit this category.

Bruce Deacon – with the CIM’s Only “Hat Trick” to Date
“Hat Trick” has become associated with succeeding at anything three times in a row. Its most common usage is in hockey, and refers to one player scoring three goals within a game. We’ve adapted it here to apply to Bruce Deacon’s unique accomplishment of three CIM victories achieved between 1991 and 2001.

Bruce is an excellent example of how the California International Marathon can provide an excellent venue for a developing athlete. His five appearances at the CIM were stepping stones for Bruce on his way to becoming Canada’s premier distance runner. They provided him not only with marathon experience but also with financial support to help him pursue his dreams of becoming an Olympian.

Bruce Deacon (British Columbia, Canada)
1990: 8th, 2:19:40 (pr)
1991: 1st, 2:15:16 (pr)
1995: 1st, 2:13:59 (pr)
1998: 6th, 2:18:00
2001: 1st, 2:22:12
2002: 4th, 2:13:18 (pr)

Bruce’s early years were spent in the cold and blustery climes of Ottawa, where his small size and overall lack of athleticism denied him a place in school sports like hockey and soccer – this at a time when the Montreal Olympics were taking center stage. His resulting low self-esteem did not prevent him from trying to find something, anything, that would fill this void. In his prayers he told God that if he could find a sport, he would promise to work as hard as he could to excel. When he was 10-years-old he was introduced to running at a summer camp where a week-long running program set a goal of achieving a total of thirty miles. The camp coach asked him if he could run five miles without stopping and he said “Sure!” although the farthest he had ever run before was up his driveway. Wasn’t easy but he managed it, and you might say his prayers were answered.

“Working as hard as he could” is an understatement. Lacking a formal running program at his school, he would rise early and run alone before school. He was profoundly influenced by late 70s American distance runners and the respect the marathon distance commanded; he wrote to his hero, Bill Rodgers (who responded and advised caution), but he couldn’t resist setting a goal to run a marathon – at age 11 (1979). He finished in 3:30 and decided to run another, extrapolating with youthful enthusiasm that he could easily shave 30-minutes off his time. At the tender age of 12 he learned what many learn in their mid-20s or older: you can’t go out too fast. His sub-3-hour pace for the first 10-miles left him limping in to a minimal personal best.

Thankfully Ken Parker, his coach at that time, admonished him to back off from marathons for a while. He continued his training and racing and selected the 1990 CIM for his first “serious”marathon. Along with winning three CIMs after that, he went on to become a Canadian National Champion, a two-time Olympian, and he competed for Canada at four World Championships. When asked about highlights in his running career, he sites his silver medal at the Pan Am Games in 2003 and his 11th place finish at the 1995 World Marathon Championships (Gothenburg, Sweden) where he was seeded 70th.

All this along with FIVE CIMs! Why did he keep coming back to the California International Marathon? His reasons included the overall high quality of the event, the fast course and all the thoughtful assistance provided to the elite runners. He describes Sacramento as an excellent winter destination for Canadians, and he also mentioned that the early December date of the CIM helped it to fit well into his training for Olympic and World Championship marathons.

Note that Bruce was the winner of the 2001 stormy marathon, second in severity to the 1987 storm CIM. When asked about how he managed to win that year, he mentioned a good race strategy, better acclimatization than much of his competition who had come from warmer climates, and his mantra that day as he chugged to the finish: “I’m a duck, I’m a duck, I’m a duck….”

Bruce had a brief hiatus from marathoning after winning the 2004 Royal Victoria Marathon, but has resurfaced to compete in marathons in the Masters Division. His first marathon in his new age division was a masters division win of 2:23:02 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth just last June, which he believes was an off day thanks to hot, humid weather and a last minute trip scheduled during a household move. He is looking ahead to running the 2007 New York City Marathon and then the 2008 Boston!

