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Steve Heidenreich — November, 2021
Steve Heidenreich ranked fourth in the U.S. in the 1,500-meters and was a strong 1976 U.S. Olympic hopeful before a near fatal accident in 1976 when hit by a car while running. Given a five percent chance to live, most likely in a vegetative state, and with little hope to ever run again, Steve came out of his coma with the mental ability of a two-year-old. Over many months he regained his cognition and eventually graduated from college, earned three graduate degrees and ran a 4:10 mile, twelve seconds short of his best time. His running history, the accident and subsequent recovery are chronicled in the 1979 book, ‘Running Back.’ Steve’s recent book, ‘Running to Win: Strategies to Triumph in Record Time,’ applies skills he learned in running and recovery toward academics, athletics, business and recovery. Co-captain of the 1974-75 Indiana University track and cross-country teams, he was an eight-time letterman and member of seven Big Ten Championship teams. Steve won the 1975 Big Ten mile and was a two-time All-American, finishing sixth and fourth in the NCAA mile in 1974 and 1975. He anchored Indiana’s World Record indoor four-mile relay and ran eight sub-4:00 miles. In 1975 Steve won the USA-Africa mile, was Silver Medalist in the World University Games 1,500 meters and ran his personal best 1,500 meters in Prague, Czechoslovakia to earn second place. At Watertown (South Dakota) High School, he was two-time State Champ in the mile and medley relay, set a State Record in the mile of 4:11.2, and was Silver Medalist in the mile at the 1971 All-American High School Track and Field Championships in Chicago. His personal best times include: 1,500m – 3:38.8 and mile – 3:58.4. Steve has been inducted into the Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame, South Dakota Sports HOF, Indiana University Athletics HOF and Dakota Relays HOF. He worked for many years in business before teaching special education and coaching high school track and cross-country teams. Now he utilizes ‘Running to Win’ as the framework for presentations and motivational speeches as he teaches others how they can be successful. Steve resides in his hometown of Watertown, South Dakota, two blocks from his ninety-one-year-old parents. He was kind to spend nearly two and a half hours on the telephone for this interview in the fall of 2021.
GCR: We have all had instances in our lives where our lives change in major ways such as a new relationship, where we decide to go to college, a move to a new city or a job change. Can you describe the radical unforeseen change that occurred on March 16, 1976, when you were struck by a car while running and your life changed from Olympic hopeful to fighting to live in an instant?
SH It was an incredible time. The year before in 1975 I had an outstanding experience running eight sub-four-minute miles and competing on the USA team where my worst finish was second place. The 1976 indoor track season was going well. I ran a four flat mile indoors at Indiana University and had the opportunity to compete at Madison Square Garden in the Olympic Invitational meet where I finished in third place behind great runners – Eamonn Coghlan from Ireland and Wilson Waigwa from Texas-El Paso. I was ready that indoor season to go under 3:55 outdoors. And here is what is exciting – I was earning a 4.0 GPA at Indiana University. We were to go on spring break the next day and I was studying for a test at the library. I rode my bike home, changed into my USA sweat suit and went out on a five-mile run that I did as my second workout most days. I was facing traffic and running on the left-hand side of the road. It was starting to snow a little bit and I started to pick up the tempo. Suddenly, I hear the roar of an engine behind me, ‘Vroom, vroom.’ I see that a car is crossing the right lane into the left lane and going towards me. At the last second, I tried to jump out of the way. The car hits me from behind, I fly over the car and my head slams against the concrete. My skull splits, my jaw is broken, and I’m left to die.
GCR: When you were flying over the car, do you remember that before you hit the ground?
SH No. And I am thankful for that. Though I don’t recall it, what I know is that the only thing that hit the ground was my head. So, my skull on the right-hand side split, my jaw broke, and the driver left. Much later, I found about the events which transpired. Fortunately, moments later, a driver stops in his truck. He was a graduate student, and he sees my body on the road. He’s not sure what he sees – possibly a drunk that passed out. Then when he sees the blood gushing out of my head, he has a flashback. He’s in a helicopter going over rice paddies in Vietnam and knows what he must do because he is an EMT in the Army and his mission is to jump out of helicopters to save U.S. soldiers. He grabs his winter coat out of the back seat, covers me up to keep me warm and treats me for shock. He waves down the next automobile and says, ‘Go two blocks north to the hotel and call 911. This soldier has been seriously injured.’ The police are contacted. They block off the road a half mile each way. They are considering that I am dead. I’m rushed to the hospital and my neurosurgeon, Doctor Rack, comes in and I grip him by the shirt. My last words are, ‘Help me. Please help me.’ And I went out. I went way out, and Dr. Rack took a saw and removed part of my skull that had fractured. He performed brain surgery, removed a blood clot on the surface of the brain and tied the bleeding veins in the brain to stop the bleeding. Dr. Rack gave me a five percent chance to live and, if I lived, most likely I would be vegetative. He did not expect me to be able to complete college or to compete again as a runner. Dr. Rack was a brilliant man as he had finished high school at age sixteen, finished college at eighteen, started Medical School at Northwestern at nineteen. A few weeks later, I woke up the mental age of a two-year-old in a twenty-three-year-old body.
GCR: When you came out of your coma, what are the memories you have of your conscious awakening and then of progress as the days, weeks and months went by?
SH First, I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as I could. Second, and get this, I wanted a workout sheet from Coach Bell so I could start training again. Once my mom told me Dr. Rack’s expectations, I said, ‘Mom, does he know who he’s talking to? I’m going to compete again. I’m going to complete college.’ People would come to the hospital, and they would bring me strawberry milk shakes form the place we used to stop after a run to get these shakes. That was kind of the entrance into the hospital room to see me. But I don’t remember too many people visiting me. I received cards from all around the nation. People were praying for me all over the country and they were praying big for a full recovery. My mother was a special education teaching assistant at Roosevelt Elementary School. She quit her job and became my nurse, teacher and mother 24/7. She helped me grow up again. I left the hospital in April as a two-year-old and by May I was reading ‘Dick and Jane’ elementary school level books. I was beginning to write. By June and July, I was reading more advanced books and by August I’m a thirteen-year-old in a twenty-three-year-old body. I decided I knew it all and I was going back to school. I went back to Indiana University to make up my incompletes and finish my degree at the mental age of a thirteen-year-old. I didn’t realize at first that I was in trouble. I had to relearn all this vocabulary. There was the business world, economics, finance, accounting, marketing and production. I realized after the first two weeks that I was in trouble. I called up Dr. Rack and said, ‘Dr. Rack, it’s Steve Heidenreich. I don’t know if I can do this. College is much harder than I thought.’ He wanted me to see Dr. Rose, the Indiana University school psychologist. So, I went to see him. Dr. Rose gave me a verbal IQ test. When he finished it, he looks me in the eye and is very honest with me. ‘Steven, you are going to suffer. This is going to be painful. It will be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your life. But you can do it.’ And I left his office on top of the world. When I was walking back to my classes, I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it.’ I took all the skills that my coaches taught me to be world class athlete and I applied them to my recovery, to my academics.
