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lOL! 



GIL DODDS 



MEL' LARSON 



9 * 



The Evangelical Beacon 

4211 N. Hennitage Ave. 
Chicago 13, Dlinote j 



This book is momufaclurod undor 
woDTtlnio cxnditloiis cmd In confonnlty 
with GoTomment r^gulcrtionfl ior 
ooiis«rviiiq poqpw and oUior mortoriols. 



Copyright 1945, hj 

The Evcmgelicol Boooon 

Chicago 



Printad In th« United States of AflMrioa. 



r 



■* 



>• - - «t ^ /. ^ 4' C 



*jt w- * '^- - 



5Js'// Tributes 

"Oil Dodds ii o ikim oombincrtion of o 9r«ot orthieto and o gr«ot sporfs- 
mxok, H« also hopponi fo bo ono of tbo greatest oompotlfors wo bar* hod 
in o Jong tlmo." GRANTLAMD RICE. 

Doon of Amoricon Sportswritoxs. 



'To taj good friend Oil Dodda for much traci: and good running and 
good companionship. . . . Mof God gire yon h.appin9a9 and fame in your 
chosen profession, the miDiMtry* Your friend for uie*" 

GUNDER HAGG« 

Great Swedish track star. 



"I don't hnow of et iinM Mporiamcm than Gil Dodds, Hia willingness io 
tour America with Gnnder Hagg wos a Mplandid gesture. ... If e is o 
s ple ndid athJeto, sportsman and Christian, and it was a pleasure for me 

to present him with thm SvJUran oward for 1943." 

L. DI BENEDETTO, 
President, Amateur Athletic Union. 



"Stout fella, and o xeal champion." 

JOHNKIERAN, 
Fonner sports editor. The New Yoifc Times. 



"Gil Dodds ia a great runner and hos a great hBort, He is one of the 
b9Mt there is along any line." GREG RICE. 

Undefeated world two-mile champion. 

• * * 

"For bodilf exercise profiteth little: but aodUness is nrofitable unto oil 
things . . . ' I Tim. 4:8. Gil Dodds has aemonstrated on the track his 
exceilence os a champion athlete. He h€xs demonstrated more clearly and 
eiiectively in his life and testimony that he is a greater champion for 
the Lord Jesus Christ, In all of my association with him I have found him 
to be a man of deepest devotion and consecration to Jesus Christ, His 
greatness as an athlete will soon be outshone bv his even gre€iter ac- 
complishments OS a winner of souls. TOhREY M. JomiSON 

Choirman, National Youth for Christ 



"GU Dodds Is a modem Spartans perfectly willing io snbfect himseU to 
the most exacting regimen."^ JACK RYDER, 

Trock ooadi, Boston Athletic Association. 



"It has been with consfdercthie personal satisicKtion that I have watched 
the progress of Gil Dodds through his athletic career ond to that more 
important one which he is undertaking. I knew him first as a shy, retiring 

—3— 



bar whoM pthyiioal eodowaciif* wwn obHota, a bof who noeded ontf 
wportunhY cmd coaHdmae: U I barm hmipmd him In mtbm hiM ch cmc— or 
hxM puipoam, I /••I wQ r»ward«d." BILL McKEB# 

SpartM •ditor, Aahkmd Timmi-Qcawtto (Ohio). 



"BverYone odmiros tlio winner^ who by indostiy and integiily comes to 
hich ochioironioBfs In human afiaJis, Hmre is tho story of a winn«r« ih% 
hoight of whoso achiovomont stands In contrast to Mb modosty and humility. 

"It hoM boon my groat ploasnro to know Gil DoddM porMonaOr* to teUk 
with him on tilings Mpiritaal and academic^ and to find Mm a Groathoart 
who Joves Grod and men. He iM dosperatoiy bi oamoat about this m€itt»r of 
winning tho raco from aU competitors ond also of winrtixiq men to Christ 
His testimony hoM thrillod the student body of Wheaton College cu it h€XM 
throngs of young peopie everywhere in the Jdnd. Wo haro seen Mm run 
in competition ana haro reioioed in iiis aocoinph'shment. Wo are gidd he 
is a winner and iM a CbriMtian. V. RAYMOND EDMAN« PhJ>., LLJ>., 

President Wheoton Ckdlege. 



"Known to the sports world as the 'Galloping Paraon* and the 'Epistle- 
packing Pastor/ Oil Dodds hoM become hnown to us who lore the Saviour 
OS 'Brothor <^/ a dear cMld of Grod. 

"It was mv lay to see Gil many Soturday nights during the 1944 winter 
season. £ar4r in tho orening he would be at our prajor meetings prior to 
the broadcast Following our program it was often our prirUo^o to watch 
Mm run in Madison Sguaro Gordon. Wo were there the night Gil first Isrolce 
the world record and we saw that groat crowd stand to its toot and ap- 
plaud him wildly om ho finished the race. 

"In tho summer of 1944 we had the privilege of being with Gil for 55 
meetings up and down the Boat coast. In those meetings and in our every 
contact it haa boon a blossdng and o challenge to know Gil and to too l hh 
greatness, both as an athloto and a Christian." JACK WYRTZEN« 

Director, Word of Life Hour, Times Square, New York. 



"The thing 1 like about Gil Dodds ia — he shows to the world a man 
can be a good athlete cmd a good Christian, and ho'a both/" 

PERCY CRAWFORD, 

Director, Young Peoples Church of the Air. 



"Gil Dodds ia one of the groatost sportsmon I haro ever met He is quiet 
and unassuming ond alwaya does everything poaaiblo to assist young 
athletes. He luxs devoted a groat deal of Ms time to giving talks on ath- 
letics before groups of boys. Ho ia an idol with the youn^^rs. 

"On a four-lap outdoor track under ideal conditions Dodds morr run the 
mile in four minutes. . . . His admirora in all porta of the United States ore 
eager to see him roach this goaL" JACK CONWAY, 

Sports Editor, Boston Americon ond Boston Sundoy Advertiser. 



— 4 — 



PREFACE 

No athlete in modem times has so vividly captured 
and held the attention and eyes of the American sport 
fan as Gil Dodds^ the imassimiing holder of the world 
indoor mile record of 4:06.4 minutes, winner of the 
coveted Sullivan Award trophy of 1943, and title-holder 
in numerous other events. Ifis name has indeed become 
a household word in the homes of millions of Amer- 
icans. 

