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Bob Schul — December, 2010
Bob Schul won the Gold Medal in the 1964 Olympic 5,000 meter run in Tokyo, Japan with a time of 13:48.8 in a cold rain on a muddy cinder track. His devastating kick of 37.8 seconds for the final 300 meters earned the only Olympic 5,000 meter Gold Medal by a U.S. athlete. In 1964 he set the World Record for 2-miles of 8:26.4. Bob won U.S. Championships at 5,000 meters in 1964, three miles in 1965 and three miles indoors in 1963. He won the Bronze Medal in the 5,000 meters at the 1963 Pan-Am Games. In 1964 Bob broke the U.S. Record for 5,000 meters at Compton (13:38.0) and the U.S. Record for three miles indoors in Boston (13:31.4). He raced collegiately for Miami (Ohio) University with a stint in the Air Force between his sophomore and junior years. In the 1964 Mid-American Conference track championships he won the mile and three-mile. At West Milton (Ohio) High School Bob ran a 4:34 (mile), 2:04 (880 yards) and 50.5 (mile relay leg). His personal best times include: 1500 meters - 3:40.7, mile - 3:58.9 (Pierce Junior College dirt track), 2000 meters - 5:10.2, 3000 meters - 7:59.9, 3000 meters steeplechase - 8:47.6, 2 miles - 8:26.4, 3 miles - 13:10.4 and 5000 meters - 13:38.0. He was a top Masters runner with times of 33:55 for 10k and a 1:16:00 half marathon at age fifty and a 17:56 for 5k at age 60. Bob has coached the Malaysian national team, Air Force runners, club athletes and at Wright State University. He was inducted into the Miami University Hall of Fame in 1973, the USATF Hall of Fame in 1991 and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2005. Bob’s autobiography, ‘In the Long Run,’ is available at He resides in Fairborn, Ohio. Bob was kind enough to spend over four hours on the telephone in November, 2010.
GCR:It has been over 45 years since you won the 1964 Olympic 5,000 meters in Tokyo, Japan. What has it meant to you to become on that day and to be forever more an Olympic Champion and how did it change the course of your life?
BSIt hasn’t changed my life that much. I have had the opportunity to coach and started coaching club athletes in 1966. I never charge to do that as I feel if runners wish to improve as a national or international athlete that they deserve help. So it has been a labor of love for me. As far as jobs, when I interviewed for jobs I don’t think my prospective employers even knew I was an Olympic champion.
GCR:You came into the race as the favorite to win the Gold medal. Did you enjoy being in that position with other top competitors knowing you were a formidable opponent?
BSIt didn’t bother me to be considered the favorite. I had beaten Ron Clarke twice indoors. When I set the American Record for 5,000 meters William Baillie and I were together with a lap to go and I won by 40 meters. Michel Jazy concerned me the most as he had such good speed and his best mile time had me by a second. At a press conference before the Olympics a reporter asked me how I thought I’d do and I said, ‘I believe I can win the Gold Medal and I believe the United States can win two medals.’ I thought Bill Dellinger would be awful close and saying it sometimes makes it more possible. Bill read what I said and maybe it helped. He was behind at the start of the final straightaway but he was strong mentally. Jazy was mentally tough but wasn’t physically ready to race as fast as I was.
GCR:The Olympic 5,000 meter had a strong field including, as you mentioned, Michel Jazy, Ron Clarke, Bill Dellinger and Bill Ballie. Additionally, Harold Norpoth, and Kip Keino were expected to be in the hunt for medals. What was your pre-race strategy?
BSBecause I thought I could out sprint everyone I surely wasn’t going to lead. It didn’t bother me to lead, but I knew that Clarke would have to lead if he wanted a chance to win. I just needed to be close enough to the others when I changed from running to sprinting. Since I ran the open 400 meters and 4 x 400 meter relay in college I knew how to change to the different style of running.
GCR:The Olympic final was held in a heavy rain. How did this play into your race plan and the tactics during the race?
BSIt was cold – it was 51 degrees and the rain was coming down pretty good. The problem was we went into a room for the last twenty minutes before the race and couldn’t do anything. We were sitting in the same order as we would enter the track, on benches that were like a church pew and I was in the second position. It was so quiet – the television was on with no sound and neither the officials nor athletes were speaking. To change positions I leaned forward and looked to my right and Jazy was looking to his left and our eyes met. I immediately turned away and he did also. I think he understood that I was probably his chief competition. Later on I did stand up and went to the left of the pew, but there wasn’t enough room to do anything. About fifteen minutes before the race we were led through a tunnel to where the race would begin. We put on our spikes but were on a concrete floor so again we couldn’t do anything. I tried to go up the two steps to the track but the officials wouldn’t let us. Finally, with only minutes to go before the start, they let us on the track. We only were able to run out for maybe 40 meters, run back and were called to the starting line. The rain, hitting us, was very cold and it tightened the muscles, so the first two laps were really slow as all of us had to warm up our muscles again.
GCR:Very early in the race a runner tripped in front of you and you barely avoided him. How close did you come to having an early catastrophe?
BSOn about the fourth lap I was behind Mike Wiggs, in perhaps eighth place, and Dellinger was in front of him. All of a sudden Mike fell in front of me and I had to jump over him. I ended up in the third lane. I saw Dellinger look around and I surmised that Wiggs had hit Dellinger’s shoe. Bill told me later that he felt his heel get clipped. I was lucky I was in a position to jump over the fallen runner. It didn’t bother me as I quickly caught up to Dellinger and continued on.
GCR:Ron Clarke tried vainly to go early with about 1,600 meters to go in an attempt to run the kick out of the strong finishers. How was the effort needed to cover his surges?
BSI was in sixth or seventh early on and Clarke would put in surges at 60-second 400 meter paces for 200 or 250 meters and then back off. He tried this several times to no avail. I wasn’t tired at all and as I looked at my main competition, they didn’t look like they were under any strain, so he was in trouble. He just hadn’t done what he needed to do to shake Jazy, Dellinger, Norpoth and me. The point was that I thought I was ready to run 13:20 to 13:22 on a dry track so this pace felt very easy.
GCR:Michel Jazy made a big move with 340 meters to go, just when you were blocked in a bit. By the time there was an opening for you Jazy had a gap. Did it appear that he may have made the perfect move at the perfect time or were you feeling strong enough to catch him?
