This is one of my favorite all-time pieces by Jeff Benjamin. It is about his friend, Rod Dixon, 1972 Olympic bronze medalist at 1,500m, who, eleven years later, won the NYC Marathon with a kick envied by milers of all ages. Rod Dixon changed the NYC marathon forever with this win. For one of the first time, TV audiences saw the authenticity of the event and the excitement that built over two-plus hours of Rod Dixon hunting Geoff Smith, who challenged all to catch him. Smith and Dixon enthralled a sporting audience like few marathons before or since.
Enjoy this piece by Jeff Benjamin, originally published November 6, 2021.
The 1983 NYC Marathon did change running forever.
Geoff Smith had taken off, built a huge lead, and 1972 Olympic bronze medalist Rod Dixon, who had moved up from the 1,500m to the 5,000m, then winning nearly everything in road racing, and finally, the incredibly talented and good-looking Kiwi paced his 26.2 miles perfectly and, with much of the nation watching, caught Geoff Smith with less than 385 yards to go! It was grand sports television. It was like a last-second catch in American football or a last-second goal in European football.
Saucony, Rod’s sponsor, took cover 2, page 1, and placed a congrats ad to Rod Dixon at Runner’s World ( I should know, I was the production manager, and we had to change the ads at the very last minute!).
That moment showed that Running could capture the interest of nonrunners! Rod Dixon had captured the interest of the sporting world!
This story, Chapter 7, is by Jeff Benjamin; it is: Rod Dixon Speaks about the 30th anniversary of his historic New York City Marathon!
An addendum: I have hero-worshipped Geoff Smith and Rod Dixon for years. They are the gladiators of running. Both were so kind and patient with my questions, and
Rod Dixon always makes me smile. Thanks to Jeff Benjamin for writing this one!