Bob Potts definitely had an old-school personality.
Potts, one of the founding members of the York Road Runners Club, was the kind of man who didn't believe in excuses when it was time to compete.
Sore foot? Run through it, he'd say.
Pain in the leg? Get over it.
Too cold? Suck it up and deal.
Potts, who died in 2005, was much more than that, however. There were a lot of positive and endearing qualities that friends and family alike recall about Bob Potts without missing a beat.
Bob's son, Sean, is one of those people. Sean Potts remembers a caring man who sought out the best in others. He was also the hardest-working person that Sean ever knew.
So back in 2008, Sean decided to honor the life of his father by holding the first and only marathon held entirely in York County. The Bob Potts Marathon, which began in May of 2009, has been an instant success from the start. The fields for the race have regularly topped 400 and this year's event, slated for Sunday, is already sold out with 525 runners registered.
We caught up with Sean Potts recently to talk about the marathon and the memories of his father in this week's edition of Sports Q&A.
What was your dad like as a person?
"He was a caring person. He tried to find the best in people. Also, he was a hard worker. He came from a background where he didn't have a lot, but he didn't believe in excuses."
How big of a role did running/racing play in his life?
"It played a very important role in his life. He raced almost every weekend. Runners are like Grateful Dead fans. There is a huge sense of community. The Bob Potts Marathon is all about community."
How good of a runner was your dad?
"He was one of the top in his age group every year. His best marathon was a 2:54. He was known for his ability to surge past and demoralize his opponent."
What is your fondest memory of him?
"We were West Virginia football season ticket holders. During the one season, we were losing to Syracuse by at least 30 at half. It was brutally cold and snowing. I said that I had enough and started walking to the exit. He followed me and said, "No! We are fans of this team, and we will go back and sit in our seats until the game ends. Real fans don't leave." We went back and froze. I learned something about character that day."
Did his running in fluence you in the deci sions you made in your life (i.e. involvement in the sport, coaching the Central York cross country team)?
"My entire childhood involved running and road races, so it definitely had a huge impact on me. My dad was a huge inspiration to me, and he still is today. I think that running became a metaphor for hard work and determination."
How many years is this now for the Bob Potts Marathon?
"This is the fourth year. We have some runners who have participated every year."
What are the chal lenges that you face in putting together an event like this?
"There are a lot of requirements that people don't realize. Insurance, waivers, volunteers, meetings. Honestly, it is like a full-time job. Luckily I have a committee of dedicated helpers."
How many partici pants do you expect this year?
"We will have about 525 who start the marathon."
What are the prima ry goals you hope to achieve in executing an event like this?
"My goal is to have the marathon runners feel as if they have been a part of a very organized and positive experience. A marathon is a journey of the body and the mind and we just want to facilitate that experience."
Finally, what do you think your dad would say if he knew you ded icated an entire race just to him?
"He would be proud to know that we have a marathon in York. He loved the rail trail (where part of the marathon is held) and he would love this race. We have a bench in his memory at the turnaround. This is his resting place."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.