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Father’s memory inspires 26-year-old’s first Race to Robie Creek run

An army of 800 volunteers supports the annual Race to Robie Creek

With 2,500 runners and walkers it's no small task to keep the annual race from Boise to Robie Creek operating smooth and worry free for participants. More than 800 volunteers help with registration, bib numbers, water stations and much more at the
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With 2,500 runners and walkers it's no small task to keep the annual race from Boise to Robie Creek operating smooth and worry free for participants. More than 800 volunteers help with registration, bib numbers, water stations and much more at the

Hannah Drabinski accomplished a dream of her father’s on Saturday, and even if he could not be there, thinking of him pushed her to complete her first Race to Robie Creek.

A charter member of the Rocky Canyon Sailtoads, the group of running enthusiasts that organizes the race, Gene Drabinski died Dec. 20 soon after being hit by a car in California while in a crosswalk. He was honored prior to Saturday’s start.

“When someone passes away, you really think about all the things you still wanted to do with them, and this was definitely one,” Hannah said.

If her father was still alive, Hannah said she probably wouldn’t have run, as Gene often told his youngest daughter it takes about eight months of training to prepare for Robie. Wanting to run in her father’s memory, it was more like two solid months. Despite that, the 26-year-old turned in a strong time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, 8.9 seconds.

“I’d never run anywhere near 13 miles before, so I could feel him with me, pushing me,” Hannah said. “This race meant so much to him, I was just smiling the whole time. I felt close to him again.”

Gene Drabinski was a Vietnam veteran who wore many hats in his life, including a stint as McCall’s city manager. But he was always interested in running, getting Hannah involved a few years ago when they would go on Sunday runs together.

“He always wanted me to be a runner, but I was like most kids, I resisted, didn’t want to do what their parents wanted,” Hannah said. “But when we’d go, I’d want to go about 6 (miles) and he’d always try to make me go 9. I think I’m in it for life now.”

SOUL IN THE SUNSHINE

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was the theme of Saturday’s race, and the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet was heard more than a few times before, during and after the race. A tribute to the Motown era, a few runners dressed the part with bell bottom pants or flowery attire.

Patti Elzer of Gilbert, Ariz., and her friend, Karen Robinson of Chandler, Ariz., sported gold dresses and elbow-length gloves. Elzer had an Afro wig she wore the entire way.

“I dress up every time. It’s just a fun part of being in this race,” said Elzer, who has run Robie seven times. “We had to go with the Diana Ross, Supremes look for this one.”

‘MEANT TO BE’: ROBIE RUNS ROBIE

The front of his shirt read “Hi. My name is Robie.”

Robie Kramer, a native of Gilroy, Calif., had never entered the race that bears his first name, but the self-described non-runner just had to do it. His son, Mitch, is a Boise State student, his family is visiting friends this weekend, and his daughter, Nicole, who lives in North Carolina, would run alongside him. Kramer, 53, finished in 2:36:05.9.

“It was just meant to be,” Kramer said. “And of course, I had to have the (post-race) T-shirt.”

A DIFFERENT KIND OF RACING FUEL

Many of the finishers crossed the line toting water bottles, or perhaps some Gatorade picked up along the way.

Not Eric Zinn. The 25-year-old from Boise crossed the finish line with a Coors can in his hand.

With about 2 miles left to go, he saw a friend at a house near the course and said he was owed a beer. So his friend tossed him one while he ran.

“It was motivation, because I was looking forward to more when I was done,” said Zinn, who ran it for a sixth time. “I finished it as I finished (the race), couldn’t wait any longer.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_southorn

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