Odell Runs 50 Charitable Miles For 50th
Westmont Athletic Director to Donate to Westmont and S.B. Track Club
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Dave Odell’s footprints are spread far and wide as a businessman, a college athletic director, a father of three, and a dedicated trail runner, but for almost nine hours last Friday, his steps were circumscribed on a 400-meter oval. To celebrate his 50th birthday, Odell ran 50 miles — 201 and 1/3 times around the Westmont College track.
He undertook the challenge to raise $50,000 in donations to be shared by the Westmont track-and-field program and the Santa Barbara Track Club.
Odell kept a steady pace, knocking off the laps at close to 10 minutes per mile. Every hour, he changed directions, so sometimes he was running clockwise like a British racehorse. As the skies began to darken, his competitive instincts took over. “I wanted to break nine hours,” he said. “I had to pick it up and suffer the last three miles.”
The timer was approaching 8:56 with a lap to go. In Pied Piper fashion, Odell pulled along a pack of fellow runners who had kept him company off and on during the day. A sizeable crowd gathered for the finish. “Ding, ding, ding!” they shouted in lieu of a bell. Two minutes later, Odell came to a gratifying standstill and listened to a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” He thanked them and said, “I’m going to sit down and take my shoes off.”
“He was a little sick this week,” said Dave’s wife, DeAnna Odell. “He came through. The community got behind him. For not one lap did he run alone.”
Dave and DeAnna both were Westmont athletes in the 1980s — he as a basketball player and she as a record-breaking distance runner. In their wedded life, she turned his exertions from the court to the hills. On their 20th anniversary, they participated in the Transrockies Run, a six-day, 120-mile mountain trail race. “We ran in the mixed-pairs division,” Dave said. “We had a blast.”
Last summer and fall, they did two 100-mile runs: the Rio del Lago near Folsom and the Cascade Crest in Washington.
“He loves his wife, and she loves to run,” said Bill Odell, Dave’s father and a former Westmont basketball player himself. He and his wife, Gayle Odell, were at the track Friday. “He’s crazy,” Bill said. “For our anniversary, we went to Maui.”
By Paul Wellman
LAST LAP: Dave Odell reaches out to his wife, DeAnna Odell (below, left), coming down the homestretch of his 50-mile run.
“I love the mindfulness of being out there,” said Dave Odell, who is president and CEO of MedBridge, a company he founded, as well as Westmont’s athletic director. He runs an average of 12 hours a week, usually with DeAnna. “We talk about being parents and pray,” he said. “I think about things going on in my business and at Westmont.”
On Saturday night, he was watching basketball at Murchison Gym. “My legs pretty sore,” he said. He preferred to stand rather than sit, as it was painful to straighten up. In some ways, it was harder to grind away at 50 miles on the track surface than cover 100 miles over varied terrain. “I’d hike and climb on the trails,” he said. “This was the longest continuous running I’ve done.”
During the run, Odell addressed his interests as “a closet science geek when it comes to endurance.” He had his blood tested for levels of sugar, lactate, and ketones to see what effects his carbohydrate intake had on his metabolism. His makeup is rather unusual. Twenty years ago, some serious gastrointestinal issues necessitated the removal of Odell’s colon. His small intestines were reconfigured to take on the functions of the absent colon.
While Odell is a walking, running testament to modern medicine, he is also a worthy representative of mankind’s ancestors going back thousands of years. “They would roam miles and miles to hunt and gather food,” he said. “It’s how we used to eat.”
The timer shows that he finished in less than nine hours.
Nearby fans snacked on pizza slices in the gym. The stands were almost full, although Westmont was still on winter break. It was a great night for the Warrior basketball teams. They both defeated the visiting Biola Eagles, their longtime rivals. Westmont’s women prevailed in a tense affair, 54-51, while the men made almost 70 percent of their shots in the second half of a come-from-behind 93-81 victory.
“I have a good feeling about our teams,” said Odell, noting that they finished strong, just as he did.