As a sports writer on a metropolitan daily, it was my 
privilege again and again to handle Associated Press, 
United Press, and International News Service stories 
from many cities in which Gil Dodds competed. Invar- 
iably the competent sports writers paid tribute to the 
"Scripture-quoting divinity student" from Boston. The 
way in which those stories were written was proof 
enough that here was an athlete who had something 
more fttm a fine pair of legs. 

It was my privilege to watch him under pressure a 
day before his greatest race in the Chicago Stadium on 
Mardi 18, 1944, as well as to see him set the world's 
indoor mile record before 13,286 fans that xiight. On 
other occasions we have heard him speak to groups 
varying in size from a handful to 28,000 at a youth 
meeting in the same Chicago Stadiiun where he set his 
record. 

These contacts furnished the inspiration for present- 
ing this story of Gil Dodds the CbzisUcm and Gu Dodds 
the Runner — the champion who says, "I'd gladly nm 
a mile for Christ." 

The Author. 



- •- * » 



— 5 — 



CONTENTS 

CtkQpil&t 

I Two m^tt . . • Two Meets . . . Two RecordB - 7 

n A Stone ... A Lady ... A DecMoa - - - - 14 

in High School . . . Hcdin . . . Hcmors - - - - 20 

IV College • . • Crisie . • Cups . . . Ghampkmshipe 27 

V Boston . . . lack Ryder • . . Fame - - - - 40 

VI Hogg . . . Sullivan Awazd . . . World ReoordI 50 

Vn Utae Bit of Everything 64 

Vm Witnessing With His Lips 87 



DC 1 Run For ChrisU" by Ga Dodds 90 



— 6 — 



TWO NIGHTS . . . TWO MEETS . • 

TWO RECORDS 

YT was tlie tumcd Satmday niglit in New Todc 
JL People were ef en'y nubexe^ ccikI more of fiiiini 

Tbe ooiwidar read l^tkaA Ih 1944." 

Any jdooe is csowded in New Tock on o Sotniday 
nifjht ozid ibaSt heang a war year, fonind it more so. 

Not far fxQsai Times Square a fellow wcscDred piupose 
fuUy ood yet not honiedly dkmg. He nwimnd to be go- 
ing nowbere* but be wasn't loafing. Tbe dock, showed a 
few niinules after tax o'dodc This was "diimeir fime" to 
inlliTons of New i onrenw but uus fellow wcdb.^ eafing 



Down Ibe street a few Idodcs* on excited mob cdreody 
was starting to poor its way into Mndlsop Sgoore Gkir- 
den« soene that nig^ of !he flmnifTi ITnigbts of Ccdnmbns 
t n o cl L meet. Sport fans were keyed far tibis *"gMi CSL 
Codds* the "Flying Paxson" from Boston^ would be gun- 
ning far a new wodd xeoosd In Ibe mUe. Four weeks 
before on this same trade be bod xooed tbe mile in 
4:10.6 irmnitfts In bis next two races be bod edged that 
down to 4:ra Tnimi^^ flat 

Tbe reoosd was 4:07.4 mlmitftit held josnUy by three 



>»i«ii»i*it;*(»it 



MocKfiidbelL No one in flie wodd bod ever run fiie in- 

qoof ^if^iio under "*^?^ fy<'| iif)^ . 

The "man on the stxeef ro n t iim rf bis walking. Soon 
be came to a building wbicb looked OS fliougb it could 
seat about 1^000 pfti'soiis. He went insde. 

A pioyer meefing was in psogresB. bi on hour or so a 

—7 — 



"youth meeting" ccdled the Word of life Hour, would 
be gokig on in this building, conducted by a former Job 
band player. Jack Wyrtzen. "The man" joined in the 
prayer meeting for a short while, then just as quietly 
slipped out and started back toward his hoteL 

The last few hours before an athletic meet are tough 
on any athlete, and Gil Dodds, though he gets added 
strength from God in all of his running, is human. The 
mental and physical strain was noticeable even as he 
walked along. 

He reached his hotel and went up to his room. Other 
times he had gone to a movie to "rest" his nerves, but 
one look at Hollywood the summer before had cured 
him of movies. Tonight he wanted to be alone • . . with 
God. 

No singer, he sang nonetheless. Songs like "Sweet 
Hour of Prayer," "In the Garden," and "Onward Chris- 
tian Soldiers" came from his lips. He sat still for a while, 
then slid down onto his knees for one last prayer 
meeting. 

Then he was on his way to the Garden. 

Up in Boston a mother with a month-old baby knelt 
and prayed that her husband would do his best in New 
York that night. Spread throughout the land, countless 
other friends asked God to help Gil Dodds again that 
night. A few miles from New York, in a naval base, 
three merchant marine men knelt and prayed, "Lord, 
let Gil Dodds set a world record tonight." 

An hour or so later a world record for the indoor mile 
was on the record books! 

The name that preceded the record was "Gil Dodds, 
Boston Athletic Association." 

The time — 4 : 07.3 minutes, a new record by one-tenth 
of a secondl 

— 8 — 



Once more Gilbert Lothcdr Dodds, 148 pounds of mus- 
cle and might, had fulfilled the prediction of Coach 
Jack Ryder, known the world over as "Maker of Cham- 
pions." Once more, according to a hard-working press 
section, the driving, merciless training routine through 
which Gil Dodds puts himself had paid off in a world 
recordi 

But to Gil . . . and to that praying wife in Boston . . • 
and to many others who had prayed for him . . . that 
record came because God heard the prayers . . . and 

answeredl 

• • • 

The scene shifts. 

« 

It is a week later and 13,286 fans are packed into 
Chicago Stadiiun in the second largest city in the coun- 
try. 

The star-studded meet goes on its way with planned 
precision. Onto the track comes an obscure-looking 
athlete in a dark sweat suit 

Gil Dodds has arrived, and as he warms up he nods 
to friends near the rail in the first row. Once more he 
looks to be in tip-top shape, but so does Bill Hulse, the 
man who had pushed him to a record a week before 
and who has run the mile in 4:06 minutes on the out- 
door track. 

But let's look back a few hours; almost a day, in fact. 

On Friday afternoon Gil Dodds arrived in Chicago 
from Boston. A long walk loosened up the muscles after 
the lengthy train ride. At 7 o'clock he ate a heavy, 
"athletic dinner" after bowing his head with two com- 
panions and asking God's blessing on the food about 
to be eaten. This was one of Chicago's busiest eating 
places, but there was time to say grace. 

