Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
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Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

Will the Real Bob Kopac Please Stand Up

by the real  Bob Kopac

A while ago two of my articles were “published” on the Internet web site of New England Runners Magazine. Since I had been sending my articles to several running magazines, I wondered if any other magazine may have placed my articles on their web sites. I decided to surf the net by invoking Yahoo to search for Kopac. The search resulted in 140 hits!

I had been unprepared for so many references, as I thought I was unique (don’t we all?). Searching all 140 entries, I discovered that some of the references were for articles written in the Slovak language; I recognized the language from the times I phonetically sang the hymns in the songbooks at Sts. Cyril and Methodius nationality grade school. But since I had never learned the language (except the important stuff, such as certain phrases which cannot be printed in a family-oriented publication), I would never know if any of my articles had been translated into Slovak and if I was the toast of Bratislava. I regretfully eliminated all these hits from consideration, as well as all listings from Slovenia.

I next found an entry for Kopac on a list of federal court cases. Overwhelmed by the voyeuristic daytime-talk-show desire to pry into other people’s misery, I furtively browsed the entry to see what nefarious crime was committed by this Kopac perpetrator, but the entry was cryptic and did not state the nature of the malfeasance--even though inquiring minds want to know! The Internet is an information highway while most people want the dirt path!

I found KOPAC TRADE INTERNATIONAL INC. in Seoul, Korea, “specializing in ‘the Right Stuff’”, which sounded admirable, although I wondered who sells “the Wrong Stuff”?

A Paris art exhibit featured the works of Yugoslavian artist Slavko Kopac (1913-1995) whose “...work is ingenious and sweet, with multiple unconventional techniques. From cement  to tire-slices painted over...”

There were multiple references for a female figure skater from Slovenia named Mojca Kopac who is a world championship competitor, as well as for a player from the Czech First Division Team Soccer Squad. Now my name was added to this list of fine athletes! That’s the beauty of the Internet. People see me as a writer of running articles and have no way of knowing how good or how bad a runner I am, just that I am a runner! The only drawback is I must find every single race that posts race results on the Internet and then not run those races!

As I crawled through the entries, I began to lose interest as I encountered articles entitled “Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Pollution in the Oceans” and “Entry-Exit Circumstances in Steel Milling”; not that these articles weren’t stimulating and wouldn’t provide hours of scintillating cocktail-party conversation (“Say, did you know that entry-exit circumstances in steel milling cause chlorinated hydrocarbon pollution in the oceans? Try the cheese dip!”), but they had nothing to do with running. Deciding to take advantage of the broad categories listed to narrow my searches, I skipped Nursing and Comdex Trade Show, instead focusing on Recreation, Entertainment and Humor. Some friends said I could skip the humor sections and perhaps concentrate on Nursing since I am injured so often.

Under the recreation category was the Shelton Sunset Road Race in Shelton, Connecticut. Since I had not run this race, I was curious why the entry listed as a hit. I browsed the entry and received my second surprise when I discovered Robert Kopac in the list of race finishers!

This was the second time that I had encountered my doppelganger. Due to injury, I was unable to run the New Haven Road Race, so Bob Rother offered to pick up my T-shirt. However, race officials told him that I had already picked up the T-shirt! As he knew that I was of sound mind and would not get up at an obscene hour and drive 1 1/2 hours to get a T-shirt, he was puzzled. He checked the entry bulletin board and found two Robert Kopac’s!

Now, thanks to the Internet,  I finally had electronic information about my alter ego. I gleaned that he is age 36 and a faster runner than I am. Immediately I felt competitive pangs that Robert Kopac is faster than Robert Kopac (it’s a Guy Thing)! I felt a desire to ignore my injury and start training again just so I could beat Robert Kopac. Freudian psychologists would have a track-and-field day with my feelings!

I started to bode ill will towards this stranger who had the good fortune to have my name. Imagine! When I become famous, he can then go around bragging that he is Robert Kopac! People might buy me, I mean him, drinks! He could legally sign autographs as Robert Kopac! All that could be forgiven, but what cannot be forgiven was he was faster than me! As the cartoon character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

But wait! After my initial sprint of running angst, I decided to do what any red-blooded American would do; that is, figure out how to use this situation to my advantage. Yes, Robert Kopac is faster than Robert Kopac. (Can you imagine how weird it was to write that sentence? I’m starting to sound like Bob Dole!) However, I realized that I now can brag about running in a race in which I never participated! I don’t have to spend countless painful hours training for a race! The clone Robert Kopac would spend all the agony and blisters and dehydration while I sit back and drink margaritas and still claim the fast times! No pain, all gain (especially around the waist)!

Further searching led to the discovery that Robert Kopac ran the Hartford Marathon. Even better! This Robert Kopac could abuse his body over 26.2 miles while I take the credit!      

Now that I know about my doubleganger, there is little chance of our running the same race again since he runs in Connecticut and I run in New York. All I have to do is scan on the Internet for race results in Connecticut and then brag to my running friends about how I have improved my times, offering as proof the electronic race results!

Unfortunately, I see the downside of this Faustian decision. As I claim credit for more of Robert Kopac’s races, I will be hungry for more speed. I will want Robert Kopac to run faster and faster; vicariously I will covet new PR’s. Perhaps I would like to “run” an ultra-marathon; I would then scour running stores for ultra-marathon running forms and send them anonymously to Robert Kopac. In my desire for better athletic performance, I would send training articles to Robert Kopac on how to improve his running, although I would have to be careful not to overtrain him and risk injury, for what good is an injured Robert Kopac? (Unfortunately, I already know the answer to that question.)

And what if Robert Kopac slows down or stops running due to injuries? I would go through PR withdrawal and be found late at night frantically visiting the running web sites searching for another Robert Kopac. I would wander the electronic world with the dead albatross of my personal-running program hanging around my neck or my waist seeking another Robert Kopac. I would search for a hit in vain, similar to the Ancient Seattle Mariner.      I might get so desperate that I might change my first name to Mojca and pretend to be a cross-dressing female figure skater--not a pretty sight, especially with my beard, although I then might get to be in a beer commercial. No, I guess I’ll have to train to run my own PRs. Who knows? If I get good enough, perhaps Robert Kopac could take credit for my races!