Dick Beardsley

CHRIS! GOSH IT’S GREAT TO SEE YOU! GEEZ! IT’S BEEN FOREVER! HOW ARE YOU DOIN’! ARE YOU LIVING OUT HERE NOW?

Pretty much every conversation you have with Dick Beardsley is in all caps with exclamation points scattered liberally throughout. Beards was in town, at the Portland Running Company, and I stopped by to say hi and see how he was doing. This man has been to hell and back too many times in his life; he’s always so upbeat, though. In his book Staying the Course, you get a glimpse of what’s been and what might be roiling underneath the gosh-darn authentic pollyanna surface.

It was fantastic to see him again, rail thin, as usual, as he was preparing to head out for a run with a group of local runners. We chatted about people we know and I shared some of the things I remember about running with Beards almost 25 years ago in our native Minnesota. For instance, if you were out for a run, he’d get pissed if you ran a few strides through a parking lot, instead of around the corner. You could never finish up a particular loop and call it 10 miles unless you’d run down to touch the Noren’s mailbox. Or on another route, a couple of loops around the church were required to make the run the nominal distance. According to the odometer on his rusty white Honda Civic, that is. Geez.

You have to applaud the success he had as a runner. His biggest running achievement was the 2:08:53 he ran to place second to Alberto Salazar’s 2:08:51 in the 1982 Boston Marathon. Neither runner was quite the same after, as Scott Douglas writes. It was fun to recall some of the moments when our paths crossed, such as the 1980 NY Marathon, when he was still unknown. We saw him at Central Park and went berserk cheering for him; his eyes just about popped out of his head to hear that someone knew his name, let alone was going nuts for him on the course. Later at Tavern on the Green: CHRIS! THAT WAS YOU OUT THERE?! GOSH, THANKS A LOT. IT WAS SO GREAT TO HEAR YOU!

I left our short conversation glowing. He has that kind of effect. Just like an all caps, exclamation pointed conversation should.

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