In this month’s BAR Story a number of Boise area runners share memories of Rob. Rob died December 28, 2018, just a month ago. My own thoughts turn back to so many amazing conversations I had with him while running. I can’t help but feel that he was the best of us. He trained with passion and determination when focused on a goal, but he was very capable of just chilling at a pace comfortable for the person he was talking to. His humor and warmth was most evident when supporting and celebrating others. I remember finishing my first marathon as a BAR runner at the 2015 City of Trees Marathon and Rob was there. He hadn’t run; he just came out to cheer on his fellow runners. As I limped around the finish area, he checked in with me repeatedly to ensure that I had everything I needed. It was a sweet motherly side of him I hadn’t seen on training runs. Rob was a stalwart supporter of the BAR organization and gave freely and generously of his resources to make the BAR strong. He will be missed.”
“Rob and I worked in the same office building. Within a few days of meeting him, I knew he was a runner. So many of our conversations centered around running, races, how far and how fast we ran, how I jogged and he ran…. I met the same Rob that everyone else knew – entertaining and wickedly funny. And when he ran, he was in his happy place. I had been following the BAR runs for about 2 years before I decided to go to a meeting. The first time I went, I was super nervous, anxious. I am a slow runner and I was afraid I would be running on my own. I pulled up to Whole Foods and almost immediately saw Rob pulling in. He bounced over to talk to me with his funny gait and his big infectious smile. Because I am not often nervous meeting new people, he immediately started making fun of me while he introduced me to other BAR runners. I know it was a huge sacrifice for him, but he was nice enough to run with me that day. I was normally at a 10:30 pace and he was so much faster. But we ran about 6 miles that day. It was the longest fastest run I had ever been on at that point. But because he was so entertaining, I didn’t notice how fast we were running or how far. Just that we were having a hilarious time.”
“I have lots of memories of Rob all mainly due to the nickname Monica gave us when we ran together: “The Rob and Tom show”. Rob and I had a back and forth banter during our runs that kind of passed the time making a 20 mile run seem like a 3 mile run. Rob had a special talent to taking one aspect of a story and dragging it along in such a humorous way. Those runs should be remembered as The Rob show. One of those runs out near Barber Park with the Bar crew, Rob picked up a snake we ran by knowing I had a phobia of snakes. He literally scared me to death when he placed the snake on my shoulder. There was never a dull moment with Rob on any run. Besides being a great running partner, Rob was a true friend always offering running and personal advice. He truly cared and was as compassionate of a person I have ever known. I will miss him dearly. RIP Rob Hancock.”
“If you were running with Rob, the outcome was predictable. At some point, you’d be laughing so hard you’d be doubled over trying to catch your breath.
My last run with Rob was a Sunday Morning Trail Run with the BAR. I had decided to run the Red Cliffs loop and was fortunate enough to have Janelle, Jeff, and Rob to run with that day. We talked about many things on our run; life balance, strength training, and yoga, among other things. While running along the Chickadee trail, Rob made a remark about some people being egotistical in their athletic endeavors. Immediately after, Rob said “I personally never feel like I need to be the best in a group” and quickly passed us all with big, proud strides and without so much as a sideways glance at any of us. Everyone was laughing. I was doubled over, trying to keep up and lucky to not trip on the trail. There are few people who can make me laugh as easily as Rob could.
“In addition to Rob’s humor, I was reminded of his generosity over Labor Day weekend of 2018. As is typical, a large contingency of BAR folks were in McCall to run and/or celebrate the Payette Lake Run. The morning of the run, Sara, Rob, and I had decided to do a hike in Ponderosa State Park and do yoga near the finish line of the race while our BAR family worked their way toward another year of Payette Lake Run victory. The entire morning Rob was funny, thoughtful, and generous. He bought Sara and I coffee after our hike and I remember feeling that tinge of guilt that I often get when someone spends their hard-earned money on me. Sara and I insisted that he didn’t need to buy us coffee, but he refused and so comfortably treated us. It’s amazing how far those little gestures go, and it was clear that Rob understood the statement he was making by showing his gratitude through purchasing his friends coffee. This is an example of one small act Rob committed, but there are many more. Rob didn’t save his generosity for special occasions. They just seemed to be a part of his existence as a person.”
“Rob made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. His impersonation of the crazy honey badger narration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg) was priceless. He had this ability to build on positivity and laughter, creating an inescapable vortex of joy. He also was considerate, thoughtful, and generous beyond belief. My heart is overflowing with the pain of missing him and gratitude for having been lucky enough to know him.”
“Rob was very welcoming when I first joined the group. I found him to be positive and funny. I noticed immediately that he shared the same dry sense of humor as I have. He always would stop for a few minutes to run at my slower pace just to see how things were going for me. I believe he did this with everyone on the run because he genuinely cared about everyone feeling like they belonged.”
“I’ll never forget Rob’s advice to me on becoming a father. It resonates because it’s equal parts funny and wise. A small pack of us were in the middle of a long run on the south side of the river, heading west towards Boise State. Rob asked me if I felt ready to be a father. I responded with some version of “I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” Rob said something like, “Let me tell you this: my kids came out completely differently and I had nothing to do with it.” His insistence that you can’t dictate what your children become and that you should learn early on to let go of the idea of complete control was solid advice, with both short-term and long-term perspective in mind.
“Heading east along the river on a Saturday morning in Eagle, sun turning Rob and a few others into running silhouettes. Rob was describing the euphoria of running the Boston Marathon. “You’re running with the greatest runners in the world, thousands of people are cheering for you the whole way. You cross the finish line; there’s no describing the feeling. It’s better than sex.” I said, “at least it lasts longer, huh?” Rob said, without missing a beat, “I should qualify that statement, because sex with me isn’t that great anyway.”
“And I won’t forget what I think are the last words I heard Rob say, in response to seeing Elia, my son, running across the grass at Camel’s Back after a Sunday morning run this past fall. He said, “It should be illegal to be that cute.” I include this, not to gloat about my son’s relative cuteness, but that unnecessary compliment from Rob shows his genuine kindness and affinity for others. It will surely be missed.”
See you out on a run!