GCR: How did the qualities you had as a distance runner such as consistency, discipline and overcoming adversity serve you at a time when many in a comparable situation may not have survived, much less return to academics at a high level and running at a level close to that prior to your accident?
SH I studied like I was training for the Olympic team. I worked so hard. Fortunately, the Indiana University Athletic Director told me, ‘Steven, although you are no longer on scholarship, you can have access to tutors, Monday through Thursday, from 6:30 to 9:00, every evening at McNutt Hall at no charge. I went to those tutors every night after school to get help. Then I would do my homework three times, yes, three times. Before a test. And once a week I met with every one of my professors during their office hours. My F’s and Ds turned to As and Bs. That fall semester, just months after the accident, I finished the semester with a 3.67 GPA.
GCR: When you resumed running, how long was it before you ran well – not like before the accident, but respectfully? And how did your determination grow to complete college?
SH Fourteen months after the accident, I ran the mile run in 4:21. Then I decided I would train for the 1980 Olympics. So, it was the worst of times but, in a sense, became the greatest opportunity in my life. Even though I only had a five percent chance to live and wasn’t expected to complete college, I earned three graduate degrees with a 3.67 GPA. I have published two books and am working on my third. I get to inspire people to use the tools that the Olympic coaches taught me and showed me how to be a world class athlete and apply that to life. If a person does that and they are willing to do the work, they will be successful.
GCR: I understand that from my own life and seeing others succeed as there is such a similarity in the things we do and the qualities we must have to succeed academically and athletically. Let’s look at that 1975 season where you had eight sub-four-minute miles and many strong races. I’ve picked out a half dozen or so races that will be fun to discuss. First, you had raced a relay leg under four minutes, but how exciting was it in early May at the tri-meet with Western Kentucky and Bowling Green when you ran 3:59.6 for your first sub-four-minute mile?
SH That feeling was excellent and I knew it was going to happen. I did run a nice sub-four-minute mile at the Penn Relays anchoring our four-mile relay team, but it’s different from doing it from the start without a running start. In the race at Bowling Green, I faced Nick Rose. He was a very good runner. He was an Olympian from Great Britain, an NCAA cross country champion and very, very intelligent. What he did in that race is he had his teammate go out the first half mile in 1:57. I was not ready for that. I was in what I would call the ‘Way Back Machine’ as I was far behind. I ran the first lap in fifty-nine seconds and felt I was right on pace, but I was twenty yards behind. The next lap went by, and his teammate was still leading with me thirty yards behind. I was right at sub-two-minute 880 pace. Then what happened is his teammate jumped off the track. Oh man, I was mad. I thought, ‘Oh, they set me up.’ Then I went after Nick and almost got him. I was tenths of a second behind him. I finished in second place, under four minutes against Nick Rose, who was one of the best milers and one of the top distance runners in the world. It was a great feeling. After that, a sub-four-minute mile was easy. It’s so much in your head. For athletes who are middle distance runners, your body is physically ready, before you are mentally ready to do it. There had to be the right time for me. The week before was the Billy Hayes Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana where I ran four flat and three tenths all by myself. I knew at that time I just needed competition and Nick Rose helped me.
GCR: Shortly thereafter, you won your first Big Ten Conference title and were the first Indiana runner the win the Conference mile in thirty-three years with a 4:05.3 time during a tactical race. What were highlights of that race and how sweet was it to be Big Ten Conference champion?
SH That slower pace was my strategy. In the Big Ten, at that time, I knew there was no one who would take it out at a fast pace and challenge me. With my kicking speed at that time, they were just setting me up to win. I ran my last lap in incredible speed, like fifty-five seconds. Once I got on the back stretch, I had a twenty- or thirty-yard lead on everybody and no one could come back and go that hard for that long to catch me.
GCR: You ran very strong at NCAAs for fourth place behind Eamonn Coghlan, Mark Schilling and Wilson Waigwa. How pleased were you with your improvement from sixth place in 1974 against such stout competition?
SH That was a great race. It was at Provo, Utah and, because of the altitude. No one wanted to take it out fast. That was a strategic race. I was the second American. Eamonn Coghlan ran a very good race to win. It was very respectable and was the second time for me to be All-American in the mile run, which is prestigious. In the NCAA, the track athletes in America were competing against the best in the world. The college coaches at that time recruited worldwide. They got the best athletes they could get wherever they could get them to make their team better. So, to be All-American was important.
GCR: Was the Meet of Champions a physical and mental breakthrough for you when you pushed Wilson Waigwa as he nipped you 4:00.6 to 4:00.7 with Mike Durkin and Marty Liquori just behind you?
SH That race was kind of a teaching experience. Thinking back to the 1968 Olympics – I was watching that when I was a high school freshman. In those games we had three great milers including Jim Ryun, who finished second, and he was the world record holder at the time. We also had Marty Liquori, a high school student, who was in the finals of the 1,500 meters. Marty and Jim were both high school students who broke four minutes in the mile. I had so much respect for those guys. The fact that in that Meet of Champions race I could compete against Marty Liquori, one of my heroes as a miler in high school, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m getting there, it’s coming together.’
GCR: After not initially making the USA team after your fourth place at AAUs with a 3:40.2 in the 1,500 meters for the USA-USSR dual meet and other international competitions, how exciting was it to be named to the team and pull on the USA uniform in Kiev against the Russian athletes?
SH About a week or so after that fourth-place finish, I got a note at my apartment complex. It said, ‘Congratulations, Steven. You have made the USA track team. You are to take a cab to Indianapolis tomorrow and fly to the USSR.’ I thought I had made it. I was taking two six-week summer school classes at the time and called up one professor and told him I was going to fly to the USSR the next day to compete on the USA track team representing our country. He said, ‘You know you’ll miss my mid-term, and you will get a zero which will make it almost impossible for you to pass my class. Are you sure you want to go and compete on this silly run overseas and miss my class and not take my mid-term test? Think about it.’ I said, ‘Sir, I’m going to represent our country.’ I left and I took my books along and I competed well for the United States.
