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Malcolm East — October, 2020
Malcolm East is known for his thirty plus road racing victories and numerous other top finishes during the late 1970s and the early-to-mid 1980s. His major victories include Pittsburgh’s Great Race 10k (1978, 79, 80, 82), Youngstown’s International Peace Race 25k (1979,80) and Bethesda Chase 20k (1981). The 1982 Great Race 10k victory was a course record 27:57 when sub-28 times were rare. East also was on the podium with top-three finishes at the 1979 Jacksonville River Run 15k, 1980 Charleston Distance Run 15-mile and 1980 Annapolis 10-mile. His marathon resume includes 17 sub-2:20 times with nine being sub-2:16 finishes. Malcolm finished fifth at the 1981 Boston Marathon in his personal best time of 2:11:05. His marathon victories include the 1981 Copenhagen (Denmark), 1982 Columbus and 1988 Pittsburgh marathons. Malcolm’s eighth place finish at the 1984 London Marathon put him fifth on the British list and second alternate for the 1984 Olympic team. East was also on the marathon podium at the 1981 Orange Bowl, 1983 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 1984 Sydney (Australia) and 1988 San Diego marathons. He finished second at the 1982 Ohme (Japan) 20k in a British Record 1:32:01. Malcolm’s short, brilliant college racing for Allegheny Community College includes winning the 1977 NJCAA title while leading the Gators to the team title. His second place 4:07.7 mile helped Allegheny win the 1978 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. He also won the 1978 NJCAA Outdoor 10,000 meters and marathon. His personal best times include: 10k – 27:57; 15k - 44:20; 10-Mile – 48:12; 20k – 1:01:05; Half Marathon - 1:04:48; 25k – 1:16:14; 30k – 1:32:01 and Marathon - 2:11:35. He resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Malcolm was very generous to spend an hour and fifteen minutes on the telephone for this interview in 2020.
GCR: As we look back 35 to 45 years ago to the running boom in the United States when road racing was developing and there was a tremendous depth of top runners, how exciting was it to be in the middle of this amazing group of talented runners?
ME It was a tremendous time and very exciting. It seemed at that time that every race was very, very competitive with such a good group of guys. It was a lot different than it is today. The camaraderie between runners was tremendous.
GCR: You raced quite a bit at intermediate distances and had great success in the marathon. Let’s discuss your marathon racing first. One of the highlights of marathon your career has to be your fifth place in the 1981 Boston Marathon in your personal best time of 2:11:35. Can you take us through your race strategy, how things played out during the race, who you ran along with, critical points and how you felt through the hills and the final five miles afterward?
ME It’s funny that in that time of the late 1970s and early 1980s that everyone was there to compete. We were there to race. I think the only goal was to try to win the race. At Boston what I did was I kept with the leaders who, at that time, were Toshiheko Seko, Bill Rodgers, Craig Virgin and Greg Meyer in the group. We went out in 48 minutes and some seconds for the first ten miles. As you know, the first ten miles are quick at Boston. I stayed with the group until Greg made a breakaway probably around twenty or twenty-one miles. He put about forty-five seconds on us. We gradually reeled him in with that same group – Seko, Rodgers and Virgin. Then Seko made the move and Virgin followed along and I was left in the wake, so to speak. But 2:11 wasn’t bad, especially in 1981.
GCR: You raced 17 sub-2:20 marathons, including nine marathons under 2:16. What does it say about your consistency, tenacity, and durability that you were able to race so many marathons at a high level?
ME You’ve done your research and there were a couple of crazy marathons where I ran them back-to-back. I was one of those crazy Englishmen who ran one marathon, didn’t run as well as he thought he would do, so he decided to run another one two weeks later.
GCR: That is precisely what you did in 1981 in the fall where you finished third in Columbus in 2:14:38 and two weeks later raced the NYC Marathon in 2:14:50, even staying with eventual winner, Alberto Salazar through halfway in 1:04:08. When most marathon racers race twice per year, you raced twice in two weeks. How tough was this to do both mentally and physically and why were you able to do what most top marathon racers couldn’t?
ME I wasn’t happy with my performance in Columbus and saw New York City Race Director, Fred Lebow, at the hotel. I asked him if he would fly me up to New York for the marathon. He did and I ran less than fifteen seconds slower. Alberto and I were at 1:04 at halfway and John Graham was with us as well. John and I both started to suffer, and we ran all the way together until practically twenty-five miles. We were both suffering. I finished the race, and my emotions were all over the place. I was laughing and crying. John’s dad was there, and he bought me a two-liter bottle of Coke that I downed just to get some sugar back into my body. That was quite an experience.
