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Bruce Mortenson — July, 2022
Bruce Mortenson is the 1965 NCAA Steeplechase Champion, leading Oregon to their second consecutive NCAA team title. His top NCAA Cross Country finish was 27th in 1964 as the Oregon Ducks scored their second straight NCAA team runner up finish. Bruce was Silver Medalist in the steeplechase at both the 1965 and 1966 Athletic Association of Western Universities Conference Championship. He was a member of the 1966 U.S. World Cross Country team. Bruce ran over sixty marathons, winning five, and set his personal best of 2:19:59 as he finished sixth overall and first American at the 1972 Boston Marathon. Bruce won the 1964 Minnesota AAU 10-miler in 52:30 and 1966 USA 25-kilometer championship in 1:26:07. His outstanding master’s racing included eight sub-2:30 marathons topped by 2:22:24 at age 41 and 2:26:18 at age 45. Other PRs in his forties were 25:12 for 8k at age 45, 31:24 for 10k at age 44, and 2:59:36 for 50k at age 44. PRs in his fifties included 35:24 for 10k and 59:17 for 10-miles. Bruce competed for St. Louis Park High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where highlights included Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state mile championships in 1961 and 1962, anchoring the state champion mile relay in 1962 and leading the Orioles to the 1962 team championship. He was MSHSL State cross country runner up and led St. Louis Park to the 1961 team championship. His personal best times are: 440 yards (relay) – 49.9; mile – 4:10; 2-miles – 8:59.2; 3,000-meter steeplechase - 8:59.7; 15k – 47:56; 10-miles – 51:04; 20k – 1:05:47; 25k – 1:21:25; 30k – 1:49:20; marathon – 2:19:59 and 50k – 2:59:36. Bruce served as president of the board of the Twin Cities Marathon and is an inductee in the Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame and St. Louis Park Athletic HOF. The retired rehabilitation specialist and coach, and his wife, Rosie, live parts of the year in Eugene, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bruce was very kind to spend nearly two hours on the phone for this interview during July 2022.
GCR: BIG PICTURE AND COLLEGIATE RACING As a distance runner you have been immersed in the sport of running for over sixty years since your teenage years as an athlete, coach, fan and more. Could you have imagined when you started running as a teenager how running would have contributed to and shaped your life?
BM Not really because at that time it seemed the only people who ran were high school runners and college runners. There were no races outside of the Boston Marathon that people would train for. I don’t remember seeing many adult runners when I was growing up, so there were very few role models at that time and very few races that people would look forward to during that period.
GCR: When we review an athlete’s career, we look at times for various distances and often look at major championships won. What can you tell us about your victory in the 1965 NCAA Steeplechase where you won in 9:00.8 by two seconds over Ray Barrus of Brigham Young with Earl Clibborn, Eamon O’Reilly, Jack Bacheler and Tracy Smith all within seven seconds of you at the finish? How did that race play out and was there a lot of give and take between the six of you up front?
BM There are a couple of things I remember about that race, and one was negative. About midway through the race, there was a runner in front of me, Dave Hyland from Villanova and, at the water jump he fell. I landed and spiked him. He had to drop out of the race and, afterward, his leg was all bloodied from where I spiked him. I didn’t go down, but I knew something bad had happened. Otherwise, the race report in Track and Field News said they thought it was one of the more mediocre events in the meet. Despite that report, the race was tightly packed the whole way. With two laps to go, I felt I was going to win. I felt very, very good and I thought, ‘I’m going to win this race.’ With six hundred meters to go I kind of took off and made a break. Nobody went with me, and I was able to hang on and to win by two seconds. As you mentioned, there were some runners in the race who were vey good later in their careers. Jack Bacheler made the Olympic team. Tracy Smith was on the first U.S. World Cross Country team with me the next year when we went to Morocco where he came in third place. There were some decent runners in the field, but we were young, and the steeplechase was a newer event on a regular basis in the NCAA at that time. I don’t think we were experienced enough then to turn in great times.
GCR: How much did the experience of running NCAAs the year before where you finished eighth in the steeplechase give you some familiarity and comfort being on the national stage?
BM The year before was kind of funny when I look back. I was only a sophomore and, thinking back to my high school days, we only ran 1.8 miles for cross country and didn’t have a two-mile in track. The NCAA that year was held at the University of Oregon. Coach Bowerman had me entered in the 10,000 meters on Thursday, the 5,000 meters on Friday and the steeplechase on Saturday. I had to drop out of the 10k because I was lapped. I think I was eleventh in the 5k on Friday. On Saturday, I came back and got eighth in the steeplechase, but I was the fourth Oregon guy.
GCR: That leads perfectly into my next question. What does it say about your Oregon team’s strength in the 1964 NCAA steeplechase when you were eighth, but only the fourth Oregon finisher behind Mike Lehner in second, Clayton Steinke in fifth and Kenny Moore in sixth place?
BM We were deep and, at the AAU meet later that year, Keith Foreman, who was also on our team, placed in the top three. So, I was probably the fifth best guy on the team.
GCR: Speaking of Kenny Moore, who became a great marathon runner and an amazing writer for many publications, how did having him as a teammate and roommate contribute to your development as a runner and as a person?
BM He was huge in my life. He was more focused on the longer distances, even when we were freshman. He was the guy that wanted to take longer runs and I had been more interval based coming out of high school. Kenny exposed me to long distance running. I found that is what I enjoyed and where I was better. Kenny and I were roommates our freshman year and one of our other roommates was a runner. We would pull out Track and Field News issues, and have trivia contests like ‘Who was second in the first heat of the eight hundred meters in the first heat of the 1960 Olympics?’ We had Jeopardy-type contests on track and field.
GCR: Your coach at Oregon was the legendary Bill Bowerman. What were the primary guiding principles and training concepts that Coach Bowerman utilized to help you and your teammates reach your potential?
BM The one that has contributed to me as a lifelong runner was the ‘hard, easy’ principle. At that time, most runners were running hard every day. Coach Bowerman would hold us back. All the good runners wanted to work harder and harder to get better, but the best thing to do sometimes was to take some time off or to back off a bit. That was the best thing I ever learned as a runner and that contributed to my longevity. He also had personal training programs for each runner which was very specialized and very nice.
GCR: That was very innovative as most coaches had workouts for their 800-meters guys, their 1,500-meter guys and their 5,000-meter runners and it didn’t vary much even if athletes had different individual strengths and weaknesses. Did that help the runners at Oregon move to a higher level versus runners who were at schools where coaches had a ‘one size fits all’ training regimen?
BM Yes, and there were so many good runners that we all pushed each other and, if you didn’t improve, you weren’t going to be on the team.
GCR: How exciting was it to be a part of two NCAA championship teams at Oregon in 1964 and 1965, especially the second time when your win and Neal Steinhauer’s shot put victory were instrumental in tying one of your rival schools, Southern Cal, for the team title?