After the meal < . . another walk. This one was longer* 

— 9 — 



but still short enough to put hhn in bed by 10 pjn., his 
usual retiring time. Before going to sleep out came a 
Bible he never leaves out of his reach; a few chqpters 
were reacL a lengthy time qpent in prayer, and then off 
to a sound, satisfying sleep; 

On Saturday he meets Uoyd Hahn« the man who 
coached him through high school in person and through 
college by maiL From distant Falls City« Neb^ Hcdm 
had come to be with his former piqnL They talked over 
old times; they checked Gil's plans for the race as 
outlined by Jack Ryder before he left Boston. 

Things checked all around. Gil was glad to see Lloyd 
Hahn; he admired and loved his former coadi. the man 
who took him as a green junior in high sdiool and 
taught him the fundamentals the right way and who 
himself had won this very same race in which Gil was 
to compete, the Bankers' ^Gle, four times when in his 
prime. 

Lloyd Hahn, the mile champ of 1924-1929. He, too, 
was a Christianr— a deacon in his church and a Sunday 
School teacher. 

Back to his hot^ room to be akme . . . and to tcdce 
time to i»:ay. Then to the Stadium . . . CEod the call for 
the Banker's ^Gle! 

Up in the balcony at Chicago Stadium that night one 
of the nation's top vocal soloiste, Beverly Shea, ooid his 
friends held a prayer meeting that Gil Dodds might run 
his best that night Across the country in Boston d 
young mother prayed the same i»:ayer. In a New York 
naval base three merchant marine men might hotve 
knelt and once more prayed, "Lord, he^ Gil Dodds to- 
night to set a record." 

The starting gun went oH, and if you had watched 
Gil Dodds closely you would hotve seen his lips moving 

— 10 — 



in a 8hort« simple, unleconed prayer to God for help in 
thi9 race. 

Seconds ticked off as the laps were covered. Gil was 
leading, but Bill Hulse wasn't over a step or two be- 
hind. On the side of the track Lloyd Hahn knelt and 
called the lap times to Gil as he rolled steadily along 
lap after lap. 

The Chicago Stadiimi track measures 11 laps to the 
mile. At the end of the tenth lap the gim went off, sig- 
naling the start of the fined lap. Hulse still wps only a 
stride behind. Aroimd the first curve on the final lap 
they sped. 

Suddenly Gil Dodds 'let himself out." The distance 
between himself and Hulse widened . • • and widened. 
Hulse knew then that barring an accident he couldn't 
catch Dodds. ^ 

The standing crowd was roaring and urging Gil on 
as he whipped around the final curve and into the 
stretch drive. Ifis legs were straining and his mitire 
body poimding forward as he finally cdmost threw him- 
self at the tope • . • and heard its sweet-sounding, vic- 
torious snap. 

The crowd continued to roar and stamp its approval. 
Record or no record, that was a race. 

Gil slowed to a stop, and kept walking. The leg man 
for a national radio broadcast asked Gil to say a few 
words over the air. He gasped out, 

'1 fhook the Lord for guiding me fliroiygh this race 

and once more seeing fit to let me win. I fhonk IBm 

oIwaTS for IDs guiding presence." 

Finished, he went back to the track and kept on walk- 
ing until he regained his normal breath. He reached 
his sweat suit, picked it up and put it on. By this time 
the clocks of the four judges had been compared and 

— 11 — 



the comouncer wcdked to the xnicrophone. 

"The winner — Gil Dodde, Boeton AfliMic Amo* 
dcrtion* 

"The time — a new world's record • • • 4K)6.4 
minutes • • • " 
Gmd his voice wen smothered as the crowd set up an- 
other roGoing cheer and applauded the stocky^ well- 
built man with glasses. Several of Gil's competitors 
come over, shook his hand and slapped him on the 
shoulder. Pictures were snapped. The crowd melted 
away, and Gil was free to find his way slowly to the 
locker room. 

There the supple hands of a trainer pUed him back 
to normality. Into his street clothes, with occasions here 
and there for congratulations and autographs as some- 
one managed to slip by the doorman. 

Out to the Arena where officials of the meet, spon- 
sored by the Chicago Daily News, asked him to say a 
few words. The crowd subdued its cheer as the micro- 
phone was placed in his hand. Gil Dodds started to 
talk. 

'1 appreciate your kindness to me/' he said, "and 
I think that many of you know and realize that run- 
ning is only o hobby with me* My main lob is serv- 
ing the Lord Jesus CSirist and it was only tlirou^ 
prayer that a world's record was set tonight Thank 
yout and good night" 

Silence for a moment, as the meaning of those words 
dug themselves into many a heart and mind. Then the 
cheers rolled again. Out through a door went Gil 
Dodds, there to be besieged by hundreds of autograph- 
seekers, each one in turn getting the famous name, "Gil 

Dodds," with a Bible verse tacked onto it 

• • • 

— 12 — 



That, in brief « tells you of two nights in the life of Gil 
Dodds, the world's greatest indoor miler as of 1944 and 
unbeatable on the indoor track. 

It brings to you two looks at the 1943 winner of the 
Sullivan awaxd as the "amateur athlete who had done 
the most to adrance the cause of sportsmanship during 
the year." 

It shows you a track ace who of a certainty would 
have been a great Olympic hero had not World War n 
come along. It reveals the man who gave Sweden's 
great Gunder Hagg all of the competition he could ask 
for in the summer of 1943. 

Truly, one of the greatest distance runners in all 
history! 

His records are innumerable, his trophies and medals 
hard to get into one little apartment in Boston, his press 
notices the best and most friendly of any athlete in 
many, many years, his "Scripture-quoting" and Bible- 
verse autograph making him internationally known, 
his principle of never running a race on Sunday ab- 
solutely unbroken on his way to the top, his giving of 
the credit for all of his triumphs to the Lord Jesus Christ, 
his complete dependence on prayer, his willingness to 
sacrifice a chance to defend a national title to preach 
a sermon in a small church in Indiana— add them all 
up, mix well with a pleasing personality and a fine 
sense of humor and you get a composite picture of Gil 
Dodds^ who says '1 run for Christ" 



— 13 — 



Chapter 11 

A STONE ... A LADY ... A DECISION 

The IS-yecor-old boy, bubbling with energy, sot fidget- 
ing in a youth eycmgelism class. This wasn't his first 
appearance in the class, nor was it his first time when 
the "Bible" and "salvation" had been explained to him. 

He knew in his mind, at least, most of the things 
which the lady in charge was explaining. Because he 
knew, there was a battle going on in the heart of the 
lad. This "puzzle" had him up in the air for sure. 