GCR: Let’s stick with 1981 and your marathon exploits. Earlier in the year, just two months after your great Boston marathon PR, you won the Copenhagen Marathon in Denmark in 2:14:28. What were some of the highlights of that race and how cool was it to score a big international marathon win, especially toward the end when you knew that victory was at hand?
ME That was one of my toughest marathons. The conditions were very windy in Denmark. The course that we ran had about twenty miles along the coast with a headwind for a long way. There was a very good East German team there. I ran with the East Germans and John Dimick. We ran together until about twenty miles. I think the wind caught up with everybody else. I ran the last five or six miles by myself. It was exciting. Here’s a funny story from the end of the race. When I finished the race there were a hundred meters on a track. They had a victor’s wreath and the girl who was supposed to put it over my head at the finish line decided to put it on me with a hundred meters to go. So, I’m running with this big wreath. It must have looked hilarious, but it was quite the experience.
GCR: Let’s go around the world to four continents and get your take on international races, the countries, and the culture. First, what are your memories of Brazil and the July 1983 Rio de Janeiro Marathon where your 2:20:35 effort was good for third place?
ME That was an odd race. When that race started, Juma Ikangaa, the Tanzanian was there, and we were just standing around talking. The race was going to start about four o’clock in the afternoon. It was supposed to be in the cool part of the day, but it was still about ninety degrees. The race started, and we didn’t know it had started. We were in Brazil and the culture was very different, especially at that time. The runners just took off. My official time according to a French newspaper was 2:17 because I had a three-minute leeway when we didn’t get started. The other thing that happened in that race was that we had our drinks supposedly put out at the drink stations. After about ten miles my drinks disappeared. I didn’t have anything to drink the last sixteen miles. I was afraid to drink the water out there because I didn’t know how it would affect me.
GCR: In 1984 you raced marathons on three other continents. What are your recollections of the February 1984 Beppu-Oita Marathon where you finished tenth in 2:15:36 and the people and culture of Japan?
ME The people in Japan were fantastic. If you go there and you are a runner, you are a superstar. It was like being a Premier League soccer player in England. They are amazing people with a great culture. The races are probably the most well-run races I’ve every run. I ran there twice in Ohme and in Beppu. I had a tremendous time. We took a good group of American runners and there were some good foreign teams which showed up.
GCR: You raced closer to your home three months later in the May 1984 London Marathon where you raced your second fastest marathon in 2:14:01 for an eighth-place finish and your top loop course time. What are your major takeaways from this race?
ME That was a thrill. It was supposed to be the English Olympic Trials, but two runners were pre-selected for the Olympics. It was the year that Geoff Smith and Steve Jones were selected ahead of time. We only found out the night before that there was just one place up for grabs. It was a very interesting run. With that 2:14:01 time, I was fighting to get under 2:14. I was sprinting like the dickens going over London Bridge.
GCR: Since there was only one spot available for the Olympic team. Where were you in the pecking order?
ME I would have been second alternate for the Olympics. I was the third Brit that day. Charlie Spedding won, and Kevin Forster was second.
GCR: Just like in 1981, you raced high quality marathons close together as, a month later, in June of 1984 you placed third in the Sydney Marathon in Australia in 2:15:05. Where were you training as you jetted to races around the world and what were you doing to run three of your best marathons in five months?
ME After London, I came back to the States and ran the 20k race in Wheeling, West Virginia. That was in between London and Sydney. Andrew Lloyd was second in Sydney. He was right in front of me behind an American who ran for Athletics West. Doug Kurtis was down there and finished fourth or fifth.
GCR: Let’s switch gears and chat about shorter races. You won Pittsburgh’s Great Race at the ten-kilometer distance four times, topped by a 27:57 in 1984. Can you take us through that fourth victory and what you did to break 28 minutes?