BM When I look back, the team totals for USC and us, to tie for the team championship, was only thirty-two points, which is quite low and absurd. But there were a few teams within a few points of us. The year before, we had a very loaded team. We took one-two-three in the javelin and had Harry Jerome, the great sprinter. That was a powerhouse team, and we were favored to win. As far as our 1965 team, the student newspaper called us a bunch of nobodies because no one was highly recruited out of high school on that team.
GCR: In cross country, you were a member of two NCAA runner up teams in 1963 and 1964. How exciting was the camaraderie of working together in training and racing especially in 1964 when you were fourth man at NCAAs and contributed to the team as you finished twenty-seventh overall?
BM That race was at Lansing, Michigan and it had snowed. The course was covered with snow. The main thing I remember is, I thought I was moving very well with about six hundred yards to go. We came around a corner and I went sliding around the corner. I lost several positions. I think I would have been eight or nine places higher if I hadn’t fallen in the snow. The other thing we learned later was that Clayton Steinke, who had finished eleventh the year before and had graduated, would have had eligibility as he was still in school. If he would have run, he would have replaced our fifth man who came in fiftieth place. Clayton probably would have been a good thirty places ahead and we could have won the team title.
GCR: Did NCAA cross country cement in your mind how many strong runners there were since so many runners finished close together and did you and your teammates run as a pack since there were only six seconds between Kenny Moore in nineteenth, Don Scott in twentieth, Daniel Tonn in twenty-fifth, and you in twenty-seventh place?
BM It just happened that we finished that close. We ran together off and on during the race a little bit. Near the end, we all were just in the same place and ran in. The other interesting thing was that Coach Bowerman didn’t stress cross country. In those days, if your athletic director was willing to pay the money for travel, your team could go to the NCAA meet. There was no qualifying whatsoever. We only ran about one or two races. One of them was on a road track for car races and was more of a road race than cross country. We weren’t training to run cross country courses and weren’t as prepared as we should have been.
GCR: Prior to the NCAA Track and Field Championships in both 1965 and 1966, Kenny Moore won the Athletic Association of Western Universities with you ten seconds behind both times with a swift 8:59.7 in 1966. How tough was Kenny in the steeplechase and at all distances?
BM He had a lot of versatility. He even got down to a 4:04 mile which was amazing because he was not a miler. He was very good at the steeplechase and, unfortunately, he was injured for the NCAAs our junior year. His senior year he had been injured and did run, but he wasn’t at his best fitness level.
GCR: Your senior year, in the middle of the track season, the USA sent a team to the 1966 World Cross Country Championships for the first time. What was the selection process that led to you being on the team and what are highlights of racing in Morocco and visiting that country while hanging out with some of the USA’s top distance runners?
BM That was amazing. I’m not sure of the selection process. The AAU did not support us. The Road Runners Club of America put the team together. Hugh Jascourt was our team manager. I got a phone call about a month before the race, and they asked me if I wanted to be on the team. I’m not sure why I was selected, but I think it was because I won the steeplechase and, the following summer, the Road Runners Club of America had a postal competition in the ten-mile, and I had the fastest time in the country. The RRCA was aware of me, and I was a member, so that is probably why I was selected. It was a very tiring trip. I flew a red eye flight from Portland to Philadelphia. We went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where they wanted several of us to run a 25k. That was less than a week before the race in Morocco. I won that race. Then we went to Washington, DC and got information at the Moroccan Embassy and from the State Department about going overseas. We took the shuttle to New York and a couple of us had these god-awful, big trophies we won at the Gettysburg race that we were carrying along with us. The guy sitting behind me was talking to one of our runners and I thought, ‘That guy sounds very familiar.’ I turned around and it was Bobby Kennedy. He was sitting directly behind me and talking to one of my teammates. That was very exciting. He offered us a ride from LaGuardia Airport, where we were landing, to Kennedy Airport. He said, ‘Do you guys need a ride? We can provide transportation for you.’ We already had connections, but that was a fun experience meeting him. Then we went to Paris and spent six or seven hours there on a layover. We went into the city and Tracy Smith’s twenty-first birthday was celebrated on the Champs-Elysees. We went to Morocco and, since it was the first time the U.S. had sent a team, the Moroccan press was at the airport. It was like we were The Beatles coming into town. What I remember about race day is there was a parade of nations. Alphabetically, we were Etats-Unis and right behind us was the flagbearer for France. I was at the tail end of our group and the first person for the French group was Michel Jazy. The crowd of about twenty thousand people in the hippodrome were all chanting, ‘Jazy, Jazy, Jazy.’ I realized this was big time for us little guys from the U.S.
GCR: You returned to the U.S. and were back in track season. You ran well and finished third at the 1966 NCAAs in the steeplechase in 9:00.2 as Bob Richards of BYU ran a very fast 8:51.6, Jack Bacheler was a second in front of you and Chris McCubbins of Oklahoma State was less than a second behind you. What were the deciding factors in that race as you aimed to defend your NCAA title but came up a bit short?
BM Bob Richards got off the front and none of us closed the gap. The guys that ran on that World Cross Country team didn’t run that well in the spring. We were all totally wiped out from the trip. I don’t think Eamon O’Reilly even made it to NCAAs for track and field that year because he was exhausted. It was a good race and I remember coming off the last hurdle and Bob Richards was out there in front and had the race won by that point. McCubbins and Bacheler and I were together. The year before only the first three finishers were All-American. Coming off that last hurdle, I thought, ‘I have to get in the first three to be All-American.’ So, I got third which was fun. Later I found out that they changed it and the first four were All-American that year.
GCR: You mentioned running some longer races. While you were in college, you won the 1964 Minnesota AAU 10-miler in 52:30, a pace of 5:15 per mile, and the 1966 USA 25-kilometer championship in 1:26:07. Were you thinking that the longer distances might suit you well after you wrapped up your collegiate eligibility?
BM Unfortunately, I wasn’t looking forward enough. One thing I regret as I look back after I got out of college is that I didn’t decide to move to higher altitude and train for the marathon. I wasn’t looking that far ahead. I was thinking I could still run track. I found out that, when you got out of college at that time, there weren’t many opportunities for track racing. There weren’t many teams and clubs focused on track and field. I was kind of a lost soul when I got out of college and wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
GCR: Back to college, what were some of your primary workouts that Coach Bowerman had you do for tempo, strength and speed and did you do much hurdle work for the steeplechase?
BM We did not do much hurdle work. We did workouts like a set of 600, 400, 300, 200 and 100 meters and we would repeat that. We did typical workouts like 400-meter repeats. I don’t think we did anything that different from what everyone was doing. The one advantage I liked was at a place nearby call Hendricks Park of which runners in Eugene are aware. There was a 400-meter hill there through the woods on a trail. I did many hill repeats there and that helped a lot. The fact that we had a lot of hills around was great. I loved going out and doing trail running sometimes to the detriment of my track training.
GCR: What type of training mileage were you doing in college and how did this change after graduation and your move toward longer distances?
BM I was never a big mileage runner. The most I ever ran in college was 119 miles in a week. That was the most and usually we ran around eighty-five miles a week when we were in college. I never did much more than that in my running career. I had a number of times over a hundred miles, but that 85-to-90 miles a week range is what I did most of the time.
