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Rodgers still runs the show

RUNNING: The running legend, who won 21 marathons, will lead a seminar today at Corona del Mar High's track.

August 04, 2007|By Matt Szabo

"Running is really group-oriented," Rodgers said. "A lot comes from the people around you, whether it's your husband or wife, your coach or your teammates. All of these things are huge."

Huge was Rodgers during those years in the late '70s, too. He twice broke the American marathon record in Boston, with his times of 2 hours, 9 mnutes, 55 seconds in 1975 and 2 hours, 9 minutes, 27 seconds in 1979. Rodgers also competed for the U.S. Olympic team at the '76 Montreal Olympics.

And he's kept running ever since, although he said he stopped running full-length marathons in the early 1990s.

"You really can't rely on your doctor alone to help you take care of your health and fitness," Rodgers said. "They're going to take care of you after you're sick. What you have to do is take care of yourself, so you don't have to go see [the doctor]. That's how runners operate; that's how we live our lives. It's a very simple sport."

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Sumner said that Rodgers is still one of the top runners in the country in the 50-60 age group. In his life, Rodgers has completed in dozens of marathons and broken the 2-hour, 15-minute mark a whopping 28 times.

"In the country, there are millions of runners, and he's still in the top 1% at age 59," Sumner said.

Lately, though, Sumner has been making up some ground on his friend.

"He was always beating me, but I got closer when we were in our 40s," Sumner said. "Before that, I couldn't touch him. But now, he's slowing down because he's getting old."

But Rodgers is all right with that. He hopes to be a lifer in running, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"We're both trying to be iron men, we're both fighting our injuries," he said. "This is a hard sport, this is like football. You don't collide [with each other], but you collide with the ground."

And yet, he never loses the desire to lace up the running shoes and do it again.

"There's always someone to race," Rodgers said. "It's one of the most competitive sports out there. But it's also fun, and you make friends. Most of my friends are runners."


MATT SZABO may be reached at (714) 966-4614 or at matthew.szabo@latimes.com.

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