Leona Clapper (1930-2020)
We are sad to announce that a former member of the Central Maine Striders and inductee to the Maine Running Hall of Fame, Leona Clapper passed away earlier this summer.
From her obituary in the Bangor Daily News (Jul 5, 2020):
Leona E. Clapper
March 11, 1930 - June 28, 2020
BUCKSPORT - Leona E. Clapper, 90, passed away peacefully on June 28, 2020, surrounded by her loving family. She was born on March 11, 1930 in North Haven, Maine, to Clarence and Lena Stone. She spent most of her adult life in Bucksport, where she raised her twelve children with her husband of 67 years, Charles. She had a strong love for her family and friends. She was always smiling and ready to give a hug to all.
Leona was a competitive runner in the local community for many years. She completed a number of marathons. She was well known and admired among runners. In 1992, she was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame.
Besides running, Leona also loved playing bridge and knitting. She and her husband frequently played in bridge groups. She knit numerous items for family and friends, and also donated many to her church's craft fair. She was a long time parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Bucksport.
In addition to her parents, Leona was predeceased by her sister Harriet Pendleton and her husband Danny Pendleton, by her sister Eleanor Jackson, by her daughter Barbara Thompson, and by her sons-in-law Richard Stevens, Richard Leach, and Richard Schroeder.
Leona is survived by her husband Charles, her sister Marjorie Pendleton and her husband James Pendleton, her brother-in-law Paul Jackson, her son Charles and his wife Alta, her daughter Leona Stevens, her daughter Catherine Leach, her daughter Theresa Clapper, her son Thomas Clapper, her son-in-law Thomas Thompson, her son Gerard Clapper and his wife Caskie, her son Joseph Clapper and his wife Renee, her daughter Margaret Jones and her husband Christopher, her daughter Mary Buck and her husband Bryan, her daughter Patricia Craig and her husband John, and her son Michael Clapper and his wife Regina. She is also survived by dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
There will be a private service for family only later in the summer.
There will be a celebration of life for family and friends at a later date.
Arrangements by Mitchell-Tweedie Funeral Home and cremation Services Bucksport.
And from her 1992 Maine Running Hall of Fame profile:
Unselfish Giving Has Made All the Difference
A native of North Haven, Leona Clapper, born March 11,1930, is one of the legendary Clapper family of Bucksport, perhaps the best-known running family in road racing from the late 1970s through the ‘90s. Leona and her husband, Charles, also an avid road-racer, raised twelve children, six of whom took up competitive running. The best-known was Gerry, who became one of the best college distance runners ever to run for the University of Maine.
Leona, a housewife and mother most of her life, started running when she was 48 in 1978, drawn into the sport from watching her children run. “We decided we wanted to do it too,” she said in 1994, a few months after she was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame at its ceremony in Waterville. Leona was one of only a few women who competed in the 50-plus age bracket during the early 1980s, and she set many course records.
Her best career efforts include a 22:09 5k at age 54 in 1984; and a 1:18:52 10-miler at age 52 in 1982, when she also ran her fastest marathon, 3:50:33, in Orono. Among her best races were a 45:33 in the Great Pumpkin 10-K in 1981 at age 51; 22:39 in the Cranberry Island 5-K, 1982; 22:29 in the Terry Fox 5-K, 1984, age 54; and 72:14 15-K at Schoodic Point in 1984.
Through 1994 she had completed six marathons, her first at the Paul Bunyan Marathon in Orono in 1980, two years after she started running. A member of the Central Maine Striders, she was honored as Strider of the Year in 1986. Among her many great admirers over the years was Jerry Saint Amand, president of the Central Maine Striders from 1985 through 1990. Saint Amand wrote the following about one of his favorite people: “It’s easy to overlook this gentle, gray-haired lady, now in her late 60s, should you see her in a group,” said Saint Amand. “She has never been loud, always a simple person in dress and manner, and she would blush and poo-poo you should you recognize her as one of the leading lights of women’s running in Maine for many years.
“It was never her running times that made Bucksport’s Leona Clapper someone you’d notice at the top of state race results. It was instead her love of running, the surprise within herself at her love of age group competition, and her becoming the unofficial ‘mother’ of all women runners that made her a core person in Maine running. This is a woman who started late in life, for it was daughter Margaret and son Gerry who were usually listed among the leading male and female finishers in the early to mid-‘80s. Leona didn’t start showing up in results until her late 40s. At 49, she was finishing the Grand Willey 10-K in August of ’80 in 58:13. Not much to shout about you might think, until you find her at age 50 crossing the finish line in the well-known Benjamin’s 10-K in Bangor in November of 1981, in 45:48,” continued Saint Amand.
