Dunlop tires of competitive racing, calls it quits


Here's a safe prediction: Jim Dunlop will not win his seventh consecutive J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge on Thursday.

Dunlop, controller for Catholic Health System, will pass up the race.

At 32, Dunlop is not an exactly an old man - in fact he's prime age for a marathon runner - but he says his competitive running days are over. Life just keeps getting in the way.

Besides the high-pressure job that takes up much of his time, Dunlop and wife Cathy had their third child in the past year.

"Running just wasn't the most important thing to me," he said. "It became more and more of a chore rather than being fun."

He's not talking about going for a leisurely run on a beautiful day. He's been a competitive runner since age 12, so he'll always go for a run.

But like the rich, elite runners are different than you and me.

When you're a Jim Dunlop, you don't just decide on a whim to enter a road race. Once you're on the starting line, you're there to win. If the young guns sense you're vulnerable, they'll go after you.

So year after year, Dunlop put in the miles, ran the hard workouts with guys such as Dr. David O'Keeffe. He ran through the snow, the sleet, the heat of August. He trained when he didn't feel like training.

And every year since 1996 at the Corporate Challenge, a race that has grown past 10,000 runners, Dunlop has come to race and has won.

It's an amazing streak, one that's probably not likely to be broken.

"Consistency is a big thing," Bill Rodgers, a man who ought to know after winning four Boston marathons, said after Dunlop's win last year. "In sports, in business, that's what everyone aims for. It's tough to win this kind of event six times in a row."

If Dunlop is having a hard time realizing that he won't be running Thursday, his fellow employees are having a harder time.

"Everyone where I work has been coming up to me, "Are you going to run, are you going to win?' " he said.

Dunlop, an outstanding runner at Grand Island High School, was an All-American at the University of Rochester, where he led the cross country team to a Division III national title.

Dunlop was a three-time Buffalo News Runner of the Year, in 1993, '96 and '99.

Dunlop stepping down leaves Thursday's field wide-open and makes last year's second-place finisher, Matt Glynn of The Buffalo News team, the prerace favorite. Jason Walsh, running for Spot Coffee, should provide plenty of stimulation in the race against Glynn.

Last year's top female, Amy Fakterowicz, is running, as are repeat winners Jackie Murzynowski and Debra Morris-Allen. Maggie Whelehan was a last-minute entry.

Race director Dan Loncto expects a field of about 12,000 runners and doesn't expect the traffic control problems that hit the Nissan Buffalo Marathon.

It's a far shorter course at 3.5 miles. It starts and ends in Delaware Park, and Loncto said he will hire enough off-duty Buffalo police officers to supplement the limited traffic detail the city provides in the current budget crisis.