Goff 5K memorializes former UI professor

BY IAN MARTIN | OCTOBER 05, 2009 7:20 AM

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While most students were sleeping in following a football game, the adults were out running.

A group of 15 people, the majority over 30 years old, were at the Ashton Cross-Country Course Sunday morning for the Steve Goff Memorial 5K, an event not so much about the jog but the man it was honoring.

The race started eight years ago to remember Goff, a former UI professor who died of cancer in 1998. It was originally ran in City Park, and after two years there, had a one-year stint in a makeshift course outside the Hawkeye Recreation Fields before moving out to the current location at the cross-country course.

Tim Murphy, 57, ran in that race outside of the Recreation Fields as well as Sunday’s and remembers them with much difference.

“The one year we ran out on the pavement,” he said, “It was 38 degrees and there was about a 30 mile-per-hour wind.”

Sunday’s race had a much better environment with sunny skies and high of 60 degrees, perfect weather for avid runners.

Goff was known as just that. After he was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, he did not slow down his daily regimen and went on to be an example for many around him.

“He was a good biker and a good swimmer,” Murphy said. “He was doing triathlons before they were really cool.”

Goff’s longtime friend Jeff Dolan, who ran in the race on Sunday for the first time, spoke volumes about Goff’s character and commitment.

“He was incredibly inspirational, and he had a really special way of being that way,” he said.

He and Goff traveled to run and mountain bike in Colorado after Goff was diagnosed with cancer, Dolan said.

The pair had always intended to go to Boulder but had never actually gone through with the trip.

“Then he was diagnosed, and I thought, ‘Well, we missed our chance,’ ” Dolan said. “While he was going through chemo, I said [to him], ‘Hey, we can’t head out to Boulder and do this.’ And he said, ‘After this next round [of chemotherapy], let’s do it.’ ”

Dolan said it was amazing to him how much athleticism Goff still had despite his illness.

“[I thought to myself], with what this guy’s going through, and I can’t keep up with him,” he said. “He was just a really motivated guy.”

The race in Goff’s honor did see some running that may have made the man proud. Former Iowa harrier Ben Lloyd came in at 16:42, beating the next best competitor by almost two minutes. In the women’s division, Denise Leo ran a 26:17, and Samantha Royston won the female student class at 27:54.

Associate Director of Intramurals Mike Widen said while the size of the race was small, there are typically 30 to 40 racers in the field. The lack of numbers may have been due to a number of other 5Ks in the area over the weekend and on Sunday.

But despite the low numbers, those who were there and knew Goff reminisced about his obsessive and athletic nature.

Dolan said that when on their trip, there was one thing he always remembered.

“I’d hear something at 6 in the morning,” Dolan said, “and he’d be doing pushups.”

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