legendsYep. That’s me. If you don’t recognize everyone else I’ll help you. From left to right you have Jim Ryun, “the Penguin”, Frank Shorter, Mike Figueroa, and Greg Meyer.

Need to know more? Jim Ryun was the first high school athlete to run a mile in under 4 minutes and he did it as a junior. He went on the a fantastic career that included being on 3 Olympic teams. He then served in the US Congress as a representative from Kansas. There’s me, former fat-guy, smoker, drinker, over-eater now the voice of this generation of runners. There’s Frank Shorter; 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist and by any definition an icon in the sport of running. Mike Figeuroa, who, in addition to the work he does with Competitor Group was a top-rated amateur runner. And finally, Greg Meyer, 1982 Chicago Marathon winner and 1983 Boston Marathon winner, among other highlights of his distinguished career.

Jim, Frank, and Greg were the featured athletes at the RnR Viginia Beach Half Marathon expo. I was fortunate enough to be asked to moderate the “Legends” panel. No one in the audience is a bigger fan of the sport of running than me, so the opportunity to ask questions and interact with these guys was an immense privilege. They were everything you would hoped they would be, and more. They were informative, entertaining story tellers with GREAT stories to tell. At one point they were having such an animated conversation among themselves that I actually sat down in the audience and just listened.

What makes this so special is that no one in the crowd had any hope of accomplishing what these guys had and it didn’t matter. What they shared about their training and racing was just as applicable to the 3 plus hour half marathoner as it was to the sub 5-minute runners. What we share in common and athletes is far greater than what separates us by pace.

In the end they are, as we are, just individuals looking for the limits of our abilities. We are searching for that part of ourselves that will allow us to achieve beyond our dreams. We are all struggling to free ourselves from our own self doubt and fear. And the integrity with which we conduct ourselves in that search is something that we can all take great pride in.

Waddle on, friends.


John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.


Have a question for John? E-mail it to thepenguin@johnbingham.com.