“It was her determination to improve that kept her busy, but it was her gracious manner and genuine smile that won the hearts of all Maine runners and officials who knew her. Leona and husband Charlie opened their hearts and their home to runners from all over the state after each summer’s Tour du Lac 10-Miler in Bucksport, a tradition that continues today. It has been Leona’s warm words of encouragement to countless younger female runners that inspired them to keep going as she herself set the example that older women can run distance from the popular 5-Ks to marathons! Voted by Maine’s second-largest running club, the Central Maine Striders, as their female Strider of the Year in 1986, Leona also shared the special Bruce Ellis Award with her husband Charlie in 1991 for their contributions to running over the years,” added Saint Amand. Saint Amand concluded: “I am only one of the people who Leona has quietly encouraged when things were not going well, and her acceptance of life and its ups and downs continues to inspire many of us. The Maine Running Hall of Fame has places for Maine’s fastest male and female runners, and for others who have had long, successful running careers. I truly believe there must also be a special place for those whose unselfish giving of their hearts and souls to running has made the difference for so many others, and Leona Clapper is the finest example I know of.”
Former Maine Running publisher Bob Booker feels much the same way. He wrote in one of his issues: “One day this spring, Tanya went to the mailbox and retrieved a brown shipping envelope addressed to Ethan. She opened it and found a beautiful, hand-knit sweater with the words, ‘Paul Bunyan Marathon’ across the back and the legendary lumberjack himself on the chest. A note was attached that simply said, ‘For the little fellow.’ Right out of the clear blue! No strings attached! That’s the kind of person Leona Clapper is. A woman who has dedicated her life to the concerns of others before her own needs and desires.”
Doc & Mardie Brown 5k - 2020
Race Director Patrick Guerette gave us this update about the Doc & Mardie 5k scheduled for August:
Over 20 years ago I ran the Palermo Days 5k, I vaguely recall the course, I have no idea my time, but I have a pretty vivid memory of watching an 80 year old lady finish the race, and being completely blown away by her effort. I know I had run other races with Mardie Brown, but for some reason this is the race that sticks out in my mind.
As a teenager, I know I didn't fully grasp how amazing Mardie or her husband Donald "Doc" Brown were, but after directing the Doc & Mardie 5k for the past 8 years, and listening to other Central Maine Striders share their affections and stories, it's hard not to amazed. It wasn't until after moving back to Waterville in 2012 that I learned Mardie was not only a runner, but more impressively, an age group record holder in Master's Swimming and that Doc was a tennis & racquetball player into his 90's, when injuries slowed him down to just working out several times a week.
Now, as Race Director for the Doc & Mardie 5k its been my pleasure to honor the memory of Doc & Mardie, share their story, and hopefully inspire others to get & stay active at any age. I hope you will join me at the Alfond Youth & Community Center on Saturday, August 22nd for the 15th Annual Doc & Mardie 5k. We are currently working on a plan that would allow us to hold a live race with appropriate social distancing measures. For more information, please visit https://docmardie5k.weebly.com/.
The Central Maine Striders are proud to have several active members that have been with us since the early days of the club. "Catching Up With The Pack" is where we track some of them down and get some updates on what's going on in their life these days. Last month, we caught up with Gust Stringos. And this month, as I was gathering articles for our latest edition of "Running Backwards: A Jog Through the Strider Archives", I came across a couple excellent articles by Joanie Rhoda about her experience qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the age of 59, only to have her Boston experience marred by the 2013 bombing. Since our flashback to 2013 was getting to be a pretty long article, I decided to include her 2012 and 2013 marathon articles here, along with our "catching up" with her.
I believe the last time I wrote in the Club newsletter was in 2013 after running in the Boston Marathon. That was the race where the terrible bombing happened at the finish line. I had reached the 25 1/2 mile mark with less than a mile to go when the throngs of runners were stopped in their tracks and could not complete the race. It was a heartbreaking moment for me and I’m sure for thousands of other runners to not complete something we had aspired to and trained for, for months and even years.
However, I found a way I could mend the brokenness I felt over what happened. In the spring of 2014, my son Adam, who was flying home to Maine from Seattle where he lives, met me in Boston and together we ran the last mile of the marathon. It wasn’t quite the same as it would have been on race day – we had to dodge people on the sidewalks – but it did heal my heart somewhat and brought some closure to an event that started out so joyfully and ended so tragically.
As a longtime member of the Central Maine Striders (it was the Maine Road Ramblers back in the 70’s), I was asked to provide an update on my running life now. Unfortunately I had to stop running in 2016 due to arthritis in my second toe. With bone on bone, it caused quite a bit of pain. I believe the injury was caused by dropping a can on my toe years ago or by a horse that stepped on my foot a long time ago. Surely running wouldn’t have caused it! My second toe was the only joint affected. In 2017, I had an implant inserted into the toe joint which helped decrease the pain but not enough for me to feel safe stressing it by running. I miss running very much. It was part of my life for 45 years, and wasn’t something I ever thought I would stop doing. In the beginning after the surgery, whenever I saw a runner on the road, I’d feel a stabbing sensation in my heart because I wanted to be that runner in the worst way.
It’s been 3 years since the surgery, and I can look back on the years and races with happiness and pride. I had run in countless races and completed 9 marathons, including 6 miles of the Boston Marathon while 8 months pregnant in 1984. The Club was a source of unity for runners like me. The joy of running united all of us, and because of that, we were all friends.
