Upper Peninsula Road Runners Club Hall of Fame
Inducted into the UPRRC Hall of Fame in 2013 as the 36th member.
Dean Juntunen, 53, hails from Mass City in Ontonagon County. He had worked as an ICBM missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force until 1991 when he was medically discharged after an accident. Dean had climbed up in a tree to take down a rope swing and one of the branches holding him broke, causing him to fall 30 feet to the ground. The fall resulted in 5 broken vertebrae and damaged his spinal cord in two places. Dean had always been an active person and had gone on 44-mile hikes in Montana before his injury.
In 1992, Dean began competing with a push-rim racing wheelchair and did numerous races across the Upper Peninsula and became a UPRRC member in either 1992 or 1993. He used the push-rim chair for several years and then began using a hand-cycle racing chair. The push rim had several disadvantages regarding health and safety, as ‘punching’ the rims caused damage to his hands, and rotator cuff injuries are common. Also, the motion of pushing prevented him from being able to see the road ahead. From that time on, he has raced with the hand-cycle in races across the Upper Peninsula and in neighboring states.
Dean says that all the races he has done are his favorites, but a few stand out from the others. He likes the Canal Run in Hancock for the scenic beauty of the course. The Paavo Nurmi Marathon is another of his favorites, and so is the FNB of Wakefield Marathon which circles Sunday Lake 9 1/2 times and gives him the opportunity to see the other runners as he passes them several times. Dean has mixed feelings about Journeys Marathon in Eagle River, WI because the weather is often cold and wet; however, he has done the race every year and always has a reserved parking space for him near the start line. A sign is posted that says, "Parking for Dean Juntunen only." So he can't help but love Journeys except for the weather.
The longest race that Dean has done was 240 miles in a 24 hour run in the Quad Cities in Iowa. He has also gone on century rides (100 miles) with bicycle groups. When he is not hand-cycling, Dean also stays active by kayaking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. He was inducted into the Michigan Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame in 2005; however, he says that “Being inducted into the Upper Peninsula Road Runners Hall of Fame is more meaningful because the honor comes from my friends and neighbors.”