July 9, 2009


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80 years on the Avenue for Bugay’s Jewelers
Hiller runs fundraising triathlons for his late mom

This is from the Washington, D.C., Marathon in 2002, when Bugay (runner in front) set a personal record (still standing) of 3 hours, 57 minutes, which he insists will be broken this fall when he runs in the Johnstown and Philadelphia Marathons.

Ed. Note: Samuel Bugay opened Bugay’s Jewelers in South Philadelphia in 1912 and moved it with his wife, Rose, in 1929 to 8638 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, where it is still going strong after 80 years. In 1946 Sam died, and the store was taken over by his son, Milt. In 1958 Milt’s wife, Margaret, took over the operation. Milt, who will be 89 in September, has also played the piano for decades at area clubs and restaurants. He still plays Bach everyday on his 100-year-old Steinway. Margaret Bugay died at 83 on August 8, 2008, from diabetes. Arthur L. Bugay, 46, the son of Milt and Margaret, is an attorney who grew up in Wyndmoor and attended Springfield Township High School. Arthur, who literally bicycles to and from work in center city every day, has run in six marathon races, always raising money for a charity in the process. This year he is raising money for the American Diabetes Association in honor of his mom, whom he calls “a strong and lovely lady who fought bravely in the face of difficult odds.” Arthur’s sister, Rosalind, who now runs the jewelry store with Marianne Bartman, Margaret’s best friend, also has diabetes. On July 26, Arthur will race at the 11th Annual Lake Placid Ford Ironman Triathlon, an endurance event that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle race and a 26.2-mile marathon run. So far he has raised over $8000 from many people, even opposing lawyers, who have contributed large and small amounts. Following is an account by Arthur of his participation on June 28 in the Philadelphia Triathlon.

Actually, yesterday’s triathlon had great weather.  It was a blast with, as usual, more than a few stories by the end of the day, but for me the next four weeks will be hard ones. I will be riding and running long miles. Last week, I swam two miles non-stop in the pool.  And I’ve added an event. On July 12, I’m swimming three miles in Lake Nockamixon in an open water swimming event. So, this is no longer a drill.

But I’m still having fun, and yesterday was no exception.  I scored a personal record (“P.R.”) at the Philadelphia Triathlon (“Philly Tri”) and improved several individual thresholds in the process. This was my fifth Philly Tri, and I knew from experience that I needed to get to the race early. You have to get body marked (all the easier to fish you out of the water afterwards) and your bike racked before race time. So, being an experienced and knowledgeable triathlete, I already knew this and was duly prepared.

The Philly Tri has two races, one on Saturday — a sprint distance, which is a short race — and the Sunday race, the one I did, which is the Olympic Distance. Unlike the Ironman next month, the swim portion in Philly is a wave start.  Here, Philly organizers wisely break down the swim race by age and category into smaller portions.  They then start them in staggered heats. Your wave has swim cap designations by color.

I got up at 3:30 a.m. and got my stuff together and had a modest breakfast. And, I’m told that I didn’t do any of this quietly. There’s a name for people like me, and it’s not “ironman.” All I can say is that Hope, my wife, is a fairly tolerant woman to put up with this stuff. 

I get to the check in to rack my bike. I notice — but don’t fully comprehend the significance — that there’s a lot of bikes racked up there … Then I see a girl in a bathing suit with body markings, and I casually ask (what anyone would ask such a pretty girl), “So, are you wearing a wetsuit for the swim?” And, she looks at me like I’m crazy (and not for the normal reasons either) and says, “Swim?  I’m doing the relay. I’m not swimming. Everyone’s left. They’re on the other side of the river, getting in the water. The last bus left 10 minutes ago. You’re too late. You’re out of the race.” 

It was only then that I realized  I’m screwed — again.  Suddenly, the decision about wearing a wetsuit is irrelevant; it’s left behind. And I start running around, desperately trying to bum a ride to the other side of the river. The scene is what my my dad would describe as Zey Loifen vi Fah Sumpta Moyz, a Yiddish expression that means “running like poisoned mice.” Very descriptive — and accurate.

I’m not body-marked. There’s no way I can get to the other side before my wave starts.  However, it must have been painful to watch because, eventually, a bus driver says, “Come on, I’ll get you there.” A race official says, “Go ahead, you’ll get body-marked on the other side.” Tony, the bus guy, has to be their top driver. You see, the bike and run courses coincide along MLK Drive.

So, when Tony’s driving, he’s weaving in and around cones — and not hitting a one.  There are even recreational bikers, runners and in-line skaters in the road – even the Philly Tri can’t shut down MLK Drive, which is closed to traffic on Sunday for the public’s enjoyment. No casualties. It’s like a sports car commercial on a closed track, except I’m in a big-ass school bus, where I’m the only passenger. And sure enough, I get there, safe and sound.

Before you know it, I’m in the water. For those who flinch at swimming in the Schuylkill River — for all the stories I’ve heard about dead bodies, floating animals, etc., — it’s still cleaner than the New Jersey shoreline. Politics aside, the water’s nice. It’s a great swim.

I finish the swim in record time, 25 minutes, 49 seconds. I’m getting faster, that’s for sure. My goal was 30 minutes. Then, it’s off to the bike. It’s a fun course. I’m going 37 mph downhill and 22-25 mph along the straights.

But, right before the second loop, my rear derailer gear cable snaps, so I only have two gears — “low” and “high” on my 10-speed road bike. People think I’m being aggressive on the hills by standing on the bike, but, I’m just trying to get up the hills, and I’m struggling.

I’m not the only one having problems. I pass a guy and see that his bike shorts (those spandex things) are ripped, and his butt’s exposed — just enough to bring it to one’s attention as you’re traveling along at around 25 mph. I tell him, “Your pants are ripped.”  He says, “I know.” Eventually I finish with a record pace of 20.1 mph.

I’m tired as I start the run. But, my spirits are raised when, right before the dismount, I hear a familiar voice — “Brother Paul”.  He’s a guy from my masters swim class, who’s also training for the Lake Placid Ironman. He’s raising money for MS in his father’s name. He’s a good guy.

Along the way I see Bourne, a lawyer friend of mine — and fellow contributor to this fundraiser. He’s in the 60-65 age group, and he’s doing great. I finish the course at a record (triathlon) run pace of 9:14 mpm. My overall time of 2:44:01 beats my last (2008) by 11 minutes.  It’s a successful day.

I’m pretty psyched for the fun next month. I’ve raised over $8000 for the ADA, and things are on the upswing. Thanks to all contributors for keeping the faith.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the cause can make out a check to the American Diabetes Association and send it to Arthur L. Bugay at Galfand Berger, 1818 Market St., Suite 2300, Phila. PA 19103.