GCR: MARATHON RACING FOCUS In 1970 you raced three marathons including winning your first marathon at the Drake Relays in 2:33:27 and your third marathon, the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, in 2:25:02. How was your transition to the marathon distance and had you found your new racing focus?
BM Back in those days there weren’t many racing opportunities. I was living in Rochester, Minnesota at the time and there weren’t many opportunities for distance races. We would have local road races and we would have twenty, twenty-five or thirty runners in the races. I went to Drake Relays and tried the marathon there. It was not a pleasant experience. I ended up winning, but it was very hot out and I’m not a good heat runner. I remember walking part of the race off and on the last six miles. About five or six weeks later, the national AAU marathon was down the road in Iowa again in a place called Redfield, Iowa. It was even hotter and a rolling hills course. A guy named Bob Fits from New York won the race and he ran fantastic given the conditions. I was running along with Hal Higdon, and we were suffering. I ran a 2:40 or something like that. Another two months later, I’m going up to the Paavo Nurmi Marathon and was thinking that I wasn’t going to run another marathon if it turned out like the first two did. Luckily, for me, it turned out to be a very good marathon. I was running very strong and was running under five minutes a mile the last five miles. I was thinking, ‘Okay, this marathoning isn’t that bad.’
GCR: In 1971 you won the Trail’s End Marathon in 2:21:09, the Drake Relays Marathon again in 2:27:23 and another Paavo Nurmi Marathon in 2:23:43. How exciting was it to win these marathons, even though the number of competitors was small compared to current day, and do any stand out for close competition?
BM At Trail’s End there was a runner from Washington state, Tom Robinson, who was with me for quite a bit of the race. He was very competitive. At the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, a good friend of mine, Tom Hoffman, who had run NCAA DIII and for the University of Chicago Track Club was with me for most of the race. We were running together. At Drake I won fairly easily. The thing I enjoyed at that time is, because the races were small, we had a lot of friendships develop. We got to know each other.
GCR: As you prepared for the 1972 Boston Marathon, in the last few weeks beforehand you raced a 1:22:12 for 25k in Rochester and 51:04 for ten miles in Minneapolis, finishing in second place both times. What were you doing in training to be in peak form for Boston and were you confident after these two races that you were ready for a top-notch effort?
BM I was confident, but the worry after training in Minnesota during the winter, was at the Boston Marathon the start was at noon. There were no official water stops and temperatures were usually in the upper sixties, so I wasn’t confident at the starting line. I knew I was in very good shape, but don’t think I was that super confident. I hadn’t planned to run the Boston Marathon, to be honest with you, as I thought it was too close to the Olympic Trials. But it turned out the Olympic Trials qualifying standard was 2:30 at that time, which shows how slow times were in those days, and my time at the Paavo Nurmi marathon of 2:23 was on a course that was not certified. I had to get a qualifying time on a certified course, so I ran Boston. It was probably too close to the Trials to run such a hard effort at Boston.
GCR: Can you take us through the 1972 Boston Marathon including your competition, the spectators, racing through the hills and how exciting it was to finish sixth overall as first American in a personal best time of 2:19:59?
BM It was fun because at most of the races I had run there was nobody out on the course. I was running the Boston Marathon and there were all these spectators out there, which was fantastic. Since they didn’t have official water stops at that time, spectators were our lifeblood as far as getting water or ice. We took whatever we could get. At the halfway mark I was in twenty-second place. I started conservatively because I had heard not to go out too fast down the big hill at the start. I was back a ways, but still in contact with a lot of runners. I kept gradually moving up. I don’t remember the course that well because I only ran it that one time, but we were on one hill, and I was coming up to Tom Fleming. I said, ‘Tom, is this Heartbreak Hill?’ He said, ‘This is it.’ But it turned out the next hill was Heartbreak Hill. I didn’t realize how close Jeff Galloway was to me at the finish, only four seconds behind me. A whole group of Americans were coming in within a minute or two of when I finished.
GCR: Your Olympic Trials Marathon effort three months later wasn’t near your Boston Marathon result as you placed 46th in 2:36:25. How was your training leading up to the Olympic Trials and what led to what must have been a disappointing race?
BM When I look back, when I was young, I didn’t think much about what I was doing. About a month before, I was at Macalester College at an AAU meet, and I thought I would try the steeplechase again. My spike caught on a loose spot before the water jump and I ran my jaw right into the barrier. I ended up with a hairline fracture in my jaw and had a week or ten days when I could only eat liquids. That didn’t help my training. I was also stupid because, for the Olympic Trials Marathon, I drove from Rochester to Portland, Oregon in two days. That wasn’t a good idea before a big marathon. So, I was flat.
GCR: Over the next ten years, you raced many marathons in the 2:22 to 2:35 range. Where did running fit into your life as you balanced it with work, marriage, and other aspects of living and how did your training compare to the early 1970s when you ran some of your peak marathon performances?
BM Those years were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue running at different points. We moved out to Portland for a while, and I worked in probation. Luckily, I met up with a good runner, Wayne Ristow, who ran for Washington State, and became a lifelong friend. Because I was running with him, we ran together in wonderful places in the forest park in Portland. That kept me going. We moved back to Minnesota, and I ran with a friend in one city. Then we moved back to Rochester, where I had run well earlier, and the Rochester Track Club had quite a few good runners who worked at the Mayo Clinic. In Rochester in 1971 they started all-comers track meets that continue to this day. Rochester was a fun place because we had a good group of runners there. What kept me going were these other runners I ran with.
GCR: When most runners are slowing down past the age of forty, you ran many strong races including marathons in 1984 of 2:24:19 at St. Paul and, in 1985, 2:22:27 in Duluth and 2:22:24 in Saint Paul. Over the next five years you raced a half dozen more sub-2:30 marathons, including a 2:26:18 at St. Paul at age forty-five. Your results at shorter distances were equally impressive. Can you tell us about your training group that kept you racing so well and why weren’t you slowing down when most runners are?
BM That’s a very good question. Relatively speaking, those were my best years of running. Those were my peak years for some reason. I had a nice group of guys that I was running with at that time. They were all about seven or eight years younger than me and that helped to keep me going. I also had more consistency in my life at that time. I was settled in my job and my marriage and everything in my life was nice and stable. I’m a person who does very well with routine, and I was in a good routine for those years. I had some injuries when I was forty-two and forty-three. The best year of my running was when I was forty-one and the next best year was when I was forty-four. And that year was a very hot year with the temperatures.
GCR: When you were forty-four years old, you also ran an amazing 2:59:36 for fifty kilometers. How did you find racing five miles further than a marathon? And were you conscious of your chance to break three hours as you raced the final miles, did that become a goal, or did it just happen?