ME I was living in Boston at the time and flew back to Pittsburgh from Boston to run the Great Race. My goal was to be under twenty-eight minutes, and I knew I could do it. I was in tremendous shape. I had been training with John Gregorek, Bruce Bickford, and a couple other guys in Boston, so I knew I was ready for it. We went through halfway in about 14:15 and, obviously, I had to pick it up. The only time I remember is that I hit five miles in 22:40 and knew I had to run a 4:20 mile. I did it exactly and I was at twenty-seven minutes at six miles. I knew I had it under my belt, and I ran fifty-seven seconds for that last point two miles which, at that time, was easy.
GCR: It must have been exciting to cross the finish line and to break twenty-eight minutes.
ME Oh, it was. It was. A lot of work went into that race. A lot of preparation. I was ready.
GCR: When a runner wins a race multiple times, a town can adopt them as their own. Based on your four Great Race victories and other races in the Pittsburgh area, did the city adopt you as a hometown hero?
ME At that time, yes. I was held in the same esteem as a lot of the Pittsburgh Steelers football players. I got to know a lot of them. I got to know Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, and players like that which was very nice. I was invited to sports banquets. There is a big event in Pittsburgh called the Dapper Dan and I received an award there. It was a good time and Pittsburgh did adopt me which was very nice. Pittsburgh is my second home.
GCR: You mentioned briefly racing in Ohme, Japan and in February 1982 you set the British Record at 30 kilometers there with a time of 1:32:01. How special was it to hold a British National Record and how neat was it every time you wore your country’s singlet and represented them internationally?
ME To me, there is nothing more special in the world than putting on your country’s singlet and representing your country. I think that day I wore a New Balance singlet. That was a tremendous race, and I had no idea it was going to be a British Record. Again, it was insane. We just went out to race and raced our opponents and the times just came by way of chance. You know that as you were racing around that time and everyone was running with the pedal to the floor.
GCR: Yes, I was at the sub-elite level, running 30:30 to 31 minutes for 10k and low 2:20s marathons but, like you said, based on our talent and training, we were all pedal to the metal. Every single one of us was. We were pushing the guys that were a little ahead of us and they were pushing the next guys who were pushing you. Everybody was pushing that next group that was ahead of them. It was an exciting time with that depth. Did you enjoy that excitement while you were running 28 minutes for 10k knowing that the guys running 29 and 30 and 31 and 32-minute 10ks were all out there busting it as hard as you were in training and racing?
ME Oh yes, the group we had when we were the Allegheny-Nike group had twelve or thirteen guys that ran 2:20 or better for the marathon. Guys you may not remember were in the group. There were some very good runners around at that time.
GCR: In the late 1970s and early 1980s there were quite a few intermediate distance races in addition to half marathons. My wife’s family is from the Youngstown, Ohio area. What do you recall from your two wins at the International Peace Race 25k in Youngstown, Ohio in 1978 and 1979 when that was a big race in a small town?
ME That was very exciting because I had the chance to race against Lasse Viren. I was just an up-and-coming runner. I was racing the likes of Randy Thomas, who was at the top of his game, Tom Fleming, Chris Stewart and Ryszard Marczak. Zak Barie came in to race. The race was loaded. I don’t know how Jack Cessna got those runners, but he did it. He did a tremendous job. It was the biggest race in the area – even bigger than the Great Race in terms of being competitive.
GCR: The Charleston Distance Run 15-miler is known for a very difficult hill early in the race followed by a steep downhill and then relatively flat terrain which I found out when I raced there in 1981. Who were your main competitors in 1980 when you finished second in 1:16:29, how did you fare on that steep uphill and wicked downhill and what were the crunch points that decided the race victor?
ME That downhill was tough. I remember running along with Bill Rodgers for a few miles after we both had come down the hill and we had no legs left. That was awful. I think John Dimick won. He was a very good downhill runner. He is the one that survived that race. And the award was a lump of coal. Unfortunately, most of my awards are gone. I have very few left. With my moving back and forth across the Atlantic, many of mine were lost.
GCR: You raced many 20k races including Elby’s in Wheeling, West Virginia, one in Midland, New Jersey and victories in Butler, Pennsylvania and Bethesda, Maryland. Did you like the distance and do any of these races stand out for moves you made to win, a difficult course or tough competitors?
