I retired this year from a consulting engineering firm located here in Rock Rapids, IA. I was a project engineer in the Water Resources Department, specializing in the design of public drinking water systems, including wells, water treatment plants, pumping stations, reservoirs, and distribution pipelines. I worked full time until 2008, when I started reducing hours to allow more time for training and racing. :-) Now I'm almost full time training, racing, reading up on training and racing, and planning trips to competitions.

My wife, Barb, is seriously into genealogy and has researched our family histories on all sides as far back as Ancestry.com can take her. We have traveled in a camper van for the past 10 years (now on our second one) to all parts of the US and Canada - mostly on trips to running competitions or to cemeteries and historical museums, or, in most cases, to some of both on the same trip. We joke that, since we live in the middle of the country here in NW Iowa, we can conveniently go anywhere in North America just by hopping in the van and taking off. Of course that results in 15-20 thousand miles a year on the road. Barb has contacted through Ancestry.com literally dozens of 2nd and 3rd cousins across the country that we were totally unaware of, and we frequently arrange to meet them when our travels to running events take us in the vicinity. That's in addition to visiting the grave sites of relatives long departed.

I wrote a little verse for a presentation I gave last year to our local Kiwanis Club on my Competitive Running Experiences. It pretty much summarizes my running career. I was the smallest (imagine that!), slowest, weakest kid in my school through the grades so didn't have any background for competitive running, to put it mildly. I take that back - a fat kid named Donald was even slower than I, and I appreciated him for that. About half way through college I was encouraged by a physician to do a little weight lifting and jogging and I did that off and on through my 20s and 30s. I did a small home-town road race (my first one) when I was 40 and came in first in the 40+ age group. That was the first time I won anything for anything physical. That stimulated my desire to run more and, eventually, I was doing 20-25 road races annually in my 50's, transitioning from 5K to 10K and half marathon. I got into masters track through the Iowa Senior Games and eventually into USATF Masters in 2008.

Gary Patton