GCR: In that race, was it a bit of a repeat of AAUs as you went to the lead on the backstretch before your more experienced teammate, Ken Popejoy, and the Russian, Ullymov, were able to get past you?
SH Ken was more experienced. If you watch the race online, you can see that my last lap is in fifty-five seconds, and I got beat by Ken Popejoy because he ran his last lap in fifty-four seconds. He said to me, ‘Steve, if you want to run at this level, you’ve got to run your last lap in fifty-four seconds.’
GCR: What tactical changes did you make for the tri-meet with Czechoslovakia and Poland that led to your second-place finish in a big personal best for 1,500 meters of 3:38.8?
SH We were in Prague, Czechoslovakia and Ken and I got together and talked before the race. Our plan was to let the Europeans take the lead and then we would try to pass them in the last three hundred meters. The gun went off and everyone took off. Ken and I were in last place. And listen to these splits – ‘Fifty-four, fifty-five seconds.’ And we were on World Record pace for the mile run. We were at fifty-five seconds and in last place. The next lap went by and were at 1:55. That’s a 3:50 mile pace and we were still on World Record pace and in last place. We came by the next lap, and it was 2:55 so we were no longer going to break the World Record. But we were still in last place. Then Ken and I started moving and we started kicking. Everyone did. In the last hundred meters all twelve runners in that race finished the race within ten meters. It was a photo finish. Ken Popejoy finished first and I was second in 3:38.8 for 1,500 meters. I thought I would be doing more of those times and didn’t know it then, but that would be the fastest race that I would ever run in my life. We just can’t take these races for granted.
GCR: Back in the States, how strong were you mentally and physically at the USA-Pan Africa meet when you sat on Wilson Waigwa and Dick Buerkle and buried them in the last 220 yards to win in 3:58.6 in a convincing margin?
SH Remember what Ken Popejoy taught me in Russia? What happened was starting in high school, as a junior, I learned to visualize the perfect performance before every race. And so, I knew that to beat Wilson Waigwa, whom I had competed against many times, I had to have my last lap in fifty-four seconds. What I did to prepare for that race was that I visualized performing the last lap in fifty-four seconds. In training for that race, I would do my repeat 440s in sixty seconds for the first eleven of hem and the twelfth one I would do in fifty-four seconds. That is how I prepared for that race. When the race came, I let the others lead the race. With three hundred meters to go, I started moving and getting in position. At the middle of the last curve I exploded, and I got a twenty-yard lead on Wilson Waigwa. And the fans in Cleveland, Ohio got on their feet and chanted, ‘USA, USA, USA!’ I crossed the finish line and did a ‘Steve Prefontaine victory lap.’ My last lap was fifty-four seconds, and the Cleveland fans were going nuts because I had defeated Wilson Waigwa on that day with a perfect performance. So, things were coming together.
GCR: What are highlights of your Silver Medal 1,500 meters at the World University Games. Less than a second behind Thomas Wesssinghage with great athletes like Dave Moorcroft behind you?
SH It was a good race. I visualized the win. I planned to win, and I raced to win. On that day, Thomas Wesssinghage was better. He was a very smart runner. I have complete respect for him. That day he ran a better race. He was strong at the front. There was good competition with all the athletes in that race. It was a fun event. It was lots of fun being on the USA track team. We supported each other and cheered for each other.
GCR: Jumping forward to the night of the accident, you had had several good indoor races, but were you distracted or in a bit of a funk after the Big Ten Indoor meet where you were disqualified in the 1,000 and false started in the mile and then didn’t make it out of your heat at NCAA Indoors?
SH At the Big Ten meet, I obviously made mistakes. In the thousand, I cut in too soon on another runner, so he had to cut his stride and I got DQ’d for that. I should have been patient. Then in the mile run I just jumped the gun and was DQ’d. I was ready to win both of those races. I was also ready to compete well at the National Championships indoors. I had run a four flat mile indoors and, with my good race at Madison Square Garden, I was ready. One thing that happened at the indoor championships, and I don’t know how it did, was that on one of the curves I got off the track and had a balance issue. I took three or four steps off the track indoors on the curve. By the time I got back on the track, I was in last place and out of contention in that race. That was not good.
GCR: When you did overcome odds and naysayers to run strong again after the accident, which is evident by the 4:21 mile you mentioned, how close were you able to get to your old training regimen and what were your top races when you had your comeback and were training for the 1980 Olympics?
SH Coach Bell let me train with the team. I had graduated that year in 1976 and had a few businesses help me. The Indiana University Credit Union was the first job I had out of college, and I worked in their Finance Department. They allowed me to go practice with the team on Monday through Friday. I did cross country workouts and some of the workouts like I was doing before. I did 440s and fartlek runs and 880s. So, I was coming back, and I was getting stronger. I got down to about a 4:10 mile, so I did try. But I never had quite the strength and confidence that I had before the accident. That is something that happens to people who suffer from traumatic brain injury. One of the greatest losses is confidence. And that is often inflicted by other people who tell you that you can’t do things. That’s not true, though it might take you longer. I did the best I could and trained for the 1980 Olympics. After the 1980 Olympics I decided it was time to move on. I wasn’t ready to train for another four years to compete at the Olympic level.
GCR: We will never know if you would have made the 1976 Olympic team or missed narrowly, but could you have imagined if there hadn’t been an accident and, whether or not you did or didn’t make the 1976 Olympic team, training for the next four years and being at the top with guys like Don Paige and Steve Scott at 1,500 meters and then having the Olympic Boycott by President Carter squash your dreams?
SH All of us who were training for the 1980 Olympics were very disappointed because our politicians wanted to boycott the Games. We just wanted to go there and compete and represent our country. It’s quite an honor to represent your country when you are competing against the best athletes in the world. The U.S. athletes all want to do the best they can, and they will. They give it all.
GCR: Before we chat about your post-collegiate work and current fitness level, let’s go back to your youth and when you started out running. Did you play organized sports or pick-up games with your friends and how did you start running?
SH I started running by accident. First, I watched the 1968 Olympics and I saw the U.S. milers. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is perfect for me.’ At the time I was a skinny, scrawny athlete. I told my friends, ‘I want to be on the U.S. team, and I want to break four minutes in the mile.’ They laughed at me. In my book there is a picture of me at age fifteen where I weigh eighty-nine pounds. I went out for cross country, and I made the varsity. Then I went out for wrestling my freshman and sophomore years. I liked wrestling and cross country helped my endurance.
