Saturday Spotlight- Kurt LaForest

Name: Kurt “Runner” LaForest
Age: 53 (soon to be 54) or really old and near death according to my children
Profession: Accounting/Finance
Relationship: Suzanne Garber (Girl Friend) and co owner of one evil Dog
Children: 4
Grandchildren: 3
Hobbies: Running, biking, swimming and cooking

It is my humble honor to do the Saturday Spotlight and after reading so many wonderful posts for the previous year. Like so many before me I have written and re written this post and trying to decide how and why I became a runner.

As with most people I was born to a mother and father in Seattle. My folks were very poor and my father soon abandons the family after my sister was born. My mother who was always a heavy smoker soon turned to drugs and remarried a man who was into drugs and alcohol himself. Growing up their was not much parental supervision and I pretty much had free reign to do whatever I chose to do as a kid which involved stealing chocolate and other mischievous things. After increasing run ins with police and occasionally the court system I spent some time in and out of foster homes for a few years in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Eventually my parents sobered up and I returned home but by then I am seriously honed skills of chocolate stealing and running around with the bad element.

Things changed for me in my teen age years. A few people who I called friends eventually died through violent means and my one stable influence in my life (my grandmother) passed. It dawned on me that going to jail, fighting and stealing chocolate (well 2 of the 3) was no way to go through life.

My parents eventually moved us out of the inner city to the suburbs where I attended a “normal” high school. The only issue was I had a hard time fitting in as fighting and stealing chocolate was not permitted in my school. I turned to sports when I was 15 at the recommendation of a vice principal after one of my weekly corporal punishments (pretty much had a paddle with my name on it and standing Friday morning appt to get a swat but he was a good guy and I respected him). I liked sports but was not particularly good at them. One of the track coaches told me due to my asthma that I would not last and I should quit running. However I found my desire to win was strong and I did fairly well in wrestling and ok in track and 39 years later with the help of 3 medications for asthma I still enjoy running and refuse to quit (Death before DNF is my motto)!

As I settled down in my teen age years I found new outlet for my never ending quest to see what new trouble I could create. I took up pranking with a partner in crime and we became quite good at them which cumulated in us borrowing a Volkswagen beetle from the street and putting it in the principal’s office my senior year.

After High School I went to college (very uneventful sorry to say except swapping vinegar for wine during mass and few other things like putting chains on police cars attached to things or potato’s in the police car exhaust pipes, borrowing the University Chancellor’s custom made sign and other things like that) I kept on running and started to get better as I pushed myself and worked with some local runners and local running clubs. This was an exciting time for running as the running craze was taking off and becoming mainstream in the early 80’s.

After college I joined the Marines as an officer did the usual stuff Marine Officers do and really started running more and more. While in the USMC I can honestly say I believe running kept me focused on myself and what was important. Running helped me keep disciplined and I was really pushing my body harder and harder and actually getting fast for a brief period of time. I elected to get out of the USMC after receiving my Graduate degree from University of North Carolina (I root for UNC and anyone dook plays when it comes to basketball by the way) By now I was having my 4th kid so running became more important to keep me focused on being a good father. During this phase of my life I started to work with various coaches from Chicago and Atlanta and took in everything they were teaching others. I found it extremely rewarding.

Fast forward to 2007 After a few job changes and my marriage over I found myself sent to this frozen north (yes work transferred me up here) we call Long Island. In 2012 I ran a race with North Country Road Warriors where this really tall guy I barely recognized push me hard on the Jamesport 10K He introduced himself as KC and his revenge was to invite me to the hills. I was happy at the time to be invited to Selden Hills thinking how hard this could be? After all it is just a few hills. After the first 2 miles I concluded 1) KC was a demon sent to torment me and 2) I really wanted to choke him if I caught him. Fortunately I never did catch him that day and was some time before I went back for a 2nd run. That time I met Christina, Eileen, Dara, Todd and Vanessa among others. I remember Tabs was doing a silly happy dance that made me chuckle and she introduced herself to me and that same day I made one attempt to run with Eileen and Dara (and never have since made that mistake after they ran me into the ground the time we ran the course backwards). It took me some time but eventually I warmed up to Todd and Vanessa (years of avoiding police officers and my natural wariness around anything law enforcement) Since then I have met many wonderful and interesting folks at the hills and admire Lou for running a wonderful and exciting group.

I still enjoy running even though my desire to compete is now usually targeted for one or two races a year as my asthma has limited me more and more along with normal body afflictions resulting from being near death according to my youngest. What I do enjoy more is helping others and giving back to the running community both by volunteering and helping those achieve their goals. The highlight of my helping others was seeing last year 9 wonderful ladies finish their races (marathons and half marathons) and most meeting their goals. Watching them and helping them was the something I can’t express in words but the joy and pleasure it brought me was completely rewarding. My other enjoyment when I am not running, biking or swimming is cooking. I like to try new recipes out and see what works on guests. Any excuse for me to cook a nice meal I typically look for. So that is my story, I still have my demons but running helps me each and every day and being part of the Selden Hill Community is important to me and gives me strength (especially having to deal with that evil dog each day).

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