10 minutes with Blake Popp

Friday, July 12, 2002

QUESTION:If somebody tried to pronounce your last name for the first time, what are the chances they'll pronounce it wrong?BLAKE:100 percent. They always say "pop." Every year when I go into a class, I expect it to be pronounced wrong. I got a couple of nicknames out of it -- Blake Poppa, Pop, different things.

Did a name like Popp lead to a lot of nicknames as a kid?Yeah, stuff like "poop," "potpourri," goofy stuff. I'd laugh 'em off.

Ever get into a fight over your name?No. I was the class clown. I'd joke my way out of things anyway.

A joker, huh? Any examples?One time we bought a friend's girlfriend a rooster. Her birthday was during a fair, so we bought the fair's prize-winning rooster for her. It cost us $3. We put it in a box and gave it to her.

Did you put a bow on it?We didn't actually wrap the box. We made sure it could breathe. It scared her so bad she dropped the box and screamed.

Did you stay in trouble as a kid?I got in trouble once at a meet for mooning the other team. I got suspended from the meet and got two days of detention. It just seemed like a good thing to do at the time. I learned my lesson, though.

I've heard a story about you turning a live goldfish into a snack once. True?I was fishing with some of my friends and I bit the head off a bluegill. Those are pretty big fish, too. I didn't eat it, though. But no, I never ate a goldfish.

Other than that, what's your proudest achievement in the great outdoors?I shot an 8-point buck but never caught any big fish. I have the buck mounted on the wall now.

What's the weirdest thing that's happened when you've been running?A friend and I were running out on a rural road and we round the corner and look over toward a house about 200 yards away from the road and see a guy gardening completely naked. We kept running, but we were laughing. It was hard to keep running, we were laughing so hard. We didn't want to stop and say anything to a guy who would be gardening while he's naked.

What do you yell back?A lot of times they get the bird. It depends on what they yell.

Ever been hit?Never have. But some guy in a car locked up his brakes once and swerved toward us. They'll do anything.

Ever been bit by a dog?I've gotten chased pretty far. usually the best way to make them stop chasing you is to turn around and chase them back. I have people yell, "Run, Forest," because I guess they think it's original, but it's really not. I get that all the time. Or they'll yell, "Get a car."

If you run by yourself, doesn't that give you a lot of time to think of bizarre things?A lot of times I sing to myself, usually the last song I heard. I try to think about running, because it's better if you do and you run more efficiently. But when you're running 10 or 12 miles, it's hard to concentrate that long.

The last song you were singing?The guy I run with, Danny Copeland, if we're going up a hill, we start singing, "This is the hill that never ends." It's a song from that show with Lambchop. We both just bust out singing.

The best movie out right now?I liked "Insomnia." That was the last one I saw in the theater. I can't wait to see the new Austin Powers movie.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?I get a new pair of running shoes about every four months. I keep the old ones just to wear day-to-day. I have probably eight pairs of running shoes.

That's more than a lot of women own.I also have dress shoes, hunting boots, sandals. Probably 10 or 12 total.

Is there an athlete you're in awe of?Steve Prefontaine. He was a great runner, and I look up to him.

Favorite team?

The Cardinals. I went to Busch Stadium for Fuji Film Day, and we got to have pictures taken with the team. I made a sign that said "best friends" with an arrow pointing each direction, so I had pictures taken with me holding the sign with a bunch of players like Bud Smith, Matt Morris, some others. They all thought it was funny. There'd be people in line in front of me, but they'd see the sign I had and they'd bring me to the front.

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