Cancer claims two Northland running community iconsKevin Peterson, of Superior, and Eugene Curnow, of Saginaw, died today after battles with cancer. Peterson was 54. Curnow was 68.
The Northland running community lost two iconic figures today with the passing of Kevin Peterson of Superior and Eugene Curnow of Saginaw.
Peterson died at the Solvay Hospice House in Duluth of pancreatic cancer. He had been diagnosed in 2011. He was 54.
Curnow was diagnosed with lung cancer in October and died in hospice at St. Luke's hospital. He was 68.
They passed away within an hour of each other in the early morning.
Both were runners for much of their lives and volunteers in the sport they loved. Both were participants in the Grandma's Minnesota Mile on Superior Street last September.
Peterson, a lifelong Superior resident, had been part of Grandma’s Marathon since its inception in 1977. He was a member of the founding organization, the North Shore Striders, and ran in the inaugural race.
When the race went to a nonprofit status in 1987 and needed volunteers to help run the event, Peterson pitched in and continued to help. In 2011, he was the chairman of the 16-member board of directors.
Peterson owned rental properties in Superior and was actively involved with his business until six weeks ago.
"Kevin worked as long as he possibly could and ran as long as he possibly could. To the very end, he was thumbing his nose at the Grim Reaper," said close friend Tim Stratioti of Duluth.
Curnow, a Duluth Central graduate, worked for the Diamond Tool and Horseshoe Company for 22 years and more recently was a personal-care attendant at a Duluth nursing home. He, along with his wife of 50 years, Barb, volunteered his services for countless running events in the Duluth area for more than 25 years, from directing races to stocking aid stations to recording race results.
Peterson and Curnow also were serious runners.
Peterson finished Grandma’s Marathon seven times; had a marathon best of 2 hours, 36 minutes in Miami in 1985 and ran a Las Vegas half-marathon in 1:10 at age 40 in 1999; and completed the Edmund Fitzgerald 100K race of 62.1 miles.
Curnow was a veteran runner of more than 200 marathons and ultramarathons (those longer than 26.2 miles).
"Running has been a lifelong passion, and I believe living a healthy lifestyle teaches you many things about life. I still believe that,” Peterson, a Superior mayoral candidate in 1987, 2000, 2003 and 2011, told the News Tribune in 2012.
At the finish line of 2011 Grandma's Minnesota Mile, Curnow required CPR and defibrillator assistance, and later underwent quadruple bypass surgery. And yet came back a year later to complete the race, again.
"There wasn't anyone who worked any harder for our running community than Gene," said Duluthian Jarrow Wahman, co-owner of Austin Jarrow Sports. "He was always going, going, going in helping to put on races, and preparing trail race courses, and racing in events himself. And he enjoyed every minute of his connection with runners. He put in thousands of hours and was always smiling."
A celebration of Peterson's life is planned for June 11 at Duluth's Greysolon Ballroom. Information on services for Curnow is expected to be in an obituary in Sunday's News Tribune.