4949I grew up on the small island of Anacortes, Washington. I was raised in a commercial fishing family and have the sea in my blood. I learned hard work from working for my dad and then from my HS wrestling and track coach. After teaching and coaching for a year, I became a Marine Corps Officer and did a 13 month combat tour of duty in Vietnam. My Marine Corps training and time in combat somewhat defined my running and especially my foray into ultrarunning. The mental toughness gained by being able to sustain long periods of time without food and water taught me that I could compete without lots of refueling.
When I’m not training or competing, I love to: When not competing I love to indulge myself in photography. I especially love wildlife and scenic photography. Living in Alaska for years also gave me the opportunity to see different species of wildlife.
My “go-to” Nathan product is: Vests for longer runs on the trails and the handhelds for shorter runs and races. It is so nice to have great products. When I started we had nothing. On urban runs (which are mostly what we ran in the early days) we would stop at gas stations and drink from the water hoses that were there to fill the car radiators. My first bottles were those bear-shaped honey bottles. They were easy to carry and drink from. In my first Western States 100, I ran the entire race without bottles or even vests. We would drink from streams between the aid stations that were about 12 to 15 miles apart back then.
Something that very few people know about me is: That I was involved in 2 gun battles a knife incident when I worked as a police officer in Alaska. I dislike when people say you have to treat a race like a life or death situation to get to the end. A race is just what it says it is; it’s a race and nothing else. It is a competition. We should enjoy it, give it our best effort, and then be happy with the results. Just remember that we don’t always have good or great days.
A good title for my autobiography would be: “Running to Extremes” I started my running career as a sprinter in high school and college, where I ran distances from 100 yds to 440 yards (this dates me). I was also a wrestler in high school and college. I moved up in distances upon my return from combat in Vietnam. I also didn’t know it at the time, but it was also a way for me to cope with the rigors of return from combat and having to face the backlash from citizens. I returned in late 1969 and in January of 1972 I ran my first marathon. In 1974, I did my first ultra. I have also run in temperatures ranging from -65 degrees below zero (wind chill to -135 below) to 132 degrees, 65
My favorite moment or achievement to date is: Setting the American Record at 100k with a 6:51:20 time and being the first American to run under 7 hours for 100k. I am also proud of winning three National Champions at 50 miles and 2 at 100k.
My most memorable moment in running was also probably my shortest and took place in Vietnam in Aug 1969. My unit was in a battle with an enemy force far greater than ours. I saw two Marines lying wounded and ran through enemy fire and incoming mortars rounds to pick them up and carry them to an awaiting medevac helicopter. I had gotten one on the helicopter and while going back to get the second one I was caught in some incoming mortar rounds and hit the ground to avoid the shrapnel but was hit anyway (not real serious) and was able to get to the 2nd Marine and safely get him back to the helicopter. I refused to get on the helicopter myself and quickly ran back to safety behind our lines. This truly was a life or death run and not for my own life but to save the lives of those two Marines.
The toughest moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is: Nothing I have faced in a race, to include severe heat or other weather conditions, has compared to anything I faced in combat or the three serious police involved police incidents.
I live in Reno, NV because: This is where my wife decided that this is where we would settle after leaving the arctic cold of Alaska. She had followed me around the country during all my military and law enforcement career moves so it was time for her to pick a place. She said she was going south until she found a place without 9 months of winter and didn’t have lots of snow. It has been good for my running also as we live at 4600 ft elevation. I can drive a short distance in the summer and be able to run at 10,000 plus feet on trails. Near the house I have lower hills plus some nice level paved paths for speed work.
One thing I hope to achieve this year is: . After 40 plus years of running and racing I don’t have too many goals to achieve other than being able to continue in the sport for as long as I can. I enjoy passing on what I have learned over the years to new people in the sport and helping them achieve their goals.
The event on my bucket list is: The one event on my bucket list would be to run Comrades someday. When I was at my fittest, and probably could have been in top ten, I was not able to participate because of apartheid and would have been banned if I did. I have deferred to my wife about travel plans as she put up with my racing around the world for so long and had to stay at home and raise the kids. She was unable to travel and see the places I did.
My pre-race superstition is: The night before setting the American 100k record I had french toast, eggs and sausage. Thereafter I always made sure that is what I ate for dinner. I have been married to a great cook for nearly 50 years and she makes some great lasagna so that is another dinner I have. I don’t have any special way to tie my shoes nor put on my clothes. I would say that about the day before the race I begin to focus on the race and so usually have my game face on and don’t smile a lot. I was always ready to give it my best and although my best is not what it used to be I still give it a go.
Nathan helps me run stronger and run longer by: keeping me hydrated for the duration of my training runs and my races. The vests are awesome and comfortable allowing me to get in some long runs in the mountains, at high altitude. I love the handhelds in races when they have aid stations that are close to each other (4 or 5 miles apart). I love the reflective vests and think that safety is paramount when running on roads. The reflective vests allow me to run longer and for many more years because they help to keep me alive by letting vehicles see me. I preach safety to all my running friends and others.