Friday, January 13, 2017

Great Men Departed - 2016

Coach John Alire (1977) - an accurate portrayal of
the man though the color is poor
The year just ended was a somber one for Santa Fe's running community due to the passing of two giants: John Alire (1930-2016) passed in May; Dan Maas (1970-2016) left us in September. The trails and outdoors community also lost Dale Ball (1924-2016) who passed in February.

Alire coached the fabled Santa Fe High Cross Country team for more than two decades, 1973-1996. His teams won a combined twelve state titles in this span and he coached four individual champions - Graham ('79), Bigbee ('81), Romero ('87), O'Shea ('91). The 1977 boys team finished the season ranked 3rd nationally by Harrier Magazine, the 1978 boys team won the AAU national championship which happened to be hosted in Albuquerque, and the 1986 girls team won another AAU title in San Francisco. For these successes specifically he was recognized with a mention in Sports Illustrated. I was fortunate to run for him in my formative years just before he left coaching. Alire was an impressive man and I admired him greatly. He will be missed.

1992 Oly Trials - Dan running third, blue vest
Danny Maas was a state champion runner for Santa Fe Prep in the 1980's and later for Adams State College in Alamosa where he was won multiple national championships and eventually broke four minutes in the mile. He still holds the Adams State record in the 1500m. Dan strung together three consecutive titles at the La Luz Trail Run, the last Santa Fean and norteƱo to win the race. He later competed in two Olympic Trials in the 1500m ('92 and '96), making the finals in the former (8th, 3.39.68). Notably, he is described as being so genuine among friends and so skilled and accomplished in his profession that he is more widely known for these reasons than his success as an athlete. The guy was a legend.

Dale Ball
Dale Ball brought the vision, design, steered the funding, management, and finally the building efforts of his eponymous trail east of town. The Dale Ball Trail system is now an iconic piece of Santa Fe. His efforts established legal public access along nearly the full length of the Santa Fe foothills. That he had the skill and drive to link together more than a dozen parcels of land in the highest valued real estate in town is extraordinary. He then established a land trust, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, to manage this conserved tract of land (and the trails now bound to it) and others like it.

The accomplishments of these three men will stand on their own for decades to come.

John E. Alire - Obituary
Daniel R. Maas - Obituary
Dale Ball - Obituary

Related Posts:
 - New Mexico's Four Minute Milers
 - The New La Piedra Trail - Dale Ball
 - Micah True (1953-2012)
 - The Tough Guy List
 - The Passing of a Friend - Colin Sutton (1975-2014)

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