Facebook, Google unite 1985 Western States 100 runner with prized buckle

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A Western States 100 finisher’s buckle from a quarter of a century ago is finally finding its way to an ultramarathoner living in Wales. Gold Run resident Judy Suter found Klaus Armstrong-Braun on Facebook and then pinpointed where he lives through a more detailed Google search. Armstrong-Braun, 70, was one of the pioneer international runners, taking part in a 1985 Western States 100 that reached a national TV audience through ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” An environmental campaigner and politician in England, Armstrong-Braun completed the run in just under the 24-hour cutoff for a buckle. But he left town without picking the buckle up. Suter’s husband, Bob, was Western States race director that year and kept the buckle stored away in its original box, thinking that one day it would find its way to Armstrong-Braun. The back of the buckle has Armstrong-Braun’s name and finish time on it but over the past 25 years, Suter was never able to reach the buckle owner and the runner never sent word that he wanted it. “He ran but he didn’t show up at the awards ceremony,” Bob Suter said. “It ended up sitting in a drawer.” When Judy Suter was cleaning out drawers to make way for new bedroom furniture, the two rediscovered the sterling silver buckle. “My reaction was, ‘There’s that darn buckle again,’ so I decided to find him on the Internet,” she said. Suter sent an e-mail through Armstrong-Braun’s Facebook page and, when she didn’t get a response, googled his name and found a Web page showing him as an elected member of a Flintshire County Council in North Wales. Armstrong-Braun soon replied that he would be delighted to have the medal sent to him. In an e-mail to the Journal, Armstrong-Braun said that the run was “horrible” and “torture” but a delight to complete. He made no mention about why he had not picked up the medal-like buckle. Armstrong-Braun has taken a strong stand over the years on saving wildlife habitat and endangered species, most notably the great-crested newt. As well as 100-mile races, he has taken part in 24-hour runs. On the political front, he attempted to have fellow councillors relax dress codes that would have allowed him to wear shorts to official functions. And he’ll soon be sporting a piece of shiny haberdashery like no other.