Race allows avid runner to support his sport

Steve Stonecipher-Fisher made his love for running into a career.
Thursday, September 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Steve Stonecipher-Fisher never really knew what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew what he didn’t want to do.

In his hometown of Sedalia everybody seemed to be either a farmer or a factory worker.

“I couldn’t see myself doing that,” Stonecipher-Fisher said. “I did it for summer jobs but that’s part of summer jobs: figuring out what you don’t want to do.”

He had always been fast, winning the state 2-mile race in high school and it was running that has remained the one constant in his life.

Now Stonecipher-Fisher, 47, owns Tryathletics, a store providing equipment for runners, cyclists and swimmers. The business has grown during the past 18 years and it has afforded him the opportunity to sponsor local running events, supporting the sport he has loved for most of his life.

On Sunday, the Mid-Missouri Road Runners and The Shelter, a nonprofit group that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, will bring the groups’ first Half-Marathon Challenge to Columbia.

Stonecipher-Fisher is the one responsible for bringing the two groups together to organize the event. Race director Tina Bridges said he is one of the race’s sponsors and has provided running shoes for the winners, race numbers and T-shirts.

“There’s a lack of a race at this distance in Columbia,” Stonecipher-Fisher said. “So it made sense to do this. I think it will work well.”

He knew that the Mid-Missouri Road Runners wanted to organize a half-marathon, so when The Shelter approached him about putting together a benefit run, the two groups seemed perfect for each other.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, Stonecipher-Fisher will run with the more than 300 runners registered for this year’s event.

The 13.1 mile course that begins at Peace Park will wind through the MU campus, downtown Columbia and the MU recreational trail.

For some, a half-marathon is a long enough race. For Stonecipher-Fisher, a half-marathon has always been exactly what it sounds like: half of a race.

In the early 1980s, he ran marathons competitively. He ran a 2:16 at the 1983 Boston Marathon, qualifying him for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials. There he placed 40th in 2:22.

Stonecipher-Fisher ran at MU on a scholarship. At MU he set a school record in the 10,000 meters that was recently broken.

He also holds one other school record he is pleased will never be broken: the 3-mile indoor.

“They don’t run that anymore,” he said. “Everything’s metric now. I’ll live in infamy.”

Owning Tryathletics has kept him actively involved in the running community. As the store grows , Stonecipher-Fisher tries to support as many local events as possible.

He continues to run 20 to 40 miles a week, a large drop compared with the 70 to 125 miles a week he ran in his prime but he still likes to compete.

“I don’t care if a person is 60, I’ll compete,” Stonecipher-Fisher said. “I’m looking to beat anybody fairly and afterwards we’ll go out and have a beer.”

Stonecipher-Fisher recalls a recent race where he placed third, behind a 19 and 16-year-old and ahead of a 17-year-old.

“I had all these high schoolers around me. I had to tell them, ‘Sorry guys, we can’t go have a beer,’ ” Stonecipher-Fisher said. “It’s fun to race them though.”

On Sunday, Stonecipher-Fisher will race and look to finish in about 1:30. It’s not the 1:06 he would run for the first half of a marathon 20 years ago but he doesn’t mind.

“I still go to the races and try to beat everybody I can,” Stonecipher-Fisher said. “That’s the attitude you have to have if you’re going to run all of your life. To expect anything else is kind of silly.”

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