When Bill Bowerman passed away on December 24th in 1999, Joe Henderson, himself irreplaceable figure in the US running scene, stated that, in summary, “…his passing on Christmas Eve is appropriate for he brought the gift of Jogging to all of us…”
We had some nasty spring here in Minnesota. But we finally had some beautiful weekend for this Forth of July. Everywhere we went, we saw people running…and I’m not just talking about a few people – lots of them! Men and women of all ages and sizes. “Running” has now become a part of “norm” now. The late Fred Lebow, yet another irreplaceable figure in the US running, once said, in the middle of growth of US running boom in the early 1980s, “…running boom hasn’t been here yet. True running boom hits when we see a regular house-wife slips in running shoes and goes for a run…” It is safe to say that it has hit now that we probably see more ladies out there running!
Whenever I see people running, I can’t help but think if even a fraction of these “runners” know how this all started.
It was the winter of 1962 when Bill Bowerman took his University of Oregon’s world record breaking 4 X mile team to New Zealand. It was then when Bowerman was introduced to “jogging”. By then “Auckland Jogging Club” had long been under-way. When Arthur Lydiard invited Bill to join in, there were “a couple of hundred people in a park – men, women, children, all ages and all sizes…” (Bill Dellinger, “The Running Experience” 1978) ready for a quick 5-mile jog.
Before Lydiard, and Bowerman, “running” was pretty much exclusively an athletic affair. Even then, they mostly “ran” on track (almost all of them fast-running intervals). If someone was seen “running out on the road,” he would most likely be a target of hackling. Someone would roll down the window of a car and yell at him…or throw a rock at him!! Lydiard brought “running” out in the open; took those track speedsters out on the roads and bush-tracks…and took everybody out on the roads and open-fields, parks and beaches… Now “running” has become “fun” and enjoyable experience, thanks to Lydiard.
After Rome Olympics, Arthur Lydiard was running with some of his runners on the road. Someone stopped his car to hackle, rolled down the window and yelled at them. “Hey! Who the hell do you think you are; Murray Halberg!?” It WAS Sir Murray Halberg.
Today is Arthur Lydiard’s birthday. We should celebrate the birth of “jogging”. He would have been 97… Happy Birthday, Old Man!! ;o)