ME It was a good distance for me. There weren’t many half marathons at the time. It seemed that all the races around that length were 20k. I had some very good results. I ran 61:05 in Bethesda against George Malley who had the half marathon record at the time. We had a heck of a battle there. I threw up around 10k. I stopped to throw up. Then I got back into the race and caught up with George. He turned to me and had a look that said, ‘where the hell did you come from?’ The 20k was a great distance. That Wheeling, West Virginia race used to pull in some great runners. Jon Sinclair was there. The harder the course, the more it suited Jon. Geoff Smith, Rod Dixon and a host of Kenyans were there. Geoff ran it one of the years he won the Boston Marathon and he only finished sixth there. It was that loaded.
GCR: A race in my neck of the woods that you raced is the Jacksonville River Run 15k, which is one of the enduring top road races in the U.S. What do you recall from your third and fourth place finishes in 1979 and 1980 and how strategically important was running over the Hart Bridge in the final 5k of the race?
ME The finish of that race was a tough finish. One year I had a battle with Benji Durden, who I think was fresh off his Houston Marathon race. It was another strong field. I battled Jerry Odlin, a Murray State guy. It was always a good race, but it was always hard. I was coming from the Pittsburgh winters down to Jacksonville and it was very warm and muggy throughout.
GCR: We’ve been discussing your racing in your twenties in the marathon and in some shorter races, but let’s go back to the start of your athletic activity. Did you play quite a bit of sports as a youth and how did you start in competitive running?
ME I was a soccer player. I was playing five or six times a week basically ninety minutes a time. I played for my school during the week and usually on Saturday morning. I had a senior league game on Saturday afternoon and played in another senior league on Sunday. Plus, we played six a side games on Thursday nights. My schedule was full playing soccer. I didn’t run in school until what would have been considered my senior year in the U.K. I went out to run the cross-country championship and won it outright by quite some distance. My P.E. teacher had been a javelin thrower in the Commonwealth Games for England and told me we needed to push this a little bit. He started taking me to some cross-country races and then I ran my first track races that same year. My parents suggested I join an Athletics Club, so I joined one and started getting good at running. I slowly dropped soccer. I picked up running and was in both sports for a time, but then decided I should focus on the running because I was getting some good results. I was getting hurt on the weekend playing soccer, so it wasn’t a good combination.
GCR: When you first got on the track, what kind of time were you running off your soccer fitness?
ME I ran a 2:07 for 800 meters just off playing soccer. We weren’t training at the time. Also, at my first meet, after I ran the 800 meters and was standing around, there was a 2,000-meter steeplechase. I didn’t know what that was, but my coach entered me in the race. I was talking to this one kid who was there who had run the steeplechase. I asked, ‘How many times do we go around the track? How many times do we have a water jump?’ He told me and I went out and won the race. That was my introduction to track running.
GCR: What were some of the highlights of your running as a teenager in England as to championships, medals, and times? And how long was it before you came to the U.S. to run and go to college?
ME I started running when I was eighteen. Some of my achievements were that I ran a 3:43 for 1,500 meters, an 8:07 for 3,000 meters and 14:30 for 5,000 meters. I ran 800s in the high 1:50s and ran 51 seconds for the 400 meters, so I had some speed. I used to anchor the four by 400-meter relay for my local club.
GCR: Who was your coach and what were you doing in training, such as fartlek, intervals, or good mileage, that helped you to improve?
ME We didn’t have a coach. We showed up at the track on a Tuesday and a Thursday and we ran a workout. We were a smaller club at the time, and it wasn’t until later that people started taking notice of me. I did what everybody else did. We did ten times 200 meters with a 15 second recovery. I found that easy because I had been playing a lot of soccer and there was always a lot of starting and stopping. So, it wasn’t that difficult. Then, on a Sunday, we would go out and run ten miles. I would run with some of the older guys at the club. I belonged to two clubs – a cross country club and a track team.
GCR: How did you end up getting the attention of U.S. coaches and coming to the U.S. to run at the University of Arkansas?
ME My 5,000 meter and 3,000-meter times led me to being spotted when I was racing at the Crystal Palace, which was our national stadium. Coaches would be there to watch us. I made the British team and, when I ran the 3,000 meters at the Crystal Palace, there wasn’t much to it. I had no coach, went out and ran and got spotted.
GCR: When you did get to the University of Arkansas, did you have improvements in your training since it was more structured and what were highlight races?