Through his mind raced the pranks of the past few 
weeks. The one that stood out forcefully was the in- 
stance when, on his way home from fishing with some 
of his pals, he had picked up a rock and tossed it at 
the car of a passing farmer. 

The brakes had screeched. The guilty-consdenced 
lad went speedily over a hill with a husky farmer in 
fast pursuit. The boy thought he could out-run the farm- 
er, but it wasn't long before a hand grabbed at a jack- 
et a panting boy stopped and the foot of a farmer 
planted a kick in its proper pkzce. 

The boy had come back to his snickering playmates 
and asked, 

"Who was that guy?" 

And they told him« 

"Lloyd Hahn.- 

Lloyd HahnI The name electrified the little fellow 
when first he heard it Eveiyone knew about Lloyd 
Hahn, and now he had met the famous Hahn, even 
though the meeting was painful. In the little town of 

— 14— 



Falls City, Neb«, near which this scene took place and 
near which Lloyd Hahn had his farm, the former Olym- 
pic games hero was as popular as anyone to the idol- 
izing youngsters. Holder of five indoor world records 
at one time from 1924-1929, the fame and name of Uoyd 
Hahn still was felt though this was years later. 

Thoughts of that prank criss<:rossed in the mind of 
the little "rock-thrower." Ever since he could remember, 
he had had a desire to be a runner, to race and to com- 
pete in track meets. 

Meeting this desire broadsides was an equally deep 
desire to be a Christian such as those about whom his 
father preached from Sunday to Simday in a Falls City 
church. 

"But can I be both?" he reasoned. In his little mind 
he thought he couldn't. Well-meaning friends had said, 
'Tou can't be a Christian and an athlete at the same 
time." Sensitive ears had picked those words up and 
a mind mulled them over and over. 

But this day was differenti 

The lady talking knew whereof she spoke, and God 
was using the Bible that day to drive home point after 
point to convince an eager youth of his need of salva- 
tion. Finally a verse which seemed completely direct- 
ed at him only came from her lips, 

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew 

their strength; they shall mount up with wings as 

eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and fhey 

shall walk, and not ioini" Isaiah 40:31. 

Then and there God spoke to that little fellow through 
that verse. At once his doubts about being a Christian 
and an athlete at the same time disappeared. On that 
day, when only 13 years of age, Gil Dodds, a "preach- 
er's kid" who was destined to become one of the great- 

— 15 — 



est milers of cdl time, gave his heart and life to the 
Lord Jesus Christ, coming to the realiisation, as he him- 
self explained it, that 'Te must be bom again." 

The lady leading the class was God-given Mrs. N. C. 
Hays. It was through her gentle counselling, too, that 
Gil Dodds realized that same day that there was but 
one place for him in this world — the ministry. Ever 
since that day his deep desire to be a runner has stay- 
ed with him and been fulfilled to a great extent, but 
through and above it all, motivating him at all times, 
has been a desire to be a preacher 

Where the two have clashed, the miler has taken 

second place and the minister has stepped to the fore. 

• • • 

Gil Dodds was no "imusual child." He grew up just 
like the rest of us. 

He was bom on June 23, 1918, at Norcatur, Kansas, 
the son of Rev. and Mrs. J. G. Dodds. Gil's father was 
a minister of the Gospel in the First Brethren church 
and at this time was serving the church at Reiger, Kan- 
sas. Gil is one of five children, and was the first to bless 
the Dodds home. 

Later came the following: Bextba Lee, bom at Morton 
Grove Mo.; Myron ''Mike" bom at Falls City, Neb.; 
Nadine, bom txt Shiddy, Neb., and Martiyn, bom at 
Falls City, Neb. 

Gil's father was half English and half Lrish and his 
mother was 100 per cent German. They comprise one 
of the ideal and model families in American life and 
the type of family irom which many of our great men 
have come. It was a fine Christian home, in which the 
Word of God was read, revered, and respected at all 
times. 

Of his family, home, and parents Gil once told a 

_16_ 



p 
I 
c 

T 
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E 



Two.ilaps bahind Gundai Haqg at Camp RaodolL N. Y. 



P 

A 
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A 
D 

E 



Tha faoUri I«fl <o riqhL GIL Hyran. 

Volaila. CHl'B motbn. Horilrn Un faont) . 

Bsitha Lm, FusIoi Dodda. Enna. 



BUI McKae, GU't "BoBwall." 



/■! 



p. A. Inc. p, A. Inc 

Tli« "lacoiid coach" pouai Ih* tood. loeUa Uocu to wcdk. 



GH Btndla, llankad bj trophy oiTar. "A cup of this, two of that . 



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can XM cs a CSins&ai. ^^loe **stape4lu'owjiig xnadontT' 
xiorI its fikes in other ways of Soofiii^ uiuuudL hot 0700 
uixxniQ^ ^^ iwrmlrs fliesB moved a seoomDess fliot is- 
ifi c xited tbcA lie was xjcnxytj pkaces. Tlds was especaodly 
true oAer he oooeptod &b Lozd as his Scxvjour. 

Tliouyh tiodc has boon fbB topmost hobby in his fits 
he ham^ cdlowed it to mcdce him Vfw i dffd Ba eaxly 
yeaxs wwe weQ-ioiiDded* and even uflut he started to 
ran he loept vp his inleiests in many other fines. To oo- 
fxiBiipiiisQ sranw of tlie thincjii he denied he wmiued his 
way flnoog^ hig^ sdiool by cimyiu g pap et m , by doing 
odd jobs, and by tmppSng. He was in l eges t e d in every- 



T3p mitil lie was 13 yeaxs oid flie idea and dxeam of 
being o gxeat ifistmme mnmy was "^"^**^y a "oosfle in 
file aii^ Sor GSl Oodds. He fitendly di Bomed of "some 
day sSnlriivj Biy Sfiftffs into Madisan Squuie Gknden's 
pine tiocit". When things sliulghloued thwmifilves out 
in his mind cmd heaxt ii^ien he was 13« he sluited to 
wade to then end. 

GSl oten hoi sqkL Toa don^ need to be flie best to 
snooeed« cmd he proves Us ocem by ^^^^^f^ his own sk- 
on^le. He was )vist a kid who lifced to ran. When be 
started to xrmhe bo^jglit cu of his own track egcdpoient 

— 17— 



from his hcord-eamed money; in fact, he did this oU 
through high school and through two years of college. 
Once he started to work for his goaL however, Gil real- 
ly worked. A sports writer in New York, after watching 
one of Gil's man4dlling training drills, wrote, "He may 
depend on the Lord for his strength, but he sure be- 
lieves in doing his bit to get into shape during the 
week." 

