Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Kevin Clinefelter, R.I.P.

Kevin Clinefelter
R.I.P. December 27, 1955 - July 13, 2019

Kevin Clinefelter is the third Masters Runner to pass, unexpectedly, this year while still in the prime of a Masters Running career. Mark Richtman and Jeff Salzman died earlier this year, Richtman from a kayak misadventure and Salzman from a stroke. It is a reminder to all of us to take nothing for granted, to cherish our teammates and fellow runners, to enjoy the camaraderie of running, and to relish the gift that we receive with every workout and race we engage in. Our hearts are filled with sorrow and we reach out to Clinefelter's family, friends and teammates to ease their pain. Those who knew him as a runner will remember him with joy and think of him at his best, whether running for his team in National Championships, or just running for the sake of running.

First a tribute from his coach and friend, Mike Reif, and then a brief Race-ography below.

Tribute from Coach Mike Reif,  Genesee Valley Harriers on July 13, 2019
It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that we lost Kevin Clinefelter today. This was due to sudden cardiac failure during or shortly after running most of the Shore Line Half Marathon this morning. Indeed it was a total shock and with great sadness when I heard the news a short while ago. I am deeply saddened as I am sure all who knew Kevin are. He had not been feeling well the week before and he knew he was doing the race because of his passion just to run. Running gave Kevin great peace and comfort.

As many of you know, Kevin was a dedicated runner with the Genesee Valley Harriers Running Club (GVH) for the past 4+ years. He had his own unique style for sure and he made friends with everyone. He helped everyone pursue their dreams, ran many phenomenal times, paced races, had a unique sense of humor, listened to whatever you had to say and was just an all around great guy. Kevin was serious about all he did and he did it with passion and precision. No doubt about that, for he and I had detailed discussions before and after every workout regarding the plan, the pace, the strategy, how it went . . . the ups and downs of injuries . . . and life. I enjoyed our conversations because they were serious, fun and always thought provoking. He almost always listened to my suggestions and thanked me often.

Kevin made some dramatic improvements over the time period he was with GVH. He worked extremely hard. He followed with precision the workout plans, paces and input I provided him and he was not only pleased with the results but deep inside he was ecstatic with his accomplishments. We, his team captains, team mates and I lured him into running USATF National Championship events around the country, despite some initial reticence on his part. Before you knew it he was hooked and eventually Kevin was the deciding runner in winning several first place team National Championship titles. He qualified and ran the Boston Marathon several times during his tenure with us and he loved it.  We were proud of all of his efforts, contributions and successes. His times and places in national events were phenomenal, especially for someone who took up the sport or running later in life. He befriended runners from across the country and enjoyed the camaraderie of his team-mates and fellow runners whether they were with GVH, Fleet Feet, Medved, Rochester Running Company or whoever he was with.

We will miss Kevin immensely and he will be remembered as a very fast National Champion level runner, who was a friendly dude and who’s passion for life and running was intense.

Once I hear any details about services and celebrating Kevin's life I will share them with you.

RIP Kevin.

Coach Mike Reif


USATF National Masters 10k Dedham Ma.                   USATF National Masters 5KXC Team Champs


Kevin and Meb                                                                 Kevin - helping everyone - a great pace setter
[Pics above from Mike Reif's tribute to Kevin Clinefelter]


The earliest Athlinks entry I can find for Kevin Clinefelter is the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge 2007. It was a 5K run at the end of May when Clinefelter was 51. He ran 33:51. Like many of us busy with career, family and such, he probably trained when he could but that was not central. His running  improved massively in just a few years. He ran the same race two years later and his pace was still over 10 minutes per mile. But something happened over the next two years. By 2011 when he was 56, he was running well under 7 minutes per mile for a 5K and right around 7 minutes per mile for a 10K. He had found himself as a runner, and improved rapidly from there. 

The first time I find him competing for GVH in a National Championship is the Club XC Championships at Tallahassee in 2016. He was the top runner on their 60+ B team and had a faster time than the 4th and 5th runners for their 'A' team. The following February, Clinefelter joined the crew that headed out to Bend, OR for Cross Country Nationals held on that punishing course on the side of an Oregon cinder cone. He was 3rd runner for the 60+  'A' team, coming in 5th; he enabled GVH to take the title away from the San Diego Striders by a single point! From that point forward he was always on the A team, sometimes as #3 sometimes #2, and at least once as the top runner on the A Team. Later that year he sandwiched a 3:49 Boston Marathon in between a 30:59 effort at the 8 Km Championships in Virginia Beach and a 39:52 at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham. As the #2 runner on the team at Dedham, he played a key role in their landing on the podium. 
Kevin Clinefelter #49-left, along with his teammates celebrating their 60+ 3rd place finish at the 2017 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships - To his left, our right, are Bill Beyerbach, Gary Radford, Mitch Moore, and Mike Reif
[Photo-USATF NE]

Although primarily a 5K to 10K guy, Clinefelter ran the Shoreline Half Marathon every July starting in 2015. He clocked 1:31:11 in 2016. When the call went out for 60+ athletes to run for the team in the 2018 Half Marathon Championships, he jumped at the opportunity. He ran a 1:34:42 as #2 runner for GVH. That fall, on the cross country turf, he was #3 runner on the GVH team that took the 5 Km Masters Cross Country title in Buffalo. As at Bend, he made the critical difference in GVH snatching the title from the Hartford Track Club, on the tie-breaker! At Cross Country Nationals this past February in Tallahassee, Clinefelter was the top finisher for GVH, leading the way for GVH to land on the podium! In March he did his usual fine job for the team, #2 runner on the GVH 60+ team that took 4th in Virginia Beach. No one would have thought that would be his final race for GVH.  

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