Bob "Bubba" Thompson - July 2020
This month we are pleased to highlight a member of the Gate City Striders Hall of Fame and one of the longest running members of our club, Bob Thompson. (See what we did there?) If you would like to read a bit more about Bob, please check out the class of 2014 on our Hall of Fame page! In addition to being a long term member of the club, Bob has volunteered at innumerable events and contributed much to the club - in fact today you may know him as the Race Director for Novemberfest which has been a club staple for years.
When you ran more with the club, what motivated you?
Probably the same as what motivates most runners once they get hooked; faster times and longer distances. Having a goal race on the calendar several months out was always motivating. Keeping up with friends was another motivator. No one likes being left behind.
Do you follow any runners on social media?
Only my former running partner, and former GCS member Dave Dial who lives in Texas. Dave has logged over 200,000 lifetime miles and continues to run about 100 miles per week.
What has been your favorite club activity since you've joined?
Wednesday evening track workouts and Mine Falls runs in the summer followed by cold beers with teammates.
What was your favorite club event or race?
The most exciting club events were the Pepsi and Nashua Trust 10K races in downtown Nashua in the 1980's. Prize money brought world class runners to our race. One year, there were about 10 finishers under 29 minutes (sub 4:40 pace) including winner, Irish Olympian, John Doherty and Gate City Strider Mike Gagne.
We have you on record in Randum Thoughts October 2002 saying your favorite event was the club triathalon held at Lake Potanipo. That was held in August of 2002 and had approximately 60 attendees. How many years did the GCS do a club tri?
I think the GCS TRI only lasted 2 or 3 years as it took a lot more volunteers than a road race.
What made you want to participate in the club tri and what's your favorite memory of it?
I had always wanted to try a Triathlon and GCS Triathlon was short distance, low key, and had many inexperienced friendly competitors. My favorite memories are surviving the swim and the post-tri party at Traci's house in Brookline.
What is your funniest running or race related memory?
That would have to be the time that Skip Cleaver imitated Bob Dole at the start of Novemberfest in 1999 when the race was sponsored by Viagra. Novemberfest has had many hilarious moments, but Skip literally raised the bar for future Novemberfests.
What made you decide to join the Gate City Striders in 1983?
My neighbor, the legendary Phil Quinn, asked me to run with the Striders as he did with anyone he saw running. Back then, the weekly evening GCS run was held on Tuesday. It switched to Wednesday's in the mid 1980s.
Fitness University has been a staple event of the club since 1989, providing a free fun fitness program to kids. Would you be able to share some memories of previous years, how it started, and how it has evolved?
I recall the first Fitness U at Holman Stadium and running laps with my own children, all of the other kids and Olympian Lynn Jennings. There were several Boston pro sports athletes that attended Fitness U finals day, but it was the runners Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers that would stick around for autographs and cleanup. Fitness U is a fantastic program thanks to all of the volunteers.
Favorite junk food? Seriously, the kind you don't like to admit you eat?
That would be either beer & Cheez-its, or Cheez-its and beer. You won't find me at the ice cream runs.
What was your favorite club social event and why?
Back in the day, the annual outing at Sean & Betty Scanlon's lakeside cottage was the highlight of the summer. This included the infamous Tour de Bud bike ride from Nashua to Goffstown with a stop at the Anheiser Busch plant and other watering stops along the way.
What is the Wednesday Evening Church Group and how did this saintly band connect with the Gate City Striders?
The WECG has been meeting regularly since the 1980's at The Club National for post run beer and pizza. Attendees have varied over the years but there are always a handful of GCS Hall of Famers in attendance. Many GCS events and races, including Novemberfest, have been born at these weekly parties. World problems have also been solved by the WECG, but we tend to forget the solution. All Striders are welcome to join the WECG.
Novemberfest used to be more formally known as "The Curley Goulet Memorial Novemberfest Trail Run and Party". Who was Curley Goulet?
Curley Goulet was not a runner but he was a supporter of the Gate City Striders. Curley invited all Striders to his private club where GCS held "The Last Supper" at the end of track season and "The First Communion" at the beginning of track season. At the Boston Marathon, Curley would haul the runner bags into the Buckminster Hotel and prepare the spread of food for the GCS marathoners. When Curley passed away we added his name to the race.
We have a few questions about Novemberfest...
- Why was the Nashua Children's Home chosen? Curley Goulet and the Club National have been benefactors of the Nashua Children's Home for many years with their successful golf tournament. When Curley passed away we started donating Novemberfest proceeds to the NCH.
- It appears the 3rd 3rd Annual Novemberfest Trail Run was won by a 5 year old Chris Amarello. Can you explain how the race used to be scored? Back in the day, the objective was not to finish first at Novemberfest. A "water stop" was strategically placed on the course and served a variety of refreshments not typically found at a water stop. Some runners were known to run to the waterstop with a folding lawn chair. The stop was monitored by the NPD to ensure no laws were broken. Finishers were given a popsicle stick with their place written on it, but the numbers were in random order. Results were then posted on the self-service pizza box. Quite a difference from the high tech results that Dave Camire and Yankee Timing have donated to Novemberfest since 2009.
You have several impressive PRs under your belt. Which one(s) are you most proud of?
That would be my 5-mile PR of 29:32. That was back in the late 80's, when I ran regularly with Dave Dial.
What was the first Mill Cities Relay like in 1984? How is it different today?
The largest difference is the number of Gate City Strider and other club teams. GCS was a smaller club than today, not as many clubs were invited, and organizing teams pre-internet was difficult. It has always been a fun post-race party.
Applefest used to be a signature event for the GCS. What role(s) did you play helping with it? How many people used to run it at the peak?
During peak years, Applefest would always attract over 1,000 runners and would sell out some years. I ran the first Applefest in 1983 and the 31st (last) Applefest in 2013. I volunteered nearly all of the years in between except for 1996 when my future wife, Kristina, visited NH for the first time and we both ran.
What advice do you have for new members of the club?
Join a relay team at Mill Cities Relay or one of the long distance relays such as 100 on 100 or Reach the Beach. Also volunteer at an event. You will make friends and have fun. The best thing about the Gate City Striders is the friendships that last a lifetime.