Longtime Traverse City athletes, owners of the Northern Michigan sports events management company Endurance Evolution, and the masters of Northern Michigan running, Joel Gaff, Jr. and Eric Houghton answer nine questions about everything from their favorite movies to the best Northern Michigan biking spots. The following Q&A was first featured in the May 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
Go-to pre-run meal:
Eric: Cinnamon toast and cup of coffee. Sometimes I settle for a Clif bar.
Joel: Vegetable smoothie of whatever happens to be in my fridge, usually some mixture of green, leafy veggies, such as kale, bananas, almonds, carrots, celery and any other veggie or fruit on hand.
Can’t-live-without piece of gear:
Joel: My Garmin GPS watch.
Eric: Shorts and shoes. I own a Garmin and wear it sometimes and usually have a watch, but I am pretty simple.
Most embarrassing race moment:
Eric: Probably vomiting post-Bayshore one year. I tried to move off to the side, but numerous people saw me and reported back on this later.
Joel: Maybe it would be one of my first times using a (borrowed) bike with clipless pedals during the Mark Mellon Triathlon back when I was in middle school. At one point during the race my chain fell off, and I tried to clip out and couldn’t. Once my forward momentum stopped, I fell over sideways and felt like such a moron. Looking back, I realize that just about everyone that has ever used clipless pedals has done this, so I don’t feel so bad anymore.
Favorite craft beer:
Joel: Don’t have a favorite, but on a hot day a cold IPA is über refreshing.
Eric: Short’s Huma, but Mind’s Eye PA from Petoskey is pretty solid.
Secret food indulgence:
Joel: Anything sweet. Cookies, doughnuts, cake. I have a huge sweet tooth.
Eric: I do eat pretty much what I want, but I think if I could eat a variety of burritos everyday, I would be happy. (With Great Lakes BBQ potato chips and homemade chocolate chip cookies.)
Joel: Probably Top Gun.
Eric: I am a sucker for Tombstone, I’m not sure why. But both Chariots of Fire and Without Limits are great running movies.
Book you’re reading right now, or one you’d recommend:
Joel: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
Eric: Everyone should read something by Malcolm Gladwell. He’s bright. All young men who are into running should read Running to the Top by Arthur Lydiard and Once a Runner by John L. Parker.
Best spot to run and bike in Northern Michigan:
Joel: For running, I love the trails in the Glen Arbor-Port Oneida area. For biking, anywhere in Leelanau.
Eric: Glen Arbor/Port Oneida—I love it there. Michigan is so filled with amazing places to run, it’s really hard to choose.
Tell us about your support crew:
Eric: I know it sounds cheesy. But I have amazing parents who always supported me in a positive way and encouraged me. Driving me all over the place, literally. And always making sure I had running shoes on my feet. I had great high school coaches and teammates who helped me be stronger. Now Jessie is always supporting me and my kids, and I have great friends like Joel.
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