BSComing into the final lap I moved up with about 500 meters to go. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt and I can remember it vividly to this day. It was like stepping on the accelerator and moving without any effort at all. When I came up beside Clarke, Jazy was reluctantly leading. I could tell from how he was running that he didn’t want to be out front. Then Dellinger took the lead I was a little surprised. When I asked him later why he did that he said it was his best chance to win a medal - so he played his cards right. But he didn’t pick it up much – just took the lead and settled into the same pace. As we came down the straightaway for the gun lap I didn’t want to change over and become a sprinter too early. I was able to become a sprinter though most distance runners can’t – they just quicken their pace. I remember thinking, ‘Alright, what are we going to do here?’ And I thought, ‘Not yet.’ I was on the outside of the first lane when all of a sudden the Russian, Dutov, came by and boxed me in before moving up to Jazy. Then Keino came up and I couldn’t get out. I was a bit frustrated with myself and then in the middle of the turn Jazy took off and got a lead. Keino was on my outside and I sort of kept pushing and finally was able to get clear. I didn’t think about Jazy at that time as my thinking was of getting out of the box rather than watching what was going on up front, but when I was free I saw Jazy had a good ten meter lead on me. Quickly, I was all-out and thought I could carry the tempo to the finish line.
GCR:You were able to pass Dellinger and Dutov to move into third place with 250 meters to go and went past Norpoth in the middle of the turn. When did you realize that beating Jazy and earning the Gold medal was within reach?
BSWhen I got out of the box I switched over to being a sprinter and passed Dellinger and Dutov pretty easily. Norpoth was one of those runners who were running the same as before with a quicker pace so I could tell it wouldn’t be a problem catching and passing him. Jazy wasn’t coming back to me on the back stretch and I was running all out. I figured I could do that for 300 meters. As I closed in on Norpoth at the start of the final turn I was also closing in on Jazy. I couldn’t go any faster as I was running as fast as I could. I went by Norpoth I remember my feet slipping a little bit on the wet track. With 150 meters to go I was closing on Jazy and I figured he was all out.
GCR:Jazy glanced back a few times which is usually a sign of weakness. Did this give you more confidence and did he offer any resistance when you passed him halfway down the home straight?
BSWhen I came off the turn I wasn’t that far behind him, his shoulders had tightened up and he looked back a few times. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll be able to catch him – no problem.’ With about 70 or 80 meters to go I was even with him and then passed him very quickly. He was running all out and starting to struggle. When I went by him into the lead the only thought I had was, ‘If I caught Jazy, is anyone catching me?’ I didn’t glance back as I was running all out and glancing back would have just slowed me down. My legs got tired with about 50 meters to go from my hard sprint but to push through was not a problem – that last 300 meters was in 38.7 which would have been in the 37s on a dry track and no one had ever finished that fast in a 5,000 meter Olympic final.
GCR:What was the track condition and how long were the spikes you wore?
BSThe track was in good shape for a wet cinder track, but was not in great shape. There was no spring to the track and it was what I call a ‘dead track.’ I didn’t want to wear spikes that were too long so I selected three-eighths inch spikes.
GCR:What were your thoughts as you crossed the finish line and realized you were an Olympic Champion?
BSThe pressure before the race was intense but I handled it very well, and my first thought was, ‘Thank God it’s over.’ My mind relaxed, my body relaxed and it was a great feeling. I had told the press I would win a Gold Medal and yes, it was sort of brash. But if I was going to race for a record or a victory I always told someone what I was attempting to do. That put added pressure on me and I couldn’t back off. I liked to put the added pressure on myself so I had something to live up to.
GCR:What were you and the other top finishers doing while they analyzed the finish tapes to see if Dellinger or Jazy had earned the bronze medal?
BSFirst they wouldn’t allow any athletes to take a victory lap so we had to quickly leave the track. It was a while before the ceremony as they initially asked Bill Dellinger and me to enter a room just off of the track. We were wet and cold and sat there for 25 to 30 minutes. I didn’t want to put my sweats on because I was muddy. We were sitting there making small talk and that’s when he told me why he took the lead late in the race. Then an official who spoke English walked in, looked at Bill and said, ‘Mr. Dellinger, you have won the bronze medal.’ That was the first time Bill knew. Then we were led through a tunnel underneath the stadium to another room where Norpoth was waiting. There was food and a rest room and we could get cleaned up a bit and change from our racing gear into our sweats. They had three chairs in the middle of the room and we sat in the order of our finish. That was the first time I realized that Norpoth spoke English. He wanted my signature and I think I signed his race number. So we exchanged signatures. Then something funny happened as a reporter came into the room which they weren’t supposed to do. All reporters were supposed to be in the media center where we would go after the medal ceremony. But this reporter from the New York Times got on one knee in front of me and started to ask questions. Two large Japanese men came over and one who spoke some English said, ‘Can’t be here.’ The reporter said, ‘I’ll just ask a couple questions.’ At that point the two men put a hand under each of his arms and escorted him out of the room. Norpoth was ecstatic with his medal. He almost set a personal best time in the race. Dellinger may have thought he’d be in the top five or six but I don’t know if he thought he could medal. Needless to say, all three of us were very happy with the results.
GCR:How long after the race was it before the awards ceremony? What were your feelings when you were on the podium being awarded your Gold Medal and hearing the National Anthem played?
BSWe had to wait for the awards ceremony until the 50 kilometer race finished so we were in that room for close to an hour. We were led out by the geisha girls to the awards area and as the three flags went up we turned and faced them. When I heard the Star Spangled Banner it was an unbelievable feeling. You know how you hear of spine chills? Well it happened as I had chills run up and down my spine. I thought to myself that two medals in a distance race for the United States was amazing and may never happen again, though I thought at that point the U.S. would continue to be a major player in distance running and that the future was bright for the our country.
GCR:The year after the Olympics both Michel Jazy and Ron Clarke showed amazing improvement and turned in some very fast times. Do you believe it was due to stepping up their training and focus after Olympic disappointment or was there suspicion that they were possibly tainted by performance enhancing drugs?
BSJazy and Clarke were running so well only about six months after the Tokyo games. I thought to myself that this was unusual – not running well, but breaking World Records repeatedly just days apart. When I look back at my own hard workouts prior to my breaking the World Record in the 2-mile and how long it took to recover from the race, recovery took about a week. I could do light workouts, but my body was not ready to push through hard workouts and walk away with something left. I thought there was something wrong with how Jazy and Clarke were racing and recovering. In 1964 there were rumors that most weight men were using steroids, but they weren’t illegal yet as they were so new. They were just used with other supplements like protein powder. Everyone thought it was only the weight men who were possibly using steroids to improve their efforts, but it seems that Jazy and Clarke may have used them in 1965. When time passed after they both retired and five years later they each had heart problems I thought, ‘Aha, there was something wrong.’ Steroids allow an athlete to recover quickly and also lead to heart problems, so it sure looked suspicious. But again, remember they were not illegal, but we know now how much help they can provide.
GCR:After the 1964 Olympics a sore knee kept you from running for months. Was there a diagnosis of the affected body parts and did you do any specific strength or stretching exercises before resuming training and competition?
