Bohachs hit their stride running alone during pandemic

Ogden column: Flannery PRs in 5K, Adam runs fast marathon

Adam Bohach and Flannery Cerbin-Bohach are two elite runners, living and training in northeast Iowa. Running, Adam said,
Adam Bohach and Flannery Cerbin-Bohach are two elite runners, living and training in northeast Iowa. Running, Adam said, changed his life path. (Family photo)

In these strange times when the rules of what we can and cannot do — or should and should not do — changes daily, Adam Bohach wakes up every morning knowing one thing hasn’t changed.

“I can run,” he said.

Don’t get the idea Bohach is one-dimensional. Far from it, actually.

But running, he said, changed his life.

“It really set myself up with this path in life,” he said.

Growing up on a farm in tiny Spillville, Iowa, the 35-year-old Bohach played football, basketball and baseball.

“When you’re in middle school, you think you know everything,” he said.

When he got to South Winneshiek High School, some friends convinced him to give up football and run cross country.

“I found out I was actually pretty good at it,” he said.

Golf, too, was a passion, but that conflicted with the track and field season. He figured track, though, would help him with his cross country and that “was where my passion was.

“I settled on cross country, swimming and track,” he said.

By his junior year at South Winn, he finished second in the state in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600. He was a state runner-up in cross country as a senior, then placed sixth at the Drake Relays in the 3,200 and third in both distance races at state.

That success led him up the road to Luther College, where he was an all-Iowa Conference performer who earned the Duane Schroeder Male Scholar Athlete of the Year honor for the 2006-07 academic year. He earned a degree in biology, did a two-year stint teaching in the Peace Corp and eventually met Flannery Cerbin, also a Luther graduate and runner.

The two married and now are back in the Decorah area. He is teaching biology at the high school and helping coach cross country. She is a worksite wellness coordinator at Northeast Iowa Community College. They have a 2-year-old son, Linden, and also run Tailwind Acres, where “we are beginning market gardeners, maybe we’ll venture to call ourselves farmers. It’s a passion for us ... eager to learn and teach some of our homesteading practices,” according to their website.

Career, friends and family. It all started with a decision to run, to put one foot in front of the other.

Of course, these two also are very good at running and racing. In a normal spring/summer/fall — where there are road races every weekend — these two would pack up and go racing.

“We do see it as kind of a second business,” Adam said.

With no races in sight, the two recently set out to test their fitness and showcase all the training they’ve been doing.

Flannery Cerbin-Bohach turned in a 17 minute, 8 second 5K, a personal best for the distance,

“My plan this spring was to attempt a PR in the 5K,” she recently wrote in a newsletter. “I readjusted with the cancellations and decided to do (three) 5K time trials on a flat bike trail in Cresco. The final one, which I did May 11, I dubbed my ‘A’ race.

“I kinda surprised myself. I ran a 17:08. ... Yesterday was a mental breakthrough, a performance that I should have known was in me, but had to prove it to myself! Quarantine has been pretty ideal for training for two reasons — more sleep and less day care germs floating around the house.”

Adam, who also coaches runners and triathletes, said he “knew she had it in her.”

His test was the marathon, where he has a best of 2:18:39. But is haunted by missing the Olympic Trials last year by 79 seconds. He was planning three spring marathons — including Sunday in Green Bay — but, alas, all were canceled. He didn’t want all that training to go to waste, so he ran his own marathon on the Prairie Farmer Recreation Trail in Calmar — 13.1 miles out and 13.1 back — with Flannery riding her bike, carrying water and Gatorade and playing music.

“I was pretty perturbed by (not hitting the Olympic Trials standard) — and pretty motivated,” he said. “Here I was in really good shape. I didn’t want it to go completely unrecognized.”

He didn’t set a PR in his personal marathon, but ran 2:24:12, a 5:30 per mile pace — pretty much by himself. He did have his wife for support and members of the Luther cross country staff showed up.

“They surprised me and showed up at mile 7 to cheer me on,” he said.


He hopes it leads the bigger and better things in the fall, when he plans (hopes?) to run the Des Moines Marathon.

“I’ve always had that target,” he said of the Olympic Trials standard. “... something that I’m working toward.”

And it all started with a little push from some friends.

“Running has definitely changed my life in many ways,” he said.

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