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Bill Rodgers (Read 293 times)

SShaw490


SShaw490

    I'm only about half way through it, but it is a fascinating read. I'm especially struck buy how runners in Rodgers' day struggled financially. When Rodgers won his first Boston Marathon, he did it in a singlet that he fished out of a dumpster, which his girlfriend had decorated with the logos "BOSTON" and "GBTC" using a black magic marker. He wore discount store tube socks and gardening gloves that his brother bought at a local hardware store just before the race. He DID have good shoes, because Steve Prefontaine had sent them as a gift; I'm sure Prefontaine had access to plenty of running shoes, but considering he lived on food stamps most of his career, I imagine it was a major sacrifice to pay the postage. Three years before Boston, Rodgers had finished third to Amby Burfoot and (I think) Tom Fleming in a 20 mile road race in which the first place prize was a set of tires. The only problem was, Burfoot didn't own a car. Neither did Fleming. Nor did Rodgers. Rodgers didn't know how far down the list they had to go to find a finisher who actually owned a car.

     

    When we start to wonder why so many East Africans do so well in marathons, we should remember this. This is the kind of lifestyle they will live if they go back home. There's nothing really wrong with financial struggles, but it's very difficult to turn down money when you have none. If they can string together a few years of top flight races, they can be financially secure. One of my favorite quotes is, "Poverty ain't shameful, just inconvenient." Nobody wants to be inconvenienced if they have an option.

     

    Back in Rodgers' glory years, I was a motocross racer, and that was another fringe sport that went from poverty to fabulous wealth at least for the top riders. But now we lament the days when a rider would get up on the podium and say, "Heck yeah, I rammed Howerton. He rammed me in the corner before and I wanted to break his leg." Now it's "My Dunlops were really hooking up off the gate, and I'd like to thank blah blah blah..." Gone are the days when Steve Stackable proudly raced with a marijuana leaf painted on his helmet. Nobody was paying him anything, so he was free to do whatever he wanted.

     

    We think sponsors pay runners for performances. No, they pay them to be good boys and girls, to say the right things and schmooze the right people. Corporations don't buy your performance, they buy your freedom.

      Corporations don't buy your performance, they buy your freedom.

      Nice post; all of it.

        I am about 95% through with the book, but I have a different take on his "poverty".  The longest job he was able to hold was one that he was required to do because of his conscientious objector status to get out of the military and he managed to get fired from that.  Most of the time, he was out of work and lived off of his girlfriends paycheck.  He quit jobs because he didn't like the boss' son, etc.  He definately had a work ethic when it came to his running and probably his school work (which he said did not come easily to him).

         

        I think there is a lot not being said about how they financed their lifestyle.  His girlfriend/wife's parents gave them at least two vans and who knows what other kind of support.  In 1976, he mentioned that he didn't have the money to pay the toll on the toll roads to get to NYC, but the very next year he and his wife scraped up $40,000 to start a running store, which he said was from savings from their jobs and his under the table running money.  I wonder if the money was actually borrowed from his wife's parents.

        SShaw490


        SShaw490

          Well, if his wife's parents loaned them money to start their running store, I'd say it was a pretty good investment. I expect they got a heck of a nice return on that.

            Well, if his wife's parents loaned them money to start their running store, I'd say it was a pretty good investment. I expect they got a heck of a nice return on that.

             

            Well, it doesn't actually say he borrowed the money.  That is just speculation on my part.  Either he wasn't as broke as he claimed to be during most of the book, he made a lot of money under the table in 1976/1977, or he borrowed the money.  $40,000 was a lot of money in 1977.  If he borrowed it, I am sure he was able to pay it back in spades.

            RSX


               

              If you're lucky enough to chat with Boston Billy, you'll probably find that he is more interested in discussing your running than his own.  He's quite a character, and a real class act.

               

               

              The first time I met him was at the Boston Expo, and he asked me how I had done there. I thought that was really cool.

                 

                If you're lucky enough to chat with Boston Billy, you'll probably find that he is more interested in discussing your running than his own.  He's quite a character, and a real class act.

                 

                I can't find it, but no so long ago I saw a picture of Bill sitting on the floor of an apartment near the start line in Hopkinton.  The room was full of great runners just hanging out at a friend's place on the morning of the marathon, things really have changed for elite runners.

                 

                +1

                DH and I had the pleasure of chatting with both him and Jeff G this summer at our "Big Wildlife Run" expo. They both tell a great story!

                 

                 photo billandjeffmini_zpsb9a24fec.jpg

                Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away...(unkown)




                Go With The Flow
                Thyroid Support Group

                  very cool!    chances of me running into him in Seattle are very slim.  anyway just put book on hold from library, looking forward to it.

                   

                  A couple of months ago was the screening of "Spirit of the Marathon" and I went.

                   

                  Walked into the movie theater and sitting at a table was Bill Rodgers as he had come to see the movie too.  I didnt really want to bother him but walked over and said HI and he responded warmly.   Sat and talked to him for a few minutes but since it was an evening out for him and a couple of friends, I left after just a few minutes.  He was really a nice guy and generous with his time.

                   

                  There were a number of other people that stopped and talked to him and he was very gracious to us all..

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