Jerry Turner was the President of Brooks Running Shoes in the 1960s and 1970s, and once it was sold to Wolverine, he was there a bit. Turner has several footwear innovations to his credit, but one of his best talents was his longevity in the sport. His post Brooks brands, including Turntec, showed the he was no one trick pony.
Starting Blocks, Brooks PR Invite,
photo courtesy of Brooks, 2011
I re-introduced myself to Jerry Turner at the Thursday night cocktail party that opened the Brooks Love Party, my name for the 100th anniversary. And love it was, 800 people: retailers, Brooks gurus, customer service, sales, developers from all over, and even us media folks were there.
Here are a few classic Jerry Turner stories. No names have been changed to protect the innocent, if such a type exists.
Story number one: Marty Liquori, by Jerry Turner
“So, I am watching Marty Liquori run indoors for the first time. I made a quick pair of spikes for him to race indoors, but I had never seen an indoor race. I was worried about the shoes, but Marty put them on. He was behind Steve Prefontaine for most of the race, and I was worried-what was happening? Then, with three laps to go, Marty went by Prefontaine and won the race! I had never been more excited! Marty was my first sponsored athlete and we could not name the shoes after him so, I named them after his school, Villanova” Jerry Turner
(Editor’s note: Marty Liquori was one of the greatest of American milers, and former 5,000m AR holder. I still have picture of Marty sprinting with Miruts Yifter at the World Cup 1977, where they ran 13:13 and 13:15 (Marty was second). Amazing announcer, entrepreneur, class act, and always supportive of our endeavors.
One other caveat. In 1975, this writer broke five minutes for the first time in Brooks spikes, that were pin spikes, with a kid leather upper.)
Story number two: Why I stopped running, by Jerry Turner
“I had John Walker (1976 Olympic gold medalist 1,500m, first man under 3:50 for the mile), Rod Dixon (1972 Olympic bronze medalist, 1,500m) and Marty Liquori (AR, 5,000m) with me, all great runners. John Walker wanted to know if I ran and invited me to join them. I was a jogger. After five minutes, John Walker was running backwards with me, and still outpaced me. I was so embarrassed, and they were just giving me trouble. I never ran again!”
(Editor’s note: Brooks had some amazing athletes in their stables. Turner always loved the athletes and most of all, loved tinkering with shoes. After Brooks was purchased by Wolverine in 1981, it stayed there until the early 1990s. The rest of the story you can read in a newly published book, Running Through the First Hundred Years, on Brooks running).