BSI had taken off a week or two after the Games and then ran two races in Australia. The first race was two thousand meters and I won easily. Then three days before the next race I came down with food poisoning and one of the doctors said I shouldn’t run, but I felt obligated as they had paid for my wife and me to go to Australia. Ron Clarke beat me by six seconds as I was very dehydrated and tired. After two weeks of rest, I went for my first run and at the first step something was catching in my knee joint. X-rays showed nothing though my knee was painful with each step. I rode a bike at the YMCA and treaded water in the swimming pool for 40-50 minutes. When I started running in late February, I had lost a lot of fitness and endurance. I made up my mind to run through the pain and after two weeks the knee stopped hurting and it was as if it never happened. Truthfully, I don’t think I could do that again, but every day, for fifteen minutes, the knee would hurt and then stop and I could do a full workout. Then, during the next workout it was back. After two weeks it stopped hurting and I pushed myself to regain my conditioning. In March, I ran an indoor meet as the meet promoter, who had been nice to me, wanted me there. It was a terrible decision as I ran poorly and did not win the race. I was embarrassed.
GCR:In 1965 you set personal bests at 1,500 meters 3,000 meters and three miles before your knee injury returned. Was there something in your training program or possibly skipping the European racing season with its closely bunched races that in hindsight could have been adjusted to possibly decrease the chance of this injury?
BSIn April I ran mile races as I was not ready to run 5K and ran around 4:02 to 4:03. Then I accepted a 5k race in Toronto to see where I was since the National Championships were two weeks after. With 300 meters to go I was in fourth behind Larrieu and Mills. Clarke of Australia was out front with no chance of catching him. I felt much better than I thought I would and pulled up beside Mills to start my kick. When I did I pulled a muscle in my calf and had to jog in. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have beaten both of them. For the next week and a half I trained at the University of California-Berkley and was treated by the training room personnel. I couldn’t do much so I had to be content with repeat 100, 150 and 200 meters at a medium pace. Upon arriving at San Diego I found the track to be basically an asphalt road. They told us it had rubber in it but you couldn’t find a runner who thought it was softer than a street. Before the race I had a trainer, Stub Evans, tape my leg. From my ankle to my knee he placed the tape so it would hold together. In the 3 mile race I was tired after the first mile and willed myself to stay with Larrieu and Scott of New Zealand. Everyone else had dropped off the pace so it became a three man race. Larrieu had been my teammate when I was with Igloi and he had been told to run my legs off. Lap after lap I didn’t give an inch as I knew if I faltered I would never recover. With a mile and a half to go I was telling myself to stay for 200 meters and in the last mile it was every 100 meters. Just stay for one more 100 meters I would tell myself, then one more. With one lap to go I was still there and I told myself, ‘you can do anything for one lap.’ The pace picked up down the back straight and around the turn we were still together. Off the turn we came and Scott pulled out to the second lane. I took my time to move to his outside and down the last eighty meters we came, each of us asking our bodies for just a little more energy. Scott passed Larrieu with fifty meters to go and within a step I was by him also. With thirty meters to go I was almost even, with twenty meters left we were side by side and in the last ten meters my momentum gave me a victory by a foot. As I staggered away, my body was destroyed. I had used everything. The time was a new American record of 13:10. Then ‘Europe called’ and they wanted me to run in Oslo in three days. I should have just said ‘no’ because my body was exhausted.
GCR:Despite being so tired, you still gave it your best shot in Europe? What stands out from that European trip?
BSI didn’t run well in Oslo and ended up back in the pack in about eighth place. After that I spent a lot of time travelling to places I hadn’t been. I ran three races in Czechoslovakia in three days and won two of them. It was kind of funny because on the second day I was running a 3,000 meter race on a small track two and a half hours of drive time outside Prague and Bill Bailey was also running with me. He was a great guy and it was fun to travel with him. When we arrived, we found Arthur Lydiard was there with John Davies. We were told they had been there a couple of days. I had been told we wouldn’t have any good runners to face, but obviously that wasn’t true. After racing the day before and traveling two and a half hours by taxi to get to the track, I wasn’t ready for top flight opponents. Two hours later Davies ran 7:52 and I ran 7:59, so I thought it was a pretty good effort. Then Lydiard came up and said, ‘Davies could have won the 5,000 meters in Tokyo.’ I thought, ‘Are you dismissing that I raced yesterday and my travel?’ But I didn’t say anything. An hour later Bill and drove back to Prague and caught a plane the next morning for Berno which was a little over an hour flying time. We were entered in another 3,000 meter race. I was so tired I couldn’t even warm up, so I told Bill, ‘If you want to warm up go ahead – I’m going to lie underneath a tree.’ The only warm up I did was a little jog to the starting line and I still ran 8:04. I was getting back into good shape but had run too many races. I raced at least every three days in Europe. I even ran a 3:40.7 for 1,500 meters, but I had to lead the whole way and then Grelle, Tummler and Snell passed me down the final stretch. But overall it was a good trip, I visited parts of Europe I would never see again and the people were gracious and friendly.
GCR:You ended your trip with a showdown at the meet versus Russia. What were your thoughts leading into that meet and how hard-fought was that race?
BSIt was time to rest and be ready for the Russian meet which was in Kiev. We arrived there two days before the meet and Larrieu and I would face Bolotnikov (10K Olympic champion) and Orentas. I took the lead with 200 meters to go. With 100 meters to go I placed more pressure on my legs and felt the calf tear again. I was in a fog for a few seconds and when my mind focused I found myself in the fourth lane. The crowd was cheering and, when I looked to my left, Bolotnikov was sprinting for home. ‘I have to catch him,’ I thought and began my drive. With ten meters to go I was almost even and in the next step or two I dove for the tape. Just before I hit the tape I looked to my left and saw the hammer and sickle in the middle of his chest. Then I slammed into the cinders and felt my skin tear away. I thought I hit the tape first, but they gave him the win. I don’t know if I won or not and there were no cameras on the finish line. It really makes no difference for the real interesting story begins after the race was over and I tell that lengthy story in my second book which is available on-line only. People who buy my book, ‘In the Long Run,’ receive the second book free via email which continues through to the 1968 Olympic Trials. Anyway, after the meet concluded my wife and I spent a little time in Austria before returning home.
GCR:What did you do upon your return to the United States as far as treatment or rest for the injury?
BSWhen I got back I spent some time on my parents’ farm in Ohio and my knee was worse than ever. The first day I ran ten meters and had to stop, ten more meters and stopped and kept doing this for about three quarters of a mile and it hurt so bad that I had to walk back. The pain was much worse than it had been after the Games. In frustration I threw my running shoes against the wall and that was it. In today’s world they would have done arthroscopic surgery, found the problem, and I would have been running in a week. But in those days they had to open the knee up and I had heard too many stories about poor recovery. We didn’t get paid but I still wanted to try for more world records. In 1965 I wasn’t in the kind of shape I was in 1964. I wasn’t even close but I ran some fast races due to good competition. I ended up taking off eight months from running and that did the trick.
GCR:At the 1968 Olympic Trials you gamely raced despite limited training, injuries and an asthma attack during the race, fainting after finishing fifth. How badly did you want to make another Olympic team, to defend your Gold Medal and what are your memories as you must have known your competitive days were coming to a close?
BSWhen I make up my mind to do something, I go full speed and I wished I was ready to defend my title. But I was only training once a day while I was coaching Eamonn O’Reilly. Then I went to the Olympic training center for three months, worked out twice a day and probably overdid it. I was running eight miles every morning on the roads in just over 41 minutes and then doing another workout in the afternoon. Then I made a big mistake after developing hemorrhoids. Eamonn’s father-in-law was a physician and operated on me. The problem was he lanced the vein and it bled badly when I was running. I had explained to him my upcoming racing schedule but I guess he didn’t realize the Olympic Trials were in only two weeks. I had to wear gauze pads that were 10 inches by five inches by two inches and lost lots of blood every day. The Olympic Center doctors tested me with a blood glucose test and they told me I should be in the hospital. I barely made the5,000 meter final, but the asthma attack that hit me in the final along with the low blood level contributed to me finishing fifth. Coming down the straightaway to the finish I thought, ‘why doesn’t that finish line get closer?’ I hit the finish and blacked out. I was probably lucky I didn’t kill myself. Fortunately two of the trainers knew I was in trouble, were at the finish line to catch me and I awoke about 50 yards later with my arms over their shoulders. I walked into the woods that surrounded the track and knew that was my last big time race. I knew that my international competitive days were over. In retrospect, I should have gotten another minor operation and then resumed training. In today’s world I would have kept going, but with no money and four years until the next Olympics I had to look for a job.
GCR:Going back to 1964, you had an outstanding season in the 5,000 meters setting a U.S. record of 13:38 at Compton, winning the U.S. Championships and Olympic Trials and stepping down to set a 2-Mile World Record of 8:26.4. Was there something different in your training regimen or mental focus that accounts for such dominance that year?
BSI was back at the University of Miami (Ohio) and had left Southern California, after being coached by Igloi for two years. There had been a temptation to switch colleges and to go to Southern Cal since I was training on their track. But I had started at Miami and decided to finish up there. Most people thought I had a track scholarship, but I didn’t. I was a walk-on back in the late fifties. In 1964 I continued to use Igloi’s methods and it all came together that year. I coached myself and didn’t train with the team because I was training twice each day at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
GCR:After you won the Olympic Gold medal, how was the reception at Miami University and did you finally get a track scholarship?
BSAfter I won the Olympic Games and was back at Miami they held a big function in my honor and I spoke about the Games to about 7,000 people. Not too long afterward the Athletic Director asked me to come to his office. After the small talk, he said, ‘Bob, we’re going to give you a scholarship,’ and I thought, ‘it’s about time!’ But then he said there was one restriction – which was that I couldn’t run internationally. I said, ‘but there’s no competition in the college ranks for me.’ That was the time when the NCAA and the AAU were at odds and the NCAA had told all their members to not allow their athletes to run in the USA National meet or any international meets. In 1964 I had turned down running in the NCAA Championships because I was older than the top collegiate runners and didn’t think it was fair. So I didn’t take the scholarship – I’m probably the only athlete who turned down a scholarship.
GCR:You famously tried to run the first sub-four minute mile in the state of Ohio while you were at Miami. Could you relate the highlights of that race?
BSWe were scheduled to have a dual meet and I had worked out pretty hard early in the week but eased off a bit on Thursday. I wasn’t going to run this small meet in early 1964 but was asked by Dick Clevenger and Coach George Rider (retired when I was in the Air Force). Dick had won the state mile when I was in high school and we had been teammates before I went in the Service. Anyway they came to my quarters and convinced me to race. I told my wife that I might as well make it worthwhile. The fastest mile ever run in Ohio was 4:08 so I decided to try to break four minutes. On Friday I talked to the coach and asked him to make sure the track was groomed as there were many cinder ‘clinkers’ in lane one. The Athletic Director promised the maintenance people would do so before they lined the track. I informed the coach of my race plans and then I asked one of my team-mates, Rick Cunningham, to help me with the pace. I said, ‘would you set the pace the first two laps at 1:58 to help me break four minutes?’ He got wide-eyed and after he settled down he said he would. After a light evening jog and some 100s I went to the track and it hadn’t been groomed. So I got a wheelbarrow, rake and shovel and spent an hour raking seven wheelbarrow loads of cinder clinkers from mainly the first lane. I got a little help from two freshmen for the last 15 minutes. The next morning I did a light morning workout and my shoulders were a bit sore, but it went away. The word had gotten around campus about what I was aiming to do. Also the Dayton newspaper had printed a story that morning as I think my coach had called them. So there was quite a crowd at the track – it was the biggest crowd we had ever had for a track meet. After warming up by myself, I asked Rick if he was ready and he said he was. I told him just to move over after two laps and I’d pass on the inside. I mentally prepared and Rick took us through the first lap in 58 and the second lap in 60. I seldom notice the crowd as I am always concentrating on what I am doing, but on the third lap I could hear the crowd making some noise. I ran a 62 and came by three-quarters in 3:00 and thought, ‘you can run under 60 seconds.’ Down the back straight I started picking it up and with 220 yards to go my shoulders tightened up. I couldn’t gather myself. Your body must be relaxed to sprint and mine wasn’t. I drove as hard as I could down the last 100 meters and after walking into the infield they shortly announced the time, 4:00.9. I knew if I hadn’t done the raking and shoveling I could have broken four minutes. Afterward I told Rick I was very pleased with what he did as he was only a sophomore and he ended up running 4:04 two years later.
GCR:You had very good success at Miami University in the mid-1950s, running a 4:12.1 mile your sophomore year. What did your college coach do to help you improve over 20 seconds from high school?
BSYou’d have to compare it to what I did in high school. For the high school cross country season one of the history teachers volunteered to be our coach. He admitted, ‘I know nothing about it. I’ll hold your sweats and take you to the meets, but as far as training you I don’t know anything.’ Our workouts were to run a mile away from the school and then to turn around and run back. Fortunately I lived three miles away and rode my bike home. I was cross training before anyone knew about it, including me! At Miami my coach, George Rider, was a good coach who had s do interval workouts that were similar to Igloi’s approach. Running 4:12 as a sophomore wasn’t a big deal – it’s just that the training was stepped up.
GCR:After your sophomore year in college why did you decide to leave school and join the Air Force?
BSI ran out of money! I worked a year before I went to college to save some money. My freshman year I had a job washing dishes in my dorm for about a dollar an hour. I didn’t see the money as it went to pay my fees. So when the money was gone I joined the Air Force.