BM That is one of my favorite races ever and I truly remember most of the entire race. I had run it the year before. That year I ran slower than I could have at the Twin Cities Marathon to conserve energy for the 50k race. I went out in 1:27 that year at the 25k mark, but I outran the water stops. They weren’t all set up. I faded the last few miles and think I ran 3:08 that first year. The second year I had ran well at Twin Cities two weeks before. It was interesting in the 50k because Barney Klecker was running. Barney took the lead early and got a hundred-yard lead on me in the first five or six miles. Then I caught up with him I got a bit of a lead until we ran down a very big hill toward Lake Superior and Barney came by me. He was screaming by me, and I thought, ‘He can’t keep this pace, can he?’ We still had thirteen miles to go. He slowed down and I caught up with him. I gradually started pulling away and pulling away and beat him by two minutes or so. The last five miles I felt great. I was running 5:34 pace per mile. I was forty-four years old and thought, ‘That’s not too bad.’
GCR: The icing on the cake of your marathon racing were a 3:01:19 at age fifty-five in 1999 and a 3:28:03 at age sixty, both in St. Paul. How rewarding were these races and what does it say about your longevity and tenacity that you were racing so strong in your age group after nearly thirty-five years of marathon racing?
BM I guess I didn’t think anything of it. I was a runner and I trained, and I showed up at races. I had been relatively healthy, which was nice. For me, just being at the races was nice. I don’t race now. What I always liked at the races was seeing fellow racers that I had known for years. We would see each other at the race expo before the races, talk with each other and do a cool down after the races. As I look back, that was the most fun – this partnership we all had. We knew that we all worked hard, we were going through the same challenges, and we had so much respect for each other.
GCR: HIGH SCHOOL RUNNING Were you an active child as a youth and early teen who played in sports and how did you get started running?
BM Like everybody growing up in the 1950s, we were outside playing all the time. We played old-time games like kick the can and hide and go seek. My dad was a guy who liked sports, so I played baseball and we played football in our neighborhood. I played a lot of basketball and really like that. I’d been on a team when I was in sixth and seventh grade and we were undefeated for two years. I didn’t start, but I was the sixth or seventh man. So, I kind of thought I was a basketball player. How I got into running was related to that. In middle school, every year we had to do a 440-yard dash as part of our grade in our gym class. For some reason I remember my times from the three years. When I was in seventh grade, I ran seventy-nine seconds. In eighth grade I ran seventy-three seconds. Then when I was in ninth grade, I ran sixty-two seconds and almost beat a guy who had lettered in cross country the previous fall. We were wearing crummy sneakers and our school had a terrible track, so I thought sixty-two seconds was good for not having any background in running at all. I did have a paper route where I did a lot of walking, so I was fit. The interesting thing I remember is that we were leaving the high school track to go back to the middle school and, suddenly, the gym teacher comes up to me and puts his arm around me and says, ‘What are you doing next fall?’ I said, ‘Well, I have a paper route.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you come out for cross country?’ My mind started churning because the gym coach happened to be the cross-country coach, but he was also the basketball coach. His name was Roy Griak. I decided that, if I went out for cross country, maybe that would give me a good chance to at least make the JV basketball team because he would know who I was. I went out for cross country the next fall and was decent. I was the eighth or ninth guy mainly in my sophomore year. And then, of course, I got cut right away in basketball. I guess there’s not much need for a five-foot, nine inches, a hundred fourteen-pound guy in basketball.
GCR: What did Coach Roy Griak do to grow your interest in cross country and track as a novice, what did you do in training and how did you progress your freshman and sophomore years in high school? Were you running every day or taking weekends off and did you do hills or speed work?
BM I didn’t know much about cross country and Coach Griak didn’t set up any training plan for the summer beforehand. I thought maybe I should go out on my own and run. The highlight that summer was that we had a dog, and my parents had a cabin up in northern Minnesota by a lake by the national forest. I was out for a run one day and came around a corner and about fifty yards down the road was a mama bear with two cubs crossing the road. She looked back at me, and I thought, ‘Oh, oh!’ Luckily, I saw the bear before the bear saw me, got my dog and started yelling. Then the bear saw me and slowly watched me as she escorted her cubs across the road. So, that was mind of fun. I started running that summer. A lot of the runners I met that fall didn’t run year around. After cross country, I decided to run in the winter. I figured, since I wasn’t on the basketball team, I supposed this ‘running thing’ might work out for me. I ran that winter, and, by spring, I got down to 4:43 for the mile that sophomore year. That got me very inspired.
GCR: You seemed to hit your stride your junior year in cross country as you placed fifth in the state with an 8:58.5 clocking for 1.8 miles, only eight seconds behind the winner, Larry Bronson, of Hibbing. What in training, experience and focus led to your vast improvement as a distance runner from eighth on your cross-country team your sophomore to fifth in the state your junior year in high school?
BM I basically trained on my own. There was a golf course about a mile or mile-and-a-half from my house. I went out there and measured about a two-hundred-meter stretch where I could run 200s, 400s or 800s, back and forth, back and forth on the golf course by myself. I would stay on the straightaway to the side of one of the holes. It wasn’t in the rough grass, but to the side of it, so I didn’t interfere with the golfers. I would do repeat 200s or 400s It really paid off for the first meet we had against Minneapolis Southwest, which had been the top team every year in Minnesota. They had a guy who I think had been third in the state the year before. We ran against them, and I stayed with him. During the race, we ran past their coach, who was a legendary coach in Minnesota and had led his team to many state championships, and he said, ‘Who is that kid?’ Nobody knew who I was. Here I was running with this guy who had been third in the state. He beat me but I was at least running with him. That got me very inspired that I could run with somebody that I had looked up to the year before.
GCR: During track season, at the 1961 Minnesota Region Five Championships, you barely beat Rod Brown of Edina 4:31.9 to 4:32.0. Did you kick from behind with your 440-yard dash speed and what did you learn in this race as you prepared for the state meet?
BM Rod Brown had always beaten me in cross country and had beat me in track early in the season. I remember reading in Track and Field News an article that talked about kicking from further out. For most runners in Minnesota at that time, we would wait until we came off the final turn for a fifty-yard kick which wasn’t much. Normally in Minnesota at that time they would finish track races at the middle of the track, the fifty-yard line. I decided in one race before that Region race that I was going to take off with three hundred meters to go. I did and Rod Brown was in that race. I beat him by quite a bit. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t respond when I took off because he hadn’t faced anything like that before. I kept using that tactic and it kept working. But he was getting closer because he was anticipating that move. It seemed to work out for me because I had good speed. They even put me on the mile relay which helped my mile.
GCR: You won the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) mile championship in 1961 with a 4:26.1 clocking ahead of Rod Brown at 4:28.1, Glenn Mills at 4:30.1, Tom Aslakson at 4:30.2 and Dick Jordan at 4:32.1. How did that race progress, were the five of you in a group, and what were the key moves that led to your victory?
BM A bunch of guys went out hard and I ran very consistent. They ran sixty-two seconds for the first lap, and I was around sixty-six. Then I ran another sixty-six and a sixty-seven on the next two laps. I gradually caught them and had a good finish the last three hundred meters.
GCR: Larry Bronson was your nemesis again at the 1961 MSHSL cross country championship as his 8:53 time beat your 8:54 by one second with Mike Lewis two seconds behind you in 8:56. How did that race transpire, and what was it like the last quarter mile for Bronson, Lewis and you up front battling for the win?