GCR: As a freshman in high school, how did you progress in gaining endurance and speed?
SH When I was running the mile around 5:15, I wasn’t fast enough to run on the varsity, so I had to run the two-mile. I was okay and built on my endurance.
GCR: Your sophomore cross country season seems to be a first step up as you finished 14th at the State meet behind your teammate, Drake Titze, who was fourth. Then in track you dropped your times from 5:10 and 11:00 to 4:42 and 10:23. What were the reasons behind this improvement and how advantageous was it to have a strong teammate to train with?
SH My first year in high school, once I realized I wanted to be a great athlete, I researched the top runners and found they were running twice a day. I talked to Coach Godfrey and said, ‘We’ve got to do two-a-days.’ For the second run, I would run to Drake Titze’s house and pick him up. Then we would run to our football team’s quarterback, Barry Carpenter’s, home and pick him up. Barry, Drake and I would run to Coach Godfrey’s and pick him up. We would do a loop and drop me off, drop Drake off, drop Barry off and, finally, Coach Godfrey would get back to his apartment. We did that most days during the wintertime. That helped us. I earned a medal in cross country. Then in track I got a little better.
GCR: Your junior year you finished second at the State cross country meet in 11:28 for 2.2 miles while Drake was six seconds behind you in fourth place. How much did training together help both of you? And did you work together as a team in that race?
SH During the summer before my junior year, I did increased training. I was doing two-a-days most days. Drake didn’t, but he had abundant talent and great speed, so his race was the 880 and he was incredible. All the training that I had done as a freshman and sophomore and during those seasons really helped me. Coach Godfrey was preparing me for the two-mile because I wasn’t fast enough to be a miler. Until I became a junior and senior, I wasn’t fast enough to be a miler on the team. What happened was physically, my junior year in high school, I became a man. And so, my voice changed from a first tenor to a bass baritone, and I had to start shaving every other day. It was at that time that I started getting the speed. In my junior year I would do the mile run, the 880 and the medley relay and the third leg of the mile relay. I was running my 880 in 1:53 and my 440 in fifty flat. During those two years the speed came but it was my endurance training my freshman and sophomore years that helped me prepare for cross country my junior year. That made all the difference.
GCR: What did Coach Vic Michelson do that built on what you learned from Coach Godfrey?
SH One thing I did that year is, after fall cross country season, I decided not to wrestle my junior year as I wouldn’t make the varsity team. There was a state champion or State Medalist at my school in my weight class, the weight class below me and the weight class above me. They were all ready and the best athletes in the state. My freshman and sophomore years I wrestled at 95 pounds, 103 pounds, 112, 120 and 125 pounds. When I was at 125 pounds before my junior year, then I finally had enough muscles so I could run a 4:16 mile. What I did was to train through the winter and my times started coming down my junior. I started running the mile in 4:21.
GCR: How exciting was it at the Howard Wood Relays when Drake Titze, you and two teammates won the two-mile relay in an all-time South Dakota Record of 7:55.1?
SH My junior year, Drake Titze, Paul Stormul and Barry Carpenter and I ran that relay. I led off with about a 1:53 and I passed it off to Barry Carpenter. He ran a 2:02 and Paul Stormul ran 2:02. Drake anchored with a 1:55. At that time it was one of the fastest times in the nation. It was very exciting. Our medley relay team also had one of the fastest times in the nation. Our times were comparable to the best teams in Florida, Texas and California schools though we were from a small town in South Dakota. The guys and the team helped me. Drake had so much talent in the 880. That was his race. He was a real blessing to have on the team. Then we had a leader like our quarterback, Barry Carpenter, on the team who would say, ‘I can do that’ and have the guts to run a 2:02. The main thing was he wasn’t afraid to train for it during the year. He was willing to put in the work during the wintertime to get in shape to run that 880.
GCR: After Jeff Schemmel won the Conference mile in 4:17 with you second in 4:21, what was your race plan when you knew he would be out very fast at State?
SH I was getting beat all during the season by Jeff Schemmel, who was a sensational sophomore at Madison High School. He blew us away at the Conference meet and had a press conference saying he was going to run the mile under 4:10 at the State meet. I looked at that in the newspaper with my teammate, Drake Titze, and said, ‘He can’t do that. He can’t go from 4:17 to sub-4:10 in one week.’ I visualized and planned to run the perfect performance. I decided the best race I could do was a 4:16 mile. That whole week I visualized running the first lap in sixty-four seconds. I would be thirty yards behind my competitor. I was at 2:08 at the half and again way behind. I was 3:12 at the three-quarter mile and still ten or twenty yards behind and I would catch him on the back stretch, pass him in the last hundred yards, cross the finish line in 4:16, break the State Meet Record and become State Champion.
GCR: How did the race transpire compared to your race plan at State when you did beat Jeff Schemmel with a personal best of 4:16? How did you feel during the race, what went through your mind, and were you confident he would come back to you if he were out ahead?
SH Listen to the race and let me be the commentator of the race. ‘The gun goes off and Jeff Schemmel is off to an unbelievable start.’ After the first lap, ‘Schemmel has a big lead on Titze and Heidenreich and listen to the split – fifty-nine seconds. Jeff Schemmel is on sub-four-minute mile pace. He would be the first sophomore in high school to break four minutes. Titze and Heidenreich are way behind at sixty-four seconds. They will never catch up.’ The next lap is completed, and we hear, ‘He’s slowed down a little bit but is at 2:02. Heidenreich and Titze are further behind at 2:08. They’ll never catch Schemmel. He’s got this race for sure.’ The next lap goes by. ‘Schemmel is starting to slow down a bit. Heidenreich and Titze are at 3:12.’ Jeff is only twenty yards ahead of me and I know this race is mine. In the middle of the first curve, I pass Jeff Schemmel like he is walking. His legs got so heavy. Drake Titze passed him in the straightaway of the back stretch. I sprinted to the finish line to win the mile in 4:16. State Champion. Mile Record. Just like I visualized. Perfect running. Perfect running form. Just doing my job. It was at that race that I learned I had to use this tool for my races.
GCR: What were your takeaways and how pleased were you with your competitiveness as your senior year you outkicked Jeff Schemmel at Conference 4:11.2 to 4:12.2 as you were two of the top milers in the nation and then you beat him by two seconds at State on an extremely windy day?