GCR:While you were in the Air Force your commanding officer was Max Truex, who placed sixth in the 1960 Olympic 10,000 meters. What was the impact of Truex and the military on your running career?
BSI went into the military in 1959 and was in aircraft electronics as my math scores were fairly high. I went through basic training in Texas and shipped out to Mississippi for school and then to Detroit, Michigan. One day there was a message on the bulletin board about athletes joining the Air Force Olympic running program if they had certain times and my 4:12 was about five or six seconds short of the time. I wrote them anyway and, after a few weeks, they sent me a response saying I didn’t qualify, but they said they would like me to join their Air Defense running team that was training in California - and that changed everything. Within a week I was on my way to California. Max had graduated from Southern California and was an NCAA cross country champ. I found out quickly that the Air Defense team and Olympic team were both training there. There weren’t too many enlisted people on the team as most were officers who had attended college. We went on trips to indoor meets the following winter. I ran on the 4 by 400 meter relay and could run 50 flat. As time went on in 1960 I did run in the Olympic Trials but I was so inexperienced in running in big races that I didn’t know what to do. I would have made the finals, but in those days foreigners could run and I got knocked out by a foreigner - one that would become my friend, Laszlo Tabori. Max was training for the 1960 Rome Olympics and I trained much on my own. Max had trained under Igloi for a short period of time and was corresponding with him. Max designed workouts for me that were based on Igloi’s methods though they weren’t as hard.
GCR:How were you introduced to Hungarian coach Mihály Iglói and what was your initial training under him?
BSIn the springtime of 1961 Max said I needed to do some training in person with Igloi. He got permission to send me up to San Jose for two weeks so I did the seven hour drive. I walked onto the field at San Jose City College and there were many runners warming up including Jim Beatty and Laszlo Tabori. I saw a gentleman and recognized him as Igloi. I introduced myself as I said, ‘my name is Bob Schul and Max Truex sent me here to train with you for two weeks.’ He said, ‘Who are you?’ Immediately I knew Max hadn’t told him I was coming! We talked for five minutes and he said he’d train me but that he wanted me to watch a training session first. It was harder than I trained and I didn’t know if I was prepared to train like that. I stayed in a house with Joe Douglas, who now coaches the Santa Monica Track Club, and three other runners. I slept on the living room couch. The first morning when I arrived at the track Igloi was having a heated conversation, in Hungarian, with Laszlo, who was a former World Record holder at 1,500 meters. When Laszlo started jogging away, Igloi told me to run with Laszlo and I found out very quickly, he didn’t want me training with him. He was abrupt and didn’t tell me what the workout was, saying, ‘just follow me.’ It was the hardest workout I had ever done as it was five miles of sprints of 100 and 150 meters. After I returned to my abode I layed on the floor until noon as I couldn’t believe how tired I was. That evening I found there was a pecking order during warm-ups and I was at the end. Laszlo got friendlier as the days went on and I was with him every morning and evening for the two weeks I was there. Though he didn’t run much faster than me, Igloi always gave him one more set in the evening workouts. During those two weeks I learned a lot about what my body and my mind could handle. When it was time to leave Igloi gave me my workout schedule for the next few weeks for we would soon be racing at the Air Force Championships.
GCR:After this in-person training under Igloi, how was the effect on your racing?
BSI won the steeplechase at the Air Defense Command Championships but finished third behind George Young and Deacon Jones at the All Armed Forces Championships. The three of us ran at the U.S Championships and they pulled away though I stayed with the NCAA Champion, bumped into him with 300 meters to go and, realizing I wasn’t that tired, picked up the pace. I was closing in but ended up in third. The top two in each event went to Europe to compete, but I was added to the team as I could run the steeple and 5,000 meters. I got to run against Germany, which was interesting as I’m full-blooded German. I was in the lead with three laps to go and should have picked up the pace but didn’t know what I could do. Over the last hurdle I was passed quickly by Deacon Jones, almost caught him at the finish line but missed by an inch or two. I was upset and went to one of the hurdles and jumped over it repeatedly back and forth so many times that I strained a calf muscle. (Yes, the one that would bother me later.) My 8:47.8 was the fourth fastest time ever by an American behind George, Deacon and Horace Ashenfelter. I wasn’t experienced in the steeple but was excited to be doing so well. With my sore calf I ran the 5,000 meters against the English. The two Englishmen, Gordon Pirie and Bruce Tulloh, won easily and the next morning the newspaper said, ‘After winning the competition, the two Englishmen waited for Max Truex to finish and then the three of them waited very patiently for the tall American, Schul, to finish.’ I thought, ‘that is never going to happen again!’ As the weeks went by I stayed in Europe and ran some smaller meets in Scandinavia which was a great learning year. Finally I got a nasty communication from the Air Force which basically said, ‘get your fanny home,’ as I had overstayed my leave. I was on a plane the next day!
GCR:What impact did it have on your training when Igloi moved south from San Jose to the Los Angeles area which was much closer to where you were stationed?
BSWhen I returned from Europe in August of 1961 Max informed me that Igloi had moved from San Jose to Los Angeles. Max and I would leave on Friday and train with Igloi Friday evening, two sessions Saturday, one session Sunday and finally Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. and we’d get back to the base to start work at 7:30 a.m. It was an hour and a half from the Base at Oxnard to Southern California. After work on Monday we would head back down and train with Igloi on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. The rest of the week in the morning before dawn I’d go to a high school track about five miles away, climb over a fence, do my workout in the dark and go back. We didn’t do any distance running – just lots of sets on the track at various levels of fresh, good and hard. I never kept track of mileage – I wrote down the workouts but never added up the miles as we weren’t trying to get to any certain amount of miles in any workouts. I was just trying to keep my body healthy. The training was tough, but we fed off of one another. I never doubted Igloi – no matter how I felt I always followed him. Usually the international level runners ran alone as we had different workouts, but one day Igloi had Max and me do repeat 400s and we were running about 12 of them in 63 to 64 seconds. After about nine of them Max started dropping back on each one after 300 meters and I knew then that he would never beat me again. It was really an eye opener for me as I realized that I was now faster than Max. We did a lot of 400s and I would sometimes do 400s over six hurdles, in 64 seconds, in preparation for the steeplechase. I had done some hurdle relays in high school and was a natural hurdler though I could only lead with my left leg. With Igloi’s workouts we were on the track every day which I liked as I thought long runs were boring.
GCR:You are a big proponent of using effort as a guide versus times. What led you to implement the training and coaching system that relies on terms such as ‘fresh,’ ‘good’ and hard versus specific time goals?
