Amby Burfoot is a Writer at Large for Runner’s World. He is a member of the Running Hall of Fame and winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and he’s an all-round legend. If anybody has pushed Bucket List success to the next level it is this man and at 70 years old he has wisdom in the Bucket loads. We reached out to Amby and he was more than happy to talks to us, this is what he said:
1.What first inspired you to start running competitively?
I did all the big time American sports as a kid, with a particular love for baseball. I practiced obsessively, and got quite skilled at the sports. But when I got to high school, I found that you also needed muscle, power, speed, etc, and I did not have those things. One day the basketball coach got frustrated with our poor practice session, and made everyone run the 3 mile cross country course as punishment. I was the worst player on the basketball team, but came back first from the 3-mile run. After that, I decided to switch sports and see if I had any future in distance running. The cross-country course at my high school just happened to be John J. Kelley, the 1957 Boston Marathon winner and a two time U.S. Olympian in the marathon. He became my mentor, and the great inspiration in my life.
2.What have been the defining moments of a life spent running and writing about running?
There have been many. Winning the Boston Marathon in 1968, of course, which made me the first American winner since Kelley in 1957. Growing up in the sport with the likes of Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Benoit, who are all good friends. Attending many Olympic Games and more than 100 Boston, New York, and Chicago Marathons. I am still running Boston, and hope to finish it in 2018–the 50th anniversary of my win in 1968. Also, I have run the same Connecticut road race 54 years in a row. A 5-miler on our Thanksgiving Day.
3.Tell us about the key things you have learnt along the way, be it about running, writing or life itself.
Too much to easily summarize. I’m a bit of a workaholic, and believe that hard work in any endeavor pays huge dividends. Talent is great, but most of us have only modest talent in a few areas. It’s key to identify the areas that we hope to excel in, and then to dive deeply into those topics.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about running a marathon? Running a marathon is easy. It only takes determination, determination, and more determination. The training is key. You can train thoroughly, and run well, and mostly enjoy the day and your accomplishment. Or you can train poorly, run poorly, and suffer during and after. I highly recommend the former approach. It teaches many lessons about how proper preparation leads to superior results. In any field.
4.What’s on your bucket list for the future?
I’m writing one of those “small books” that contains all my accumulated running wisdom in its most essential form. I hope to stay healthy and keep running, and look for more running challenges. There are a few races I’d yet like to tackle. Since I just turned 70, I’m hugely interested in “lifetime fitness,” that is, the diet, exercise and other practices that are most likely to lead to optimal health for as many years as possible. We’re all different–we’re all “an experiment of one”–but there are still general principles worth following.
For more information on Amby’s up and races and whereabouts check out his website:www.runnersworld.com. Amby, thanks for speaking to us! If this has inspired your Bucket List write yours now on TickTheBucket.org