Dude where's my car (continued)
It was circa 1983 and we were in the midst of the first running boom. Actually I like to refer to it as the first racing boom because in those days it was all about how fast you could run. Our heroes were Rodgers, Benoit-Samuelson, Shorter, Meyer, Hodge and a host of other World Class athletes. The Boston Marathon was considered by us as the pinnacle of all marathons. We held it in higher esteem then the Olympic Marathon.
At the time, I worked for Wang Laboratories which occupied the buildings now known as Cross Point. We had a great running culture at Wang that included our own corporate running club and on site lockers and showers.
I usually ran every day at 11:30 AM, but on one particular day I was held up in meetings so I delayed my run until early afternoon. The locker room was located in a room off of the men's bathroom. As I entered the bathroom that day I could over hear two voices discussing the Boston Marathon. Naturally I didn't want to eavesdrop, but they were talking about one of my favorite topics so I could not resist. I over heard one of the guys say, "Yeah, but you finished third at Boston." Whoa, stop the presses. "Did I actually hear what I thought I heard?" I thought to myself.
My first reaction was that someone like Clint O'Brien or Gerald Ottaviano (I'm naming names here) was setting me up for an episode of punk'd (a TV show that would not exist for another 30 years). "Should I take the bait?" Next thing I knew I was swinging open the door to see who was behind it. To my astonishment there were two guys in their fifties. This confused me even more because how could one of these guys have finished third at Boston?
"Excuse me," I said. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop (a flat out lie), but I thought I heard that one of you finished third in the Boston Marathon?" "Yeah, that would be Jim," one guy immediately piped up. "But Bob finished in the top 25 a number of times," the other guy added. "Who are you guys?" I asked. "I'm Bob Bamberger and he's Jim Green."
I had never heard of either one of these guys and they were telling me that they both were top finishers at the Boston Marathon with one of them finishing third in 1960. Both seemed like affable guys, but I was taking everything they said with a grain of salt. I knew how the older guys like to exaggerate things a wee bit. After my shower I detoured back home to pick up my book of Boston Marathon results to see if either one of these guys were listed. It was pre-internet days so hard copy was all I had to rely on.
To my amazement and delight I discovered I was working with two legendary runners. Everything they told me checked out and upon further research I found that both had stellar running careers. Bob, as Jim had pointed out, was a top twenty five finisher at Boston (see: http://www.coolrunning.com/boston/results2.htm). Jim had finished third at Boston in 1960 but was also the gold medalist in the marathon at the 1959 Pan American Games and twice (1960 and 1964) was first alternate for the US Olympic Marathon team.
For me a delayed meeting turned into good fortune as I got to meet and know two incredible runners. I became friendly with Jim and had the opportunity to train with him regularly. His advice was so valuable to me and his stories were priceless. It doesn't get any better then that. By the way Jim crushed the 80 year old Good Times course record last night. He may have misplaced his car, but he sure knows how to find his running talent.