This is my story on one of my favorites, Rob De Castella, one of the world’s finest marathoners, a gutty cross country runner, and a man of honor. Rob sent me a correction on his 1986 year, which I have marked in bold, thanks Rob!
Updated November 6, 2022, special thanks to Rob De Castella
Rob De Castella was a particular favorite of mine. In the summer of 1984, my training partners, Tim & Dan Gruber, and I met Rob De Castella as he prepared for the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon. Rob was not only gracious but patient with me, and I recall a workout where Rob ran 8 x 400m in 61-62 with a 40-second 200m float in between with Tim Gruber. I ran 8 times a 400 in 71-72 with 45 second 200m float with Dick Telford, who at 46 had run a 2:26 marathon. Our visit with Rob changed Tim and my approach to training, using the complex training method (20-22 on Sunday, hill repeats on Tuesdays, 18 miles on Wednesdays, 8x400m on Thursdays, and races every two-3 weeks). We ran PBs in everything.
Rob De Castella is one of the great ones. He also leads by example, and I wanted to write about he and Steve Jones today, on an NYC Marathon weekend to give younger readers a sense of the history of our sport. I hope you enjoy it.
15 fun facts about Rob De Castella, 1983 World Champion at the marathon, 1986 Boston Marathon winner
- As. Junior Rob’s team had scored a perfect score of 15 in the Australian championships. The next year, Rob and a teammate decided to see if they could get a score under fifteen points. Rob put his mate on his shoulders and cross the finish line. They were DQed, and Rob’s coach, Pat Clohessy, was not amused.
- Rob finished tenth in the 1980 Olympic marathon in Moscow in 2:14.31, 8th in Fukuoka in 2:10.44
- Rob won the Fukuoka Marathon in 1981, breaking the world record of fellow Australian Derek Clayton, in 2:08.18. . Rob did not get complete credit for it, as Alberto Salazar had run a faster time (2:08.13) , except the course had been mismeasured, and Salazar had run 148 meters shorter than the distance.
- In 1982, Rob De Castella won the Commonwealth Games marathon in Australia, having been over 90 seconds behind the leader. The last 5k made brilliant sports TV as DeCastella battled Juma Ikaanga, his competition, to take the gold, winning by 80 meters, to the delight of Australians (and the entire city of Brisbane).
- In a made-for-TV marathon, Rob De Castella defeated Alberto Salazar, then undefeated and at the line, held off Carlos Lopes at the Rotterdam marathon in April 1983.
- Later that year, Rob De Castella won the World Championships in Helsinki, becoming the first gold medalist at a WC marathon.
- In 1984, Rob De Castella finished fifth in the Olympic marathon in 2:11.09, with Carlos Lopes taking the win at the ripe old age of 36. Rob would run four Olympic marathons in his career.
- In 1986, Rob De Castella won the Boston Marathon in a new CR of 2:07.51, setting the Australian record. In one of his finest marathon performances, Rob ran all alone for the last half of the marathon. This was the first pro marathon in Boston, sponsored by John Hancock Financial Services. Many consider this race Rob’s finest career performance.
- In 1986, Rob De Castella won his second Commonwealth Games. He was the defending champion from 1982.
- Rob finished in 1986 by taking third in the New York City Marathon. Rob was moved up to second, as the Polish runner who took second tested positive and was disqualified. Rob’s 1986, with wins at the Boston Marathon and the Commonwealth Games and a second at NYC, was one of his finest years!
- Rob competed in the 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympic marathons. He finished in the top ten in three Olympic marathons (1980-10, 1984-fifth, 1988-8th, and in 1992, 26th0.
- In his third Commonwealth Games in 1990, Rob finished 13th in 2:18.50
- Rob retired in 1993, is the father of four children, and champions the Indigenous marathon project after directing the Australian Institute of Sport for six years.
- Rob De Castella was a brilliant cross-country runner. Rob won the Australian junior title once and the Australian senior title four times while finishing on the podium five other times. Rob competed in the World Cross Country from 1977-1986, finishing in the top 20 five times!
- Rob De Castella is a class act and one of the great ones. With an easy smile and a wicked sense of humor, Rob had put up with this writer on a long run in Nisene Marks way back in 1984 and said,: “goodbye mate, as he and my training partner, Tim Gruber, flew away at under six-minute pace for the last five miles of an 18-mile run.”