BSMuch of the workouts Igloi had us do were at ‘fresh’ or ‘good’ pace. ‘Fresh’ is maybe 5,000 meter pace and ‘good’ may be mile pace so we weren’t all out most of the time. You couldn’t sprint the entire workout as sometimes they would last two hours. In between sets we would do ten 100 meters a bit slower than ‘fresh’ pace to shake things out. The entire workout would be based on effort and not time. The whole function of the training was to put our bodies under stress so we could handle more work. As I achieved a plateau I would increase speed, number of sets or both. When that plateau became easy I would add to the workout. In the spring of 64 I had built up to running 20 times 400 with three in 60 and each fourth in 58. The rest interval was to walk 60 and jog 60 and go again. Always ran the 20th, all-out, and always hit low 54 something. Igloi used buildups and each third of the distance you would move to the next level like from fresh to good to hard. This prepared us to go to the next gear in a race if someone picked it up because we did it in our training. It made a lot of sense to me later on when I reflected on why we were doing certain things in our training. When I went back to Miami I was able to do even harder workouts as Igloi had put the base under me.
GCR:When you went back Miami did Igloi guide your training through correspondence or were you basically self-coached? How was it training back in the Ohio winters compared to southern California?
BSI would see Igloi from time to time and we would talk about training. But he had his own stable and he wanted them to beat me, though we remained friends. He was a great man. But my workouts were different due to the weather conditions and area available to train. In the fall I could use a grassy area that had a 300 meter straightaway but when the snows came it was a different matter. The 1963-64 winter was very cold in Ohio and it didn’t get above ten degrees in January. I was training at 5:30 a.m. as I had an 8:00 a.m. class and trained underneath the football stadium which was only 70 yards from a brick wall to a shot put ring. At the most I could run 60 yards before I had to slow down. It was the toughest training mentally that I ever did - to go out when it was so cold worked on you psychologically. All we had were cotton clothes which became wet with perspiration and the cold air also affected my asthma. My wife bought some flannel and sewed it into my hooded sweatshirt and under my cap all you could see were my eyes. We also took some piano wire to make the flannel into a cup so I wouldn’t suck the material into my mouth when breathing – I must have looked like a man from outer space with all that stuff - but nobody saw me at 5:30! Today if you told the top runners in the U.S. they would have to work out in those circumstances, not many would do it. In the evening it was back to the same conditions.
GCR:When you ran repeats on the track for time did you incorporate ‘negative splits?’
BSWe didn’t do negative splits – Igloi would give us a time to hit if we were doing 400s and we tried to run an even pace. We just knew it would take more effort as the workout progressed and we were more tired. We had to understand how to keep our cadence and keep our feet hitting the track at the same pace. Of course, when we ran ‘build ups’ they were negative splits, and we did that type of work up through 300 meters.
GCR:It usually takes a tough opponent to help us reach our potential. Did you have a favorite competitor or adversary?
BSIn the indoor season of 1964 Bruce Kidd of Canada, who held the Americas record for 5,000 meters, raced against me eight times. I was not out to break any records and neither was he so the races always came down to the last 200 or 300 meters and whomever got the jump had the advantage. He had quite a bit of speed. I won four times and he won four times and neither of us won by more than a few inches. It was a lot of fun so that is one foe that I had many good duels against.
GCR:Billy Mills stunned the World with his upset of Ron Clarke and others to win the Olympic 10,000 meter Gold medal four days before your Olympic final. Did his victory inspire you even more for your race?
BSI didn’t go to the stadium before my race but I did watch the 10,000 meters live on television. The room was filled with U.S. track and field athletes. Before the race, the weight man, Jay Silvester, asked me, ‘How’s Gerry Lindgren going to do?’ I responded, ‘Not very well as he twisted his ankle a few days ago. I think Billy Mills will do okay.’ A day or so after Billy’s win, Bob Richards, who won the Olympic pole vault Gold Medal two times said, ‘The odds of you winning a medal are greater now that Mills had won.’ But I responded that I didn’t see how anything had changed. The point is that a runner can’t allow others’ results to distract from your own preparation. Mills had only won one race all year – a service race with little competition – but he came through when it really mattered. I have written an article that says his race may well be the greatest upset in Olympic history. His was a great victory but didn’t inspire me to do better as I already knew I was ready and was pretty confident in what I had to do.
GCR:Did you do any training with your Olympic teammates?
BSGeorge Young trained with me in the summer of ‘64. I would do several sets and he would do most of them except one set he would do over hurdles. One time before the Olympic Trials I told Bill Dellinger that I’d like to run the 5,000 meter final at a pace that wasn’t all out like the qualifying race would be in Tokyo and then run a hard track workout two days later to mimic the effort needed in the final. I told him if he was with me with 300 meters to go we could just run in together. At 300 meters to go in the Trials he came up on my shoulder and I said, ‘Okay, let’s go in together.’ So we continued on at that pace and came down the straightaway in front of about 70,000 track fans and we heard some boos. I knew they wanted us to race each other and to duke it out, but we had a chance at a Gold Medal in Tokyo and had bigger plans. I told Bill what I was going to do two days later and he said he would join me. George Young and Jim Ryun also joined us. Peyton Jordan did the timing as we planned to do 20 times four hundred meters with three in 60 seconds and the fourth in 58 and so on until 20 were completed. In between we walked 60 meters, jogged 60 meters and were off. Dellinger led the first in 60 seconds and Young led the next one in 60 seconds. Ryun was third and was really nervous as he was a 17 year old high school kid. He took off like a blaze of fire. I wasn’t going to let him go and we ran 56 seconds. To run that fast was too much stress on our bodies. Then I hit the one I led in 58 seconds which wasn’t usually a big deal, but hard after a 56. By the time we went through the next set I was pretty recovered and the three guys each led a 60 second rep and I hit a 58. We went through another set and then all three of them called it quits. I did four more 400s by myself at the same tempo and then I had enough so I decided to only do 16 instead of 20. I thought Bill was improving but didn’t think he could beat me in Tokyo. That was a tough workout as Jim Ryun’s 56 second 400 meters had taken its toll.
GCR:Were there any other encounters with your teammates in Tokyo that you gained from or shied away from?
BSThere was one when I went into the USA room where the trainers were situated before my 5,000 meter final race and the hurdler, Willie Davenport, was standing there dripping wet as he had just finished his qualifying heat. I had my rain gear on as it was pouring rain. I tapped Willie on the shoulder and said, ‘How did it go?’ He turned, said ‘Bob, I didn’t make it,’ and went into tears. He told me he slipped on the muddy track and hit a hurdle. I thought to myself, ‘I have to get out of here.’ I knew I couldn’t let others’ positive or negative races impact me. I had to believe that wouldn’t happen to me. It is similar to driving on a freeway, knowing there will be accidents and trusting it won’t happen to you.
GCR:After your competitive days you have coached others including the Malaysian national team, club athletes and the Air Force’s top runners and helped them to strive toward reaching their athletic potential. How satisfying is it to help others succeed compared to your own personal accomplishments? How much more difficult is it to instill in others the necessary discipline, focus and mental toughness?