ME It was an odd time for me because I was out of my element in Arkansas after coming over from London. I found it very difficult. The structured training was good, but it was very hard. My times started increasing and were getting worse. I put on weight with the American diet. I was washing my own clothes and thought I shrank my clothes, but I was getting heavy. We used to run eighteen miles on a Sunday and that was hurting me. We did that during cross-country and track season. At the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 1976 I developed a stress fracture. I ran the race until about four miles and had to drop out. I went back home to the U.K. and had the mind to not come back. It was a tough decision whether I came back or not. I did come back and had a decent indoor season. At our conference meet, Steve Baker and I tied for the two-mile title for Arkansas. Outdoors I had one decent race. I had a good ten thousand meters on the track that was a few ticks over thirty minutes. I wasn’t having stellar performances at Arkansas.
GCR: What caused you to switch to running for Allegheny Community College and was this a better fit for you in terms of culture, coach, training, and teammates?
ME My roommate when I was going to Arkansas was Mike Clark, and he had come from Allegheny. It was he that set it up by putting me in contact with Neal Fine, who was the Allegheny Athletic Director at the time and Sam Bair, who was the coach there. They persuaded me to come to Pittsburgh instead of flying back to the U.K. I came and settled into Pittsburgh. I liked Pittsburgh, as it was a city closer in feel to my home. Most of my teammates and roommates were either from overseas or a big city, so it was a lot easier for me to acclimatize.
GCR: How helpful was it to your overall development as a runner to have teammates such as James Rotich, Amos Korir, Matthew Leddy, and Wayne Coffman as training partners? Did you help each other more than beat each other up in training?
ME We ran together. We did have a good group. We also had Carl Martin and John Green, two Irishmen, that came on board. We had a good, solid team at that time, and everyone seemed to get along well.
GCR: What did Sam Bair do to coach you and your teammates up and to minimize injuries when you had so many guys that were competitive?
ME He kept us low key from what I was used to. When I came from Arkansas, I was running a good hundred miles a week there. Sam probably had us around seventy or eighty miles a week. In cross country season we trained all on the roads. We didn’t have the facilities and we didn’t have a track. We didn’t have anywhere to run. Our cross-country training was in North Park on the roads.
GCR: At the 1977 NJCAA Cross Country Championships in Tucson, Arizona you were individual champion by five seconds over your teammate, James Rotich, while your team won the team title. Was it doubly satisfying to win on both levels?
ME That was very satisfying because my dad had flown over to watch the race. I had been playing number two to James for most of the year. I just knew I could win the Nationals. I had the feeling there. My dad had flown over and there was no way I wasn’t going to win. I’m getting all emotional thinking of it. That was tremendous.
GCR: In the spring of 1978, Allegheny CC won the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. In the mile, Amos Korir ran 4:07.6 to win while you were a tenth of a second back in 4:07.7. Did you run together and try to tie, or did he outkick you?
ME We raced each other. They dropped me down to the mile when I would have probably liked to run the two-mile. We wanted to take the team championship and we only had eight runners there. So, we had to spread ourselves out. We went at it in that race.
GCR: During the 1978 outdoor season, you had some high-quality times including 13:27.4 for three miles and 28:03.1 for six miles that helped you transition to your great road racing career. Were any of those outdoor track races especially memorable?
ME On the track it was the National championship in the 10,000 meters. I ran a very odd race. I ran a very quick first 5,000 meters and then settled back into the pack a little bit. With two laps to go, I must have been a hundred meters down, but still knew I was going to win the race. I think I ran 2:01 for the last 800 meters. It took me through to the win. It was in Illinois and I remember that well because it was so hot that evening.
GCR: When you finished up at Allegheny, did you consider going on to a four-year school and continuing or was road racing where you wanted to be?
ME You know what? It was very close at that time. I had some track scholarship offers. There was one from Clemson. I had an offer from Washington State where Henry Rono and that group had been. But I also had ties to Pittsburgh, and I could pick up some money by going out on the roads and racing, so I put my schooling on hold for a little bit. I kind of waited and started racing on the roads.
GCR: We talked a bit about your training at Allegheny CC, but what were the main important aspects of your training over the next ten years as a road racer that kept you ready for peak performances on a consistent basis?
ME Firstly, in Pittsburgh it was the group of runners we had. As I said, we had twelve or thirteen guys who ran sub-2:20 in the marathon. Jeff Foster ran 2:14. Steve Podgajny ran 2:16. Richard Bogaty 2:15. Steve Middleton 2:15. Robin Holland 2:15. Ken Trilly 2:14. Jim Burke was another 2:14 guy. I could go on and on. We were stacked. We would just meet on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We would go long intervals on Tuesday and short ones on Thursday.
