When Bill Rodgers first came on the scene in 1975, the AP wire service called him Will Rogers. Less than a month before, Bill Rodgers had taken third in the 1975 World Cross Country Championships, won by Ian Stewart, with Mariano Haro in second. Bill Rodgers won the 1975 Boston Marathon in a t-shirt with a magic marker emblazoned GBTC.
Bill Rodgers ran lightly. He stopped several times on the course, and then started up again, beating Ron Hill and the late Steve Hoag, among others.
Bill Rodgers running AR 2:09:55 in April 1975, photo from BAA
Bill Rodgers won hist first Boston in 2:09:55 in AR. Winning four Bostons and four NYC Marathons in his career, Rodgers, along with his 1976 Olympic team mate Frank Shorter helped make the running boom a reality. In 1978, Rodgers won four marathons, and won 35 races. This was a different world. Rodgers was the toughest runner on the road circuit.
My favorite moment was in his hour run AR. It is legend. The guy ran back to back 28:48 10ks and was talking much of the time.
I met Bill in the late 1970s and he was always talkative and relaxed. One of true gentleman of the sport. I always respected his career, racing sense, and his sense of sportsmanship. Bill was and is, a class act.
Bill Rodgers still is seen around the road circuits. Jeff Benjamin, writing for @runblogrun, ran the 5k last weekend with Bill Rodgers. We wish Bill Rodgers a happy 70th birthday, and thank him for all of the great memories he has given us over his career.
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