As the book says, “No man has affected more runners in more ways than Bill Bowerman.” A rich and engaging tale, it spans the time from Bowerman’s grandparents’ life to Bowerman’s own death. I can’t imagine a more definitive work.
The story is written by Kenny Moore, a former University of Oregon Bowerman track star, Olympic marathoner, and cowriter/coproducer of Without Limits — the story of Steve Prefontaine. Fun trivia, Bowerman used Moore’s foot to design the famous Cortez running shoe.
Because Moore had a personal relationship with Bowerman, the story is told with heart, admiration, details, and a love for the sport that Bowerman made his legacy.
In addition to Moore’s personal knowledge, the story is written with the permission of Bowerman’s family and Nike. It is full of interviews from fellow track students, neighbors, friends, running colleagues, Nike colleagues – including Phil Knight, and Bill’s sweetheart (and wife) of seventy years. You meet a true man, and all that made him both incredible and flawed.
During his 24-years as U of O track coach, he won four national titles and his athletes set 13 world and 22 American records. But his life is not just about him. It is also a beautiful history lesson about running in the United States.
There is Prefontaine, Nike and the waffle shoe. All things familiar to me and associated in my mind with Bowerman.
What I did not know was that Bowerman witnessed the Miracle Mile race between Landy and Bannister. Bowerman was a proactive force in the U.S.A. jogging movement that swept our nation in 1963. He was a crucial leader in the fight for the rights of athletes. Bowerman’s training methods, which included easy runs and rest days, were controversial at the time. He coached our Olympic teams so many times that I lost count while reading the book. And he was far more than “just” a coach during the tragedy that befell the Munich Games.
Published by my favorite house, Rodale, the book tops 400 pages. I could have done with a little less detail on all the track meets and every race, but that’s just me. For track junkies, I am sure the stories are more than welcome.
By far one of my favorite running books and favorite biographies of all time.