BM Larry broke away about half mile out and I didn’t go with him. Then I went after him the last four hundred meters and ran out of room. He was a very good runner. He seemed to be the better cross-country runner and I tended to be a better track runner at that time.
GCR: Was your second place tempered as you and your teammates, John Valentine, Tom Langen, Howard Winer, Brad Oman, Richard Gale and Charles Patterson won the MSHSL team title by nine points over Minneapolis Southwest and got to hoist the team trophy?
BM That was great because, as I mentioned, Minneapolis Southwest, won the state title many, many times. Even after I graduated, they were the gold standard. There was even one year about fifteen or twenty years later that they had all seven runners in the top eighteen at the state meet, which is nearly unheard of. We were very excited because winning State was our goal. A couple guys on that team had been letterman from their freshman year and the hope was to build each year. We had a disappointing race my junior year as a team. But my senior year, I took second place and John Valentine was fourth, so we helped get some low points for our team in that race.
GCR: Your senior track season at the 1962 Minnesota Region Five Championships, you won in 4:29.2 ahead of your teammate, John Valentine, in 4:31.3. What was the rivalry like with John Valentine as you were training together, but on race day were two of the top milers in the state?
BM He was a year behind me in school and I had established myself as the top dog. We helped each other out a lot but had a bit of a rivalry going. We were competitors.
GCR: In 1962 you repeated as MSHSL champion, improving to 4:22.2 but your competition was also faster with your teammate John Valentine at 4:23.9, Mike Ewell and Joe Nelson both at 4:24.4, and Mike Lewis, who was third in cross country, at 4:25.2. Was there added pressure on you as defending champion, what was your strategy and how did that race play out?
BM I was confident because I hadn’t lost a mile race since the middle of my junior year. I was confident that I could win with a kick or win from the front if I needed to. We were also running for team points because we had a very good team. John and I wanted to get as many team points as we could. We kind of worked together in that race and controlled it. I saw some pictures later and we were one-two for a lot of the race.
GCR: How exciting was it to anchor the mile relay after the first three legs run by Tom Langen, Chris Morris and Gary Smith, as your St. Louis Park squad edged Northfield for the MSHSL win as both teams were timed in 3:25.8?
BM That was the highlight of the meet for me. It is a race, kind of like that 50k I raced with Barney Klecker, that I can remember almost step by step. I got the baton at about the same time as a guy from Alexander Ramsey High School who had won the 880. I had won the mile and he won the half mile. We got our batons and started running at about the same time. Northfield had a guy named Terry Frederickson who had finished third in the open quarter mile. He was about five or six yards behind us when he got the baton. We go around the first turn and start going down the back stretch and this guy ran by us like we were standing still. He was a big, strong guy and went flying by us. I remember thinking as we entered the turn, ‘This is okay. I can still beat this 880-yard runner because he had less time to recover than I did.’ I figured I could take him off the final turn. That is what happened as we went around the final turn, and I passed him. We were heading up the straightaway and I was noticing the big guy up there was faltering a little bit. Being a miler, it wasn’t like I had great speed, but I could hold what speed I had. I kept gaining on him and I out leaned him at the tape. That was probably the most exciting race for me that I ever ran because I’m not naturally a 400-meter runner or quarter miler. Two stop watches had me in 49.9 seconds. A couple of others were over fifty seconds, but I’m going with the 49.9 watches.
GCR: Did you do much speedwork with Chuck Patterson, your teammate who placed third in the half mile at state in 1961 at 2:00.6 and was state runner up in 1962 at 1:58.9? Were you doing 400s or 200-100 breakdowns together?
BM We did a lot of interval training together. Like I said before, Kenny Moore got me into doing distance, but in high school we were coming off the training that guys like Emil Zatopek did. Training in the 1950s tended to be interval training. We did intervals as a group with John Valentine, Tom Langen, Chuck Patterson and we had a very good group of guys that trained together that paid off. At that time, I was also reading more about track and field and methods used by Arthur Lydiard. At the 1960 Olympics there were guys like Peter Snell and Murray Halberg. My hero, when I was growing up and first starting to run, was Herb Elliott. I started thinking and my mind moved toward running longer distances.
GCR: You mentioned how John Valentine and you worked together at the State meet to score points for your team. As great as it is to win an individual MSHSL title, how much fun was it to share the MSHSL team title with Chuck Patterson, John Valentine, 440-yard dash champion Mike Gillham, half-miler Wally Hlavac, hurdler Gerry Brouwer, your relay teammates, and the rest of your team and coaches?
BM It was fun because we won state cross country ad some of the other guys, including Gerry Brouwer, were on the state championship basketball team coached by Roy Griak, who was the assistant basketball coach. So, that year we won three state championships. We are having our sixtieth high school reunion in a couple of months, and it was a very exciting year for our school. St. Louis Park school is a great school. There is a book called ‘Thank You for Being Late’ by Thomas Friedman that is an interesting book with three sections. The first section talks about technology changes and the second part is about climate changes. The last section is about him growing up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and how supportive were the community and the school system. He lists well-known people who came out of our high school like the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, who graduated in the 1970s. When I was in school, I thought we had a great class from academics to sports to music and drama. We had a strong class. Winning three state championships in sports was kind of the highlight. A few days after that state track meet, we had our graduation ceremony. I received a special dollar bill in a frame from Coach Griak. During the mile relay, there were two guys from Northfield sitting in front of my uncle. When the Northfield guy passed us on the back stretch, one of them said that Northfield was going to win. My uncle said, ‘I’ll bet you a dollar St. Louis Park wins.’ When I nipped the guy at the tape, the Northfield fan didn’t say a word. He pulled a dollar out and gave it to my uncle. It ended up In Roy Griak’s hands. A pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Jim Kaat, presented the dollar bill in the frame to me at our all-night graduation party. That was truly fun.
GCR: When you finished high school, where did you consider going to college and how did you decide to go to Oregon?
BM I started writing Coach Bowerman, as many good runners did. I had been reading Track and Field News and the Oregon team of 1961 was second in the NCAAs to Villanova. They had Dyrol Burleson, and other good runners like him. I had been out west with my family to Washington when I was seven or eight years old. It was so beautiful that I thought I would love to go out there sometime. So, I wrote Coach Bowerman, and he wrote back. I wrote him first after I won the mile my junior year. An interesting thing is that Coach Bowerman kept every piece of correspondence that he had with athletes. They are in the University of Oregon archives. I have copies of each letter that I sent to him, and he sent to me. He didn’t offer me any scholarship aid. In the meantime, the University of Minnesota took me out for dinner one night. The coach, Jim Kelly, had been the 1956 Olympic coach. They offered me a full ride at the University of Minnesota. The trouble was that our high school team was probably better on the track, not the field, than the University of Minnesota at the time. I didn’t like the campus at the University of Minnesota. It reminded me of a big factory. Even though I hadn’t been to the Oregon campus, they sent me pictures and brochures. It looked very pretty and what I thought a college campus should look like. My high school graduation present from my parents was a train trip out to the NCAA meet at Oregon in 1962. I was one of the track team captains and we always gave the coaches something at the end of the year. I talked my teammates into us giving the money we raised to the coaches toward train tickets so they could go to the NCAAs, so the three of us went together.
