“One day we had a bad basketball practice. The coach was pissed off at us. He literally made us run the cross-country course as punishment. I was the worst player on the JV basketball team but I came back first when we had to run 3 miles in cross country and I just said, ‘Hey, maybe I should switch sports instead of fighting to be bad.’ And so I switched to running and running seemed to be a place where an obsessive personality and an infinite amount of work payed some benefits—and it did for me. I don’t think it’s quite as important now as I did 50 years ago but there’s no replacement for hard work, is there?”
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Amby Burfoot is a legend in running and someone I’ve looked up to and admired since I first got my start in the sport over 20 years ago. A native of Connecticut, Amby won the 1968 Boston Marathon when he was a senior at Wesleyan University. After his competitive running career ended, he worked at Runner’s World, where he spent 25 years as an editor before retiring in 2012. Amby is still running strong—and writing about running regularly—as he nears the age of 75 and I just have so much respect for everything he’s done and is still doing in the sport.
There’s a lot that we covered in this conversation. We talked about Amby’s competitive running career, how he got started, and what it was like to win the Boston Marathon while he was still in college. He told me about his obsessive personality and the different forms it’s taken over the course of his life. We discussed what he’s up to now, his longevity as a runner and writer, and continuing to pursue your passions as you age. Amby told me about his time at Runner’s World, he shared his thoughts on the evolution of the running media landscape over the past 2-3 decades, and a lot more.
Amby Burfoot: Website | Twitter
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Mario Fraioli: Website | Strava
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Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford.