Gerry Lindgren, Steve Prefontaine, Donal Walsh, 1969 NCAA Cross Country, credit NCAA
Ian Brookes (announcer), Gerry Lindgren, Jeff Benjamin, March 8, 2018, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Elliott Denman, Gerry Lindgren, Jeff Benjamin, Linda Prefontaine, Walt Muprhy, March 8, 2018, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Jeff Benjamin wrote this piece about Gerry Lindgren, of whom Mr. Benjamin noted that Gerry was a bit of a character. Well, that is an interesting side note from Mr. Benjamin.
Chasing Down Gerry Lindgren- By Jeff Benjamin -3/9
“I really want people to go running…it’s just a great way to live longer!”
In 1964 he set the high school record of 13 minutes, 44 seconds for 5K, a record which lasted 40 years until Galen Rupp.
He was known for absolutely ridiculously high mileage weeks, with weekly miles as high as 300.
As a 17 year old, he shocked the Soviet Union’s best at 10,000 meters, producing a performance on that 1964 day before thousands at the LA Coliseum, which brought Bobby Kennedy to tears and reinvigorated a nation.
Alongside Legend Billy Mills he ran 27 minutes, 11 seconds for 6-miles, a world record.
At age 20 he fell one Second short of Ron Clarke’s 3-Mile world record, clocking 12:53.0.
Throughout the years, there were flashes of athletic brilliance, followed by frustrations, injuries and disappearances.
But one thing has not changed, and that’s Gerry Lindgren’s love of running.
Last night at the NYAC Lindgren joined 30 others in the inaugural class of the National High School Track & Field Hall of Fame. At the event, the enthusiastic starry eyed veteran made sure he gave everyone Hawaiian macadamia nuts as gifts.
For one to get the genuinely affable Lindgren to speak about these subjects he holds so dear is akin to navigating hills & puddles and other obstacles at Van Cortland Park, another venue monument of Lindgren’s great successes, where he became one of only 2 Runners to ever beat Steve Prefontaine in an NCAA championship.
The 72 years young Lindgren is not shy to speak, as his acceptance speech lasted about 20 minutes but was quite entertaining and positive. At the same time, he does not brag or revel in his performances, as his significance genuinely astounds him as he hears the salutes and praises that others give him. One just has to hold on as he spreads the passion in his own roundabout style, an interview which can only be done in the soundbites below.
“I’m so slow…You know, I don’t know what happened…I did my weekly 200s workout and I can only run 45 seconds each!”
“I never measured my mileage or really used a watch….I just ran where I wanted to go….there was this mountain crest and I just ran there and back with no watch lots of times…it was 35 miles away!”
“When I started running I hated it…my legs were sore and I couldn’t get to sleep at night”
“I went to my high school coach to tell him I was going to quit…He told me to stay on the team because I always went out hard in practice and died, but by doing that I was making everyone else on the team better at my expense….That changed my Sophomore year when I wasn’t falling back anymore.”
“I thought the race against the Soviet Runners was important…after the race I was waiting by the torch area in the Coliseum and a secret service man tapped my shoulder and brought me to Robert Kennedy…He had tears in his eyes…he congratulated me and kept on telling me what a great thing I did for our country.”
– When we took pictures Lindgren got very excited. “That’s a phone!! It’s not a camera!!”
An interesting ride!