Bob Helwig has a very special place in the history of the SRRC. He was one of the 3 original founders (along with Tim Bonansinga and Russ Eggert), and he and his family spent countless hours in helping to build a successful club and promoting the benefits of running.
During his years with the SRRC, Bob was Secretary and Treasurer of the club, but that was only a fraction of what he actually did. He was involved in putting on the fun runs that were held in Washington Park on certain Sundays. He was often the contact person for race volunteers, and was a volunteer himself at many races. He organized and participated in panel discussions on running topics, and he was in charge of membership. Bob also wrote several well researched articles on running topics for the newsletter, such as Running In the Heat, Preparing for Marathons, Training Advice, Tips for Beginning Runners and Running Safely in Winter. One of his legendary articles detailed just about every food item he ate – for each meal and for each day of the week – before the 1978 Boston Marathon.
Bob and his wife, Claire, also put together and sent out the club newsletter. By mid 1978 the club had about 160 memberships (200 persons), and the Hellwegs asked for help in doing the newsletter. So, the newsletter parties came into existence. Usually, 6-10 club members met at the Hellwegs house and collated, stapled, folded, put labels on and sorted everything for bulk mailing. After that was done, everyone enjoyed popcorn, soda and beer.
Bob also worked full time as a noise control engineer at the Illinois EPA. On top of all this, Bob was a very good runner. He usually placed in his age group. Here is a sample of some races he did:
- 1978 Steamboat Classic 15K -57:15
- 1978 White Oaks 10K -35:41 (PR is 35:22)
In the club, he was probably best known for his marathons (Boston and others). As of 1980, he had the club age group marathon best for:
- Age 33 – 2:56:23; Age 34 – 2:59:30;
- Age 35 – 2:45:27; Age 36 – 2:42:31;
- Age 37 – 2:39:57 (PR for him at the time)
If you were interested in running in marathons, Bob was the person you asked for advice. He was always very willing to give suggestions and help you in any way he could. His love of running was infectious.
In March of 1979, Bob and Tom Immel opened the Springfield Running Center.
In December 1981, the Hellwegs moved to the Boston area, as Bob left the Illinois EPA for a job opportunity there with Digital Computer. A paragraph in that month’s newsletter sums up the club members’ feelings: “Bob will be missed by all of the Springfield Road Runners. He was one of the founders of the club as well as being secretary/treasurer, chief measurer, membership chairman, newsletter editor, coach, guru and mentor to us all, usually doing two or more of these at the same time.”
Bob is proud of his running accomplishments, and feels the relationships he developed with SRRC members are an important part of his life. The Saturday morning informal SRRC training runs in Washington Park are highlights of his running career. Bob thinks one should have fun in life – in both work and personal; running is still fun for him.
by Alan Avery