I have found other ways to exercise that are just as satisfying (well almost) as running – walking, bicycling, and backpacking. I am a section-hiker of the Appalachian Trail and have back-packed from Georgia to Vermont – over 1,600 miles – over 15 years. My husband and I have about 600 miles to go over some of the toughest sections of the entire Trail. I consider it an adventure of a lifetime which will take the rest of my lifetime to complete.
I look forward to reading the stories of other Club members, especially the friends I had back in the early days.
From the March 2012 issue of The Interval:
From the July 2013 issue of The Interval:
From the August 2013 issue of The Interval:
This month we're running back to 2013, which seems to have been a resurgent year for the Striders. In fact, you could probably say that it was the start to a new era for the club. There were a lot of great articles reminiscing about the past from some club members that had been around a long time, and at the same time, it seems that Patrick Guerette, along with the help of Harold Shaw and a few others, were bringing the club into the modern era. The webpage was created, a Facebook page started, and the Quarry Road Summer Race series was run for the first time.
Announcement for the 2013 January Thaw :
In early March of 2013, there was a Striders meeting and some of the items discussed included:
- "A new CMS slogan. "we share the roads" doesn't accurately reflect the makeup of runners in Central maine, because we share everything. [As far as I know, the slogan was just dropped and not replaced]
- Bringing back some CMS singlets and t-shirts for members.
- Developing a Central Maine Striders website. Key components being a race & events calendar as well as a way to join the Striders (printable or online reg). -- Harold Shaw
- Add any upcoming races to the Facebook Page under events, great way to promote your race
- Lastly, an outline of Patrick's plans for the summer race series to be held at the Quarry Rd:
And by the end of the year, the new officers for the club were made official:
And here are the full results from the first ever Quarry Road Summer Race Series, as published in various issues of The Interval that year:
Congratulations for making it to the end of another marathon jog through the Central Maine Striders archive. Sometimes, you never know where running backwards can take you. Although, I recommend you run forwards in all cases not related to reading articles about the history of the Central Maine Striders.
In case you haven't heard, the Quarry Road Summer Race Series is happening again this year, albeit in a slightly different format due to the unique nature of the pandemic world we're living in right now. Just in case you didn't know about it yet or if you just want to get more information, Patrick Guerette (the founder of the event) sent along this message:
COVID-19 has really crushed the local racing scene this summer, which is one reason why I am thrilled that we were able to land on a racing format that provides an option for runners to compete. Not only are the courses just as challenging, time trials also add a unique mental test to the race, as it's much easier to push yourself when you are trying to close the gap on another runner, or running scared. Simply put, if you are able to push yourself on a solo effort, it will make you a stronger runner & racer in the future.
With nearly 60 runners signed up to run this summer, and over 40 finishers in each of the first 2 weeks we have exceeded our original expectations for the series this summer. With that said, if you are not signed up for the series yet, it's not too late, there are still options to register for 1, 3 or all 9 (6 remaining) races by clicking here.
After the first 2 weeks, it looks like there will be quite a few closely contested age group battles, which adds a bit of excitement to the race series, if you want to keep up on the results, we invite you to view our race results and standings online here.
See you on the trails!
Bonus Question: Do you know what year Patrick organized the first Quarry Road Race Series?
Bonus Information: As a paying member of the Central Maine Striders, you'll automatically get 10% off your registration for the Quarry Road Race Series.
Meet Our Members: Alicia Wilcox
"Meet Our Members" is where we get to know a little more about our fellow Striders -- who they are, why they run, and why they're part of the Central Maine Striders.
Alicia Wilcox is a mother of 13-year-old twins and an associate professor at Thomas College. She teaches forensic science and criminal justice classes. She also has a forensic consulting company and likes to garden, travel, and hike.
"I started running in the summer of 2014 at age 36. I was in the middle of my PhD program and expressed my feelings of stress to a friend. She was training with another woman for the Maine 1/2 marathon. They intended running a long run of 8 miles that weekend. I said I would join them for two or three miles. I ended up running the 8 miles with them and felt great. A few weeks later I applied for a cancellation spot in the 1/2 marathon and got in. I completed that 1/2 in under 2 hours with very little training.
I was hooked and running helped me through the stress of my PhD. I have since completed 16 half marathons, my most recent was the Shipyard Maine Coast Half, which was virtual, meaning, I ran by myself!
The women I used to run with don't run anymore. So this year I decided to join the Central Maine Striders to make new running friends. I participated in the January Thaw and ran with a small group one Sunday morning before the pandemic struck. I look forward to meeting new striders in the future. At the moment I am running the quarry road series and a 312K series Baxter to Baxter (from the state park to Baxter Brewing, in Lewiston).
I love the simplicity of running, all you need is a good pair of sneakers and some happy music."
Alicia, we're glad you're a Strider and hope to see you and get to know you at more Strider events in the future, whenever we're able to hold in-person events again.