In a roundabout way, Bill Rodgers is partly responsible for the creation of the Bolder Boulder, the annual Memorial Day 10K race run through the streets of Boulder. That is because it was the highly visible rivalry between Rodgers and Boulder’s Frank Shorter that helped fuel the “running boom” of the 1970s that led to the creation of mega races like the Bolder Boulder, the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta and Spokane’s Bloomsday 12K.
Rodgers has never run the Bolder Boulder, but this year, thanks to Runner’s Choice and BoulderRunning.com, he will be here for race weekend. On the evening of May 30, Rodgers will give a talk at the Marriott Hotel. The next day, he hopes to run his first Bolder Boulder.
“I am excited about coming to Boulder,” Rodgers said by phone from his home in Boxboro, Mass., about 30 miles outside of Boston. “I had talked with Frank about coming out for the 25th anniversary (of Shorter’s 1972 Olympic gold medal), but did not make it out. For him to help develop the Bolder Boulder is a fantastic achievement.”
Rodgers is one of the great success stories in running. He was a smoker and a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and began running only after watching Shorter’s 1972 Munich Olympic win on TV. Rodgers went on to win the Boston and New York City marathons four times each, becoming a worthy rival to Shorter. Between them, Shorter and Rodgers were big draws for races around the United States, attracting many new people to the sport.
“We were lucky to both be doing well at that particular time,” said Rodgers. “The first time we raced in Colorado was in Denver, in 1978, pre-Bolder Boulder. Frank beat me. We have had a good friendship and rivalry over the years, and we both still love running.”
Rodgers has remained competitive throughout his career, even when he left the world-class ranks. He was one of the nation’s top masters runners in his 40s, and now, at 56, he is still competitive in his age group. In fact, last year, Rodgers proudly said, he was the ranked the No. 1 55-year-old in the United States by Running Times magazine.
“I still like to compete,” said Rodgers, who is getting back into top fitness after breaking his leg last summer. Rodgers’ talk on May 30 is titled “Secrets for a Lifetime of Successful Running.”
Bill Rodgers’ tips for running consistently into your 40s, 50s and beyond
Take a day off every week. Rodgers tries to get in workouts in the pool or on an exercise bike at least once a week.
Keep learning about your sport, through newspapers and magazines, in order to keep up with all the new information coming out.
Pay attention to your diet.
Do some stretching and strength work. Rodgers lifts light weights, such as 20-pound dumbbells, for his arms and back, several times a week.
Use races as motivation. “I love running races, the energy that is in the air,” Rodgers said. “It is great fun.”
Shorter and Rodgers ran the Bolder Boulder that year, Rodgers for the first time, and Shorter for the first time in many years. Rodgers again came out on top, 39:24 to Shorter’s 54:59. At 56, both still impressively beat their age.
This article originally appeared March 24, 2004 in the Daily Camera