Gil started to run all alone. 

No other young fellows in Falls City wanted to run 
nor showed any inclination to run. So, he ran alone 
. . . and liked it. 

He found plenty of reasons for running, too. A biend. 
Bob Kimmel, did a good deal of trapping in and near 
Falls City and Gil was his buddy on many of those 
excursions. Gil then conceived the idea of operating 
a trap line, and after it was operating, it was found to 
hove only one drawback. Even by getting up at the 
crack of dawn Gil couldn't get around to his various 
lines, make it home to breakfast and then to school in 
time. The solution: nm between the traps. And so if 
you had been out on the plains of Nebraska a few years 
back as dawn did its awakening you might have seen 
a boy loping from trap to trap checking the lines at the 
same time as he built up a strong pair of legs and a 
good deal of stamina. 

That took him some 12 miles each day. Added to 
that was his newspaper route, upon which his custom- 
ers soon ceased to be surprised when they saw their 
poperboy running up to the house as though their copy 
held the 'liottest" story in years. 

Not far from the Dodds home was a lake which 
performed double duty for Gil. He liked to swim, so he 
swdm there. In off seasons it also served as a conveni- 

— 18 — 



« 

J * 

• • • • 



ent thing copound which to run cmd gave him a chcmce 
to time himself and note improvement. 

One of the stories that brings out the humorous side 
of Gil Dodds reverts back to his early days of running. 
His dad liked to himt and in Nebraska the jackrabbits 
were more than plentiful. When his dad went out to 
himt , Gil once jokingly told a crowd of 3«000 people at 
a summer conference groimds, "he didn't want to shoot 
just the skinny rabbits so he had me run alongside of 
them and tickle their i^es to see if they were fat 
enough to shoot at. If they were fat enough I'd wave to 
Dad and he would shoot." 

Then Gil would smile and say, '1 only wish I could 
run as fast as a jackrabbit. The four-minute mile would 
be easy then." 

The Dodds home at Falls City was quite a distance 
from the high school, which presented another problem. 
Aroimd noon Gil, being normal, would get himgry. If 
he walked home and back he would be late for after- 
noon classes. The solution — ^run both ways. And so 
every noon as soon as the last bell had rung Gil would 
start scooting for home. There he would eat a good 
meal, rest a few minutes to let the food settle and then 
run back to school to slip into his seat just before the 
afternoon class bell would do its work. 

But now we're in high schooL 



— 19 — 



Chapter m 

L . . . HAHN . . . HONORS 

likable q>orU writer in Falls City, 

e to hare you meet Gil Dodd*. GSl 
I imdeistand you've 'sort of met 
Lstaken." 

ore, though under different circum- 
me a lack had been well placed. 
k hands, Gil awkwardly and self 
D the pictiue of ease and helpful- 

1 a race and won it and local high 
»ttiiig steamed up about the quiet 
nmy Romsey did the preliminary 
t Lloyd Hohn . . . and, on his way 
rhompionl 

name of Lloyd Hohu is but a m«m- 
lers remember him well, however. 
th«n to forget. When Hcdm was in 
L through 1929 he set five world's 
up marks in the 880 (a sensational 
800 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 me- 
:er mile. He had gone to Boston in 
dc Ryder, veteran Boston Athletic 
mdsaid, 

one is Hahn. Lloyd Hahn. Will you 
1?" 

t few years later was to cooch an- 
med (^ Dodds, said, 
— 20 — 



"Sure, 8on« come on.'' 

And Lloyd Hahn ccone on ... to set world's recoids 
cmd become one of America's top heroes in the 1924 
cmd 1928 OlYmpiCB. 

After he finished racing, Hahn retired to his beloved 
Nebraska plains to set up farming near Falls City. A 
fine Christian man, he has been an ideal coach to Gil 
Dodds. Observers have been led to wonder just why 
Hahn should have his farm near Falls City and why, 
too. Rev. J. G. Dodds should accept the call to the Falls 
City Brethren church, bringing along with him a little 
lad who was interested in one main thing outside of 
the church — ^running. To Christians the answer is ob- 
vious. Uoyd Hahn possessed some running information 
to impart to Gil Dodds which would enable Gil to do 
more for the Lord Jesus Christ on the track. 

When Hahn was asked to help Gil with a few tips, 
he readily agreed. He didn't travel to town every day 
to coach GiL but he was in often enough to keep tab 
on the promising prepster. Perhaps even more than as 
a coach, Hahn inspired Gil by his Christian life. Gil 
could see in Hahn that an athlete could be an athlete 
and a Christian at the same time. Hahn had proved it 
before and he was proving it now as he served as a 
deacon in his church, and the Simday School teacher 
of a large men's class. Hahn recognized Christ's power 
and guiding in his life. 

But we're ahead of oiu: story. Soft-spoken Gil Dodds 
probably never would have asked Lloyd Hahn to coach 
him at any time, but two races in which he participated 
all by himself brought him into the news and into the 
limelight, in which he has been basking, to the glory 
of the Lord, for many years. 

In 1935 Gil heard of a track meet at Peru, Nebraska. 

— 21 — 



That wasn't far away but in his working on odd jobs, 
newspaper route, trapping, etc., Gil hachi't quite been 
able to S€nre up enough money to make the trip. He 
talked it over with his mother and she said that she 
would rather not hove him go but that if he wanted to 
go it was all right if he could pay his own way. 

Gil checked with his school authorities and they had 
no objections to his going. He had purchased his own 
track shoes and had "remodeled" some of his under- 
wear« so he was ready. After counting out all of his 
money, he climbed on the bus. He rode as far as his 
money lasted and got off. Then his thumb went into ac- 
tion and he hitch-hiked the rest of the way. 

Upon arriving, Gil looked up the necessary South- 
eastern conference officials, explained where he was 
from, that he had come alone because Falls City had 
no track coach or team, and that he wanted to nm. The 
officials did the necessary checking and he was enter- 
ed in two races — ^the mile and the half mile. 

Then he proceeded to be the outstanding athlete of 
the meetl 

He set a new record in the mile, lowering the old 
mark to 4:49.6 minutes, 13.4 seconds imder the former 
mark. He ran the half-mile in 2:09.5 minutes, breaking 
the old standard by 4.5 seconds. 

The next day the Falls city Jomncd had these words: 

'Terhaps the most interesting thing in the meet, of 
concern to Falls City, was the discovery of Gilbert 
Dodds, a sophomore who ran the mile and half mile. 
He had no basic training whatsoever and it was not 
learned imtil the day of the meet that he could run." 

