Meeting A Living Legend

How I Got to Run Side by Side Bill Rodgers

22 Time Marathon WINNER Bill Rodgers Endorses Run4Papa!

I I was told there was a man named Bill who had run the Boston Marathon 4 times and would be the keynote speaker.  Whether it was because I was up at the crack of dawn, or just flat out didn’t hear the information clearly, I was thrilled to be part of any event partnering running with a local charity. I filmed the registration of the event, some warm-up exercises and did an introduction for our staff. I saw Bill speaking to some people, taking pictures, and signing autographs. It was sinking in that I had not heard the whole story about this man but I had to prep for the race.

We counted down from 10 and the race began.  I got out of the gate quickly as I had to film the start, portions of the race, and an interview with Bill afterwards.  I ran about halfway and stopped in order to film some of the runners.  As I saw Bill approaching (he had gotten a late start due to being swarmed by fans), I felt comfortable with my footage and continued running the second half of the 5K. He had was been running alone at a steady pace…

We struck up a conversation about running immediately and briefly discussed how international the sport has become over the past couple of decades.  “There are races anywhere and everywhere. No matter what the language or location, you can challenge yourself on any part of the globe,” said Bill.  My immediate curiosity got the best of me and I asked him, “Is it true you have run the Boston Marathon 4 times?” Without being pretentious or condescending he replied,

“Actually I ran it 17 times. I won it 4.”

To tell you I wanted to crawl in a cave and hibernate for a season or two is being awfully generous.

I am positive he sensed my embarrassment; however, we continued running and talked as if we had been friends for years. He was so grounded and friendly.  I asked him how many marathons he had won. “22. Boston 4 times, New York City 4 times, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, Japan…” I asked him about the pressure of 3-peating the Boston Marathon from ’78-80 (he informed me of the exact dates ) and he just had a confidence about him that was contagious.

He just loves to run.

He asked me “Have you ever considered running a marathon?”  It was this question that lead me to explain the Run 4 Papa campaign. He mentioned he once ran the Beijing Marathon and came up 1 mile short. My face must’ve shifted color and expression as Bill chuckled and said,

“Well, I was trying to win it and not just finish!”

As we were nearing the finish line, he offered his full support for the cause and asked me if he could endorse the website on camera.  Here was a living legend offering his endorsement to raise awareness about PPA. I was floored and honored.

After our interview, Bill was kind enough to give me his contact information and said, “Make sure you call me when you get back to Charlotte.”

I guarantee this time I will be well prepared for our conversation…

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