Bill Rodgers, 1975 BAA Boston,
courtesy of Boston Athletic Association
Bill Rodgers brought a ferocity and niceness to road running. His 1976 win in New York just gave a hint of what was to come. The new wave of sponsorship, running stores, shoe contracts, mass races and yes, major marathons began. Rodgers raced, in 1978-1979 over 38 times, and won 32 races, I believe. His one hour American run, never given the AR status, hinted at his talent. His 25k WR and AR at 30k, done in 1979 in Saratoga, California showed how tough Rodgers was. Runner, businessman, entrepreneur, Rodgers was all of those and so were those who were around him. The Bill Rodgers Running Center came out of this maelstrom.
Okay, I must. Here is an aside: one of the best pieces ever done in Runners World was by Rich Benyo on Bill Rodgers (my nomination for best piece, pre John Brant, was Bob Wischnia’s feature on Duncan McDonald, about 1977) in 1980.
The Bill Rodgers Running Center in Fanueil Hall, was, as Toni Reavis notes, the center of the running universe. For me, in 1978, that was Ryan’s Sporting Goods, Santa Clara, California, where I would go for runs with Gary Goettlemann, and learn the lore about the sport. I read my first Track & Field News (June 1974, still have it on my bedstand) there. I became a runner there. Race entries tacked on the walls, the smell of new running shoes, stories about local races, local stars, one could just smell the reality of running. And, in 1978, there were not many of us, well, yet.
Enjoy the touching tribute to a run specialty store ahead of its time, and now, knowing its’ time has come and gone, closing up shop after thirty-five years.