GCR: That makes sense and those types of training groups were everywhere. I was in one in Orlando. I was working full time and most of the guys were between thirty and thirty-two minutes for 10k. On Tuesday nights there were eight to fifteen guys out there doing repeat 800 meters or whatever and you hardly had to lead, maybe one or two laps of the whole workout.
ME Yes, and everyone knew their place and knew what was going to happen. There was no racing in there. It was just a tremendous group. You just don’t see that anymore. You don’t see those groups. Those days are gone.
GCR: Since you have had great success at 10,000 meters, the marathon, and all distances in between, what is your favorite racing distance and why is that so?
ME The 20k probably was and I also enjoyed cross country. I made the American team one year at the U.S. cross country championship, but I couldn’t go to the World Championships. As soon as I crossed the finish line, Dave Martin said’ You can’t go.’ I said, ‘Dave, I know I can’t go.’
GCR: From your many years of racing and training, who were some of your favorite competitors due to their ability to give you a strong race and bring out your best?
ME There were so many – Greg Meyer was one. I raced Bill Rodgers a lot. I tended to run into George Malley quite a bit. Jon Sinclair, Herb Lindsay, Mike Slack, Mike Roche – there were so many guys out there. I was at Falmouth three years ago and I got to catch up with many of those guys. When we showed up for any race, we knew we had to race. There were no easy races. Even in local races I had my work cut out for me.
GCR: As your racing career in the marathon wound down, you raced several times from 1986 – 1988 from 2:17 to 2:19, winning the 1988 Pittsburgh Marathon in 2:19:49. How exciting was it to win that Pittsburgh Marathon in 1988 and to cap off your marathon career?
ME That was a good race for me and there is a story leading up to it. I had run the London Marathon the week before. It was our British Olympic Trials and I got sick. I just went halfway. I had a very bad cold and was very congested. At the halfway point I knew I should stop. I flew back to the States and then when it was Saturday night, the night before the marathon, I was sitting at home and thought I should see if I could get in the Pittsburgh Marathon the next day. I called Larry Kuzmanko and said, ‘Larry, can you get me a race number?’ he said, ‘Sure, it will be waiting there for you. That is how that race happened. Honestly, it was a spur of the moment. I had all the work in me, and I thought, ‘what the heck – I might as well run Pittsburgh tomorrow.’
GCR: You ran some strong marathons as a forty-and-over Master athlete. What were you doing similarly and differently in training that led to your 1996 Huntsville Rocket City Marathon in 2:32::28 and 1998 Pittsburgh Marathon in 2:34:41 and were they gratifying as you were still racing strong after twenty plus years in the sport?
ME It was nice to be still running strong. Obviously, I wasn’t putting in all the work I did before. I had a family and two older daughters. There was more work and family life involved. I took running more as a hobby then. It was nice to get good results. But to be honest, it didn’t matter. I just love to run. That is what took me through my running career. I love to run.
GCR: When we flash forward a decade later to your fifties, I remember when I just broke three hours with a 2:59:53 at the Disney Marathon. How tough was it after age fifty to train for and race 2:57:21 at the 2007 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon and was this icing on the cake of your racing career?
ME I wasn’t thinking about that to be honest. That just happened. If I look back on that now, it’s exciting that I ran under three hours at that age. That’s pretty good going. I’ve just coached a couple of guys and one ran about the same time, 2:57 and change for a marathon last weekend. I’ve been helping him and he’s only thirty-four years old. That was quite an achievement for him.
GCR: When you look back on your years of racing, you won around thirty road races plus many races on the track and in cross country. No matter how big or small the field, or strong the competition, was it always satisfying to be first across the finish line and to break the tape?
ME Oh, you know it was always good to be first. There is no better feeling. Probably the best one for me was that sub-twenty-eight in Pittsburgh because it was planned. The placing and the time were planned. I was aiming to be under twenty-eight minutes and to be first. Getting under twenty-eight minutes by myself was a tough run.
GCR: How important has it been to you to stay connected and involved in the sport or distance running through coaching, working in running stores and other endeavors?
ME I just love the sport and being around to help other people. If I can make just a little difference and give a bit of knowledge is very satisfying. I enjoy being able to pass something on and give someone what they need to go on to the next stage. Business is doing well at the running store because there are more people walking and running now than ever, especially in this area.
