First of all, thank you for the kind words and feedback regarding this series. It's great to hear how many of you have learned something new about Mark and Sally. If you haven't read their stories yet, click on their names to go to each article.
Today's post is one that I've really been excited to write. The subject of today's post is certainly no stranger to the sport of running, and he truly is the mayor of the sport. An ambassador to the sport and elder statesman, Mr. Bart Yasso.
If you don't know Bart Yasso, you must be new to the sport. Like, really new. Bart has the incredibly enviable position of being THE globetrotting running ambassador for Runner's World Magazine. We, runners have to come to rely on Bart being at the expo or holding a shakeout run at nearly every major race on the planet. Seriously, when not pounding the pavement, or snapping a quick selfie with us runners, he's on a plane jetting off to the next expo.
What I find so incredible about Bart is how he's so approachable. I can't think of a time when he wouldn't stick around to share in one more picture, sign one more autograph or tell one more story. The man is a machine of positivity, but he is also a man of perseverance. We all have some kind of skeleton in our closet and while most try to keep that door shut, Bart has used his past life experiences as ammunition to promote positivity and good will.
He is also a successful author, penning numerous books on the running. But, the book that connected with me the most, was "My Life on the Run," a collection of memoirs from some of his most memorable races. It was that book that solidified my need to get more of his stories.
I had the tremendous opportunity to catch Bart for an online interview, where he shared some of those life experiences, his infectious positivity and his love for the sport of running (and runners).
Like other subjects in the "You May Know" series, I was interested in hearing the backstory in why someone chooses to focus on running, Bart's response was haunting and honest.
BY: At a very young age I made a critical error and chose the path of alcohol and drugs. I was very lucky to gravitate towards running 40 years ago. I believe running may have saved my life. I don't ever take a run or a finish line for granted.
As his running career took off, it spawned a whole new horizon for Bart to run towards, with limitless possibilities.
BY: When I started running I started dreaming about what I wanted most out of (my) life. The mind works as hard as the body does during exercise. I knew I wanted to travel around the world, experience exotic locations and different cultures. I had dreams about finding a job that allowed me to travel and run. My dream came true.
While Bart may have traded in the traditional race bib for a spectator sign, he's nowhere near retiring to the sidelines for everything.
BY: I don't run competitively anymore and I only run a few miles per week. Of the few races I do I'm just happy to be part of the running community. I go to events and enjoy being part of the race festivities. I've been battling Lyme disease the past 25 years and I've had a few relatively pain-free patches where I could train and race. It was fun still being competitive for some overall wins and age group titles until I was about 51.
Just one look at Bart's Instagram will show that he enjoys running with anybody, but I was curious to see if any family members were equally passionate about the sport.
BY: My older brother, George played a vital role in my running career.
And, of course, I had to know his take on the running v. jogging debate.
BY: I use the word "jogging" all the time when I head for a very easy run.
As someone who has experienced seemingly thousands of races in his lifetime, one of Bart's favorite races took him to international coasts for a hilly and lengthy run.
BY: Comrades Marathon, the oldest ultra in the world and largest ultra with over 20,000 runners taking on a hilly 89k. Comrades is the greatest foot race on the planet and the people of South Africa make every runner feel like a champion.
I was surprised to hear an ultra was his favorite race, so I pressed him to hear what his favorite distance was. As time moves forward, Bart has revised his answer.
BY: That has changed over the years. 10 years ago my would be 50 miles, but these days I would say half marathon.
As Bart has achieved so much in his storied running career, one could expect him to slow it down. But, Bart has an enduring goal focused on the community that we all can share in and celebrate.
BY: I have tons of running goals, but none of them are related to racing. My goals are to motivate and engage people that never thought they would be a runner. Ed. note - This answer is near and dear to me as it is the basis for why Always Running Forward was created.
Lastly, to get to so many races in a year, there's a strong conspiracy theory that the Bart we see at races is just a robot and the real Bart Yasso is holed up in a cushy room controlling the bizarro Bart Yasso. I tried to trip him up by asking how he manages to sleep when he's seemingly everywhere. Bart deftly deflected the answer.
BY: Sleep deprivation is my middle name. I do my best to get a good night's sleep, but with my crazy travel schedule it's a rare occasion. Having said that, I profess that runners get a good night's sleep to recover from their runs. Ed. note - Notice how he didn' say "recharge?" The jury is still out.
As you can see from his responses, Bart's positivity extends well past the course and that positivity is infectious. It's no surprise that after a conversation with him things just seem a little bit better. The running community is beyond fortunate to have such an incredibly gifted personality, who dedicates his time to promoting good health and cheer. I'd like to thank Bart for his time with me for this series.
I hope you're enjoying the "You May Know" series. If you feel there's someone out there whose story has inspired you and their story should be told, let me know and I'll reach out.
Run Fast. Run Smart.