Saturday, November 28, 2015


Having grown up with running during the running boom years, reading When Running Was Young and So Were We: the collected works of a sportswriter from the golden age of American running was a look back into the golden years of running and the people and events that shaped the sport and competitions of the 1970s to 1990s. Many of the articles seemed distantly familiar to me, as they should as they were written by Jack Welch for Running Magazine and Track and Field News and reprinted here. I started reading this book earlier in the year and enjoyed in particular reading about the world class athletes and races. The writing can feel dated, as if you picked up an old running magazine (which I have plenty of) and read through the articles. At times it is fun to read about events that are still crystal clear and well known historically, at other times you may be reading about a runner on the verge of greatness, who never quite made that step towards becoming a well known name years later.

I finally finished the book on some long plane rides last weekend. I found that I skimmed some of the later articles if they didn't interest me. Some of the articles highlight athletes such as Dick Beardsley, Jon Sinclair, Greg Meyer, Mark Nenow, Mark Curp, John Gregorek. Ed Eyestone, and Steve Spence. Other athletes include Chris Fox (his Syracuse XC team just won the men's NCAA Championships-I watched the race in the Philadelphia Airport between flights), Bob Kennedy, Alberto Salazar, Steve Prefontaine, Keith Brantly, Gerry Lingren, and Marc Davis. Female greats include Patti Catalono (now Patti Dillon), Lynn Jennings, Joan Benoit, Ingrid Kristiansen, and Mary Decker,

The section on running coaches may need a second read for those wondering about Chris Fox's coaching success as their are two articles on his coach Greg Shank. There are other coaches written about as well. The book also highlights many races. One annoying thing is for many of the more forgotten races, we are told the winners right up front, leaving out the mystery of who won the race as you read the recap. There are plenty of reports on the Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the Honolulu Marathon, among other races. The Hood to Coast relay race highlighting a Nike superstar team managed by Alberto Salazar refers to him as a "maniac" and "paranoid" traits that he carries over to his coaching today.

If you are new to running and unfamiliar with these champions, races, and period of time, When Running Was Young and So Were We would be a good piece of reading. If you ran during these years, you would enjoy a trip down memory lane.

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