Following this feat sports writer Ramsey did his in- 
troducing work. 

In one of his earlier races, when he was a freshman, 

— 22 — 



Gil had quite an experience. He hitch-hiked to a meet 
Goid on coriving in the morning decided to do what he 
had heard older athletes talk cd>out. They had said you 
needed strength to finish those races so Gil sat down 
and spent some of his hard-earned money by filling 
himself up on pancakes. Whatever else, he thought, 
he was going to have plenty of strength for this race. 

Around noon he remembered how they had said, 
"Eat plenty of meat to build up stamina." This prompt- 
ed Gil to move to a hot dog stand where he consumed 
eight hot dogs. His money was going down, but he had 
to be set for that rocel 

The race started, and so did Gil. All went well for a 
few laps and then he started to get a sideache. He 
thought it would pass over in a few seconds but the 
pain increased instead of getting better. He slowed 
down and everyone went past him. Finally he pulled 
over to the side of the track, stepped off, saw an invit- 
ing and shady tree a little bit away and lay under it for 
the rest of the meet. That was his first lesson in what 
kind of food to eat to be an athlete. 

After Hahn had seen him nm he was deeply impress- 
ed with his possibilities. Gil had that "easy nmning" 
style and gave the appearance of relaxing as he ran. 
Ctee fault was corrected immediately — he was landing 
on his heels and not on his toes on every stride. Through 
the spring of his sophomore year most of Gil's coach- 
ing help came from his sports-minded father and from 
a thorough study of his own running ability and the 
faults he himself felt he had to correct. 

The state track meet loomed on the horizon and Gil 
was entered in the mile. A year before, as a freshman, 
he had staggered across fourth in the mile event ond 
second in the half mile. But now he was "set" for the 

— 23 — 



m«et cmd won the state title in a time of 4:39 minutes. 
A new rule that year confined him to participating in 
but one event in the state meet. All of that sophomore 
year Gil had been Falls City's one-man track and a 
special convocation in the spring honored him and pre- 
sented him with his athletic letter. 

All next winter Gil ran home from school at noon and 
at night. He participated in other sports, was active at 
school and kept saving his money for expenses which 
he might meet when the track season came along. 

When he was a junior Hahn really started to take 
hold of Gil's training. As a rule« Gil practiced alone. 
Falls City had dropped track for spring football prac- 
tice and this prevented Head Coach "Tug" Brown from 
giving any extended attention to Gil. Falls City had no 
cinder track so Gil practiced in a pasture. The pasture 
and the pond around v^ch he ran were his two train- 
ing sites and cinder tracks were his only when meets 
came aroimd. 

Hahn told Gil to specialize in the half mile. He felt 
that Gil needed speed in order to become a truly great 
miler and so they worked on the shorter distance. Gil 
was unbeaten in dual meets all season and was aiming 
for a new record in the state meet at Lincoln. It eluded 
him, however, when he raced the distance in 2:01.8 
minutes, failing to break the standing record of 2:00.7 
minutes as he fought a heavy wind duxing the race. 

Summer, autumn, and winter passed by again with- 
out any regular competition but with Gil staying in good 
physical condition through participating in other sports 
and operating his trap Une, carrying his newspapers, 
etc. When hs senior year arrived GU was at his high 
school peak. Coach Brown again wos tied up with the 
football team most of the time so Gil drilled alone ex- 

— 24 — 



cept for the days when Hahn ccone in from the f ccrm. He 
won cdl of his races preparatory to the State meet at 
Uncoln and this year Hahn thought it best to run him 
in the mile. 

That race proved to be ahnost as thrilling as fiction. 

Another Nebraska prep ace, Delman Moore of Bart- 
ley, had been burning up the records in his section 
even as Gil had beeii doing in his. Prospects for a top- 
notch race in the state tournament were all there. News- 
papers played the race up for weeks. Falls City rooters 
even went so far as to put up $100 that Gil would win, 
but the Bartley fans declined it by saying that it was 
bad ethics to bet on a race, but "Oherwise we'd make 
those Falls City guys wear their felt hats all siunmer." 

Before the race started Gil told reporters, 'Tm going 
to run just like Lloyd Hahn said." And he did just thatl 

After 100 yards of the race Gil was last. The track 
was fast but a strong wind was working against the 
possibility of anyone's setting a new record. Soon Gil 
started to move up. He passed one nmner after the 
other and took the lead. Then he really put on the 
steam. When he finished he was 80 yards ahead of 
Moore and had broken the state record for the mile by 
over four seconds! His time was 4:28.1 minutes and the 
record still stands as of this writing. Falls City fans, 
some of whom had come to Lincoln for the meet, were 
jubilant at Gil's triumph. 

That race ended Gil's prep career. He had been en- 
tered in ten official races and had won all ten of them. 
In doing so he had set five records — ^the Southeastern 
Nebraska half mile in 2:09.5 minutes when a sopho- 
more, the "MINK" half mile when a junior in 2:03 min- 
utes, the Southeastern conference mile when a senior in 
4:40.8 minutes, the Beatrice Invitational half mile when 

— 25 — 



a senior in 2:01.7 minutes cmd the state meet mile rec- 
ord in 4:28.1 minutes. 

Where to from here? 

Gil hoped to go to the state university of Nebraska 

at Lincoln. As far as track was concerned he knew he 
could receive excellent coaching there. His f ather« how- 
ever« had been graduated from Ashland college in Ash- 
land, Ohio, in 1914, and he was of the opinion that Gil 
too should receive his college degree from the school 
sponsored and operated by the First Brethren denomi- 
nation. The school had no track team, no track coach, 
nor was its size — 300 students— able to put it in much 
of an athletic limelight. These thoughts raced through 
Gil's mind as he was making his decision, but in the 
fall of 1937 he entered Ashland college. 

High school days were over. Falls City days were 
over, too, it appeared, as his father had accepted the 
call to a Mexico, Ind., pastorate. But Gil had met some- 
one in Falls City who was slated to have much to do 
with his future life. Pretty Erma Louise Seeger, a fine 
Christian daughter of an equally fine Christian family, 
was a junior in the Falls City high schooL Gil conven- 
iently f oimd two jobs that summer in Falls City — ^in 
Schoff 's Bakery and in the public library. 

The summer ended, and four years of college started 



— 26 — 



Chapter IV 

COLLEGE . . . CRISIS . . . CUPS 
...CHAMPIONSHIPS 

ASHLAND College never has been widely known for 
its athletic teams. Competition is held in many 
sports but the size of the school precluded any possibili- 
ty of national recognition. 

