February 25, 2001
John and Bill Rodgers. Yes, that Bill Rodgers.
Dateline: Ft. Worth, Texas
Cowtown Marathon weekend
It doesn't get any better than this weekend. I got to
spend it hanging out with Bill Rodgers!
That would be the Bill Rodgers who won the Boston Marathon
four times. The Bill Rodgers who won the New York City Marathon four times. The
Bill Rodgers who is called the "King of the Roads" because of his
dominance of road racing. The Bill Rodgers who is the greatest icon running has
ever had! He also happens to be
one heck of a nice guy.
The occasion was the Cowtown Marathon, which is a little
misleading. Yes, there was a marathon in Fort Worth on Saturday, but the real
emphasis and excitement of the weekend is the 5K and 10K races, and the family
atmosphere that surrounds those events. Of the 5,000 or so people who ran the
5K, for example, about 3,600 were children.
Bill and I were the "race celebrities." Well,
Bill was the race celebrity and I was like a little kid who got to watch a real
running hero at home in the running community. Bill Rodgers is gracious,
giving, always willing to be available, and just plain fun to be around. And,
luckily for me, he has a great sense of humor.
On race morning, a local TV station interviewed both of us.
It was one of several appearances we had made together leading up to the race.
That morning I was interviewed first. When I went back to get Bill for his part
of the interview, I told him that I'd told the reporter I was Bill
Rodgers. "Man, it was fun telling her that I won Boston four times!"
I said. "You know the story of the Penguin, Bill. Just tell it like you
were me!" I continued.
His eyes got real wide. Just as he stepped in front of the
camera, he looked over at me and asked: "You didn't really do
that...DID you??" He relaxed when I confessed I hadn't, and we
shared a good laugh.
I ran the 10K in 1:08:42 (my watch time) in wind, heat, high
humidity, wind, cold, rain, and more wind. A weather front really did come
through while I was on THIS course!
All in all, the weekend was much more a personal than a
professional high. This is a great sport.
And it's people like Bill Rodgers who have made it that way.
Next week I'm off to London for a training run with
the UK Penguins. Stay tuned!
Takin' it to the streets...