Larson, Potter co-direct Havelock Charity Run

Tom Larson, Lecturer of Jazz History and Jazz Studies, finishes the 2006 Lincoln Marathon.
Tom Larson, Lecturer of Jazz History and Jazz Studies, finishes the 2006 Lincoln Marathon.

Running and racing might run through their veins, but Clark Potter and Tom Larson with the UNL School of Music take on another role together when it comes to the Havelock Charity Run.

On June 1, the two will be co-directors of the event for the seventh time.

“We are both runners,” said Potter, associate professor of viola and area head for strings. “This is a race we’ve both run. This race has a team competition that makes it unique. We’ve both run on the NU Profs on the Run team. We found out the person that had been directing the race was retiring. I don’t remember what happened after that. Did I drag you into this?” he asked of Larson.

“I got a phone call from you and you said, ‘Hey do you want to be my co-director? My co-captain?’ I said ‘Sure,’” Larson said, who is Lecturer of Jazz History and Jazz Studies.

The two don’t run the Havelock race any more because there is too much to do.

“There is a whole bunch of stuff that needs to be taken care of ahead of time,” Larson said. “Planning, getting volunteers, web site maintenance, registration.”

Potter added: “Getting t-shirts, water, port-a-potties.”

“It’s one of those things that occupies a certain amount of your time each week for about two to three months ahead of time,” Larson said. “And right about now it’s starting to get intense. Everyone is signing up and things come up.”

The two haven’t made a lot of changes during their time as co-directors, focusing mostly on just tweaks. But one major improvement has been that the registration process is now online, which saves a lot of headaches for the pair.

The other main change, an earlier starting time, came about because of the heat.

“We had one year where it was just hotter than blazes and so we moved the race start up from 8 to 7:30,” Larson said. “That particular year I got out there at 6:30 and I was wearing long pants and a jacket and it just warmed up like crazy. I was standing out there at the entrance to the park on 70th and the first bunch came in and they were just smoking fast but after the first 40 runners everyone started looking bad. They looked like they were ready to pass out.”

Potter added, “We had people collapsing and that was terrible. We had someone collapse 20 to 30 yards before the finish line. A bunch of people needed medical attention after the race. That was bad. All of the water stations ran out of water. We kind of saw it coming but there is only so much you can do.”

The Havelock Charity Run is part of the Lincoln Track Club’s events, an organization that they both agree is amazing.

“It’s a well-oiled machine,” Larson said. “People show up at these races and they set everything up and the people have the jobs that they do. One of the funnest things about this race is that at about 10:30 if you drive in Havelock you would never know anything had happened. They clean up everything. They really do a good job of staging these things.”

But though they don’t run the Havelock Charity Run, that doesn’t mean that they don’t race in other local Lincoln Track Club events.

“This is the guy that is the marathoner,” Potter said of Larson. “You’ve done eight?”

“12,” Larson said.

“See, I can’t even keep up,” Potter said, who has done some marathons in the past but is currently injured. “I prefer short races. Anything from 1,500 meters to 5k. I love the trail runs. Not the adventure runs. I don’t want to climb over walls. I’m a few years past that. I figure we do that on a daily basis. Who wants to do that for fun? I like to go fast.

“I went 20 years between races. I ran during high school but then I quit racing after age 19. Then I raced again at age 41 or 42. It was at the urging of Randy Snyder, Professor Emeritus of Composition at UNL. He said you ought to try races. I said I like to run but I don’t want to complicate things. I ran one race and was completely hooked. I’ve run 8 to 10 races a year since then.”

For Larson, it’s more of a family thing.

“My brother was a tremendous marathon runner back in the 70s and 80s,” Larson said. “His fastest was a 2:40. That’s amazing. My wife, when we started dating, she had already run Chicago a couple of times. My brother’s wife actually won the Lincoln Marathon once back in the 80s so I’m surrounded by all of those people. I believe the first one that I did was in 2003. I was 49 years old. When the Lincoln Track Club started back in the 70s that was when I started running. I ran the Buffalo Run back in the 70s. I started having a family so it kind of got pushed to the background. During my 30s and 40s I didn’t run much at all.”

“I ran the half this year. There was a period of time I was running three marathons a year and it got to be too much. The training, you are tired all the time, to the gym twice a day. I’m doing half marathons now. I ran three last year, four the year before. I will probably run a couple this year. I’ve kind of decided in November of 2014, when I turn 60, that sometime when I’m 60 I’m going to run another marathon. No one will care what your time is. That is the plan -- if I can stay healthy.”

But until then they will do their part to help others reach their goals both in running and music.

--Brian Reetz, School of Music