From the Editor's Desk

The first time I met Doc Lopez he was being cussed out and I was thrilled. It was more than 30 years ago. I wasnt living in the North Country at the time, but had heard of a road race that went from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid. It sounded like fun, so a friend and I made the trek. As the race developed, I found myself in a dual with another runner. As we neared the finish at the Olympic Center on Main Street we were side-by-side coming down the hill leading to downtown. As we made the right-hand turn onto Main Street we found cars parked on both sides of the street and a large truck in the center. Being on the inside, I was able to jump onto to the sidewalk, while my rival had to cross the street and run an extra 20-30 yards. I won the race by about six inches. As Doc presented me with a trophy, my rival was very vocal about the lack of traffic control. That story came to mind after learning of Dr. Robert Doc Lopezs death March 12 at age 84. Doc was a man runners had to respect. He was committed to the sport long before fitness became fashionable. He ran over 65 marathons and ultramarathons. He carried the Olympic Torch in 1980. He also organized countless races in the area, promoting the sport to all who would listen. Years after my first meeting with Doc I had moved to the area and took my daughter Meaghan, then 5 years old, to the Run for Hope in Elizabethtown. In her first race, Meaghan ran the five-kilometer (3.1 miles) event. Doc was so taken with Meaghan he included her in the awards ceremony, presenting her with a medal and having her photo taken with the champions of the other races. As the years passed Meaghan and I ran a lot of races organized by Doc and he always made a point of encouraging Meaghan and others. Meaghan went on to become a state championship race qualifier in high school and this past season was captain of her college cross country team. Doc probably didnt know it, but he had a role in that and maybe more. Docserved for several years as chairman of the Essex County Democratic Party. Meaghan is now president of her schools College Democrats chapter. Doc was a veterinarian, but not a mathematician. Runners knew his races were often long or short. The Run for Hope half-marathon was never a half marathon. Its nearly a mile short of the required 13.1 miles. And his July 4th race in Westport was the longest 5K in history. After running it the first time I drove the course to find it was nearly 5 miles long instead of 3.1. The important thing, though, is that Doc loved running and runners. He wanted to give us an opportunity to participate and he was a smashing success at that. He was a man ahead of his time when it came to fitness and running, said Fred Hooper, who took over the Run for Hope about a dozen years ago. He certainly left his mark not only as a generous man who offered this race, but as a kind, giving man. Amen. This weekend is the annual Run for Hope and more than 100 runners are expected. None would be there if Doc hadnt shown the way. Fred Herbst is an editor for Denton Publications. He can be reached at fred@denpubs.com

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