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Conway Carries On: Deceased Runner Receives Ambassador Award

Baihly Warfield
Updated: June 17, 2019 10:41 PM

Dan Conway is carrying on regardless. 

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The long-distance runner passed away from pancreatic cancer in May 2018, but his passion for the sport led Grandma's Marathon to give him the Ron Daws Ambassador Award.

"I'm thrilled for him, that he's going to get this, because I just think he was a super ambassador," Lynne Hoff said. 

Hoff was his significant other for more than 11 years. She began collecting newspaper clippings of his accomplishments when they got together in 2007. 

Conway didn't start running until 1976, when he was in his upper 30s. 

"I just wonder what he would have done if he had started earlier. He would have been I think in the Olympics, probably," Hoff speculated. "He was that good when he started that late."

He collected accolades and even a world record in his career. But he found some of his greatest prizes in coaching. 

"He loved it. Loved it. Loved to share his knowledge. And the kids just loved him," Hoff said. 

He coached cross country teams in Chetek, Wis. and in Superior. And he kept meticulous notes of his own runs as he continued pounding the pavement well into his 70s. 

"He ran five miles the day before he had surgery," Hoff said. 

The surgery marked the end of his running career as he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

"It was really hard to hear, but he said, 'I've lived a good life. And I want a good death,'" Hoff recalled. "He knew there wasn't much hope for chemo or anything, so he opted not to."

He lived about four months after that, enough time to finish his book, "Carry On Regardless." 

He passed in May 2018, but his niece knows he will be there on the course.

"It's going to be an emotional race, I'm certain of that," Trish Hawkins said. 

When Hawkins came to the Twin Ports for her uncle's celebration of life, she met many of his runner friends and decided she would run the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon this year. 

"These days, I prefer the shorter distances. But I didn't want to do that there in Duluth; I wanted to do the half, only so I could follow in his footsteps and see all that he saw for so many years," Hawkins said. 

She said she feels a little pressure to live up to her uncle's record-holding reputation. He still has two records for the half marathon, and he won the Grandma's Marathon 40+ age group four times. 

"I wish I could carry on in his athletic abilities," she said, "but I'm going to get my money's worth, I'm going to enjoy the scenery and just imagine his thoughts as he ran that race."

Little did she know, that decision would mean she would get to be present and help accept an award on her uncle's behalf. 

"So deserving. So deserving," Hawkins said. "And I'm just so grateful that I can be there in attendance and see that."

Hoff will also be there. 

"I'm very honored to do that. It will be hard," Hoff said. "I just think he would have been so humbled by it."

The award will be presented at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. 

WDIO is a major media partner of Grandma’s Marathon. We will be streaming the 2019 Grandma's Marathon LIVE beginning at 6:00 a.m. Watch on WDIO.com, the WDIO mobile app, and other digital platforms.

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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