A confession: Jack Welch and I have spoken on the phone, sat across from each other at a bar, but have never, met, I believe. However, Jack Welch is partially responsible for my past three decades as a publisher. When RUNNING magazine was published, I fell in love with the magazine. RUNNING magazine was published in 1981-1983 time period when Nike and Runners World were not getting along, and Nike gave Jack Welch and the team at RUNNING a chance to put together the most beautiful, gutty, well written magazine on the sport ever done. Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson were contributors, as was Joe Henderson, Jack Welch, and others. It was brilliant, it was as real as an ee cummings poem. And it was my dream.
I wanted to publish a magazine that married Athletics Weekly and RUNNING. I am still working on that, but someday, I will reach the zen athletics magazine. I almost did it with SPIKES magazine, but, that is, another story.
In When Running Was Young And So Were We, one finds some of the most thoughtful columns and features on Mark Nenow, Chris Fox, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Samuelson, to name a few. The great races, from Boston 1982 and 1983 to some startling pieces about training (written in the 70s) that are prescient today. A wonderful piece about one of the nicest guys in our sport, Jeff Johnson. Another on someone who has never gotten the respect he deserves: Bob Kennedy.
If you are human, there are parts that will make you cry, like this reviewer. The piece on Steve Prefontaine being alive today, was a perfect way to end the book. The interview with Phil Knight revealed much of the co-founder of Nike.
It was a time when Nike was still a revolutionary force in the sport. Welch was a real citizen runner, a guy who ran 2:46 for the marathon and got to run with many of the best in the world.
And his stories give us insights into some of the best of an era at their best. Saved for history, for all to see and cherish.
A much different time in our sport. Some things were good, and somethings were not so good.
How does one buy this book, which I recommend for your bookshelf. It will be on Larry's bookshelf, along with Once a Runner, A Clean Pair of Heels, The First Four Minutes, The Curse of Lono, and My Race Be Won.
Rumor has it that the late Hunter S. Thompson, Jr. was working on the Hunter S. Thompson Book of Fitness, or perhaps that is just something weird and wonderfully dreamed up by Jack Welch. That will have to be on my list of questions.