Jeff McGowan - On the Run With Matt Mcgowan

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On the Run With Matt Mcgowan

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Jeff McGowan

Posted by Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan
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img 1289Jeff’s recent health issues started the first week of September 2011. He rode the 100 mile Pelotonia in August, then went to the hospital the first week of September and spent seven days there with an aortic dissection. This could have been cause by his high blood pressure or by genetics.

Circleville City Schools rename track to McGowan Family Track –

The McGowan Family Track

The doctors gave him a number of medicines and he missed four months of work. On a recent check up, the aortic dissection was enlarged and the doctors decided to perform surgery. But before they could do this surgery, he also had an abnormality in one of his arteries. On May 8th, he had a bypass to redirect blood flow into his right arm. The surgery lasted 3 hours. The doctors sent part of his artery to be genetically tested.

On May 9th, his expected 6 hours of surgery lasted over 14 hours. Jeff received 30 units of blood and twice the doctors had to cool his body temperature to 17 degrees Celsius to stop all blood flow in his body to do the surgery. These two procedures lasted for a total of 40 minutes. Twice, the doctors met with the family members and said it didn’t look good. However, on the thirteenth hour, things started to look up for Jeff. For the next four days he was sedated. Jeff was able to respond to voices on the fifth day. By the sixth day he was awake. By day six, he was able to talk and he was able to walk a little by the eighth day. After two weeks he was released from the hospital. I visited him on Wednesday and talked with him on Thursday. But, something went wrong Saturday morning, May 26th, and we lost Jeff.  The autopsy best can determine it was a blood clot which caused Jeff’s death.

Jeff was a 1983 graduate of Circleville High School and a 1990 graduate of Ohio University. Jeff set school records at Circleville High School in the 2.5 mile and 5km cross country events as well as in the 800 meters, 1600 meters and 3200 meters. His senior year Jeff placed 3rd in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships and was second in the 800 meters and 1600 meters at the OHSAA State Track & Field Championships.

When Jeff was a senior at Ohio University he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That is when I decided to start RUNOHIO and asked him to help me. After being at the Columbus Marathon Expo on Friday night (1988) I returned home to find out our father had passed away. Jeff and I along with our mother decided to continue with RUNOHIO and printed our first copy the following March. After eleven months of chemotherapy Jeff’s disease was in remission. During this time our family started the Circleville Classic 5 Miler to bring attention to Jeff’s health issues

For the past 24 years Jeff has help me with RUNOHIO. He did the subscriptions and RUNOHIO Grand Prix updates. We also attended numerous road races, OHSAA State Cross Country and Track and Field Championships, National Championships, Olympic Trials and The Running Network National meetings.

Some of my fondest memories of spending time with Jeff as we worked on RUNOHIO include:

We covered five of the last six USA Track and Field Olympic Team Trials. We both were able to get media passes for the 1996 Atlanta Trials. There we witnessed Michael Johnson set a World Record in the 200 meters. The evening after his record I was sitting with Jeff and a group of six other Ohio runners when we learned Johnson was upstairs and our table sent him some champagne. A few minutes later Michael Johnson stopped by our table to thank us and sign a few autographs. Later in the evening Dan O’Brien spoke to us and he sat down at our table and discussed the decathlon and in particular his 1500 meters.

My mother won a trip to the Olympic Games and she and Jeff went together.

At the 2004 Olympic Track and Field Trials, Jeff and I shared a room with 1964 5000 meter Olympic Gold Medallist Bob Schul.

At the 2008 Olympic Track and Field Trials we were able to enjoy the running community of Eugene and run on the Prefontaine Trail and visit the Pre rock.

Jeff and I also worked on a number of races together. I took over the race directorship of the Columbus 10K twenty years ago. Jeff was the person who got me to register for the inaugural race when the race was called the Citizen Journal 10K. He was in junior high and when I returned home from the NCAA Track Nationals I wasn’t happy with my performance. Jeff told me about this race and suggested we both run the race. With his encouragement I entered and won. After taking over the directorship of the race I wasn’t happy with the timing company we used. So the next year Jeff created his own computer finish line program and purchased a race clock. For the next 17 years we worked together on this race. He also timed other races like the Athens Marathon, Circleville Classic 5 Miler, Shamrock Club 5K, Gary Smith Classic and The Arnold 5K Pump and Run. Jeff created a program for the Arnold 5K Pump and Run to allow a runner’s time to be reduced after he keyed in the number of their lifts

Jeff and I also attended a number of The Running Network National meetings. For a number of years this meeting was held at Walt Disney World during their marathon and half marathon. We had the pleasure to meet numerous running enthusiasts like Bob Fitzgerald, Victor Sailer, Chuck Bartlett and Larry Eder.

While I was Eugene last month I revisited the Pre's Rock which is a memorial at the site of the roadside boulder where Prefontaine died. The memorial features a plaque with a picture of Prefontaine that reads (which I think also expresses how many feel about Jeff).

“ For your dedication and loyalty

To your principles and beliefs...

For your love, warmth, and friendship

For your family and friends...

You are missed by so many

And you will never be forgotten.”

My grandfather Fred Howell lived to be 98 years old. My father Jim died at the age of 59, which is too young. Jeff was 47 years old, which is way too young.

The proceeds from the September 15th 3rd annual Shamrock Club of Columbus Halfway to St Patrick’s Day 5km will be donated to the scholarship fund.  Register online -

The 25th annual Circleville Classic 5 Mile on October 20th will also honor Jeff.  Register online –

Proceeds from the March 3rd (which is Jeff’s birthday) Arnold 5K will also be donated to the Jeff McGowan Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

Hopefully, you can participate in or volunteer for the above events.

I will always remember him and I hope you will as well.

Memorial contributions may be made to the: Jeff McGowan Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o RUNOHIO, PO Box 238, Granville, OH 43023.

For more information on making a donation and to receive a gift to remember Jeff –


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