Tag: Bill Rodgers Running Center

THE MEASURE OF MEN

Even as we revel in the life affirming glory of last night’s women’s 1500 meter final at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in London, we are constantly reminded of the brief stay that is ours upon this blue, spinning orb.  The Boston Globe put out a very nice obituary today on an old friend, and wheelchair racing pioneer Jack Coakley.

Jack was a 30-year stalwart at the Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.  He died last Friday while working out at Rowe’s Wharf gym at age 67.  He was a man who asked no quarter, nor gave any in return.  RIP wheel man.

We live as we do,

In the time we are given,

Trying as we might,

To accomplish what we can,

   In the fields that we till,

Through the habits we develop,

By the grace that is God’s,

To bestow as He sees,

Upon those of His choosing.


And through those days,

and by our ways,

We come to discover,

The true purpose of our existence,

In this realm of blood and breath and bone,

From the bright wail of our birth,

 ‘Til the silent dying of our light,

Arranging through trial and error,

Accommodation and accord,

And even at times whimsy,

The measure that is ultimately me.

END

 

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A FRIEND IN NEED

Even as the running world goes all sideways with allegations of wrongdoing and such, the “real world” continues to spin, though often uncontrollably.  Got a message from Charlie Rodgers yesterday, brother of marathon legend Bill, telling of an old friend Leo Lashock who lost his house, belongings, and three of his dogs to a fire in Willow, Alaska last Sunday.  The irony is that Leo, who used to work at the old Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston, is a captain at the local fire department in Willow, and the house he lived in burned down while he was fighting the Sockeye wildfire as it rapidly spread in the Susitna Valley.
Below are the particulars.  Help is needed.
We are just getting started here – Anything you can give will be a great help to Leo & his dogs!  His neighbors were able to save 17 of Leo’s dogs.  

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BRRC: GONE BUT IRREPLACEABLE

Bill & Patti Lyons post-Marathon at BRRC
Bill Rodgers  & Patti Dillon post-Boston Marathon at BRRC

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The spirit of the Boston Marathon can’t be measured in a single day, even if that day is Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War.  Thus, the post-race celebration would always run over to at least the following day — though often much longer.  And for many that would include a pilgrimage to the Bill Rodgers Running Center at Quincy Market in the shadow of Faneuil Hall where so much of the Revolutionary fervor had been stoked. (more…)

A PLACE WE COULD ALL CALL HOME

The Hub

Among its gentler parochialisms, Boston is called “The Hub”, or in full, “The Hub of the Universe” — a title conferred by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1858.  While a tad presumptuous given the size and scope of at least one other five-borough burg 220 miles to the southwest, it is nonetheless rather less disputable that The Hub of the running universe in the decade from 1977 to 1986 existed at 372-A Chestnut Hill Avenue in Boston’s Cleveland Circle, the address of the original Bill Rodgers Running Center.

For those too young to remember, even after the Running Boom hit in the wake of Frank Shorter’s Olympic Marathon gold medal in Munich 1972, we still bought our running shoes at regular shoe stores or general sporting goods shops.  Back then there were no such things as running specialty stores.   I remember buying my first pair – I think they were $9.00 ProSpecs – at a little hole-in-the-wall shoe store on Harvard Avenue in Brighton, Mass.  I was just quitting smoking, so I didn’t want to spend too much in case I didn’t like running.

But as one habit was exchanged for another, and the running wave continued to mount, Wesleyan grad Bill Rodgers appeared as a legitimate rival to ex-Yale Eli Shorter. And with that, the sport of foot racing surged into the mainstream of American culture and finally business, too.  There was a booming new market to service.  A generation which had once assembled for ‘sit-ins” during college was now meeting for fitness runs after work.

“Ready, Set, Sweat!” announced the cover of Time Magazine in the summer of 1977.

SI Cover Boy

Following his victories in the Boston Marathon in 1975 & 1977, then the first two (of four straight) New York City Marathon titles – when the five-borough course was still brand new – “Boston Billy” led running into its coming of age.  Thus, with his fame still budding, Bill and his older brother Charlie opened the first Bill Rodgers Running Center in the fall of 1977.

Cleveland Circle was an ideal location, on the western edge of the city, just one mile from the leafy Boston College campus, and terminus for the MBTA’s Green Line “C” trains.  A bustling urban neighborhood, The Circle also happened to join the Boston Marathon route as it passed the 22-mile mark as the route turned onto Beacon Street for the final four mile stretch into town.

I had moved to Cleveland Circle in February of 1976, and by the following spring had begun Runner’s Digest, the first radio talk show devoted to the sport of running. When Bill and Charlie opened the store just two blocks from my apartment, it all but became my production studio. (more…)

FAILURE WORKS – The Blog Begins

The author
The author

Let me just say from the onset I have no agenda, nor any ax to grind. I seek neither credit nor blame for what exists, and profess neither infallibility nor rancor. And though I decry and bemoan like the rest, let it be known these are but the eyes of experience, nothing more.

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When the first chill winds began to haunt the eaves of the Beacon Street turret, and ragged-edged leaves tumbled down the cracked gray sidewalks like passing fragments of thought, I’d walk the few blocks up to Cleveland Circle for my morning rounds. Inside Eagles Cafe, I’d sit over a steaming cup of coffee and browse the morning Boston Globe as the Green Line trolley clattered toward town beneath the heavy, leaden clouds.  Sitting there I knew that the Circle would soon be footed with mounds of snow, and that walking would be reduced to a single, slippery lane.

It was routine these seasons in New England, their turning, my adjustments and moods.  But just as in my boyhood home in St. Louis, I never found in their rhythms the comfort, the true joys of winter – other than for them to be over.  Sure, I enjoyed a good hunker every now and again (who doesn’t?) but in this, my adopted city of Boston, the fierce nor’easter storms would howl for days at a time, leaching precious cheer from the hearts of the people.  (more…)