The Run Down - The RunVermont Blog

Why I Run: George Cook

by jen on November 27, 2012 · 9 comments

in Why I Run

Meet my friend George Cook… he and I went to Castleton State College together many years ago. The only time I remember George physically running was a specific incident involving CSC security… so imagine my surprise a few years ago when I was helping time Unplugged Half Marathon and there was George literally sprinting to the finish in record time. He was running. No one was chasing him. And he was FAST!

George at Half Unplugged

Twenty Five years ago the only running I was doing was running from the cops.  I dreaded running, I mean I absolutely HATED to run.  Growing up in Hartford (CT) I specialized in soccer and that is literally what I did 24/7.  I played for one of the country’s best clubs (Oakwood SC) and had the opportunity to work with some of the best coaches the US has.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I am a founder and director of Capital Soccer Club here in Vermont and really proud of our kids and all the supporters we have.  As one of the club’s director’s, I’ve had my share of sleepless nights.  One day, about 12 years ago, I had to escape my soccer life so I went out on a run.  It was probably the first time I had ever actually “went out for a jog”.  I ran for about 15 minutes and I was dead.  It was brutal……………absolutely brutal.  Like many people I have met, I hated that run.  Actually, growing up, I used to look at running as punishment for poor play on the soccer field.

I continued running and started to (slowly) feel really good.  Actually, it’s safe to say, I became addicted to running and now, it is a huge part of my life.  If I could, I would run EVERY day.  I have two awesome kids (Cameron, age 7, and Alexandra, age 4) with my beautiful bride Carrie.  Carrie runs, Cameron runs, and Alex is just plain out of control, so that counts too.

Really though, if it weren’t for time, a really busy work life, and avoiding injury, I would run 7 days a week.  That’s how much I love it.  Trail, road, whatever, give it to me!  Running has become a healthy escape for me.  A time to debrief and enjoy being outdoors and everything Vermont has to offer.  In a wacky way, I will say that nothing beats knocking out 15 to 20 miles, at 6am, while the rest of Montpelier is still sleeping.

George at Fort Myers

You folks who run 5K’s are BIG TIME because I dread them.  I prefer the longer, slower distances with my favorite event being 42K.  Nothing beats marathon training or racing on the big day!  My favorite races are Boston, Hartford (CT), Richmond (VA) and Marine Corp (DC)!  In May, I am running my first KeyBank Vermont City Marathon 42K.  My two little brothers will be flying in from DC for the big event, and the three of us will run the streets of the Queen City.  13.1 is a great event too, and for that distance, I would rank Unplugged Half Marathon, the DC Rock N Roll National Half, Leaf Peepers, Fort Myers (FL), and the Trail Animals Spring Fling (outside of Boston) as my faves.  The HARDEST race I have ever run is the 7 Sisters trail race just outside of Amherst (MA), on the ridge of the Mount Holyoke range.  Trust me, if you are looking for a running challenge, look no further. 

The running community here in VT is really strong and I cannot tell you how much I value the friendships I have made because of running.  My buddy and coach (Fred Stapenhorst) is one of the strongest age group runners in the country, and there is not a better training partner in the world than one of my best buddies Dan Miller-Arsenault.  The amount of laughs we have shared on the roads are priceless! 

This past fall, I picked up another cool approach.  I teach at U-32 High School in East Montpelier.  Besides being one of Vermont’s best schools, I can honestly say that the campus and facility are beautiful.  Sitting on 166 acres are some of the best running trails in the Green Mountain State.  I trained a bunch with the Cross Country team at U32 this past fall, and ran the multiple groomed trails with a bunch of my buddies at well.  It was great to change it up and get off the road.

This upcoming winter/spring I’ve got a few good events planned.  Probably the coolest cat I know (David Javaheri, my best friend from college for years) and I usually race together 2 or 3 times a year.  He lives in Boston and we are running Hyannis 13.1, and the Trail Animals 13.1 together.  He’s possibly going to run Unglugged with me, and then I am running VCM 42K while he will run 50K at Pineland Farms in Maine.  Jen Savas, the Registration Director for KBVCM knows Dave and I well.  We used to torture her with our immature behavior back in college!

I cannot forget how important it is to recognize all of the organizations that make running so successful here in the 802.  RunVermont, GMAA, CV Runners, and all the other groups that do all the behind the scene work to make these events successful.  Also, how about all the supportive volunteers at aid stations during the longer events?  I always say “thank you” to the person handing me water or an electrolyte drink at aid stations.  Heck, we couldn’t do it without these awesome people!

Bottom line, I run because I really enjoy it.  As my kids would say, “dad, we all know Mommy is in charge around here”.  Well, I admit it, I better go ask Carrie if I can go for a run……….somebody has to watch these two monsters.  When I get back, it will be her turn to go.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert Backlund November 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Very inspirational. I may run this race after reading this article. It is a short drive from Glastonbury, CT.

2 Conte November 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm


Keep on runnin! You are an inspiration to more than you know. Not unlike fighting tax crimes, you touch and influence people you may never meet.


3 Fred Stapenhorst November 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I am honored to have George as a friend…when it comes to running George is the most positive and pumped up guy I know and I love that attitude! Keep it up my friend!

4 Helen November 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I love this. What a wonderful story of an ordinary person turned runner; very inspiring Great job!

I, too, am looking forward to running VCM in May-13.

5 Maria November 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm

George – this is wonderful! I enjoyed reading Jen’s intro and your piece. I am glad to hear things are going well for you. I have begun to run…a bit. Currently I basically go down hill but am getting better! Take care and all the best to you.

:) Maria

6 Susan Graham November 28, 2012 at 6:25 am

Great article. George has positively influenced so many young soccer players at Capital Soccer, and his energy level is incredible! Don’t know how he does it all, but Capital Soccer is lucky the state of VT didn’t kick him out after all his apparent college escapades!

7 Leanne November 28, 2012 at 7:56 am

I love reading stories like this! You are so inspirational. Keep up the good work. I just ran in the Myles Standish marathon in Plymouth, MA last weekend. Even though it was my best marathon time, it was the most challenging course I have ever run. The course was constant rolling hills with no reprieve. I came home and immediately signed up for the KBVCM. I participated in the 2-person relay last year, and now I’m looking forward to running all 26.2 miles. See you in May!

8 D Frazier November 29, 2012 at 12:46 am

Thought you might like to hear from a voice from the past. Glad to hear you’re doing well. Am living in CA with my wife and 3 daughters. Think of Montpelier often.
D Frazier

9 Pat and George Cook (George's parents) November 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

We are so proud of you. You are a wonderful son, a great husband and a fabulous dad.

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