The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Labor Day's "Fun Run,"

Will Be Joens's 38th County Race In Illinois

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Owner/Publisher

Stronghurst:Henderson County's Labor Day "Fun Run" this Monday has come just in time to help a Springfield man meet his goal.

David A. Joens, 47, Director of Illinois' State Archives, was working in the Secretary of State's tent at the Illinois State Fair when a man came over and started talking to him about history.

"He was talking about dedicating the Lincoln Memorial which I helped get for Oquawka in Henderson County and soon I started giving him a hard time about Henderson County being the only county that didn't host a race."

"Funny you should say that," Art Kane told him, "because we do have a race coming up Labor Day."

Kane explained the 5 mile race was to raise money for the Henderson County Fair.

Joens explained, that as Director of Illinois' State Archieves five years, and an Illinois Historian, he realized that he hadn't visited every one of the 102 counties in Illinois.

The thought of just driving to each county didn't quite appeal to Joens and he thought, "Why not, just for the heck of it, find a race to run in every county in the state," and that would accomplish two goals and give him a chance to see part of Illinois up close.

Joens said he likes to see the scenery, and historic things, the town, and looks for a local diner to eat breakfast or lunch, meet the people, and see what makes Illinois a great state!

His favorite thing is being able to really see areas up close as he runs.

It can be so interesting.

He started last year with a goal to run 10 races a year, hoping to hit all 102 counties by the time he was 60. But he is way ahead of schedule with Monday's race, #38.

"I'm over 1/3 of the way there," he said, and has plans on finishing with 14 races this year.

Joens didn't start running until after he was in the Army. He would run for two or three years, then quit awhile, then start up again.

"I can't run every weekend, because I work, and have a family - a 7-year-old, and committments."

"It helps that I live in the middle of the state," he said, with not so far to drive.

But Joens says to make it worth his drive, he tries to look for at least a 10 mile run.

"Forty percent of my races, have probably been 5 mile races."

Joens picks some of his races because they have interesting names and they usually end up to be unique or fun. For instance, his race in Wabash county near Indiana took him along the Wabash River at Mt Carmel.

In Metamora, Woodfield County, he got to see the courthouse that Lincoln practiced in.

Some races he has chosen for their names are:

Rubarb Run in Mercer County and New Windsor Rodeo there.

Swedish Stomp in Henry County

Strawberry Strut in Carthage, Hancock County.

Hull of a Race in Pike County

Freeze Your Ice Off in Kewanee, Henry County

Lincoln Memorial half marathon in Springfield

Ronald Reagan Race in Dixon in Lee County and the Lincoln Race there.

The Popeye race in Randolph County, and

The Superman race at Metropolis on the Ohio River.

In July in Charleston there is the Run For the Bagel race, city where the bagel was born. After the race "they give you a bagle, by George!" he said.

And there is the Arthur Cheesefest race in Arthur where you get a piece of cheese. Arthur is Amish, and the traffic patrol is not in cars but in horse and carriage.

Joens says he is not doing this to be the fastest runner.

"I was proud to tell my son I finished in the top twenty in a half marathon I raced, but my son is too smart and asked how many were in the race. I had to admit there were only 25."

"I have been first in my age group and I've never been last," he said.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Joens is how much fun he is having doing this, and how good he feels after visiting a county, seeing it as a runner - up close.

Before a race he has cereal and a banana and sometimes he picks up a sack of Doritos, water and Gatorade.

It may not be a competitor's choice but, "Odds are, I'm not going to win."

"I arrive early so I can stretch out and look around for about forty minutes," then I make it a priority to do the best that I can."

Dave invites local folks to join the 10 a.m. Fun Run Monday - Just for fun. Check his blog by googling daj's blog.