GCR: You’ve had some health issues and particularly with your heart in recent years. Will you summarize what you have faced, your recovery and how your health, fitness and running is currently?
ME According to my doctor, I’m in the greatest physical condition I could be in. For someone my age, he tells me I’m in the ninety-ninth percentile. But I’m not a happy camper. I’m still having some issues. I have had a pacemaker put in and I’ve had two ablations this year. I’m still getting out there and am hopeful the doctor will let me get along to the next phase and be running a bit better. I’m running three to five miles at a time. I’m having some issues, but I’m not going to keel over from the problem. It is what it is, and I can’t change it and have accepted that.
GCR: Those of us who have been running for forty, fifty or more years often are asked a question that I will ask you that may have evolved over the years as you matured as a person and an athlete – why do you run?
ME It’s the joy. It’s the joy. I never run with music. I’ve never run a step with music. I like being in tune with what is going on outdoors, outside. I hear the birds. I hear animals in the bushes. I hear the traffic. I like it. I enjoy that. I enjoy being on a track and running. It’s been good to me.
GCR: You turned sixty-four years old this year which reminds us of the Beatles song, ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ that Paul McCartney wrote for the Sgt. Pepper album. What are your future goals that you wish to accomplish over the next ten to fifteen years, personally, coaching or as a father? What are you looking forward to?
ME I want to be an example to the young man who is playing on his PS4 now. I’m talking about my son, Roman. Now he just told me he wants to wrestle. So, one of my goals is wrestling (laughing).
GCR: When you are asked to sum up in a minute or two the major lessons you have learned during your life from the discipline of running, being a part of the running community, helping and coaching others, and overcoming adversity, what you would like to share with my readers that will help them on the pathway to reaching their potential athletically and as a person?
ME I would just say to enjoy everything you do. If you are lucky enough to find out what you are good about, just enjoy it. That is what I have said throughout my running career. Just go out and enjoy your sport and be the best person you can possibly be. The two go together.
  Inside Stuff
Hobbies/Interests It’s still kicking the ball around. I’m looking to join an over fifty group and play a little bit of soccer. Apart from that, I like to read self-help books. Now, I’m helping Roman with his schoolwork and getting through this situation we are in
Nicknames I didn’t have any nicknames growing up. The only nickname I got was from Steve Jones and he called me ‘Eastie’
Favorite movies I’m very much into history movies and a lot of World War II and Civil War movies. But my favorite movie is ‘Love, Actually’
Favorite TV shows Growing up, on the BBC, there was ‘Monty Python, definitely. I’ve always been a big fan
Favorite music It’s the Beatles. Also, I’ve always been a Rod Stewart fan. About once a month someone shouts out to me, ‘Hey, Rod’ as they are mistaken. I was at a Steelers football game two years ago and someone shouted out, ‘Hey, Rod Stewart.’ Then, when I opened my mouth, they knew it wasn’t him
Favorite books I love Stephen King’s books. I tend to lean in that direction
First cars It was a Volkswagen Rabbit. My favorite was a 1967 Volkswagen beetle that I bought and loved
Current car I’m driving a Kia Sol standard. I like to drive a standard
First Jobs I used to deliver newspapers every morning and I used to stock shelves after school for a couple hours so I could make money to watch my favorite football (soccer) team on a Saturday afternoon
Family My dad worked for British Airways and was an engineer. My mom worked part time here and there. I have a younger brother and we don’t talk. I’ll be honest with you there. I had a good childhood. Dad looked after us. My daughters are both in Michigan now. My eldest, Mackenzie, runs and qualified for the Boston Marathon and ran it a couple years ago. She is very talented. If she put her mind to it, she could run very well. Her mum ran 2:45, so she has the genes for sure. My younger daughter, Sasha, is getting ready to take off and explore America next year. She and her boyfriend bought themselves a van and they are going to explore America. It’s cool. Good for them. I told them to do it while they are young. Roman is eight years old and full of energy. He is a big lad now and getting to be quite a handful
Pets As an adult, I always had a dog. My dog was my training partner for a good many years. I had a German Shepard mix, Kylie, that would put in the miles with me. She was a good dog. I don’t have a dog now. It’s one of the things Roman has been asking about, so I’m not going to say it too loudly