GCR: The St. Paul Pioneer Press named you as number one miler on their 1961 and 1962 Track Honor Roll. How neat was it as a teenager to gain this honor and to see other newspaper articles about your running exploits?
BM When you’re a young high school kid, and there was no internet back then, you see your name in the paper, clip the articles out and put them in your scrapbook.
GCR: WRAP UP AND FINAL THOUGHTS Who were your favorite competitors in high school, college and as a post-collegiate road racer for their ability to give you a strong race where you had to race your best to have a chance to win?
BM When I ran road races as a master, there was a guy named Dan Conway. He was from Wisconsin and had been a sprinter in college. He was the nicest guy in the world. He was a great competitor, especially on downhill courses. He was the best downhill runner you could ever see. He passed away a few years ago, unfortunately. Dan and I were the top two masters’ runners in the upper Midwest for many years and we both knew we would give each other a good race. If I lost to him, I was not disappointed at all because he was such a nice guy and great competitor. He was one of my favorite guys to race against. In high school, Larry Bronson in cross-country. He lived up in northern Minnesota, so I don’t think it was fair for him sometimes because by the time the weather got better, and they got on the track it was almost time for the track season to end. He didn’t perform as well in track as in cross country because of where he lived. Also, Rod Brown from Edina when I was a junior and he was a senior. Those were my two favorite guys in high school. In college, I don’t know if there was any one person who was my top competitor. It was the fun of being around guys like Kenny Moore. There were also two guys you mentioned in the steeplechase, Mike Lehner and Clayton Steinke. When I came out in 1962 to watch the NCAAs, I had never seen a steeplechase race and I saw Clayton and Mike running the steeplechase. I thought, ‘Those guys are little guys like me. Maybe I can run that event.’ They are both good friends to this day. They were competitors in a way but, I tell them, they were more my idols.
GCR: Are there any races we didn’t discuss from high school, college or afterward that are in the forefront of your mind due to a close win, come from behind kick, severe weather or other reasons?
BM Grandma’s Marathon, I believe in 1988, was a very hot day. I wasn’t a good heat runner, and it was miserably hot. One of the guys I trained with, and I started out and we thought we were going to run as comfortably as we could. We weren’t going to go out too hard and suffer at the end. After about five or six miles we saw a group up in front of us and we decided to run with that group. Suddenly, I was feeling very, very good, though I still thought that since it was a hot day I was going to suffer at the end. Finally, I broke away from that group. As we were coming into Duluth, I was still feeling very good. Down in the distance, talk about a great competitor, I could see Kjell-Erik Stahl from Sweden. He was unbeatable in marathons in those days, and it was the first time I was able to see him in a race. He beat me by forty-five seconds, but I ran 2:26. The winner was only 2:20, so I was six minutes off the lead. That was the year I was forty-four years old. That was one of my best races ever.
GCR: We’ve talked about your running, but not about your coaching. Will you tell us about the coaching you did and some of your top athletes and memorable teams?
BM When I lived in Rochester, Minnesota, there was a young man who became paralyzed. His dad was the coach at Rochester Lourdes, a private Catholic school. The father resigned from there to take a public-school position and make more money to help support his son. A man I knew who was involved with the Rochester Track Club was involved with that school and he asked me if I wanted to be the cross-country coach and I said, ‘Sure.’ I coached for a couple of years before I got married and we moved away from Rochester. That was a lot of fun and a couple of the guys are still good friends with me. Two of the kids I coached had families that turned out many good runners. One of them still holds the college DIII national steeplechase record. The oldest kid, Steve, had a running streak of over fifty years without missing a day. That group was fun to coach, and we won a state championship with them. Later when I retired, I asked one of the coaches at a suburban school if he had any need for a volunteer assistant. He asked me to come out and join the and I was coach for fourteen years at Eden Prairie High School. We had two women’s cross-country teams and one men’s team that made it to the Nike Nationals.
GCR: How satisfying is it to coach and to help others succeed compared to your own personal accomplishments? How much different is it to instill in others the necessary discipline, focus and mental toughness?
BM I got more out of coaching than I put into it. When I retired, I was sixty-five or sixty-six years old and being around these kids was inspirational. I enjoyed watching them develop. One girl that graduated from our high school is volunteering here at the World Track and Field Championships. She met Phil Knight and ran with Shalane Flanagan yesterday. She was in seventh heaven and I’m getting tears in my eyes telling you about it. At U.S. Nationals, we had a girl that used to run for us come and stay with us. Another girl who was a state champion lives up in Seattle and her husband works for Brooks. They are going to come down and stay with us. Seeing these kids develop after they are out of high school and seeing their lives develop is exciting. You know because you’ve been around runners your whole life – they’re fantastic! These kids are bright, they’re accepting of each other. When I was coaching, we had a fair number of kids who came out as gay and nobody missed a beat. They were teammates. They were friends. No one cared. No matter who the kid was on the team, a fifteen-minute 5k runner or a thirty-minute 5k runner, they were supportive of each other. It made me feel, as an old person, good about the direction of a lot of young people in this country. That is the best thing I liked about the coaching. They kind of admired me because I kept running at age seventy-eight and I hope I am an inspiration to them to keep being active the rest of their lives. It goes both ways for sure when you are a coach and have been a runner and know what they are going through.
GCR: As you mentioned, you are watching the World Track and Field Championships and there are five days down and five to go. What are some of the highlights of events you have seen, and have you met many former athletes and current athletes?
BM I’ve been hanging around mainly with friends and haven’t met too many athletes. I keep seeing posts on Facebook about people like Bob Beamon being out here, but I haven’t met those guys. I met Jakob Ingebrigtsen when I was a greeter at the airport which was very exciting. I saw Arne Kvalheim and Jon Anderson and Bob Williams; Oregon men and we all walk together every week. We’ve got a walking group in Eugene. Mike Manley, a steeplechaser on the 1972 Olympic team is part of it as is Tom Heinonen, who I ran against in high school and was the Oregon women’s coach. I wish I would meet some of these other people, but there are thousands of people out here and I stay in the routine of what I’m doing. I see Mike Fanelli at The Wild Duck, which is a bar where everyone hangs out. It’s exciting seeing the people from the different countries. As far as races, the two 10,000-meter races were very exciting. One person I met that I enjoyed meeting was Karissa Schweitzer. In one of the old magazines, Minnesota Track and Field Observer, when I was in high school, there were results and, in one of the magazines I have there are results from a university called Mankato State. There is a guy named Frank Schweitzer who ran for Mankato State. It turns out that is Karissa’s grandfather. When I talked to her, I said, ‘Did your grandfather go to White Bear Lake, Minnesota?’ She got the biggest smile on her face. He coached her in high school at Dowling Catholic down near Des Moines. She has become one of my favorites because she has that Minnesota connection. I was walking into the meet last night with Steve Plasencia and looked at the fans and athletes and said, ‘This is great. These are our people.’
