Roger Allison died on August 23. He was a long time trail runner and friend of many in the VHTRC. Below is my memory of Roger. If you would like to share your memory of Roger, you may e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Memory of Roger
That was Roger. He always said "Hi Guy!" when you saw him.
I will miss "Hi Guy."
Roger Allison was a runner from the old crowd. He was a regular back in the beginnings of such events as the Massanutten Mountain Massacre, Wild Oak, Mt. Masochists, and David's "Trans-Virginia" Runs. Roger ran in them, he crewed for runners in them, he was part of them. Roger never just showed up for a run. He was always a big part of it.
You were just as likely to see Roger help at a run as to run.
Helping for Roger was never just standing around. One year, he crewed for Dennis Herr (I believe it was) at Laurel Highlands. Everyone knows that there are three "extra" aid points that your crew can get to at LHT if he or she knows the way. But Roger would not settle for those three. Roger was all over the place. He hit the "regular" places and far more. Heaven only knows how he got there, but he was everywhere. That was Roger.
Roger was equally obsessive as a race volunteer. I remember him when he helped with registration one year at MMT. He had the whole thing down to a science. With what seemed like one exaggerated motion, he put your t-shirt, number, publicity junk, and safety pins in your bag and stuck it in your gut saying, "Good luck, Guy!"
Roger always knew all about everything. If you needed, for example, to know what was going on with JFK, Roger knew. Roger had done everything at JFK -- run it, crewed it, and been a lead volunteer. The last year that JFK went over route 340 (as opposed to going under, as it now does), Roger was in charge of the volunteers trying to get a few hundred runners across a freeway without getting killed. He was directing traffic like the guy on the flight deck of a carrier. As always, he had everything under control.
Roger had an opinion on just about everything. I remember running with him one time in 1999 when he tried to convince me that all hell was really going to break loose on January 1, 2000. He agreed that the technical Y2K fears were overblown, but he believed that there would be wide spread panic. His proof was that, "You can't buy a generator anywhere in the United States. They are out of stock." When I later reported to him that I had seen some generators for sale in Home Depot, he was unfazed. He was going to be ready!
Roger loved to help people. I remember first knowing Roger as the "second" to good runners like Don (Roger always called him "Donny") Lookingbill from Pennsylvania. He would drive along and help his charge better than any crew. He continued as a helper throughout his running career. More recently, he paced Jeanne Christie at MMT in 1998 and ran with Joe on part of his Tuscarora Run last year.
But Roger loved to run also. He rarely showed up when we wimped out and just ran locally, but if we drove to the mountains, there was likely to be a car (or pickup, or van) parked at the trail head with Roger slumped over and dozing as he waited for our arrival. He was on many of the great runs from back then. The Old Rag-White Oak Canyon loop, the Buck Hollow-Mary's Rock loop, the Browntown loop, the Signal Knob loop. He did them all.
Two of my most vivid memories of Roger's personality both occurred during the Trail Run Across the Commonwealth. One year, on the first day, a runner was late coming into Elizabeth Furnace. I was waiting hours for him. I was equal parts pissed at the runner for getting lost and frightened that he might be in trouble. Finally, Roger, who had finished long before, drove up in his (or someone else's) van. Roger analyzed the situation and said, "Wherever he is, he is not coming here, let's go." Roger was right. The runner was in Strasburg, on the other side of the mountain.
Roger ran very well during the first three days of TRAC that year. All he had to do was run the last day on the bike path, and he would finish with a good time. He went home the third day and called me that night. He was not going to do the fourth day. He had had enough fun, and he did not care about the honor of crossing all of Virginia. My pleas that he come finish it up were to no avail. Roger had made up his mind. (It's not that Roger wouldn't run the bike path. Among his many running achievements was his win of the 1993 Andiamo 45 Mile Run in what was then course record time.)
As I looked around for pictures of Roger for the Web site, I found several but only one (above) was solely of him. Roger was always in a crowd. That was Roger.
Roger is in my personal favorite running picture. It is at the end of this story. It is the picture I took off the refrigerator to scan. It's a picture of Larry Grossman, Doug Young, Dennis Herr, David Horton, Ed Demoney, Chris Scott, Joe Clapper, Tim Stanley, Jeff Newton, me, and Roger. We were about to start a 25 mile run through the mountains of Dennis's Wild Oak. The run was cold, hard, long, and fun. Through runs like that, the people in that picture became some of my closest friends. It is rough to lose one of those friends.
If I take anything from Roger's passing, it is that I should not let opportunities to get out in the mountains pass. Roger won't be meeting us anymore, but we can still go. Next time we do Old Rag, we will be sure to check all the cars at the trail head. Somehow, someway, I think Roger will be there.
So long, Guy!
(If you would like to share a memory of Roger, e-mail me at email@example.com.)
More pictures of Roger.