Favorite breakfast Even though I normally have only a bagel for breakfast, a full English breakfast is my favorite. There is a place in Pittsburgh that does a wonderful full English breakfast. It’s an English pub. Sausage, bacon, baked beans, some hard toast, and fried eggs. That is definitely my favorite. The baked beans must be the English baked beans, not the American ones with all the sugar. I have twenty-four cans in my cupboard because Roman loves English baked beans as well
Favorite meals Sunday roast dinners back in the U.K. I also love Indian food
Favorite beverages I like to try a lot of the new draft beers. I haven’t had a drink in three months, but I like the new beers from all the breweries that are cropping up. I like to try different beers. Otherwise, I drink a lot of Nuun beverages
First running memory When I was Roman’s age, I used to run home at lunch time so I could eat lunch at home instead of having a school meal. Then I would run back again. It was only a mile each way, but that is probably my earliest running memory. I was eight or nine years old. I did the same thing in high school. I had to catch two busses to get home, so I used to run home a lot of the times because it was quicker
Running heroes Dave Bedford. He was a big influence on me along with my P.E. teacher, John Andrews, who got me going and I shall never forget him. I would see Dave running when he was going to school at Middlesex College, which was close to where I lived. I would see him when I went to school in the morning and I would see him when I came home at night. And he was running to the other side of London. That guy was putting in twenty-four to twenty-six miles a day at that time. So, Dave Bedford, Brendan Foster, and Steve Ovett were my heroes
Greatest running moments The Great Race sub-28 and cross-country nationals at Allegheny were two of them. Funny enough, there was also a local race in Butler. They used to have a 10k that would attract about two thousand runners. It was a tough race. The year I ran Copenhagen, when I came back, it was the next week. There was a huge hill in the race at around three miles. I threw up again at the top of the hill. Coming down the hill, they had me clocked at 4:06 for the mile. There was a gradual uphill to the finish and they used to have thousands of people who would come out to watch the race. That was one of those moments
Worst running moment Dropping out at London was a big disappointment because I was in shape and there was just no way that I could finish the race. And I knew it the night before. We had gone out to eat and the sniffles were coming on. I thought, ‘Oh, no. This doesn’t bear well for tomorrow morning.’ That was my biggest disappointment because I was ready to run
Childhood dreams : I wanted to play for Chelsea. Yes, I certainly did
Funny memory one One time in the middle of January here in the Pittsburgh area, Robin Holland and I had gone out for a run. This guy cut us off, so we have him the finger, et cetera. We gave him a mouthful. Then the guy got out of the car and started chasing us. We lost him and doubled back. He had left his car running, so we got in his car and moved his car a couple blocks off the road. We took off running and never knew what happened
Funny memory two I used to run this route from one side of Pittsburgh to the other. I was doing a part-time job and I used to run home. One day I was running through this one section of Pittsburgh called the Strip District. A policeman pulled alongside me in his car and told me, ‘Stop, pull over.’ I said, ‘I’m a runner and I’m in the middle of a run. What are you doing?’ ‘Pull over, pullover,’ was the reply. His car pulled over to cut me off, so I ran around the cop car again. He said, ‘We need to talk to you.’ So, I said, ‘I’m running along, what do you want me to do.’ And they kept trying to bump me off. I kept running and they were harassing me. I said, ‘Look, I know where the police station is so I’ll stop there, and you can tell me what’s going on.’ I stopped at the station and went in there and saw a Sergeant who asked me what was going on. ‘These guys are harassing me.’ He said, ‘Someone of your description has been flashing women in the Strip District.’ Then he looked at me and said, ‘You’re Malcolm East, aren’t you? I’ve seen you on TV. We’re really sorry.’ Then he let me go. Could you imagine doing that these days? I was just running and had no idea what they wanted
Worst Date Ever Here is something, that to this day, I have never done again. I dated two women at the same time. And they both showed up to the same place. I did it once when I was eighteen years old and I learned my lesson. We can leave it at that. It was a lesson well learned at a young age. I heard some words that night and they were in stereo
Favorite places to travel My most favorite place in the world is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I love Jackson Hole. Of the countries I have visited, it has to be Japan. I remember in Japan getting on the subway one day and this little old guy came up to me. He must have been well into his eighties and he asked me in perfect English if I was having a nice time in his country. I will never forget that. A complete stranger, in perfect English, asked me if I was having a nice time in his country. It was amazing