SH The summer before my senior year, Coach Vic Michelson and I were working on a painting crew with my dad and I said, ‘Coach, we’ve got to work harder next year.’ And he agreed. Many of my workouts were incredible. What happened was that year Coach Michelson did not have me compete against Jeff Schemmel all year. So, I did not run one race against him. We trained hard and that race was strategic. It was the eastern South Dakota Conference meet in Yankton. Conditions were good and the track was fast. The race was strategically set up as I let him take the lead. In the last three hundred yards I ran an incredibly fast lap and ran 4:11. Then at State it was slow in the wind and a similar race.
GCR: Was it a bonus to cap off your season by finishing second to Mike Durkin by two seconds in 4:11.8 at the All-American High School Track and Field Championships in Lombard, Illinois?
SH My 4:11 at Conference set me up to run in that meet in Chicago in June. Our Quarterback Club was a group of fans who would listen to the coaches after the school seasons had ended and listen about what is happening in football, cross country, basketball, wrestling, and track and field. They paid my way to Chicago so I could compete in the championship race. I ran a respectable race to be 4:11 in second place behind Mike Durkin.
GCR: What did you do to keep up your training regimen through the brutally cold South Dakota winters?
SH During the winter, my mom would drive me eight miles out of town, and I would run back with the wind at my back. In South Dakota we could have 30 degrees below zero weather with thirty mile per hour winds. I also did a lot of running indoors in the school running the hallways.
GCR: One final thought about high school running - what did you learn from each of your coaches - Dwight Struckman, Vic Godfrey and Vic Michelson - mentally, physically, and in workouts that contributed to your progress as a runner and person?
SH With Coach Struckman I learned basics like a good warm up, stretching and a warm down. Coach Godfrey got us reading Track and Field News. We would look at the best times in the nation for relays and say, ‘Hey, we can do that!’ He helped me with basic endurance when we were running twice a day with that four-man loop. That helped us during the season and offseason. Coach Michelson did research and put it together to help me go from being a 4:42 miler to a 4:11 miler in those two years, my junior and senior year. That kind of set me up. Once I ran 4:16 my junior year and won the State meet, I knew at that time that I would be a sub-four-minute miler. The questions were when and where? I had the talent. I had the determination. I had the work ethic to remain persistent to be successful and it was just a matter of time until that would happen.
GCR: How was your transition to college in terms of being responsible for your studies, running and social life and what were the guiding principles that Coach Sam Bell used to help you and your teammates improve?
SH Coach Bell had an excellent assistant coach, Charlie Baker, who had been one of Lee Evans’ coaches. In the 1968 Olympics, Lee won the Gold Medal in the four hundred meters and in the four by four-hundred-meter relay. He was a great athlete. Coach Baker was a very positive person. That was exciting. What Coach Bell and Coach Baker did so well was that they would recruit State Champions. They would look for runners who not only ran fast times, but who were also State Champions in their state. We came from South Dakota, California, Kentucky – wherever. Everyone had been a State Campion and that helped the team. We had all these leaders on the team. The other thing that Coach Bell did very well is that after every competition he would write ‘Coach’s Comments’ and everyone loved to get them. What he would do is write about what we did well and areas where we could improve. Almost every day, Coach Bell and Coach Baker would say, ‘You’re going to be an Olympian. You’re going to be a great athlete. You’re going to be an All-American.’ They would say that to us athletes. In the four years I competed at Indiana University, we were Big Ten team champions seven times – three in outdoor track, three in indoor track, and once in cross country. Another year in cross country we were second. What wonderful team effort.
GCR: I’ve interviewed others who have done well individually and with their teams at Conference and NCAA meets. Todd Williams comes to mind as he was second and fourth in his events, the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, while Tennessee won the NCAA Track and Field Championship and he said it was more exciting that he contributed to Tennessee winning the team title. Was it equally exciting for you to contribute to those seven Big Ten Conference team titles?
SH Absolutely. In indoor track I would run the 1,000 and the mile and became decent at the shorter race. I wish I had also run the half mile and regret that I didn’t run the open 880 in high school or college. I think that would have helped me with my speed if I ran the 880 occasionally to check my speed and see what I could do just for learning.
GCR: After difficulties your freshman year, you were firing on all cylinders your sophomore cross country season as you won six races with five course records and finished third at the Big Ten Conference. What was it that led to these consistent strong races that was like your improvement your sophomore year of high school?
SH What happened was indoors the track at Indiana University was a dirt track and during my freshman year I would train hard. When we did our 440s we would do them in the first lane. With all that hard training, I got a stress fracture, so I didn’t finish the indoor season and took the outdoor season to heal. It was about a two-month recovery. When I was injured, Coach Bell had me go to the diving well. Hobie Billingsley, the diving coach and Doc Counsilman, the swimming coach, would be training their athletes. I would be in the diving well doing my interval training in a ski belt. Since I did 440s on the track in a minute, I would hit it hard in the diving well for a minute. On the other side in the pool were the best swimmers in the world, Mark Spitz and John Kinsella, doing their training for the swim team. I would watch Mark Spitz do his fantastic butterfly stroke. Their workouts were incredible. When I saw their workouts, it humbled me. When I saw how hard their coach had those guys working – their intervals and recoveries were incredible. Doc Counsilman was ahead of his time in training World Class athletes and the tradition goes on. We celebrated our lettermen’s fiftieth anniversary and I saw some of the swimmers who were there in the pool on the other side. We talked, and I said, ‘I was injured and training in the diving well when I was injured, and you guys were doing your workouts.’ They said, ‘Yeah, we know.’ We had respect for each other as I was doing my demanding work out in the diving well and they were doing their challenging work out in the pool. I had respect for them, and they had respect for me as an athlete trying to work through an injury. That training got me ready for the summer training. I was a lifeguard at the Country Club so I would run six to seven miles in the morning from my home to work. After guarding at the Country Club, I would either run back or I would take the long way around and run an additional couple of miles. That’s what I did every day. I also hauled hay bales with my dad and got strong. That fall I was ready, and it was my best cross-country season ever. It was the best physical condition I was in and that set me up for the good mile run times that were going to come.
GCR: During early 1974, you and your teammates, Dan Hayes, Pat Mandera and Phil Wysong set a World Indoor Record 4-Mile Relay as you anchored in 4:05.1. How exciting was this and was it like the State Record relay from high school, only ten times better?
