Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
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Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

Remembrances of Bob Rother

by Lynne Kopac

To Bob Rother, Our Best Friend and Faithful Running Companion

12/25/1932 - 07/27/2004

The Short 6

Bob and I did most of our runs starting at his house just off Stringham Road. Bob had all the miles figured out--what was a 4-mile run, a 6-mile run, and so on. When I first started running with him, we did fewer miles. We eventually built up to more consistent 5-milers. Then he asked if I wanted to do 6, and I said yes. When we were done, I was really happy about my time--I couldn't believe it. Bob then told me we had done "the short 6." I asked him what that meant. Bob said, "Well, it's really 5.6 miles, but I round up. I consider it a 6-mile run." I told him I was going to log it as 5.6 miles regardless! After that, whenever we were walking to our starting point from his house and deciding on our mileage, if we felt we wanted to do more than 5 but not quite 6, "the short 6" always worked out as a viable option for us. But Bob knew I was a "purist" and would log 5.6 while he logged 6 miles for that day!

The Comrades Ultramarathon

Bob's favorite running movie was The Long Run, about a South African former runner training a young black woman from a neighboring African country to run the Comrades Ultramarathon, a distance of 50 miles. He loaned us the DVD he had rented, and we found it to be a wonderful movie, not only for the running footage, but also for its overall interesting story, scenery, and characters. From the time we started training for the Dutchess County Half Marathon in 2001 up until he died, Bob always said that we would do Comrades some day. My stock answer was, "In your dreams, Bob!"

Always focusing on the future, part of Bob's reply to my 12/10/02 email about my being officially diagnosed with breast cancer was, "You caught it in time and with the treatment/surgery at MSKCC you should have a full recovery. I just wish I had magical powers and could cure you by just waving a wand. But I am what I am... You and Bob have a lot to look forward to and celebrate this New Year's. And I'll be celebrating as well to have my running buddy happy again. The only thing you should have to worry about is qualifying for the NYC Marathon and then running it in 2004 with me. And then the Comrades!"

December 25, 2002, 5 days before my first breast cancer surgery, was Bob's 70th birthday. We gave him a copy of The Long Run DVD for his birthday. We know he watched it many, many times over the past 18 months. We give our heartfelt thanks to Kathleen Ryan, Bob's daughter, for letting us have this DVD as a memory of Bob.

The Purple Shorts with Pockets

One of my beefs about running shorts is that they usually do not have pockets; they have only a tiny so-called key pocket, which barely holds a car key let alone the car alarm gizmo! Bob knew I liked shorts with pockets. He also knew that purple was my favorite color. Five days before we were to do the Fifth Avenue Mile in NYC (09/07/03), my 9th and final qualifier for the 2004 NYC Marathon, Bob was in a car accident. Someone had run a stop sign and broadsided him; Bob suffered a cracked sternum. Before the race, we went over to visit him, and Bob said he had something for me. Inside the bag he handed me was a pair of purple shorts with real side pockets! In addition, there were a matching purple short-sleeved mesh top and a purple mesh running cap! Bob had searched many running clothing sites on the Internet, found these items, and bought them for me to wear for my 9th qualifier. I wore that outfit for the Fifth Avenue Mile and excitedly called Bob as soon as I got through the finish line. Bob a then went straight to Bob Rother's house from the train station to give him his T-shirt and tell him about the race.

Ironically, this is the same outfit I was wearing the morning we were running when he died. This outfit will always have a very special meaning for me.