GCR: You were one of the first distance runners to wear the Nike Moon Shoes in 1972. How did racing in these shoes compare to other shoes that were available and can you tell us about selling these shoes at auction a few years ago?
BM Geoff Hollister had been my teammate and he worked for Nike. They were giving the shoes out wanted runners to wear these shoes for the 1972 Olympic Trials Marathon. We went down to the store at 855 Olive Street. I had worked there for a while in 1969. I can’t remember how many people got the shoes. I don’t think I would say they were that great a running shoe, but I don’t think we had any great running and racing shoes at that time. I don’t know why I held on to them. For a while I gave them to a friend of mine who had a running store, Twin City Running, in Minneapolis and he had them displayed up above the check out counter for several years. Somebody told me they might be worth some money. I got hold of a guy name Jordan Geller, who is a shoe wheeler-dealer. My shoes were in terrible shape. The waffle soles were falling apart. Jordan helped me put them up for sale on eBay and we got eleven thousand dollars for them from some collector in Malaysia. That helped my wife redo our bathroom out here in Eugene. At the Graduate Hotel here in town they got hold of another pair from David Russell who had run in the Trials and his were in great shape. They paid fifty thousand dollars for his shoes.
GCR: What do you do for fitness and what is your current exercise regimen? How much and how far do you run, and do you add weights, swimming, or biking?
BM I’m running about thirty-five miles a week. I try to get a long run, which now is eight to ten miles, every weekend. I try to do one hard run during the week. I want to relate to feeling like a runner, so one day I go hard. Otherwise, I run four miles each morning. If I feel good, I pick it up or I tend to run ten-minute pace. That is fine for me now. I’m happy to be out there. Last fall my wife’s relatives were visiting and we were at Cannon Beach, Oregon, which is a beautiful beach on the Oregon coast. I got up in the morning and went out barefoot on the beach. The full moon was shining from the ocean onto the beach. There was nobody else on the beach and the ocean was pounding the shore. I’m running with the moon shining down. I have been running for sixty-three years and that was one of the nicest runs I’ve had in my life. I’m happy to be able to say that and do that at my age.
GCR: What goals do you have for yourself in fitness, hobbies, travel and other aspects of your life for the upcoming years?
BM I’ve always liked to travel and have travelled extensively. I’ve been to Patagonia, Australia and New Zealand. I’ve been to Europe and like travelling in alpine countries. I love hiking in the alps. Unfortunately, as we get older, travel becomes harder. But that is what I would like to continue doing. I have not been in the southeast part of the United States and want to to take a road trip down through those areas. I’ve seen most of the rest of the United States. Travel is the main thing that I like. I enjoy meeting people from different areas, talking to them and learning what it’s like in those countries. That is the biggest goal for me. My running goal is day-t-o-day. In thirty-one more days, I will have eleven years without missing a day of running. That is my immediate goal, to get to August twentieth. After that, I don’t know. I’d like to get to twelve years and make it to eighty years old and still be running at age eighty.
GCR: What advice do you give to youngsters and teenagers who are novice runners that will help them to move toward their potential and keep distance running as a lifetime sport?
BM A lot of this is information that I learned from Coach Bowerman. I’m a firm believer in rest. For me, it’s active rest. I’m usually running, but biking or swimming are good. I hate to see kids get burned out. That is discussed today and isn’t something we talked about when we were younger. I like to see kids enjoy running so I encourage them to go to various places to run and to try trail running. When I was more fit a few years ago, I took kids out to different parks, and we ran on trails. The kids loved that. The most important thing is to make running a lifetime commitment and a lifetime sport. I also stress how the discipline learned in running helps in life when going to college or at work. The things learned when you are running are going to pay off in many ways as life goes on in your career.
GCR: What are the major lessons you have learned during your life from your youth, the discipline of running, transferring your knowledge to others in coaching or on the job, achieving life balance and any adversity you have faced that you would like to share with my readers?
BM We are all going to have times as runners when we are going to have a bad day or get injured. We must focus on our long-term goals and be patient. We must learn patience to get over hurdles. I believe that we grow more from facing our adversity than our success. We learn and grow when we have barriers that we learn to overcome. I’m coming from being an old-timer, and I see all the technology that everyone is embracing. Sometimes it pays off, but there are some runners, even the top runners, which are so focused on the science and technology that they forget the joy of running. The older generation went out and did some very unusual training that coaches wouldn’t recommend nowadays. But that is what made it so enjoyable for us. That is why there are so many guys in their sixties and older, like Steve Plascencia, who is next door to us, that have been running and running for years and years and still enjoy running. I’m worried that the younger generation are becoming like robots in some respects with the technology and they aren’t going to enjoy running as they get older. That is a concern I have that may be a little misplaced, but that is what I see.
  Inside Stuff
Hobbies/Interests I’m going to sound shallow, but my interests have revolved around running. I like to travel. I like to read. My wife is very good at organizing our social life for us and we go to plays and concerts. I’m not very handy and I’m not very technologically advanced at all. I’m an archaic guy in those areas. It’s funny because I come from a family that is construction oriented. I have terrible spatial ability. My grandfather was the manager on The Big House in Michigan. My dad and two uncles laid rebar at that stadium when they were teenagers. A lot of my family members are in construction and I’m terrible in construction. I’m lucky I found running
Nicknames When I was in grade school, we read The Weekly Reader. There was a guy who had a column, and he had a dog whose name was Brucey. His nickname was ‘Wee Brucey.’ It was shortened to ‘Wee-Bee.’ I was the only kid in my class who had the name of Bruce. Everybody started calling me ‘Wee-Bee.’ When I go to my high school reunion, a lot of the kids will call me ‘Wee-Bee.’ When I would see my old coach, Roy Griak, who became the Minnesota coach, I would hear, ‘Hey Wee-Bee!’ My teammates also call me that, but nobody else knows that
Favorite movies My favorite movie, because I love the mountain scenery in the alps, is ‘The Sound of Music.’ The opening scenes when they are showing Maria out in the fields and mountains are wonderful. After I graduated from college, I spent the summer working in Malmo, Sweden. I got a bike near the end and was going to bike down to Salzburg because I wanted to see the mountains. Unfortunately, it rained for several days, I got soaked, and I abandoned that trip. On the first trip I made to Europe after that I wanted to go to Salzburg
Favorite TV shows When I was a very little kid, I liked the Howdy Doody Show and The Mickey Mouse Club with Annette Funicello. Most recently, I’m a huge fan of ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Favorite music I’m stuck in he 1960s. I’m a big ‘Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’ fan. I like blues very much. I like The Beatles and The Eagles. As I get older, I like mellow and easy listening music
Favorite books Recently, and I must put in a plug, we are part of four couples that call ourselves ‘The Adventure Club.’ We have been getting together for over thirty years. One of them is an award-winning author. I must put a good word in for William Krueger and his mystery books. He won an Edgar Award which is a mystery writing award named after Edgar Allan Poe. He has had great success. My wife’s name was mentioned in one of his books and my name got in a sentence in two of his books