SH It was exciting. Just a few weeks ago at that fiftieth anniversary, three of the four of us on that team were at that celebration at Indiana University. They held it on homecoming weekend, and we had a nice banquet. That race and record happened because of Dan Hayes. He was looking at Track and Field News and the World Indoor four-mile relay record. He said, ‘Hey coach, we can do this. We can break this record right now.’ So, Coach Bell went through the steps needed to make sure it was ratified as a World Record. What he did was to invite teams from other colleges to come and compete against us. That way it would be an official timed meet. It was kind of an all-comers meet where we competed against colleges that were in the area. They brought in their milers and ran the four-mile relay, and it went like clockwork. That was fun. We just celebrated it and there is a monument to it at Indiana University. There is a park there called Legends Park. Athletes included in Legends Park must be either a National Champion, an Olympian or a World Record Holder. There is a limestone monument with the four-mile World Record there at Legends Park and it is neat.
GCR: At the 1974 NCAA Championships in Texas the mile field was very strong, and you finished sixth with a 4:03.14 mile behind Paul Cummings in 4:01.08, Wilson Waigwa in 4:01.81 and Tony Waldrop, Charlie McMullen and Hailu Ebba, who all ran 4:02s. Where were you in the pack throughout that race and how did that last lap transpire?
SH I was proud of that race. I tried to stay with them, but there was so much talent in that race that when it came to the last lap, I wasn’t ready physically to run those kinds of fast last laps like they were. I wasn’t quite there yet with the strength and the speed to run that sub-sixty last lap that you had to have. But it was respectful. I was pleased with my performance and helping the team score and becoming All-American. What helped me become a great athlete was that competition in the Big Ten and the NCAA. The competition helped me become better. One thing that is funny is that, during that race, my high school rival, Jeff Schemmel, and I were right beside each other in the finals of the NCAA championship race. What a coincidence – here are two South Dakota boys in the NCAA mile run championship. We were from two small towns in South Dakota and competing against the best athletes in the world. Jeff did well, but I had a better race that day.
GCR: The following year at the 1975 Big Ten Conference Indoor meet, Mike Durkin and you went through halfway in a slow 2:07 only to kick in with 1:58 as he won 4:05.5 to 4:05.9. How tough a competitor was Mike and did that race come down to the final couple seconds?
SH The thing with Mike is he is strong. He is one strong athlete and I have complete respect for him. Yes, we were rivals but, like I said earlier, it’s guys like that who made me better. It’s competition like that because you’ve got to rise to the challenge. He was ahead of me in high school. He had good training down in Illinois and I wasn’t ready to run 4:08 in the mile at that time. We had good meets together. I had tremendous respect for him but always tried to do my best against him. Sometimes he won. Sometimes I won.
GCR: This segues into my next question - when we look back at our memorable races, we often recall those tough opponents who pushed us to be our best. We’ve talked about tough opponents including Mike Durkin, Jeff Schemmel, Wilson Waigwa and Ken Popejoy. Were these the main guys you enjoyed racing in high school and college or in open races because you knew they would push you to the edge of your capabilities and were there others?
SH During my first year in cross country at Indiana University, I ran respectable and finished in about ninth place at the Big Ten Conference meet. Then in the NCAA Championships, I was on the starting line and was feeling a bit overconfident. I’m a talented freshman and here I am in the NCAA Cross Country Championships which was a six-mile race, and the course was in Tennessee with a slightly uphill start. Steve Prefontaine was there, and he was a senior. Nick Rose was there from Western Kentucky. And I decided now was the time to show them my stuff. So, I went out and, at the 880-yard mark, I was about twenty yards behind Steve Prefontaine and Nick Rose, the split was 2:02 on a slight uphill and we had five-and-a-half miles to go. I thought, ‘Hey guys, see you later.’ So, I was humbled. Those were great runners to race against. The Big Ten Conference always had good milers and distance runners. Wisconsin and Illinois had great teams. The races humbled me, but also helped me to become better because I had to work to compete.
GCR: Did you use weight training in high school and college to supplement your running and to build strength?
SH We didn’t have any weights until my junior year in high school when we got a Universal Gym set. That was the first exposure to weights. In college we had free weights and that helped.
GCR: You completed an MBA from Indiana University, an MS in Health Administration from the University of Colorado and a Master’s in Education specializing in Special Education from Regis University before spending years working in business, as a high school cross country and track coach and as a special education instructor. What are highlights of where you were effective in the companies you worked for, the athletes you coached and the students you mentored? What makes you smile when you look back at how you impacted others?
SH First, I helped companies with their finances and businesses for about seventeen years. But my real gift came in education. At first, I thought I would be a business teacher because I had a business degree. But then the first semester when I was a substitute teacher, I had the opportunity to be a permanent special education substitute teacher. I had a fourth grader from Texas who had just moved there. He was wheelchair-bound and was at first grade level in reading, writing and math. It was the fall semester and I worked him so hard. You see, in a way, in college, I was a special education student at that time because the only way for me to be successful in college was for me to work hard. So, what I did was I worked this student very hard in reading, writing and math. What happened was, in the year I spent with him, he improved two years in his studies. Two years! The next year the principal wanted me back and said, ‘Steven, I want you to do the same thing. Here are three more students. They are going into fifth grade and are about one year behind.’ They finished the school year at grade level. I said to myself, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing something right.’ Then I decided to get a Master’s in Special Education. I coached Special Education for sixteen years and had remarkable success. Some of my students are managers and very successful people. I had one young lady in Colorado Springs, and she was several years behind in math. She told me she wanted to be a chef. I told her that she had to know her math very well. And so, I worked her very hard for two years and got her to grade level. She graduated and went to culinary school. She became an Executive Chef and now owns her own restaurant. That is success. I coached cross-country teams and track teams. I’ve had state champions and runners up. I’ve had enormous success coaching both sports. We had a two-mile relay team at Harrison High School that became State Champions and set a State Record. The team finished second in the State meet and many of the athletes who were successful were middle distance runners who ran the mile run, 880 and 440. So, I had success coaching high school athletes and would like to do some more of that. I’m helping one boy right now in Watertown and he will be very successful this year.
GCR: A year ago, your book, ‘Running to Win: Strategies to Triumph in Record Time,’ was published. How has this past year been as your book has inspired people and you have utilized its principles and shared your story with athletes, students and business leaders?