That is, until Gil Dodds came along. 

The school nmnbers in an average school year 300 
students. When Gil arrived in the fall of 1937 it had no 
track team. Gil had known this and in looking ahead 
he had gone to Lloyd Hahn and had asked him to do 
something he had never even heard of before-— coach 
him by maill 

Hahn agreed, and thus through four years of college 
the team of Hahn-the-Coach and Dodds-the-Rimner 
worked and worked toward keeping the runner up to- 
ward the top of the track parade. Sportswriters soon 
tabbed him as the "Mail Order Miler" and the "Corres- 
pondence School runner." But the mail between Ash- 
land and Falls City kept going and coming, and Gil 
Dodds kept on winning races. 

As a freshman Gil met his first defeat. 

Invited to the Mansfield Relays at Mansfield, Ohio, 
in the spring of his freshman year, 'Twinkle Toes," as 
the Ashland collegians came to call him, ran the half 
mile in two minutes flat but lost to flashy Les Eisenhart 
of Columbus, who did it in 1 :59 minutes. He competed 
in the Cleveland Athletic Club's annual meet that same 
spring and won two races. By this time Hahn again felt 
definitely that the mile was Gil's best race and arrang- 
ed his training schedule accordingly. 

—27 — 




As a sophomore Gil txied czoss country running for 
the first time. He had run many long distances in train- 
ing but this was the first time he entered any official 
races. This brought out one of the dominant traits in 
Gil Dodds' personality. He is extremely enthusiastic 
about anything he goes into, and cross coimtry is no 
exception. Hafan was greatly in favor of the idea, too« 
and in a short while the weekly letter from Falls City 
was carrying the proper instructions for hill and dale 
running. 

Gil clicked right away in cross country nmning. In 
his first year he set a state conference record of 22 : 02.6 
minutes over a 3% mile course, breaking the former 
mark by 33.4 secondsl That came, too, on his first look 
at the racing course and while he was working nights. 
Still he finished 400 yards ahead in winning. 

That victory brings into our picture a sports writer 
who has had much to do with placing Gil Dodds in the 
national limelight. Sometimes it takes a sports writer or 
sports editor to beat the publicity drums loud enough so 
fans outside a local territory will know about a home 
town favorite. This was true in Dodds' case. 

Bill McKee, sports editor of the Ashland Times Ga- 
zette, had been one of Gil's staunchest supporters ever 
since he enrolled at Ashland. Knowing and feeling that 
Gil had the stuff, McKee went all-out for him. Through 
his efforts Gil was invited to compete in the Sugar Bowl 
race at New Orleans on January 1, 1939, and it was 
through his efforts, too, that Gil ever reached New 
Orleans to race. 

The Ashland athletic budget wasn't made to send its 
teams and athletes all over the coimtry, and conse- 
quently after the invitation to the Sugar Bowl event had 
been received it appeared that Gil would have to refuse 

— 28 — 



because of lack of expense money. Gil was workixFg his 
way through college by bell hopping at Ashland's Ho- 
tel Otter and couldn't afford to pay his own way. 

So McKee helped to arrange and sponsor an exhibi- 
tion basketball game which coughed up the necessary 
expense money. The game was a success as hundreds 
of fans did their bit to send their newest athletic star 
on his way to the top. Ashland college has meant much 
to Gil Dodds, and the fine spirit of cooperation at that 
time and at later instances has given him a deep love 
for the school whose 300 students form "one big, happy 
family/' 

To New Orleans went Gil Dodds and into big-time 
track stepped another star for the first time. His first at- 
tempt in Big Time competition came in the Sugar Bowl 
on January 1, 1939, and although Gil didn't win that 
race and although he didn't reach the top immediately 
following that race, he is there now. 

Gil was entered in the two-mile race against Don 
Lash, great University of Indiana runner. It was the 
first competitive two-mile race that Gil ever had nm. 
When the gun went ofiE Gil swung into his steady, 
pleasing-to-watch lope. Lap after lap he stayed ahead 
of Lash. In the middle of the race he lengthened and 
lengthened that lead. With one lap to go Gil was ahead 
by 30 yards. 

Then the Indiana star started to close the gap. It nar- 
rowed slowly because Gil wos still running well though 
very tired. Would he catch "the unknown?" He did, but 
by only one yard in what proved to be the best race of 
the entire meet. Lash's time was 9:23.3 minutes and 
after he had gotten his wind back he told reporters, 
"the kid had me scaredl" 

When Gil went home from New Orleans he had in 

— 29 — 



his pocket cm invitation to compete in the f cmied hBH- 
rose gomes in Madison Square Garden the following 
month. 

Madison Square Gardenl A dream coming truel Ac- 
tually invited to race in the Gcprdenl Gil was thrilled. 
He went home, drilled intensely for a month and then 
was off to Madison Square Garden and the Millrose 
games. 

Gil reached New York and his remark at seeing 
crowded Times Square jammed with people ranks with 
the best of remarks of people getting their first look at 
New York. The small Nebraskan« getting his first look 
at Gotham, blurted out, 

"Say, what's going on here. It looks like Satiurday." 

It was Satiurday a few days later when Gil ran in 
Madison Square Garden for the first time. He had 
everything to look forward to, everything to plan for, 
a futiure in track that looked extremely promising, three 
years of collegiate racing ahead of him, one of the best 
coaches in the world training him, etc. 

And then the roof fell in and the bottom fell out. 

Gil Dodds proved such a flop in his first race in Madi- 
son Square Garden that the crowd actually stood up 
and booed him, calling at him, "Get off the track, you 
bum!" . 

Here's how it happened. 

Gil was entered in the two-mile race against Greg 
Rice and Don Lash. The Garden was filled with smoke 
and this was the first time Gil ever had run in a smoke- 
filled arena. He started out all right, but began to falter 
after the half-way mark. Rice lapped him. Gil was hav- 
ing a hard time staying on his feet. Sportswriters have 
described him as "weaving all over the track, like a 
dnmk." 

— 30 — 



But hia fighting heart wouldn't let him quit. He kept 
on running, his foot hitting agcdnst the curb of the track 
on almost every stride. Lash was coming up, fast in 
pursuit of Rice. But he couldn't get past Gil as he wove 
from side to side and just as he did get by, Gil's foot 
hit the cturb again and he was thrown into Lash. 

