Next up in our ongoing series of interviews is Lynn B, a regular at Livonia and our Covid-era virtual #Lillienotaparkrun. If you'd like to be featured in the spotlight, contact us via the usual channels.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm Lynn Boven, 63, born and raised in a rural area midway between Morley and Stanwood MI about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids MI. I moved to Livonia in 1976 to attend Motech Automotive Education Center with plans to further my education with what I could earn as an automotive technician. That plan fell through when I was able to meet all of my financial needs with the skills that I had. I currently work for General Motors at the Warren Technical Center, hand building pre-production vehicles.
You just recently celebrated a wedding anniversary. How long have you been married?
Married 42 years. I met my wife JoAnne when I walked next door in the apartment complex we both lived at and complained about how loudly she was playing her Supremes vinyl singles.
In reflection, it was a good thing she liked to listen to her music so loudly or you wouldn’t have stopped in the name of love. I crack myself up.
When did you start running?
I started running the day after watching the 1984 men’s Olympic Marathon. The winner, Carlos Lopes, was more than a decade older than I was at the time so I felt that I would still have a chance to run a competitive marathon. So I snuffed out my last cigarette, got a book on running marathons from the library and never looked back.
How many marathons have you participated in?
I have 20 paved marathon finishes (two at Boston, '96 and '97), six trail marathon finishes, two 50k finishes, and two 50 mile finishes. Last paved marathon was Free Press 2018, the 30th anniversary of my first Free Press.
Wow! I would venture to say that when you commit to something you go all in.
Where is your favorite place to go running?
By far my favorite run every week was parkrun. Now all my running takes place on Edward Hines Drive and the nearby trails. The canyon lands in Utah and Arizona will always be holy places for me but are more spiritual than fun. Best run ever, a double crossing of the Grand Canyon I completed with my daughter Carrie. It is called the Rim to Rim to Rim.
Looks like you like backyard racing too! The readers are placing their bets on Jolynn for the win.
What do you like about Lillie parkrun?
No one was happier than me when Lillie parkrun came to life. In all human endeavor, absence of growth breeds atrophy. I was very relieved that my fellow participants living near Ann Arbor would have a shorter, safer drive on those nasty winter Saturday mornings.
What’s your favorite volunteer role at parkrun?
Pre-event set-up and safety check is my favorite. I am grateful to all of the volunteers who perform the tasks that prevent them from participating, enabling Cooper and me to do so. I am able to get in a nice warmup and Cooper gets to take care of his dog business before we run.
Any tips for parkrunners or first timers who are coming to visit Lillie parkrun?
Don’t forget your barcode. I ran my one Lillie parkrun in the winter and just like Livonia there were no restrooms on site. A stop before you get there if needed might be a good idea. If possible, volunteer on your first visit; there is great honor in doing so.
Great advice! I must admit I have been guilty of forgetting my barcode. If you’ve toured at other parkrun events, are there any tips or favorite memories you want to share?
I’ve toured Leakin Park MD, Mansfield and Sippo Lake OH; all great events. Mansfield is a great racers’ course on a paved rail grade with a slight uphill on the out leg. If you stand on it hard on the back leg it might net a PB. Sippo Lake is constructed with my favorite surface of crushed limestone and has a sweet twisty hill. Leakin Park is a great urban setting and has coffee at a great quirky little pub.
Oh! A pub! I will need to put Leakin Park on my list.
How many parkruns have you taken part in?
My parkrun totals are 316. 315 in the US, the most by an individual on US soil, and one international at Bellevue parkrun Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
This is certainly impressive, congratulations! When not running, are there other activities that you really enjoy?
Cycling, home maintenance, yardening, and grazing right from the garden.
That is one beautiful garden.
Do you volunteer your time anywhere?
Do you have children?
Two daughters Carrie and Kristen.
One, Jolynn. Her name is a combination of my wife’s and mine.
She looks right at home tinkering on Grandpa’s car. I love the matching outfits too.
Do you have any pets?
Can you share a little about Cooper?
No doubt about it, Cooper is way more interesting and popular than me. People from around the world have requested a photo with him, not me. Cooper is a rescue dog who was found lying on a sidewalk in Detroit by a cat lady who turned him over to Home Fur'ever Rescue. We adopted him from an event at Pet Smart. He has just turned 11 years old and has well over 200 parkruns under his belt, er...collar. At 11 he is just now starting to walk with me and not drag me. When younger he was able to pull me at under 5 minute per mile pace for the first 100 yards of a parkrun. Of course that meant I had to pull him for the last 1/2 mile. We genetically tested Cooper and he was listed by grandparents with one being American Staffordshire terrier, one was weimaraner, one was basset hound, and the other so diverse they would not make a call. Cooper's day job is protecting my garden from rodents (ground hogs).
Good boy Cooper, keep those pesky varmints out of the garden! I have to admit that I had heard of Cooper before I knew your name. He looks like a sweet boy.
His largest claim to fame is his lovely singing voice that he likes to use when we are giving pre-run directions. I had to start keeping him in the car until after the start so everyone could hear the safety messages. (click on the photo below for video clip of Cooper's singing)
His singing got Charlie up and searching! Charlie is now a fan of Cooper’s too.
Not that you have much spare time, with all your various activities, but do you like to travel?
I love the adventure of travel but get too caught up in local activities.
Lynn, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be interviewed. I hope that one day soon, either I will get to Livonia parkrun or you will join us again at Lillie parkrun, and then we can meet in person. I will try not to spend the entire time chatting with Cooper – but I can’t promise.
Check out Lynn's US-record parkrun history here, stretching back to 2012!