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Learn : Marathon Story  

Note from Editor: Rod Dixon won the 1983 New York City Marathon in one of the greatest marathon duels in history with Geoff Smith. Rod's story has been reprinted here with his permission. To read the original story and learn more about Rod, please visit RodDixon.com.

Running Background:

marathon photoI was inspired by Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, and the other runners of that era. I remember standing for hours outside their hotel in Nelson waiting to get their autograph. However my brother John was my hero, someone who I admired and was prepared to train very hard to please.

I was in New York City for the 1982 marathon, as a spectator. I attended the press receptions, the international breakfast run, spent time at the marathon expo and generally immersed myself in everything that was "marathon".

It was an incredible race to watch, with Alberto Salazar and Rodolfo Gomez running stride for stride. Salazar won by 3 seconds but to me the most important aspect was the race and what it took to win it.

As I jogged in Central Park the next day, I remember saying out loud that I would return to the Marathon in 1983 to run, and to win.

Training:

And so began a training program that would have me run the race of my life. I set a training and race schedule which would have me in peak condition in time for October 1983. After winning the 1983 San Francisco Bay to Breakers race, I returned to my home base in Reading, Pennsylvania, to begin my final six months of the most intensive training I had ever undertaken. No breaks, no distractions, complete isolation.

Race Day:

October 19th, 1983 was the last day of training. I was ready for New York. As my plane climbed skywards from Reading, and as each mile left my countryside, my track, my forest further behind, I found myself feeling something that was totally new for me. I felt at peace. I felt contented. I knew I had done everything possible to prepare to run the race of my life and I was prepared to live with the consequences.

You see, all of us can only do so much. But if we've followed our plan, we arrive at a point of peace and personal satisfaction. That moment, the finish of the 1983 New York City Marathon is one I still savor; a moment of supreme success, when I felt I had the right to appreciate achievement.

In the end, that's why we work that hard. That's why we run the long run, and that's why we're willing to climb the mountain, and we're able to cope with the troughs. It's worth the effort and it's worth the competition. With each new challenge in life, I fall back on the lessons I have learnt as a long distance runner and winner of the New York City Marathon. Sure, the context and applications are different, but the challenges, with all the highs and all the lows, are the same. Winning in 1983, I believe, gave me the right to savor those single moments of highlight and achievement in my athletic life.

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

There is more to life than winning. Personal achievement, personal pride and not being influenced by others is what really counts.

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