"The futures so bright I gotta wear shades"
BOYCOTT, MARATHON BEST, INJURY.
"I have no intention of competing in the trials or in any pseudo, bogus competition," said Rodgers as he prepared to leave Florida for weekend races in Dublin, Ga. and Detroit before returning to Boston next Tuesday. "I'd rather run Boston. It's more prestigious than whatever they put together as a one-shot competition." Bill Rodgers.
After a third place finish in the National Cross Country meet in November of ‘79, my athletics career, which had been solidly progressing since my marathon debut at Boston in 1977, looked very bright indeed. My ultimate goal for the year was the Olympic Marathon trial which would be run in Buffalo NY in May. I went to the Skylon Marathon in the fall of 79 with friend and training partner Earl Fucillo to have a preview of the trials course. See Franklin Mint Almanac article "The long road to the games".
I decided to spend January/February training in Florida. My college coach George Davis had arranged a base for me staying with his brother Bob and family in Tampa for a month. I would then move to Miami to spend another four to five weeks training with Tom Fleming, Kirk Pfeffer, Bill Rodgers and whoever else might turn up. There would also be a ten day trip to Japan in February with Fleming and Randy Thomas who was training in New Zealand for the Ohme Hochi 30k road race. (See pictures below)
R.Thomas & B. Hodge
Bob & Randy participate in "Happy Doll Ceremony" - why not?
Chinese Athletes with R. Thomas & T. Fleming standing, B. Hodge seated.
I began the year with a 15k track race at Stanford Stadium set up by Runners World as part of a National Running Week of sponsored events. The race was setup as a run at the world record for Dick Quax of NZ. The race for me was a lark but I thought that I would run something respectable based on my fitness from the fall cross country season. Quax ran solo the whole way and missed Jos Hermans WR by five seconds running a NZ record 43:01.7. I ran with the pack most of the way before moving into second in the last mile only to be passed by Martti Kiilholma of Finland at the line. Kiilholma ran a new Finnish record time of 43:59.3. I was credited with an American Record 44:00.2 though Rodgers had run 43:36 previously it had not been ratified yet but eventually would be. It was a good start to the year.
The following week I drove from Massachusetts to Tampa Fla. Training went well though I had a heal injury (bone spur) giving me some problems. It was while in Tampa that news of a likely Olympic Boycott surfaced. I was honestly, devastated. My bubble had burst. One belief I have about athletics is that you only achieve at the highest level by having the loftiest of goals and knowing you can achieve them. My loftiest goal was to go to the Olympics and win the Boston Marathon and up until this time I fully intended to do so. Now I had my doubts and an injury at the end of the year left me with a different attitude. I had to mature but along with that I lost some of the recklessness that had helped me become a tough competitor.
I lost my focus for awhile. I ran Boston dropping out at 21 miles. I took some easy weeks and then slowly built up over the summer hoping to run a good time at the NIKE OTC Marathon in September. The summer went well and I began to get my groove back. I was excited to be running a race other than Boston which had been my only competitive experience with the marathon. I ran a personal best of 2:10:59 finishing second 12 seconds behind Quax.
The year ended on a sour note with a debilitating injury forcing me to drop plans to run at Fukuoka and reappraise my running career entirely.
Jan. 1 - 15k track race @ Stanford Stadium Palo Alto, Ca.
1.D. Quax NZ 43:01.7
Feb. 17 - Ohme Hochi 30k Road RaceOhme, Japan
1. Randy Thomas 1:30:29
March 15 - Jacksonville River Run 15k Road Race Jacksonville Fla.
1. Hodge 44:52
March 30 - Cherry Blossom 10m Road Race
April 21 - Boston Marathon
DNF @ 21m
May 4 - Midland Run 15k Road Race Far Hills NJ
May 18 - Bay to Breakers 7.6m Road Race
2. Wood AUS
3. Hodge 36:29
May 24 - US Olympic Marathon Trial Buffalo, NY
June 1 - Camden Me. 10k Road Race
1. Hodge 29:33
June 4 - NEAAU Track 10k Boston College
June 8 - Litchfield CT. 7.1m Road Race
June 15 - Mt Washington Road Race 7.6m hill climb.
June 29 - Plymouth, Ma. 6.9m Road Race
1. Hodge 32:22
July 6 - Scituate Ma. 10k Road Race
July 26 -Carver, Ma. 5m Road Race
1. Hodge 24:33
August 17 - Falmouth Road Race 7.1m
1. Dixon 32:20.4
August 23 - Concord NH 20k Road Race
1. Hodge 62:35
October 12 - Acton 7m Road Race
1. Hodge 33:22
(No Races in Nov/Dec.)
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