“If some of the people at the very front would start with these groups in the very back and see people’s journeys, they would be changed—and they would realize, not only are these people working so hard at it but they [will] actually physically see what they go through to get to where they are. You know, I have people come up to me at races and say, ‘I know you won’t believe this, but I used to weigh 500 pounds.’ And you’re looking at somebody that weighs like 180 pounds and they’ve lost 320 pounds, and they say, ‘Yeah, I couldn’t even walk out to my car without stopping and sitting down. I’d get out to the curb and had to sit down because I was out of breath.’ And now they’re going to run a marathon. How does this transformation happen? Something gets to ’em…there’s something out there. When we connect those people, that’s when our sport is really going to take off.”
It’s an honor to welcome Bart Yasso to the podcast this week. Known as “The Mayor of Running,” the 62-year-old Yasso retired from Runner’s World at the end of 2017 after 30 years with the publication. Yasso, who served as Chief Running Officer for the last 10 years of his career, attended thousands of races around the world, serving as an ambassador for the sport at all levels and celebrating the achievements of top finishers and average runners alike. And while he hasn’t exactly stopped doing those things since entering retirement, he’s scaled his event travel back significantly to spend more time at home and on the golf course.
Yasso and I caught up recently and talked about all sorts of stuff, from how he got his start in running to how he landed his dream job at Runner’s World in the late 1980s, and how his role there evolved over the course of three decades. We got into his retirement and how he’s spending his time now that he’s not traveling to an event every weekend of the year. There was some discussion about the state of the sport, the various ways that it’s grown and changed over the last several decades, and how we can do a better job connecting the front of the field with the back of the pack. We talked about running media, the various directions it’s gone over the years, and where he sees it heading moving forward. Yasso also shared his thoughts on how runners of all levels can inspire one another, his ongoing struggles with Lyme disease, Yasso 800s (of course!), and a lot more.
Related links, references, and resources:
— Check out Bart’s website.
— The Real History of Yasso 800s: “Want to run a 3:30 marathon? Then train to run a bunch of 800s in 3:30 each,” Amby Burfoot, who gave the workout its name, wrote for Runner’s World. “Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. Training doesn’t get any simpler than this, not on this planet or anywhere else in the solar system.”
— The Mayor of Running Takes His Last Lap: “And that’s what I love most about racing, and what has remained consistent through the years: It allows us to dream, to realize the results of hard work, to challenge ourselves to take risks and be bold,” Yasso wrote in his latest book, Race Everything. “For so many, just showing up at a starting line is an act of courage, a kind of bravery that teaches us how to push past our perceived limitations to find out if we can do—and be—something more.”
— “When people come up to me and say they’ve been inspired by me, I don’t know what I do to deserve that,” Yasso told the blog Runspirited when he retired at the end of last year. “I’ve been working hard at it for years, being out there in the community, helping people become better runners and getting people to start running who never thought they would be a runner. To see their faces and how happy they are — that makes me proud to be the face of the running industry. It’s an honor. I’ve never taken it for granted.”
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Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford at BaresRecords.com
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