FAIRBANKS — George Rimiller Jr., who suffered a heart attack at one of the Flint Hills Series running events last summer and successfully recovered, was named the Running Club North 2012 Most Inspirational Runner of the Year during Saturday’s Running Club North awards social.
Ed Debevec earned the 2012 Volunteer of the Year award, while John Estle and Susan Kramer, co-directors of the Equinox Marathon, earned the 2012 Race Director of the Year award.
Rimiller was not well-known in the running community until he keeled over just after finishing the Flint Hills Mile at the West Valley High School track.
Immediately, a number of medically trained runners rushed to his aid, starting CPR and calling 911. University Fire Department EMTs shocked Rimiller back to life with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and raced Rimiller to the hospital.
Rimiller not only recovered quickly; he resumed his summer’s goal of doing all of the Flint Hills races, walking the Run of the Valkyries just 16 days after his heart attack.
Two weeks later he got through 14 miles of the 16.5-mile Gold Discovery Run, and later completed the other Flint Hills races, doing the Equinox Marathon Relay.
His perseverance and determination inspired many runners to overcome their own little obstacles and inspired Running Club North to purchase an AED machine and offer CPR classes.
Rimiller was presented the award by Larry Hodges, a friend and co-worker and an inspirational story himself.
Both have come back from life-threatening injuries.
Hodges was slammed by a hit-and-run snowmachiner at the Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic a couple of years ago, suffering two broke legs a numerous other injuries.
Hodges recovered from injuries and ran the full Equinox Marathon this year.
Debevec was honored for his work on the Running Club North and Equinox Marathon websites.
He put in hundreds of hours of work behind the scenes to make these sites functional and user-friendly, and continues to keep them updated.
In addition, Debevec and George Berry have led the Wednesday night “Fahrenheit Be Darned” winter group runs for a number of years.
He also is an inspiration to other runners, having come back from his own foot surgery to race very well this season.
“It means a great deal to me,” Debevec wrote in an e-mail. “North anything I’ve done, because those things are no different than what countless other people have done and are doing.
“It means a lot to me because RCN means a lot to me. I like how we all chip in and make the whole so much greater than the sum of its parts,” he continued. “ feel a part of something good and that energizes me to do what I can to help keep it going. We do it together. Thanks again for the award. I greatly appreciate it.”
The award was bestowed upon Estle and Kramer for all of the work and improvements to Equinox Marathon, Equinox Marathon Relay and Equinox Ultramarathon.
Among the improvements for the 50th Equinox Marathon were: Several re-routes of the course, designed to return it to trails more similar to its origins, including design and building of a section of entirely new trail; on-line registration without a service fee; dealing with the uncertainties of the university’s construction at the start/finish; streamlining bib pick-up and hosting an expo with it; and many other ways of making the race experience better.
“We would like to thank all of you for your expression of support in voting us Race Directors of the Year,” Kramer and Estle wrote in an email. It is an honor that is especially meaningful because it is voted on by the membership of RCN.
They said they are honored to have to serve as co-directors of the Equinox.
“It is our goal to continue to build upon the great work that Steve Bainbridge did, and to see the Equinox events continue to grow and improve in every way,” the email said. “That is only possible with the great support that the event receives from the Fairbanks running community and Running Club North — from all of you.
Kramer and Estle also saluted the work done by Debevec.
“In addition to all the work he has done on the RCN and Equinox websites, he did a huge amount of work maintaining the registration records for the Equinox events. Without his work, producing
accurate and timely results would have been impossible.”