BSIt is interesting because I can look at someone running and think that they really move nicely and have potential. But then some of them start skipping training sessions and I think, ‘Why? They can be one of the best in the world.’ I coached one Jamaican runner who had gone to the University of Texas who had more talent than anyone I coached other than Eamonn O’Reilly. But he would skip workouts because he felt like taking a day off. In 1984 he was on Jamaica’s Olympic team and had Steve Ovett and Steve Cram in his 1500 meter heat. I told him, ‘they will wait until 200 meters to go so just stay with them and get third place.’ As if I was looking into a crystal ball that is what happened and my runner ran strong enough to be 20 meters behind them and 30 meters in front of fourth place with 100 meters remaining. But he slowed down to a jog and looked at the crowd while two runners sprinted up and passed him with a step to go. I asked him why he hadn’t checked to see if anyone was coming up and he had no answer. To show you the shape he was in, a few days later I had him do two repeat 400 meters with a 400 meter jog in between and he ran 51.2 and 51.3. I told him he should have been in the 1500 meter final and could have been close to an Olympic medal. He went to Europe and he ran 1:46.23.
GCR:Speaking of Eamonn O’Reilly, who finished second in the 1970 Boston Marathon, how talented was he and how receptive was he to your coaching?
BSEamonn had just finished up at Georgetown and was about an 8:55 2-miler. He came out to California and joined my running group. He was an intelligent guy – a math major – and landed a teaching job. It didn’t take long for him to become a very fine runner. It was obvious to me that he had everything it took to be a great runner. After about eight months he ran his first marathon, pulled away in the first 400 meters, led the entire way and won in 2:16. He became one of the best U.S. 5,000 and 10,000 meter runners and was invited to the national training center. I was invited to the center in Lake Tahoe for training and coaching. But Eamonn didn’t think I was training him hard enough. I told him I didn’t want him to get injured as he was possibly the best U.S. marathon runner. He kept pestering me about training harder as he was talking with the other runners and hearing about their training and higher mileage. Eamonn was doing more track sessions than they were. Then he decided to coach and train himself. He went out on a 20-mile run the very next day and his longest previous run had been 18 miles. He ran so hard that he ended up getting a pain in his hip after 15 miles, hobbled in and had torn a muscle in the hip area – he was injured for a year before starting back in late 1969. He ran 2:11 at Boston in 1970 and was catching Ron Hill until he got a cramp late in the race, though he still finished second.. Then in 1971 he was injured again and missed the 1972 Olympic Trials. Eamonn was so smooth that I compare him to Frank Shorter – neither of them looked like they were running hard during their marathon races.
GCR:How do you treat athletes who aren’t running up to their potential?
BSI’ve got a couple examples. One time in the early 1970’s, when I was coaching at Wright State, we ran poorly at a cross country race in Michigan. I said to the team, ‘you’ve got ten minutes to walk around and then you’re going for a run with me.’ We did a fartlek workout for about 15 minutes and most of them stayed up with me. I told them that they ran better in terms of energy output with me than they had in the race. From then on everyone improved. Another time I was coaching two men – one had run a 4:11 mile at Illinois and the other had run just under 1:50 for 800 meters at Duke. As training was going on one day I was trying to figure out what to do to help them race better. I was also coaching Bret Hyde, an 8:23 steeplechaser, who was tough as nails. After practice I called the three of them over to run ten times 100 meters all out with a three step turnaround. In the beginning the two guys were ten meters ahead of Bret, in the middle they were even and on the last few Bret was ahead. I said to the two guys, ‘you didn’t believe Bret could ever beat you, but he did – not because he has more speed, but because he is mentally stronger.’ I suggested they take that toughness into their races and both young men went on to break four minutes in the mile. I like to prove to runners that they can be tougher mentally.
GCR:You had to face near-fatal struggles with asthma throughout childhood and it dogged you throughout your competitive running career. How much tougher did it make success since you couldn’t train for parts of the year or race in certain locations?
BSIf I had asthma problems in training I just looked at it as something tougher I had to overcome which may have been similar to training at altitude since I couldn’t process as much oxygen. The asthma attacks were worse in my childhood and up through my young teenage years. Some of the attacks were so bad that I thought I was going to die. It was so difficult to get air down to my lungs, but a positive result was that I learned how to breathe slowly. If I breathed quickly my bronchial tubes would collapse and close up. We didn’t have air conditioning on the farm which may have helped me if we had. I would lie on the couch during an attack, not knowing if I would make it, and my parents wouldn’t know what to do. Sometimes it got so bad that they’d rush me to a doctor and he’d give me an adrenaline shot. I learned to breathe deeply and slowly which later on would be a plus as the deeper you breathe the more oxygen that gets into your lungs and then to your muscles.
GCR:You grew up in a farming community as did 1952 Olympic Steeplechase Gold Medalist Horace Ashenfelter and 1980 and 1981 World Cross Country Champion Craig Virgin. 1972 Olympic 800 Meter Gold Medalist Dave Wottle, along with you and Virgin faced sickness or frailness as children. Billy Mills was an orphan on an Indian Reservation. What is it that led this group of children who were sickly, poor or both to become the best in the World at their sporting event?
BSWhen you live on a farm you have to do quite a bit of work. In the fall we picked corn all the way up until Christmas as we didn’t have a corn picker. We would go out after school and pick corn by hand and it became pretty cold. By being raised on the farm and doing chores it is something you get used to – there is work to be done and you do it as there are no excuses. I have three brothers and none of us ever made an excuse when our father said it was time to head out to the fields. The consistent, hard work of a farmer is similar to the consistent effort necessary to be a great athlete. You can get tired in a race and there is discomfort and sometimes pain. But there is nothing like an asthma attack – they weren’t just painful – the mental discipline needed to be still, breathe deeply, breathe slowly and to recover was hard. Also my ribcage would be so sore the next morning. For people who go through what Craig Virgin and I went through its hard to say we have an advantage as who wants to go through that to be stronger, but the learning experience makes one mentally tougher.
GCR:There were outstanding runners back in your day who seem to have faded from memory in recent years. Is this just the passage of time or are there other factors?
BSTime is a reason, but there wasn’t as much attention placed on running back then. There were great runners such as Buddy Edelen and Eamonn O’Reilly who didn’t medal in the marathon and so even the current runners don’t know much about them. Billy Mills has been more in the limelight since he is a Gold Medalist and Native American and they funded a movie about him. Also, due to his heritage he speaks to many, many Native American groups and his inspirational speaking puts him in front of many other audiences.
GCR:How was your recovery from hip replacement surgery a few years ago, what is your current fitness regimen and what are your future health and fitness goals?
