When the big bang for running in the United States took place in the mid-1970s, the icons of the sport were "Complete Book of Running" author Jim Fixx, physician and author George Sheehan, Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter and four-time Boston and New York City marathon winner Bill Rodgers.
This weekend, the latter of that running royalty will be at the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk for the first time, selling and signing copies of his book " "Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World" and running in the race.
Earlier this month, The Post and Courier interviewed Rodgers, now 66, and here's a bit of what he said:
"I've known about the Cooper River Bridge Run for a while, but it always conflicted with me going to Cherry Blossom 10-mile (in Washington, DC) But the race director got a little bit mad at me about something last year. So I thought I'd check out the Bridge Run with (race director) Julian (Smith).
Getting older and creakier, the wear and tear is catching up to me, but I want to run the race because it's a big, famous race. I'm going to try to run it. The tricky thing is that for two months I've been fighting a hamstring injury a little. I think I'll be fine by then. I won't be fast, but I am 66.
I've run in South Carolina and I've run in Charleston. I ran a Jingle Bell Run at Christmas time. I know about (local running legend Bob) Schlau.
The way I met him was at the LA Marathon in 1988. I had turned 40 and Frank Shorter had turned 40 two months before me. At the LA Marathon, we were going to duke it out at our first age 40 marathon.
So during that race, my brother Charlie was out there and helping me keep track of competition. I got ahead of Barry Allen and Frank, who I thought I were my rivals. But my brother Charlie kept saying you're second master, you're second master, and I couldn't believe it. I ended up running 2:20 flat which isn't a bad time for a 40-year old on a warm day.
Bob ran a 2:19. He was first and I was second. I was furious. I was mad at the race director. You started the race too late and it was too hot. When someone comes out of nowhere and you're think you're running pretty good, you think, "What the heck, you feel blind-sided."
I never raced Bob before, but I got to know him. We raced on the masters circuit a number of years. He brought me down to Charleston for a holiday run, but we haven't seen each other in a long time, so we need to catch up.
I think that the Olympic sports (running, swimming, cycling) are on the rise because everyone wants to feel better. We're starting to learn that we can take care of our health. You can't just rely on your doctor to keep you healthy. It's up to you. We're all learning that.
They (scientists) know it's good to be active, but I think how to train for older people is more complex. We continue to be guinea pigs in the experiment.
The difference is today we have 40 years exercise science . Today's runners can take a more balanced approach (factoring in cross-training), avoid injury and extend their running lives.
I think the best cross-training is swimming ... I'm not a very good swimmer, but I always try to go to the pool and run in place, especially the day after a track workout.
Running really is a group sport, a team sport, but it's not really thought that way . I believe that it's a sport that you'll have more fun when you're with your friends. I think that's why it's growing.
I was one of these people who needed my running partners, my buddies, my friends. That's what helped me be a better runner. We all helped each other.
I started smoking my senior year in college. I had a motorcycle, too. It got stolen. It's all in the book.
We (brother Charlie Rodgers and friend Jason Kehoe) were all from the Hartford area and even though it's only 90 or 100 miles away and even though my college roommate (Amby Burfoot) won the Boston Marathon, we had no idea what it was and what it was like and what a thrill it was to be at a big race.
I watched the race for two years with Jason (Kehoe), who was a dear friend of mine (and died in 2011). We lived near the finish and we saw this incredible event. We saw Jeff Galloway finishing the race. Jeff and I had gone to college together. I said what the heck. And there's Amby Burfoot still running the marathon.
That was 1971, 1972. It took me awhile, but I joined the Boston YMCA. I would run a mile and on the indoor track. Gradually I cut back my smoking ... Then I did my first Boston in 1973.
One month before (winning his first) Boston, I took a bronze medal in the World Cross Country championships and nobody knew about it. I was one of only four Americans to do that (at the time). But when I won Boston, I got invited to run marathons around the world.
You know that every runner has a story you can write a book about. Some stories are absolutely mind-boggling.
There are a lot new books on running. I'm reading Scott Jurek's book, "Eat & Run," right now. It's excellent.
Me, Charlie and Jason opened a store (the Bill Rodgers Running Center) near Boston . We had the store for 35 years and it was great fun, but the thing is, we were getting older. Jason passed away. We used to be the only running store in Boston and all the runners would come in and talk about running.
I named it a running center, rather than a store, because it was more than a place to buy shoes. It was where you could find out about training and to where to find out about races, and podiatrists and massage therapist. For me, it was just fun. It was a hang out. You met other runners there. I missed that and I know Charlie does, too, because he ran it.
To me, running stores and cycling stores are very important places. These are fitness centers. By going to these places, people can learn about what shoes or bikes can work best for you.
Since then, I've been going to races. Now it's all about the expos. I love that because it is like having a running store and meeting runners and talking about their running and their injuries."
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.
Bill Rodgers, right, during a track workout in his prime. Provided×
Bill Rodgers, now 66, connects with runners today by attending expos at marathons and other major races, such as the Cooper River Bridge Run. Provided×
Bill Rodgers won his fourth Boston Marathon in 1980. Boston Globe×
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