A Remembrance: Zen Yanni (#130)


I can only claim to knowing John Van Allen from a relatively limited perspective, given that I came on as a club member in the last 10 years (in 2013) of his 30-some year tenure. Still, based on what I’ve learned myself and heard from others (before and now), he was a treasure.

John was the publisher of Shawmont Running Club’s weekly Run Report, a responsibility he took seriously given that it came out (via the Shawmont Running Company website and Facebook Group) the social equivalent of rain or shine. While he loved being a part of the active side of the group, he knew it made sense to transfer publishing responsibilities to others. Progress on that process just took place more slowly than he had expected (as informed by Weezinator*).

Zen Yanni and The Zenster were the SRC trail nicknames that John adopted. In fact, he contributed to the process of bestowing nicknames to many of the club’s legacy members. Others have already hinted at the feeling of belonging that receiving a nickname from him secured. The process wasn’t unilateral. He was a collaborator and was not opposed to tweaking recommendations to accommodate recipients’ fancies. I claimed the moniker CtCloser (#78). Though I never asked for his blessing, I knew I’d secured it when he started using it in the Themz Who Wuz There feature of the Run Report.

About that feature: early in my tenure in the club, John took attendance at the top of Forbidden Drive every week. When his own running ability made the responsibility of coming down increasingly challenging, Teddio took over; but you know it wasn’t easy for John to give up.

Here’s the sense of his personality that I got through his editorial feedback. He loved the kind of thinking that happened during SRC runs (as informed by Weezinator); hence the Ruminations feature of the Run Report.

Early on ZY also wrote the Rumination feature (#116). He turned over primary writing to Run Anon and others (including myself) in recent years, but continued to do the publishing of the rest of the Run Report. He once asked me how I developed my Rumination writing and said we’d have to compare notes one day. I had expected to do just that.

For my part, after looking back at some of the pieces he wrote before my time, I told him I loved the way he did unhinged. I think he would have appreciated me calling him a happy-go-wacky guy.

Here’s a little more of his writing feedback to me. To a recent one on degrees of appeal (#127) he wrote: “Thanks, CtC. My inner math major appreciated this one.” To another he revealed his literary side (#125): “IMHO, when the final sentence ties it all together, something very good has happened.” Though he himself would have disagreed vehemently (as informed by Weezinator), to one submission challenging the notion that anyone actually runs for fun he wrote to me (#115): “Thanks, Calvin. Excellent topic.”

He often commented about being surprised with the directions I took with my writing. To one submission I made (#33) he wrote, “LOL…!  Have you been spiking your Gatorade?” Given his marvelous sense of humor, I treasured feedback like that. And sometimes his feedback could be the prompt for a future submission (#36).

John Van Allen admitted to being a little behind on aspects of contemporary culture; nevertheless, I close by describing him with 2 designations I think are apropos: He was a major Shawmont Running Club Influencer and an SRC OG (okay, the first one he probably did actually know; as informed by Weezinator).

More on Zen Yanni to come, in consultation with Weezie.
-CtCloser (Calvinthe) “Negative Split or Positive Splat” #dothedue

*Mary Van Allen. ¶Text by Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. ¶Cross-published: Facebook Shawmont Running Club (For 5/6/23), Ruminations by CtCloser.


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