The Chicago Marathon is a world major marathon and has a world-class expo complete with running celebrities. The expo itself is overwhelming and overstimulating. This year, I was there by myself, and just trying to take it all in. After my easy conversation with SBS of Another Mother Runner fame, I mustered up my courage to head over to the Runner's World booth to meet Bart Yasso. I've seen so many of my running friends postings of "barties" with him, that I was sure he was a super nice guy. When I walked up to him, he was politely listening to a runner talking about his experiences at this marathon. Bart didn't rush the guy, and I waited nervously for my turn to talk to this running icon. While I was waiting to talk with him, I couldn't help but wonder, how does he do this all day every day?
Of course when I got my turn, I couldn't think of a thing to say! Me, who never is at a loss for words? I need not have worried. I picked up his book and asked him about it. He told me that it was basically the story of his life as a runner, "if I wanted to read it". I told him I hosted a book club on my blog, and asked him if he'd be interested in answering some questions for me. Not only did he agree to that, he wrote his email in my copy of his book, along with an autograph. Then he posed for a picture with me.
|Bart and me!|
I was so excited that when I walked away, I left my car keys at the Runner's World booth. Luckily when I went back to retrieve them, Bart was no longer at the booth. He was on stage, getting ready to speak. I'm sure he would have thought I was a stalker had he been at the booth when I returned!
When I posted a request on the SweatPink FB page for pictures of fellow runners and Bart, I was overwhelmed with the response. Runners love Bart! I'm happy to share some of those pictures in this post. I'll share some more in my book review on Monday. In the meantime, enjoy this conversation with Bart--and don't miss out on his book. Spoiler alert: I couldn't put it down. It has been a life well lived for the Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine.
I didn't ask him specifics about races in the books or about Yasso 800s. The book is rich with details, and you can learn all you want to know about those topics when you read the book. Instead, I wanted to learn a little more about Bart the runner.
|Bart and Artney|
TTLWH: Total fangirl here, I loved your book! It was such a great read. I cannot believe that you have had all these adventures. Out of everything you’ve experienced, what stands out as your most memorable experience? Favorite race? Anything really weird that you want to share?
BY: I feel so lucky I started running 39 years ago because it’s taken me around the world. By far, my most memorable experience was running the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. It's a 56-mile ultra marathon. Comrades is the oldest and largest ultra in the world. Also memorable on this trip was visiting Robben Island standing in Nelson Mandela’s jail cell. Mr. Mandela spent 20 years in that cell.
|Bart and Tiffany|
TTLWH: You’ve really done it all. Are there any adventures or goals you still want to experience? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What do you want to be most remembered for? And what’s on your race calendar for 2016?
BY: I still go to about 30 events per year, but I only run a few. I do lots of seminars, speak at pasta dinners, and greet thousands of runners at the finish line. I would love to be remembered for what I gave back to our sport.
|Smitha and Bart|
TTLWH: I read with great interest about your struggle with Lyme Disease. Do you still experience flares of the disease? Have you changed your training? Your goals?
BY: I don’t run competitively anymore. Of the few races I do participate in, I’m just happy to be part of the sport. I never wear a watch in a race. I go out and enjoy being part of the festivities. With the Lyme this past decade, I’ve had few relatively pain-free miles where I could train and race.
TTLWH: In 2016, I’m running Big Sur. In your book, you name it as the most scenic course. This is a bucket list race for me, and coming from the midwest, I know better than to have a goal time for this one! But I still want to train properly. What training advice would you give to runners training for this very hilly course? Will I see you there?
|Nancy and Bart|
BY: I will see you at Big Sur. I love the event. The course has 14 miles downhill. I always tell runners prepare for the downhills.
TTLWH: When I was at mile 12 of the Chicago Marathon, I saw you in the crowd, you waved to me, and I swear you called out my name. In his foreword to your book, Amby Burfoot says that you remember the first names of 75% of people you meet. This is an amazing skill, and probably what makes you so popular with runners. How do you do this?
|Bart and Natalie|
BY: That was me at mile 12 at the Chicago Marathon. I’m so lucky I remember faces and names very easily. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I suck at math, but I have a great memory. My friends always said we don’t need Google, we have Bart.
TTLWH: You’ve been called the Mayor of Running. With your great people skills, you’d make a good politician. Ever consider running for office? President? Heck, Trump’s got nothing on you!
|Toni and Bart|
BY: I don’t want to hold any political position. What I do fight for is to make sure everyone has the opportunity to run.
TTLWH: Anything else you want to add?
|Bart and Steff|
|Erika high fiving Bart at this years RW Running Festival|
"Never limit where running can take you."-Bart YassoBest advice Bart could give to a runner. What a life he's lived! Be sure to check out his book. The review will be posted on Monday, November 16. The linkup will be open for 2 weeks. You can always post your review in the comments, too! I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!
If you want to learn more about this iconic runner, Marathon Training Academy recently posted a podcast interview with Bart! You can check that out here. You can also check out his website, bartyasso.com.
Have you ever met Bart Yasso?