In Memory: Jeff McGowan

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In Memory: Jeff McGowan

on 31 May 2012.

Jeff recent health issues started the first week of September.  Jeff who rode the 100 mile Pelotonia last August went to the hospital the first week of September and spent seven days there with an Aorta dissection.  This could have been cause by his high blood pressure or by genetics.

The doctors gave him a number of medicines and he missed four months of work.  On a recent check up the Aorta dissection was enlarged and the doctors decided to due surgery.  But before they could do this surgery he had abnormality in one of his artery.  On My 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 17degree 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 meet with the family members and said it didn’t look good.  However, on the 13th 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 6 he was able to talk and he was able to walk a little by the 8th 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 and we lost Jeff.

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 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 work on RUNOHIO include:

We covered 5 of the last 6 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 Champaign.  A few minutes later Michael Johnson stopped by our table to thank us and sign a few autographs.  Letter in the evening Dan O’Brien spoke to us and he sat down at our table and discussed the decathlon and 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 Medalist 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 raced 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 Sailor, Chuck Bartlett and Larry Eder.

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.

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.

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