I’m not much of a name dropper, but in mid-April I got to meet Donny Osmond! Poke fun of me if you will, but I was a bit thrilled. Oh, and Bob Uecker, too. Both were speakers at a national convention I attended in Las Vegas.
Vegas is not a city I enjoy. The running there is poor at best. Hard sidewalks, some corners with no sidewalks, too many traffic lights, mean cab drivers… city running at its worst. But I got to meet Donny and Bob, so this trip was salvaged a bit. That is, until the flight home! That’s when I got a REAL thrill.
Sitting next to me on the flight from Denver to Philly was a guy named Steve. Offer someone a piece of gum before take-off and you become their best friend. Trust me. Steve and I hit it off. Seems he graduated from the University of Oregon in 1972 after a stint in the military. Seems he majored in physical education. Seems he knew this guy named Prefontaine. Seems he knew this guy named Bowerman. Seems he also knows this guy named Salazar pretty darn well. Seems I was awestruck! Donny & Bob who?
Steve and I talked about running, the current shape of America’s youth (or lack of shape), history, science, politics, more running, etc. It was a fascinating and quick 3 1/2 hour flight back. Steve invited my bride and I to stay with his family when we come to Oregon to run the Hood to Coast Relay, which is to relay running what Boston is to the marathon. By the way, Adrienne thinks he’s an axe murderer because I talk to everyone.
One of the great things about the sport of running is the approachability of our sport’s greatest stars. Very, very few of them are jerks (I won’t name the two I’ve first-hand knowledge of, either). Almost all will spend a few minutes talking with anyone and everyone and most will deflect attention from themselves and ask about YOU. Start talking to Kobe Bryant some time and see where that gets you.
I’ve often said that I can go to any race in the world and within 30 minutes have a place to stay for the night and someone with whom I can have dinner. Really. As runners, don’t we naturally embrace each other as fellow sufferers and kindred souls of a kind? As I’ve said before, pace doesn’t matter to most of us. It’s the common thread of DOING that makes us all related.
I’ve been to some pretty big races and met some pretty big stars from the world of running: Dick Beardsley, Ed Eyestone, Jen Rhines, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Samuelson, Arthur Lydiard, etc. These folks are certainly fast, or coached the fast, but famous? They didn’t act it.
Steve from Oregon offered to hook me up with some fast teams in Oregon for the Hood to Coast Relay. He was a very modest man, and for a dude who was 67, he looked like he could get after it if he wanted. Maybe he and Alberto have an opening on their relay squad? So long as Uecker isn’t the anchor leg.
Former Lock Haven University standout runner Andy Shearer is the Middletown Athletic Club secretary/treasurer. Shearer has been running since 1978. His column runs the first Monday of each month.