Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gerry Lindgren

Gerry Lindren was born in Spokane, Washington in 1946, and he may still be considered as having been the best high school long distance runner in the United States of all time.

In 1964, when he was a senior at Spokane's Rogers High School, Lindgren ran 5000 meters in 13:44 (min:sec), setting a US high school record that remained unbroken for 40 years. Another record he established was his time of 8:40 for an indoor 2-mile race, which remains the fastest US 2-mile time ever run indoors .


The City of Spokane was especially proud of Gerry Lindgren.

On July 25, 1964, when he was 18, Gerry Lindgren outran two experienced Russian runners to win the 10,000 meter event in the US-USSR Track Meet in Los Angeles, California. I remember sitting in the family car at the side of the road listening to the race over the car radio with my folks. What a thrill it was that Spokane's Gerry Lindgren had beaten the Russians! It's been reported that Senator Robert Kennedy was in the stands that day.

Lindgren later attended Washington State University in Pullman Washington, majoring in political science. While at WSU Lindgren won 11 NCAA Championships.

The following information is gleaned from an interesting and detailed November 27, 2005 article by Greg Bishop, Seattle Times staff reporter, titled "The Longest Run: The Story of Gerry Lindgren," which may be found at--


It seems that Lindgren had obstacles to overcome as a child-- he was small and bullied in school; Gerry saw himself as a skinny "whimp" with a high squeaky voice; his alcoholic father was physically abusive to the entire family; and Gerry had once entertained thoughts of suicide.

Gerry also had obstacles to overcome as a runner and as an Olympic competitor-- a sprained ankle in 1964; an inflamed Achilles tendon in 1968; a car that hit him while training for the 1972 Olympics in Munich; and even a police bullet which he claims creased his head.

Strangely and without explanation, Lindgren's wife woke up one day in 1980 and found a note on the kitchen table which simply said "Get a divorce. Sell the business." Gerry moved to Hawaii where he still lives and coaches runners. He's written a book about his life and running, but the book doesn't mention his three children he never got to know-- the three kids he never calls when he returns to the Puget Sound area. Rather, Lindgren "has told reporters they don't exist."

Gerry Lindgren, who held national high school records in the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, mile, 2 miles and 3 miles-- the skinny underdog who beat he powerful Russians-- was truly Spokane's favorite son.

A guy can only wonder and hope it all works out in the end.

Coach Dean Hebert has posted that when Lindgren left in 1980, it was actually the second time he ran. "He appears to be a tortured soul. [But] in any event there is no doubt that runners such as he, Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, Jim Ryun and others ushered in the running boom of the 1970s." http://coachdeanhebert.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/gerry-lindgrens-book-on-running/

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