By Dave Griffin, Times Running Writer
After watching high school racing for dozens of years, I know I've forgotten more runners than I remember. Some, though, are unforgettable, like Rob Magin.
Rob was a tenacious competitor, usually leading the field beside teammate Joe Kershner. By the time he graduated in 1988, he had been named to several all-county and all-conference teams, but that's not what comes to my mind when I remember him.
Rob was quiet and refined. His high school coach, Jim Gilford, referred to him as a "student of running." His hard work, combined with his intelligence, made him a feared competitor and allowed him to continue his success at UMBC, where he earned many scholar-athlete honors and won a 10K conference title.
Rob and Joe Kershner stayed close during college. One summer, Rob had offered to take his younger sister to Hershey, Pa., for a concert. He asked Joe to come along, and the two of them amused themselves for three hours in a half-empty parking lot, passing the time with made-up games and conversation.
Rob eventually settled in Montgomery County with his wife Jennifer. Their children, Mary Beth, Paul and Christine, now range in age from 10 to two years. Between his devoted time with his family and his dedicated work as an accountant for Marriott International, Rob managed to continue running and racing.
In 1994, he was named the Montgomery County Road Runners Club Runner of the Year, a title everyone understands he would have held continuously had it not been for the rule that each runner can only win the award once. In the years since, he had run 91 local races, winning 48 and finishing second another 21 times.
In March 2007, a stranger shared a seat with Rob as they took a bus ride to the start of the Seneca Creek Greenway 50K trail race. The stranger was nervous, and Rob offered support and course advice. What he didn't share, and the man beside him only learned later, is that Rob was the defending champion, having won the race the previous three years. Rob's humility touched people.
On May 4, 2008, Rob ran the Hills of Cabin John 5K cross-country race. He finished second, never suspecting it was the last race he would run. Several weeks later, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Afterward, I heard he had recovered, but never heard anything more, until earlier this month - when I learned he had passed away.
Running brings out the best in those who run, as it crafts discipline and fortitude. Every once in a while, though, a special runner passes through our lives who redefines running; a person who brings his own special character to the sport and enhances an already virtuous avocation. Rob, as much as any runner I know, has done that.
It doesn't seem right, does it? How could such a good life be cut short? On the other hand, life is better measured by things other than time, and by such measures, Rob's life was long indeed.
Dave Griffin is the Times' running writer. His column appears every other Sunday. Reach him at