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Run far, run fast

Marathon man Bill Rodgers


"Fast as fast can be, you'll never catch me!" said the hare to the tortoise. "Running is the purist form of athleticism," he continued. "And no matter where I finish in the race, I am still inherently faster. And I will make more loot in endorsements than you, turtle!"

The speedy hare lost and everyone learned the same antediluvian moral: slow and steady wins the race. But Aesop and his proverbial ilk lived long ago, and a more current message is fast and steady wins accolades and the race. Just ask Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston and New York City marathons. Rodgers' personal best distance in an hour: 12 miles, 1,361 yards. Surely steady but most definitely not slow.

In case you haven't heard, Rodgers is a running star. And with the help of The Athlete's Foot, he's making an appearance in Boise on Tuesday, June 8 during a silent auction to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The night of activities begins at The Flicks with a showing of Ambrose Salmini's 30-minute film No Tomorrows at 7 p.m.

No Tomorrows is the motivational and inspirational official film of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trial for Men--considered one of the greatest races of all time and acknowledged as the last great American marathon. The film chronicles the vying racers as they begin over the Peace Bridge in northern New York. Salmini blends commentary, history and interviews with the breath-drawing action as the fellows cross the finish line. Critics shrewdly call the film "a running Tour de Force!"

After the movie, Rogers, who was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team, will be around to sign autographs and chat with fans. Guests can bid on various wares during the auction and mingling session. More activities and fun are planned for the evening, and all of the money raised will go to the charity.

In 1977, Rodgers won Fukuoka Marathon and was ranked number one in the world in the marathon by Track & Field News in 1975, 1977 and 1979. In 2000, among many other running awards and accomplishments, he was inducted into USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

But it wasn't always sneakers and sweatbands. Rodgers was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1947. He received his bachelor's degree in sociology then headed to Boston College to earn a master's degree in special education in 1975.

Maybe thanks to Olivia Newton John or that guy in the leotard, a running boom erupted in the late 1970s. And Boston, a town oft ahead of the trends, boasted one of the nation's hottest running scenes. Besides running, Boston was the home to other sprouting trends, such as the mod resurgence in the late '90s and the "academia boom" of the '30s. That is, of course, the 1630s. But as far as running, the 1979 Boston Marathon occurred at the peak of the trend. And Rodgers was so cutting edge he just had to win it.

Rodgers engaged in the elite training of the Greater Boston Track Club, one of the strongest road racing and cross-country teams in the country. It attracted young and talented runners from all over the world who wanted to run with the best crowd around. With a personal best of 4:16:08 for the mile, Rodgers fit in aptly with the crowd.

"I don't really want to go out with the very fast people," Rodgers says of his running strategy. "I want to be behind them a ways, try to keep them in sight and be able to watch them. I think that's the best way to run a marathon anyway."

Rodgers still runs about 25 races a year and spends much of his time touring the country for speaking engagements. He is currently a spokesman for Running Times magazine and spearheads Bill Rodgers Running Center. The Bill Rodgers Running Center opened in 1977 in Boston and is committed to helping runners of all levels with perplexities such as how to match up a person with the correct running shoe (not with the popular or most expensive sneakers like other places are rumored to do).

Though the center moved locations, it maintains the same core values and commitment to runners.

He's fast, but now is your chance to can catch Rodgers while he is in town. Fifteen gets you into the film and the silent auction plus the opportunity to chat with Rodgers. Tickets are on sale at The Athlete's Foot, The Flicks and The American Cancer Society. Hurry! Before they're all out.