SH Things are opening up as more people receive covid vaccines to where I can give more talks. What is exciting is that the book has sold well in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines, Japan and the United States. Once a month I get a royalty from Japan in yen. I’m glad it had been popular and successful worldwide. I never thought I’d be an international businessman, but it’s great. I am enjoying travelling and talking to people at schools, businesses and other organizations at their venues, teaching others how they can be successful. It’s exciting to hear and see people say, ‘Wow! If he can do it, I can do it.’ We are changing lives. People are becoming more successful. That is key to me – helping people become the best they can be with all their talents. People don’t realize the talent they have, and it is exciting to see them try to become better. I talk to youth about what it is like to be on a U.S. team and what it takes to make the team. I started training at age fifteen and I might have been starting late. In sports like gymnastics and diving, you must start even younger or you’re behind the curve. We need to inspire youth to say, ‘I’m going for it. I’m going to try to make the U.S. team in my sport and give it my all.’ If they do that, they will have immense success and that is what it’s about – helping others. What I like to do with my presentations is to teach that ‘you can be great.’ And I teach visualization, setting ambitious goals and work ethic. If you put it together, you can be successful, not only in athletics, but in academics, business and life.
GCR: How is your current health and fitness and what have you focused on to stay healthy in the decades since you ended running competitively?
SH I try to walk ten thousand steps a day. I do yoga which helps me stay flexible. And I try to lift weights twice a week. That’s where I’m at. The ten thousand steps a day keeps me fit. I competed in the South Dakota State Games this past summer. That was fun and I’ll do that next year. Sometimes I swim and sometimes I bicycle. My girlfriend and I are talking about doing archery in the Senior Games. Sometimes I play golf and that is for the walking. Being outdoors is a positive thing for me both for my mental health and my cheerful outlook. So, I like being outside.
GCR: We all have times we think of the ‘What Ifs’ in life and I’m sure you have thought of ‘What if the accident didn’t happen?’ Did you reach a point where what you have achieved and how you have been able to inspire others tilted the scale and the way your life has played out is at a higher level than it would have been otherwise?
SH I am thankful for all the success I had after the accident. Dave Door once told me that, even though I didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team, in a sense my greatest success was getting my MBA at Indiana University. He has a good point there because the MBA program is very tough and very competitive. To get into the program we must take the Graduate Management Aptitude Test, which I took. There are eight hundred points on the GMAT, and I only scored four hundred. I had permanent brain damage and four hundred isn’t a very good score. But the Dean of the College of Business called me in and said, ‘Steven, we have an opening. Your undergraduate grades are not that good, and your test scores are terrible. Normally a student must have better grades and a GMAT score of 650 or higher. But the semester after your accident, you had good grades. You’re a performer and I’m going to let you into the Indiana University MBA program on one condition – you can’t get any grades below a B. Yes, that’s a B-minus. If you get one class below a B, you are out of the program, no questions asked.’ I stood up, I looked him in the eye, I shook his hand and I said, ‘I will take that deal.’ The first semester I earned a 3.91 and graduated with a 3.67 GPA. Again, I used the principles, the tools, the steps, that the Olympic coaches taught me to use to be a World Class athlete.
GCR: You were inducted into the Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame, South Dakota Sports HOF, Indiana University Athletics HOF and Dakota Relays HOF. Is it both rewarding and humbling to be so honored and is it joyful to attend the induction ceremonies where you receive recognition?
SH It is all of those and thank you for mentioning this. In the fall I went to the Watertown High School Hall of Fame induction and took my friend, Patti. Dr. Patti is a retired medical doctor, and we went to that one and the South Dakota Hall of Fame induction. This fall they did the Indiana University Hall of Fame inductions virtually, so there wasn’t a banquet. We did go to the fiftieth anniversary and these events are very exciting. To go to these events and to meet with other people who have been successful because of their work and perseverance in whatever was their event or sport is exciting. Next year we will try to go to the Indiana University Hall of Fame inductions.
GCR: As you travel the country and give inspirational talks, or when you speak to running groups or those you coach, what are the major principles you emphasize from your book and the 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 that you would like to share with my readers that will help them on the pathway to reaching their potential athletically and as a person?
SH First, I talk about setting ambitious goals. You’ve got to set your goals high. My goals were set high. I set my goals high to be a sub-four-minute miler and to make the USA team. You must keep working on your goals. Things happen and you might have to adjust. The second tool I have is visualizing the perfect performance. Before you author an essay, before you compete in an athletic competition, before you make a business sale – visualize the perfect performance. Practice it in your mind. Then just do it. Execute it like you planned. This can be useful in running. It can be useful in golf, basketball or business. Third, you must have enthusiasm. If you show enthusiasm, it will not only inspire you, but it will inspire others. One of the most important things is, if you are going to set lofty goals, you must be willing to do the work. You must have that work ethic. You’ve got to be willing to be persistent and do the work that it takes to meet those extraordinary goals. Another thing I liked to do is, if I saw a teammate having a good workout, I would give them positive feedback. ‘Nice job!’ If I were having a good workout, I would give myself a pat on the back. ‘Good job, Steve!’ It’s the same thing when I catch a student doing something well in school. I tell them and then, after school, I call their parents. ‘This is Steven Heidenreich and I’m your son’s special education teacher. I want to tell you how well he is doing in his reading and how well he has improved. He is getting very excited about how quickly he is learning. Would you be willing to help me? Would you be willing to spend maybe thirty minutes a night reading with him?’ The parent would help, and I got a team. That is what I suggest. When you see someone doing well, give them positive reinforcement. That will surely help.
