Dennis Schindler has run in all 27 Emerald Across the Bay 12K races since the event originated in 1984 as Houlihan’s to Houlihan’s.
Schindler has been joined by his wife’s brother, Andy Wesolek, for their race tradition each year except one.
In 1998, Wesolek was unable to sneak away on race day, which fell on the morning of his own wedding, leaving his best buddy Schindler to run solo that year.
“It was like I was missing a limb,” said Schindler, who returned from the race in time to witness his buddy get married.
On the morning of March 20, Wesolek, who has lived in the same San Carlos home since moving from Michigan in 1976, and Schindler, a San Bruno native who moved to San Mateo in 1988, will board the 7 a.m. shuttle to Fort Baker for the 7.5-mile run from Sausalito back to San Francisco.
After the race, the pals may be found perched near the stage on Aquatic Park, splitting their celebratory six-pack, watching the postrace awards presentation. Then it is off to the Buena Vista for a round or two of Ramos Fizzes.
Yet to be determined is this year’s designated driver.
“We’ll be home by 11 a.m. for a nap,” Wesolek said. “And by the afternoon, we’re planning strategy for next year.”
The serious prerace training for the runners, who met in 1980 while playing for the same Redwood City men’s league softball team, begins each October. Saturdays they run the Crystal Springs Sawyer Camp Trail together.
Both run individually twice during the week, while Wesolek supplements the training with ice hockey in Belmont, and Schindler, a construction superintendent, walks several miles each day at the job sites.
Wesolek, who outweighs his brother-in-law by 40 pounds, has never crossed the finish line ahead of Schindler, but he’s never far behind, with a personal best time of 55 minutes, only 3 minutes slower than Schindler’s.
Their times have varied over the years, depending on weather conditions and injuries. In 2002, a month after shoulder surgery, Schindler still averaged 8-minute miles, completing the race in under an hour.
The goal is beating 60 minutes in 2013, the race’s 30th anniversary, the year both runners will be turning
60 years old.
Then and now, the Emerald Across the Bay 12K veterans will be sticking to their established routine, including the race plan.
“The strategy is to start slow,” Schindler said. “After midspan of the bridge, you start opening up your stride.”
WHAT: The “28th annual celebration of running”
WHEN: March 20
BENEFITS: Edgewood Center for Children and Families
ANDY WESOLEK: Owns a San Carlos auto repair shop/tasting room with a vineyard in the backyard (“get a tune-up and a buzz at the same time”)
DENNIS SCHINDLER: His 86-year-old father, Bob, ran the first three Emerald 12Ks. Son, Chris, is a junior at San Francisco State University and starting right fielder on the baseball team.
INFO: www.rhodyco.com or (415) 759-2690