Right On The Corporate Track

The old television show’s catch-phrase was, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City.”

The Penn Relay Carnival does not have quite that many stories, but there are a few thousand interesting ones.

Take the lineup for the Vanguard Group in Friday night’s Corporate Distance Medley relay. There is a Masters runner (Villanova graduate Jim Norris), a woman (Princeton grad Emily Kroshus) and a former Pennsylvania State high school cross country and mile champion and Villanova graduate, Tom Parlapiano.

But the most interesting name in this lineup is the leadoff runner...Steve Holman.

The same Steve Holman who starred at Georgetown, ran the 1500 meters in the 1992 Olympics, and was listed by Track and Field News as the top American miler for six years.

But he doesn’t want anyone to expect the old Steve Holman to run the leadoff 1200-meter leadoff leg for Vanguard.

“I’m in 5% shape, don’t expect much,” Holman said. “I told Tom, ‘You’re going to carry the team.’”

Parlapiano, a 2004 Villanova graduate who ran at St. Pus X High in Pottstown, PA, said that in an effort to put together a team for Penn he sent e-mails to almost 700 Vanguard employees at the mutual fund company’s headquarters in Philadelphia’s southwestern suburbs.

“Maybe five or six people responded,” Parlapiano said. :I had heard Steve worked at Vanguard, and when he said he’d do it, I said great. At the start he said he’d run the mile, but then he said I could take the mile, he wasn’t ready.”

When last seen on the American and world track circuits, Holman, a 1992 Georgetown graduate, tried to compete in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento, CA.

“I was in great shape,” he said. “But I suffered a stress fracture just before the Trials and I finished fourth or fifth. I went to Europe for the summer season but my heart wasn’t in it. Then in October of 2002 I had another stress fracture. I couldn’t go through all of that again. I didn’t have the fire anymore.”

He eventually enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and earned his MBA last May. He took a job with Vanguard, and now lives in Exton, PA, with his wife Teresa and their two-year-old daughter Chloe.

Holman has run in two marathons in the last two years, the Twin Cities Marathon in 2003, and the New York Marathon last October.

“In my retirement, I initially did nothing and got fat,” Holman said. “I could not train constantly or run constantly unless I have a big goal over my head.

“I always figured I’d run one marathon. It’s a whole different philosophy. Now it’s a hobby, and it’s fun. I appreciate running in a different way. It’s refreshing for me.

“I was only half-joking when I answered Tom’s e-mail. I’m in horrible shape. I’ve only been running for two weeks.”

Holman, now 35, has been a winner at Penn before, with Georgetown’s 4x800 meter relay in 1990 and with the Hoyas’ 4x1500 team in 1991; he also was the Olympic Development Mile champion in 1994. He still is listed among Franklin Field’s top 10 all-time collegiate splits for 800, 1500 and 1600 meters.

“Penn is a unique atmosphere,” he said. “It’s one of a kind. I remember the glory days with Georgetown.”

He said he returned to Sacramento last June for the 2004 Olympic Trials, but only as a spectator.

“I’m at peace without the competition. I have no desire to return.”

But he will return to Franklin Field, for at least three laps, wearing a Vanguard shirt, not Georgetown, leading off a distance medley relay.

Steve Holman has become one of the many stories that make up the Penn Relays.

Written by Frank Bertucci