Written by Julie Petersen with Andy Kish & Ed “Wolfie” as key contributors
I do not think this is was what Felicia Cox imagined when she assumed her new role as MTC President at the 2020 MTC Awards Banquet. To be honest, I do not think any of us imagined a year without races, without summer beach runs at Siesta Key, without the annual MTC picnic and the MTC racing series. Everything since March 2020 has either cancelled, postponed, or moved to virtual events – in a “normal” MTC year, the MTC van (hereinafter “Manasota”) and the Equipment Manager would be busy and in high demand.
If you were at the MTC 2020 Banquet this year, you know that long-time MTC member, former President, board member, and “A Clean Van is a Happy Van” Equipment Manager, Tom Flanagan handed over the MTC van keys to the very capable and dedicated Andy Kish. With Andy as the new MTC Equipment Manager and board member, I decided to catch up with Andy and the iconic MTC van to find out how 2020 has been for them so far in a “socially distanced interview”.
For those of you that may not know Andy personally, I am sure that you probably have seen him as one of the faces at the races often seen proudly carrying the American flag, or at the Siesta Key Summer Beach runs, or maybe even at Mr. Beery’s over the years. You can always recognize Andy with his long hair, distinguishable moustache, wearing baseball cap and sporting one of his many race t-shirts – and like many of us, he can be seen enjoying a cold beverage post run.
I saw Andy at Siesta Key Beach about a week ago and I asked Andy why he decided to take this role as the equipment manager, he responded with, “Funny you ask that question,” he said that he did not realize when he accepted to volunteer as the new Equipment Manager, that it was also a board position. He said that he volunteered because he was looking forward to meeting more people at all of the races and MTC other events.
This year has obviously been very different for the Equipment Manager, so when I asked Andy if it was what he expected the role to be, he responded with, “so far I have no answer, but right now it is actually boring since there are not any events”. He said that he hasn’t had much to do with the equipment other than a few requests here and there, but he does remain positive for the future.
Andy and I made a plan to meet later in the week to continue our interview so I could also get Manasota’s take on 2020. The MTC van has been a big part of the club over the years and in a “normal” MTC year can be seen all over Sarasota & Manatee counties almost on a weekly basis. Manasota hauls the cones, the speakers, the microphones, tables, chairs, batons – you name it, Manasota hauls it.
I arrived early and had some one-on-one time with Manasota. I asked him how this year has been different and he said, “I thought I had cooties because they just left me here alone, with no trips to Siesta Key Beach, no more driving around the beautiful community – just sitting here in the same spot day, after day, after day.” Manasota did say that he met a new friend Wolfie (a.k.a. Ed Wolfe) in March and he was telling him something about a “beer virus.” I did not quite understand what that meant at the time, but I was about to find out.
Andy arrived shortly after I did to continue our interview and when he opened the back of the van, we saw Wolfie, Manasota’s new friend laying in the back of the van with a book in hand. We were both in total shock to say the least. Andy then asked what he was doing in the van and Wolfie replied, “Haven’t you heard about the virus? I am social distancing and just now finished reading the book War and Peace; I have been reading it since I moved in back in March.”
Wolfie continued to say that he has been sleeping in the van because it is a nice quiet place for meditation, reading, and sleeping. He also said that when he is sleeping in the van, he is dreaming of good things to come. He did a great job keeping Manasota company.
After the shock of seeing Wolfie in the back of the van wore off, I asked Mansota what he misses the most, he said, “I really miss going to Siesta Key Beach!” He continued on to say, “One good thing though, at least I am not getting stuck like last year when Scott Ventura was driving me for 1st beach run of season. I thought that I was going to be buried alive that day, but thanks to Andy, Shawn Drouin, and a few other new friends, I was saved. I will be forever grateful to those resourceful and brave MTC members that worked for hours to get me out of the sand. That was a close call.”
I told Manasota that as of right now, we hope to at least have the BBR Pub Runs this year (fingers crossed) since the 32nd Annual Bill’s Beer Run is cancelled, and his engine revved up a bit in excitement. He said, “I am so excited for this, but because I am a billboard for the MTC – I want the community to know that I am being responsible and keeping my distance.”
Manasota did mention that he did hear some good news from Andy earlier in the week, he said that they will soon be out delivering meals to our dedicated and amazing first responders of Sarasota to thank them for their tireless effort and dedication for the people in our community. He hopes that before he makes the deliveries that he will get a nice car wash and cleaning, because he doesn’t want the evidence to show that Wolfie has been camping since March. Manasota then said, “No offense Wolfie”, to which Wolfie responded, “I understand, none taken.”
The last and final question I had for Andy, Manasota and Wolfie was, “What is the #1 thing that you are looking forward to once this COVID-19 pandemic is over?” It did not take long for all of them to respond and their answers echoed each other’s. They said, “We just want to see our awesome Manasota Track Club running community all back together as one big family. To be enjoying the great outdoors and the community that we are all so fortunate to live in.”
All in all, Andy, Manasota, and Wolfie are doing the best that they can during this COVID-19 pandemic. I think that as a club, we all are doing what we need to do to stay healthy and safe. They are all optimistic that there are good things to come in the near future.
A special thanks to Andy and Wolfie for their participation in this socially distanced interview and for their dedication as MTC board members – we appreciate all that you do. Also, thanks to Manasota for being the moving “billboard” of the MTC and for being the van that hauls it all.
The Manasota Track Club is so much more than a running club, it really is a social club where many of us have formed many wonderful friendships over the last 45 years since the MTC’s inception in 1975. So, while things are constantly changing in the world around us and while we are living in very unique times – one thing that has not changed is the camaraderie amongst the MTC members.
Stay safe and be well everyone!