BSI had continued running without pain all the way up to my last competitive race at age 60 where I ran 17:55 for 5,000 meters on about 30 miles per week of training. After that my leg starting getting numb and the doctors found I had a couple of bone spurs in my lower back. Some additional testing uncovered that my right hip had become arthritic which I think was from an old football injury in my junior year of high school where I played without hips pads as we had run out of them and I was one of the scrubs. I was hit hard on my hip numerous times and it was so sore I couldn’t sleep on that side – mind you I only weighed 139 pounds. Three years ago I had the replacement surgery and I’ve recovered pretty well. I’ve been running and riding the stationary bike. I still like to do interval training on the track. I don’t even jog – I do 10 by 100 meters to warm up, then 10 by 170 meters with a 30 meter walk, another set of 10 by 100 meters, a second set of 170s, ten more 100s and I’m finished – that’s plenty at age 73 and it keeps me in good shape. I have no reason to try to break a world record for a 70 year old. I don’t take any medicines – just vitamins – so my health is good for my age.
GCR:What goals do you have for yourself in other aspects of your life for the upcoming years?
BSI still work pretty hard maintaining my two rental houses and will keep doing that. My hope is to do more travelling and to do more speaking engagements. I haven’t reached out to do that and should do more advertising of my services. I have been a speaker at some running camps for young people, have fun with them and hope to keep speaking at camps. I don’t charge as much as some other speakers as I normally let the people tell me what they can afford. Sometimes it is free. I tell stories and some attendees write me later and tell me they enjoyed the time we spent together. Of course my autobiography is for sale.
GCR:Are there any major lessons you have learned during your life from growing up in Ohio, the discipline of running, running with asthma and adversity you have faced that you would like to share with my readers?
BSFor me life has been a learning experience and it’s sort of like training. You train to get your body in shape to do the things you want it to do. As you live your life you have many things that happen to you, some good and some bad, but they all teach you something. One shouldn’t get angry when bad things happen physically, financially or in other areas. One time a business deal I was involved in went belly up and I lost everything. I went in a new direction, opened a sporting goods store and had to live in the store for two years until I had enough money to buy a house. Instead of wallowing in pity, you should pick yourself up and move forward. My philosophy is that you’re going to take a hit some time - it can’t be helped as very few people don’t take a hit. So just keep going!
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsI’m still training some athletes, so that is an interest. I’m training one high school athlete and also a young lady in her thirties that is a race walker who is ranked about seventh in the U.S. and is training for the 2012 Olympics. I keep busy renting out two houses – one has 13 bedrooms and seven bathrooms and is used by Wright State students as the school is only 300 yards away
NicknamesNo nicknames – just ‘Bob.’ I don’t like to be called ‘Coach’
Favorite moviesI like the Bourne trilogy and similar types of movies
Favorite TV shows‘Bones’ and ‘CSI.’ I also like programs about science and space
Favorite songsI still like the crooners - Bing Crosby, Perry Como or artists who sing like them
Favorite booksI enjoy books by John Grisham
First carA 1957 Chevy which I gave to my younger brother when I went to college. There was a nearby town that was a big high school rival of ours - my brother said they knew the car and would make ‘gestures’ when he was driving it in their town
Current carA Lexus and a 1989 BMW convertible. Also, an old 1985 Chevy van that only knows how to go to Home Depot and Lowes which are both about a mile away from my house
First jobsMy first job away from my family’s farm was with the Miami Conservancy District which had built five earthen dams after Dayton, Ohio was flooded in 1913. In the summertime between my junior and senior year of high school I worked in the parks and helped with replacing broken water pipes. I made $1.50 an hour. Before college I worked for one year and started out working for a bricklayer for six months. I carried brick and block and sometimes mixed mortar. I remember one day when the guy who mixed the mortar was out sick I had to carry block and mix mortar for five workers and when I finished that day I was tired!
FamilyMy daughter lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two children, ages seven (boy) and five (girl). He is an accountant and she is a Psychologist. My regret is that they are so far away. When I stop training people in 2012 I want to spend a month or more in the summers in Boise
PetsNone. Maybe when I become elderly
Favorite mealMain dishes - Fish – two or three times a week and pork or chicken. Plenty of vegetables
Favorite breakfastCereal, like Raisin Bran or oatmeal, on most days and eggs one day a week. Also, I take about 15 vitamins
Favorite beveragesI drink lots of fruit juices and avoid fructose. One favorite is to mix grape juice 50/50 with water. I also like pink grapefruit juice. I usually drink V-8 juice every morning with breakfast. I have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with dinner – my body doesn’t like more alcohol than that!
First running memoryI was in high school and didn’t know much about training. The doctors had told my mother, ‘if you let this boy run, he’ll be in a wheel chair by the time he’s 20.’ I had this in the back of my mind. In the Regional High School cross country meet I found myself in the lead and won by about thirty seconds and I thought, ‘How did I do that?’ But at the state meet I didn’t fare as well as I wasn’t a good racer yet. No one talked about how to race so I didn’t really know what to do
Running heroesI liked following the Kansas track team. I liked the fact that their shorts were different with the blue main color and pink trim. Wes Santee was their outstanding runner who I followed and finally met at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. In fact, when we were together at the Olympic Trials I set up speaking engagements and we would have fifty people show up for each. Wes, Jim Beatty, Don Bowden, Jim Grelle and a few others who were in town told stories. Wes should have been the first guy to break the four minute mile. If he was in the race with Roger Bannister I believe he would have won. The only reason he didn’t break four minutes is because his coach wouldn’t let him run one race in a meet – he had to run three races all of the time. It’s a shame that the coach focused solely on winning meets when Wes could have done something that would have been remembered forever. We lost Wes to cancer in the middle of November this year. He was a great guy and I am glad I was able to be with him in Eugene. Also there were members of the Los Angeles Track Club who were my heroes - Beatty, Grelle and Tabori were the top names - but so many others made it fun to train. When others are working hard it seems to be easier for everyone else
Greatest running momentOf course the Olympic race. Also, the world record 2 mile, the American record 5K and the race in Kiev
Worst running momentI talked earlier about the race in Oslo in 65 where I placed eighth. I never should have run that day
Childhood dreamsTo survive. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college, when a group of distance runners were talking about what they wanted to do with their running, that I vocalized a dream. The other runners said things like, ‘winning a MAC Conference title’ or ‘breaking a school record’ or running a certain time. I was last and I said, ‘I’d like to make the Olympic team,’ and everybody laughed. At that point I had broken the school record in the mile and I had a better understanding of who I was and my purpose in running, which was to run fast and to win. I hated to lose.
Funny memoriesI have some funny stories on my web site,
Embarrassing momentI talked about two of them earlier. The race in London in 1961 and my indoor race in Cleveland in 1965
Favorite places to travelI like to go on cruises and one to Alaska was great. I enjoyed the Badlands and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. I am making preparations to go to London for the 2012 Olympic Games