  Inside Stuff
Hobbies/Interests I like to walk. I’m a fisherman. I lived in Colorado for seventeen years and like the outdoors, including camping and fishing. I wouldn’t say I’m a golfer. I like to putt around. Though I’m not a good golfer, I like the friendship of being with others and having an enjoyable time. I like being outside and enjoying the outdoors. I enjoy giving my presentations. I am thrilled to be able to help others around the country become successful. When I receive feedback on how they are doing and their successes, that is special and turns me on
Nicknames When I was racing, there was ‘Heidy.’ Though I’m Steven, it’s always been ‘Steve’
Favorite movies This will take you back a while. There was ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’
Favorite TV shows Of course, I like watching sports. I think that athletes, whatever sport they are in, use common tools and common skills, to be successful in their area. I especially like watching the Olympics – both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics. One time I was giving a presentation in Colorado Springs about traumatic brain injury, and it was great to be there. Much of the traumatic brain injury in Colorado happens from skiing and snowboarding, especially with people who choose not to wear a helmet when they perform those activities
Favorite music I like Classical music. I also like a group called ‘Celtic Women.’ They are four women, and they sing beautiful music. They have a song called, ‘You Raise Me Up,’ that they do with a full orchestra and with cannons and fireworks. It is impressive
Favorite books I just ordered a book written by Coach John Wooden, the great basketball coach of UCLA. He authored a book called, ‘Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.’ I hope to receive it soon. In the 1970s, he was a great basketball coach. I have been so lucky to be around great coaches – Sam Bell, Charlie Baker, Doc Councilman and others- and to learn from them. In their teaching, coaches teach more than athletic skills. They are teaching life skills. That is what is so relevant in sports to people. In middle distance running and distance running, I bet you don’t see many of these athletes with poor grades. It isn’t going to happen. They have too much pride, too much discipline, too much perseverance. They know what it takes to do well in school, and they just must do it. Then they take these skills that they learned in cross country or in track and field and apply them in life. They also teach others because they are models and models good behaviors and success for other people
First car My first car was a Datsun 280Z. Yes, it was sweet. It had a five-speed stick shift, and it was fun
Current car I don’t have a car. I walk. I live two blocks from my parents. They are ninety-one years old and still in their home. So, I walk to their place. I’m a few blocks from downtown and walk to the post office, walk to the bank, walk to the Elementary School where I teach Special Education and walk wherever else I need to go. The only thing I don’t do is I catch a ride to the gym. There is a Wellness Center in town that is excellent. I go there several times a week to help coach others and to do my weightlifting
First jobs I didn’t work in high school. I just did sports. I played basketball in sixth grade. I wrestled in seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth grade. I was cut from the basketball team in ninth grade. They said I wasn’t fast enough. After my freshman year in college, I worked three summer jobs. I was a lifeguard at the Country Club where I mentioned I ran to and from work. The other job I had is my dad and I would haul bales. If you want to get strong, you haul bales in South Dakota. I made money hauling bales. We got fourteen cents a bale and made a ton of money. At night I would be announcer for the Watertown Expos, a farm baseball team, at their games. Drake Titze was there writing for the local newspaper. We ate pizza and were at the game and it was fun
Family My parents are Merle and Doris Heidenreich. They were great fans of my running, and they went to all my high school competitions and many of my college competitions. They would go to the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA meets in track and field. They always believed in me and that I would be successful. It is always good to see them
Pets We had cats for a while when I was a kid. As an adult, I had Labrador Retrievers, ‘Max’ and ‘Rocky’
Favorite breakfast I like Eggs Benedict
Favorite meal I like pasta
Favorite beverages Water, water, water. And a cup and a half of coffee in the morning. I’m a cup and a half guy (laughing). I don’t need two cups
First running memory It was in sixth grade at the Elementary School we had to run a six-hundred-yard run. Both Drake Titze and I ran it in two minutes. The P.E. teacher said it was a big deal and that we had run incredibly fast at the sixth-grade level. So, that’s kind of how I started running. After watching the 1968 Olympics and running the 600-yard run, I already knew I was fast
Running heroes Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori and Lee Evans. I had much respect for them
Greatest running moments Definitely the 3:38 for 1,500 meters in Prague. Winning against the Africans in Cleveland. Finishing fourth in the NCAA Championships my junior year in college. In high school, the State Meet mile my junior year and the Conference mile my senior year, both against Jeff Schemmel, because of what I learned with visualizing the perfect performance and what I learned about myself as far as my talent and knowing, for sure, that I would be a sub-four-minute miler on the USA track team. Those races reinforced my long-term goals that these things were going to happen, and the question was when I would put it together. Setting ambitious goals and training for the USA team aren’t a one-year goal. It takes four or more years to reach that level of greatness to be one of the best athletes in the world. This is one of my points in ‘Running to Win.’ You must practice patience because things happen. Sometimes you get injured. Sometimes you must adjust. Sometimes you improve faster than expected. We have good and bad experiences along the way on the way to becoming great
Worst running moments Going out too fast happened my freshman year in the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Running the first half mile in 2:02 and being up there trying to compete with Steve Prefontaine and Nick Rose was pure foolishness. There was one race at Indiana University where I didn’t give my best effort and Coach Bell let me know quite well in the ‘Coach’s Comments’ that came out the Monday after the meet. And it never happened again. If you give your best, win or lose, it doesn’t matter. If you are giving your best and you see improvement, that’s what it is about
Childhood dreams I dreamed about being an athlete. I liked athletics. I never thought about being a football player or basketball player because I wasn’t that big
Funny memory one It was interesting going to the USSR. The team flew to Cologne and then West Berlin. Then we had to go through the Berlin Wall to East Berlin because the USSR was going to fly us to Moscow. The USSR Army checked our bags. In a heavy accent the soldier said to me, ‘You got two blue jeans in Cologne. You better come out with two blue jeans, or we have a special place for you up north. It is very cold. You will not like.’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ So, I chose not to sell my blue jeans in Russia which I could have done for two hundred dollars. Everyone had a job in the USSR, which was good, except your job might be pushing elevator buttons all day. Or sweeping the streets with a broom. But you got your food once a week. You got your milk, your eggs, maybe some cheese and that’s the way it was. The sad point was all the cathedrals were boarded up shut. On the good side, there was no trash thrown away because you couldn’t afford the penalty for throwing trash down
Funny memory two After my racing in Kiev, the next day Ken Popejoy and I were on the front page of the Kiev newspaper. We decided to go to the ‘Macy’s of Kiev.’ We were there and we decided to get one of the Russian fur hats. We were in the department store and trying on these fur hats and adjusting them. We looked in the mirror and, I tell you, we were looking suave. We were looking cool. But all the women were laughing at us. And they were laughing with their Ukranian accents. And this boy comes up and says, ‘Hey guys, you’re in the lady’s department trying on ladies’ hats. We kind of humbly put the hats down, put our heads down and walked out of the store. That was one of the greater moments that was funny
Embarrassing moment My senior year in high school, we had a study hall period, and it was the last period of the day. On the first day of school, I went up and crossed my name off the study hall list and didn’t go to study hall in the fall semester. In the spring, I tried to do it again and I was caught taking my name off the study hall list. And my school had a very strict policy that I had to go to detention. On top of that, in our school, if you had to go to detention, your dad had to go to detention with you. So, you only went to detention once
Favorite places to travel I do like Colorado. I like Rome. It was a good place to compete in the World University Games. We got to compete as a team, and I got to see various parts of Rome and the Sistine Chapel. I liked Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was beautiful