Iowa-Penn State pregame: 'Lazy' machine and not-so-lazy people

A million stories in Kinnick Stadium tailgates

IOWA CITY — People are amazing, albeit in different ways.

Like Dr. Deb Carneol, a North Liberty dentist. She tailgated with her husband, Steve Carneol, and a host of their friends Saturday.

It was Steve who first attracted my interest when he led me to a contraption programmed via laptop computer to make about 200 different pre-defined alcoholic drinks. For more information, go to

Had someone wanted a Red Rattlesnake or a Hawaiian Punch from Hell, for instance, it was just a matter of pressing a few buttons and then properly recycling your cup after you had finished your cocktail. It was a little mesmerizing to watch, actually.

But Steve buried the lede, as we call it in our business. While he was explaining his drink machine, I saw a brochure he had attached to his video screen touting something called the 777 World Marathon Challenge.

Deb is going to try to run it in the winter ahead. What a long, strange, grueling trip it will be. Seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Only about 55 people have completed the challenge over its first three years.

“David Samson, the president of the (Major League Baseball Miami) Marlins is a family friend,” Deb said. “He and a few other people with the Marlins are among the people doing this. He said ‘Deb, you’ve got to do this.’ I said ‘David, I don’t run.’

“He said ‘You will.’ ”

She is now training to run marathons in Antarctica, South Africa, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Colombia and Miami on consecutive days from next Jan. 30-Feb. 5.


It’s not just for the challenge, either. She is raising money for Clubfoot Solutions, which was born from University of Iowa Health Care and helps some of the 200,000 clubfoot children born each year.

A 5K had been Deb’s longest run until she went to Orlando and did the Dopey Challenge, four days of running events going from 5K to 10K to half-marathon to full-marathon. That convinced her to proceed to the 777.

“I have a difficult time saying no,” Deb said. “If it’s a challenge, I usually don’t say ‘Nah, it’s not for me.’ ”

Less amazing but still grueling is what Amanda Benkovic of State College, Pa., did this weekend.

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She was a bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding Friday night in downtown Philadelphia and was tailgating in Iowa City by early afternoon Saturday. Both involved imbibing of adult beverages.

“I got wasted and slept an hour in a kids’ hotel room,” Benkovic said. “I got an Uber to the airport, was chugging coffee at 3 a.m., and got a 5 a.m. flight. I got on the plane wearing my bridesmaid’s dress.”

She landed in Des Moines at 8:45 a.m., where she was picked up by a female friend who lives there and is a former Penn State student. They proceeded to Iowa City.


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“She said ‘Dude, you’ve got to come tailgate.’ I said ‘Dude, I’ve got a wedding to go to the night before in Philly, I can’t do that.’

“But here I am. It’s my first Penn State away game,” said Benkovic, who was going strong at 3 p.m.

“I’m a savage. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

For all the fuss made about fans from opposing teams sniping at each other, they always seem to get along just fine outside stadiums.

Russ and Cecilia Booth relocated from Garnet Valley, Pa., to Johnston, Iowa, a year ago. They came to Kinnick Stadium in Penn State garb Saturday.

“We got hugs,” Cecilia said. “We stopped at a rest stop in Tiffin, just five miles out of town from here. Some guy said ‘Welcome to Iowa,’ and gave us each a hug.”

“In Pennsylvania it would have been fingers, not hugs,” Russ added.

He was joking. I think.



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