With a running resume like this you might think of Bruce to be a full-time runner. Quite the contrary. He has a degree in History from University of Western Ontario, received his teaching credentials from Simon Fraser University, and a Masters Degree in Education from University of Victoria. He has been a teacher, has worked for the British Columbia Ministry of Education, and last June he joined the Canadian Olympic Committee in the position of Manager, Education and Community Relations. Bruce married his wife Rosemary in 1996 and reported that his connection to CIM is as permanent as his marriage: his CIM earning’s investments help to purchase his wife’s wedding ring! They are the proud parents of two boys, John who will be five in October and Rob was 9 last April.

Janis Klecker – Two-Time Winner, Top Women’s Times
Janis Klecker’s road to marathoning success also begins in 1979, but the resemblance to Bruce Deacon‘s journey ends there. Janis, age 19, (at the time Janis Horn) decided to train for and run a marathon with her mother, who had run one previous marathon and really wanted to run another. Her father, Norman Horn, was also a marathon runner (no slouch at that, usually running sub-3s), and the family enjoyed running as a basic fitness tool. Janis had no school track and field or cross-country background.

Janis Klecker (Minnesota)
1984: 4th, 2:37:18 (pr)
1985: 2nd, 2:31:53 (pr)
1988: 1st, 2:34:17 (pr)
1990: 1st, 2:30:42 (pr and CIM course record; previous was Nancy Ditz 2:31:36. Current Course Record is 2:29:21, set by Australian Nickey Carroll in 1999. )

So Janis and Mae toed the start line of the 1979 City of Lakes Marathon, with her Mom saying “Don’t feel like you have to run with me the whole way.” Janis ran with her for about a half mile, then pulled away to finish second woman in 2:58. Talk about “coming out of nowhere! To clinch her place in the sport of distance running, Janis met her soon-to-be husband at this event, 2:15 marathoner Barney Klecker, the overall winner that day.

The seed had been planted and Janis followed that performance with a City of Lakes win in 1980 (2:48:11). Janis continued her winning ways with a still standing road 50K American Record of 3:13:51 set in 1983, and a prolific series of victories until she retired from marathoning in 1999. Other career highlights include: three Twin Cities Marathon wins, two CIM wins, two National Women’s Championships (1987, 1992), qualifying for the 1984, 1992, and 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials, and winning the 1992 Trials. In September of 1991 she was the US Women’s 5K Champion and then in January of 1992 achieved her second National Women’s Marathon championship with a 2:30:12 pr. In 1996 –Janis was inducted into the USATF/Minnesota Hall of Fame. She balanced all this with dental school, setting up a dental practice, and the birth of six children! Twins John and Mary were born in 1993, Sarah 1995, Joe in 1996, “Bit “(Elizabeth) in 1997, and James in 2000.

Her first appearance at the CIM was in 1984, when her family chose the California International Marathon for a mini-running vacation. It was a happy weekend with Janis achieving a pr 2:37:18 pr, Mom Mae winning her 50-54 age division in 3:25:25, and Dad Norman taking third in the men’s 50-54 with a 3:01:43. Janis recalls that the trip was a bit more hectic than anticipated due to dental school demands, and she ran “tired,” but was delighted with her pr —until reading in the newspapers that she was described as having “faded to fourth.” We’ll set that right here.

Janis’ next three CIMs produced three more personal best times. She battled Nancy Ditz in 1985 for a close second, (2:31:36 to 2:31:53) and Janis recalls gaining on Nancy as she counted down the Sacramento midtown intersections from 56th to 9th Street, but simply ran out of real estate. Both ran under the course record that year. When she returned in 1988 and 1990, she left no room for such drama, winning eight minutes ahead of Barb Myers-Acosta in ’88 (2:34:17) and four minutes ahead of USSR’s Alevtina Naumova in ’90 (2:30:42) to blast away Nancy Ditz 1985 record. Sally Eastall (2:29:29, 1991) and Nicky Carroll (2:29:21) have since bested that time, which remains as the third fastest in the CIM’s history.