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Keeping his legacy running

BY MITCH SMITH | OCTOBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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Steve Goff is remembered fondly for his remarkable athleticism and compassion for others — two things that often mixed together.

Goff, an Iowa graduate and a former health leisure, and sports studies professor at the UI for four years, was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 after feeling a lump under his arm while participating in RAGBRAI.

He passed away the following year at the age of 43.

An avid athlete, the Iowa native participated in several marathons, triathlons, and bicycle races, finishing near the top in most of them.

“Steve was as close to a world-class athlete as I’ve known,” said integrative-physiology Professor Richard MacNeil, who knew Goff beginning when he was an undergraduate student at Iowa. “Educator and athlete, that summarized what Steve was all about.”

One day after undergoing the final, and most intense, round of chemotherapy, Goff ran a 10K race and finished third.

Even more incredible, he ran the Chicago Marathon just 10 days after his final round of chemo, finishing the grueling 26.2-mile event in slightly more than four hours.

Despite his high placing in most races, he always stuck around until the last runner crossed the finish line — because it wasn’t about winning, it was about participation.

“Life isn’t a spectator sport. That was Steve’s philosophy,” MacNeil said. “He always encouraged other people to participate.”

That was Goff’s mantra from the first time he stepped into class as an undergrad until the day he passed away, said integrative-hysiology Professor Michael Teague.

Their former colleague’s outlook on life continues on through a 5K race named in his honor.

For the past eight years, Recreational Services has hosted the Steve Goff Memorial 5K Run/Walk to honor the late faculty member.

The race will be held on Oct. 4 at the Ashton Cross-Country Course at 9 a.m.

Runners registering on race day will pay a $15 fee. Race-day registration from 8:15 to 9 a.m.

All proceeds from the race go toward a scholarship fund named in Goff’s honor. The scholarship is awarded to undergraduate leisure-studies students.

In the last four years, the leisure-studies department has awarded three $500 scholarships each year, said MacNeil, who originally organized the race and developed the scholarship in Goff’s name.

“It’s a great way to honor his memory and his legacy,” said Ken Mobily, a friend and former colleague of Goff’s. “He would have had a much larger legacy if he were still with us. It’s a good way to remember him and come to terms with his tragic and untimely death.”


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