First cars I had a Pontiac Tempest for my first car. After that, I mainly had Volkswagen ‘Bugs’ just because I’m the person who is a minimalist and I want to get good gas mileage
Current cars Right now, we have three cars. We have two out here in Eugen and one in Minnesota. We have a Nissan here and I drive a Ford Focus because it gets good gas mileage. Our next cars will surely be electric cars
First Jobs I had that paper route when I was a teenager. Coach Bowerman got us mill jobs and we worked in plywood mills in the summer after my freshman year. Coach Griak got Minnesota athletes that he knew jobs and I worked in the stockyards in St. Paul, Minnesota one summer
Favorite holiday memories Nowadays we do a lot with my wife’s family on Christmas Eve and get together with my family on Christmas Day. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it is more about family and isn’t commercialized liked Christmas unfortunately has become. Thanksgiving seems more relaxed with tasty food and good fellowship
Family My family were all Scandinavians from Sweden. My grandfather, who worked on the Michigan stadium came from Sweden. My grandfather on the other side was a minister in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. My dad worked for Union Carbide for forty years or more. My mother was a school cook. I have one brother. He and his wife are eighty-two years old. He worked in construction for a big company that built the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. My wife and I have no kids. My wife, Rosie, was a Dean at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Minnesota
Pets We have had four Golden Retrievers. We had one at a time. Now we have a home in Minnesota and a home in Eugene and fly back and forth so, after the last one passed away, we don’t have a new dog. I do some dog walking for a friend and his wife in Minnesota. She was coaching with me for a while and there was a time where she couldn’t run with her dog for a while. I volunteered and I’m still volunteering
Favorite breakfast I like a bowl of cereal, yogurt. Toast and juice
Favorite meal Since we have been living in Oregon, I love Steelhead. There is a place that is our fast-food choice, and we love their coconut shrimp
Favorite beverages Being now in Oregon, we like a lot of wine. I like Pinot Gris in the summer and Pinot Noir in the winter. When it’s dark and rainy, I prefer the red wines. There are good breweries everywhere in the country and I like craft brews. There is a place here that has an amber ale that I like. I also like Irish red ales. I don’t like the very hoppy beers
First running memory The first time I remember running was when my dad was a night watchman at an elementary school that was under construction in Edina, Minnesota. I would sometimes go with him. There was a track next to the site and he would tell me to run around the track. So, the first time I remember running was at Edina High School that was dirt or cinders
Running heroes Herb Elliott, Peter Snell and Murray Halberg. I was lucky to meet Peter Snell when he was in Minnesota. I would have loved to meet Herb Elliott
Greatest running moment My most memorable moment was when I watched Billy Mills winning at the Olympics. That stands out to me more than anything. I had the opportunity to meet him, and he is a fantastic person. As a runner, that mile relay in high school was the biggest highlight for me. I was having lunch recently with Russ Pate, Jon Anderson, Ron Wayne and Jacqueline Hansen. Russ and I were talking, and I said, ‘We were good runners, but we knew we weren’t great because we were around great.’ Some of the high school kids I coached thought I was a great runner because I ran for Oregon and was an NCAA champion. I told them, ‘I am not a great runner. I was a good runner, but compared to the very great runners, I know what they look like.’
Worst running moment Easily the NCAA Cross Country Championships my senior year. It was held down at Kansas and I was very fit. In the first half mile there was a gradual uphill and then we took a left turn. I was in the top ten or so and I thought, ‘I’m going to be in the top ten in this race.’ About a half mile later, I don’t know what happened. Suddenly, I felt terrible. I don’t know where I finished. I was around seventieth and I know I should have been in the top ten. That was my most disappointing race. It was on a Monday before Thanksgiving, and we were off school. The next Saturday we went to Vancouver, Canada for the Canadian National Championships. There was a guy from Colorado running who had finished around seventh in the NCAAs, and he was up there running because he was a Canadian. I ran with him with no problem. I thought, ‘Why didn’t I run like this at the NCAA Cross Country meet?’ That NCAA meet was by far my most disappointing race
Childhood dreams I don’t think I thought about it much. I wanted to go to college. I knew that because, when I had the paper route, every penny that I earned I was putting away for college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I kind of knew where my strengths were and my weaknesses were, so I gravitated in college to being a history major. But my career was as a social service worker in a state program in Minnesota called Vocational Rehabilitation where we worked with people with diverse types of disabilities to give them education training and job training to help them with employment. I loved doing that because they reminded me of runners in a way. They were motivated and had to overcome a lot of adversity. They kept fighting and it was delightful to work with them
Funny memory The train trip out to NCAAs with my two coaches, Roy Griak and Eugene Wright. Coach Griak was a character and ended up being a coach at Minnesota for a long time and having an invitational cross-country meet named after him. Coach Wright is in the National High School Hall of Fame because of some innovations he did for track and field. The three of us were on what I would call a ‘milk train’ because it stopped at any reasonably sized town to unload milk cans. Griak was trying to line me up with local girls when we stopped in Montana. When we got to Eugene, Oregon, we didn’t know where the university was, so we walked down the main street, Willamette Street, turned left on thirteenth and were pulling our luggage. We stayed in the dormitories and that is when I first met Coach Bowerman. It was a gas with those two guys. Here I was, eighteen years old, and they were my mentors
Embarrassing moment There were a few of us runners out on the Oregon sand dunes on the Pacific Ocean doing some running. There are little lakes in the dunes. We went skinny dipping, which was fine, but the other guys got out before I did, and they took my running shorts and took off on the sand dune. So, I’m out there stark naked and I start running after them. There were dune buggy tours that are given on the dunes, and I could hear a dune buggy coming. So, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to catch these guys and get my shorts on before this dune buggy comes out because it’s probably full of kids and women.’ Luckily, I caught them in time and slipped my shorts on just as this dune buggy comes over the top of the dune
Worst date ever I wasn’t much for dating. I was very shy. I never had a date in high school. I never had the guts to ask a girl out. I did have a date with the daughter of Bob Newland, the three-time Director of the Olympic Trials. He had a daughter, Candy Newland. Kenny Moore arranged for me to have a date with her. We went out and I hardly said a word the whole date. I felt sorry for her to have to be with me
Another funny memory The night after that date with Candy Newland, is a funny story. During my freshman year, Otis Davis was still out here going to school. When we had dual meets, there would be an exhibition 440-yard race featuring Otis Davis. I talked my freshman coach into putting me into the quarter mile. I had run the mile relay in high school and thought I was hot stuff. I’m lined up in lane two and the Olympic champion lined up in lane three to run the 440. He beat me by five seconds
Favorite places to travel Overseas, I truly like the Alps. Any country that has the Alps – Dolomites, Switzerland, Austria. Recently, my wife and I went on a trip to Slovenia and Croatia and Bosnia, and they were fantastic. I went down to Patagonia in Chile and Argentina. Also, Australia and New Zealand are great. I’ve loved every place I’ve been. In the United States, I like New England - Maine and New Hampshire and that area. I love any area on the west coast, particularly the Pacific northwest. There are some nice places in Minnesota on the north shore going from Duluth up to Canada. It is lovely