Lash's stride was broken, but he managed to stay 
on his feet and went on to trail Rice to the tape. GU 
fell to the track as the crowd roared angrily at him for 
having spoiled the race between Rice and Lash. He 
picked himself up and walked with head down off the 
track as boos and catcalls resoimded in his ears. 

New York newspapers the next day were anything 
but kind to Um. The "moil order" and "correspondence 
school" remarks were unearthed and tagged onto him 
for not knowing how to run in big time and for spoiling 
the cracker jack race between Rice and Lash. 

The following week-end Gil competed in the Boston 
Athletic Association meet at Boston. The invitation to 
the meet had come before the Millrose games and al- 
though Boston officials felt inclined to withdraw his 
entry after seeing what happened at New York he was 
allowed to compete. With many of the fans still remem- 
bering what had happened the week before, he came 
in for numerous jibes even in Boston. In the race he 
stayed from a half foot to a foot from the curb and fin- 
ished fourth in the two-mile behind Lash. 

A saddened Gil Dodds reached Ashland college after 
that trip east. From all appearances he had "soured 
himself" forever with big time track meet officials. 

But he kept at it. 

He still wrote his weekly letter to Hahn and received 
one in return. Though discouraged he realised that life 
was more than running in track meets. He swung into 

— 31 — 



his school work with intnest; he took pcort in school 
octiyities xeadily. His job kept him busy. A typioczl 
school day found him working at the hold from 6 to 
10 a.m. Then he hurried to classes, to his afternoon 
wodcout and back to work for a few hours at nig^t 
Being a bell hop, he was aUe to do part oi his stud3fing 
on the job. The hotel manager figured Dodds to be one 
of his "top drawing cards," as for as attracting trcnfe 
was concerned. When the snows came GSl would gel 
his workout by taking a snow shovel to the track with 
him and uncovering a kme or path aU around the track. 
This B&rved as his "warmiq>/' and gave him a "dear 
track" to use for his real woaAaaL 

The next spring found Gil back in competition, a bit 
shaky after the experience in the Garden but determin- 
ed to reach the top. He placed second to Rice in the 
Drake Relays, pushing him to a new national collegiate 
record of 9:10 minutes. Ife set a Bix Sx conference 
meet record in the two-mile <d 9:47.3 minutes, placed 
seccmd in the Centred Collegiate at MQwaukee, where 
his father saw him compete for the first time, and was 
fourth in the National Collegiate Athletic Associaticm 
(NCAA) two-mile at Los Angeles. 

The weekly lettecs of advice kept cosmng frcon Hahn 
and Gil gave all ciedit to Hcxhn for any csdvonces he 
had made. When school was out fhol npdnq GSL went 
to Falls Qty to see his sweetheart and practice for the 
Amateur Athletic Union's annual meet at LinroTn He 
was in excellent diape for the nwet and was entered 
in the 10,000 meters (six and a fourth miles) race. A 
sirzHng heat wove gr ip ped ttie Midwe^ the day of the 
meet and with one lap to go GO wos forced out of &e 
meet when his legs gave out He was leoding at the 
time and appeared to hove the victocy wmi* 

—32— 



^Bb icBDB wcB sptTBCxdin^, Lowever. From wcry ovbt in 
ChtfUT a frifwid seaitluina cfippixicf bom flie CSiiiia Press 
isme of Jime 4« 1939. The dippii^ gava two coimmis 
cmd CL pictiirs to tho 1Scxipti2r&-(]uotiiii^ cnilelo. 

After CL SHTnTTHg of vwntinq' cmd prBonhnig in dmrdi- 
es, GH was back in sduxd in the icdl for his jmiior jeai, 
AshlcDid was intersiddd in track now and a cioss ooon- 
try team was fanned to nm with GSL In the first race 
two of flie Ashland rannera goi kset on flie couxse hot 
still managed to finish ninth cmd tenth to give flie team 
a Yictory. GSL s^ a record in that meet as Ashland de- 
feated Wooster* the state dtampions. 

Gil cdso won flie dao oonferencse fiTiss f'lmntijf tide 
in the meet bdd at Ashlandi aiding the team in winning ^ i 
the c oufara noe title. This race was the iBzst in whidi 
Ashland students cmd fdlowers saw him nm« as ttuB 
meet was held at Adxkmd. 

GS. compeled in flie ncdioncd cross oountry mont at 
Lansing^ MMi^ and fmished eig^ifli. With this in mind 
and remembering tibe race he hod mn at New Oileans 
flie year before. Sugar Bowl offificrls ngrriTi invited him 
to ran in New Odeans on New Yeco^s Day. But that day 
leU on Sunday and in line with a prind^)Ie vdiidi Gil 
has sever broken* he leftised the invitafion. The oction 
WCB fywiTw«n#^ft<^ by the loccd ministffttlgi assocaofion 
in Ashlandf hot it was a hard decision to mcifce as that 
race gftneitiHy decided who would be invited to tbB 
MUlrose games in New Yodc 

So Gil stayed at home &at winter« outside of rnn- 
ning in cm exhibition race ogcdnst Tcdslo Mcdd of Rn- 
land at C3evi^and on MarcSi 29-30. In the ooldoor sea- 
son he pkced second in the two-mile at the Texas Be- 
lays, second in the Penn Relays^ won the mUe and lost 
file two mile in fiie Ohio oonferenoe meet cmd pkioed 

— 33— 






•ighth in the N.C JlJl. two-mile at MinneopoliB. 

The next suxnmer found him working on a state high- 
way crew to stay in tip-top physical shape. He wanted 
to be at his best for his senior year and his last chance 
at collegiate laurels. In the preliminary cross country 
meets in the fall he broke three out of four meet records 
in those in which he competed^ as he won all four 
races. He captured the Ohio conference title in 20:47 
minutes. In one of the races he finished so far ahead 
that he was cd>le to take a shower, get dressed and 
snap a picture of the late finishers! 

On November 25, 1940, he became a national cham- 
pion for the first time when he won the national cot 
legiate cross country championship at East Lansing, 
Mich. Three days before that race he had received a 
wire from Hahn which read, 'Take it easy—- you're 
trained too fine." So Gil laid off training for three days. 

On a heavy and muddy course he not only won the 
race from the top collegiate runners in the UnjLted States 
but also broke the record by 7/10 of a second. He fin- 
ished the course in 20:32.2 minutes, a full 36.8 seconds 
better than his time of a year b^ore when he had fin- 
ished eighth. 

He won by 50 yards over Notre Dame's famous Oliver 
Himter, and immediately after the race sent a happy 
wire to a waiting Falls City farmer, "Ran as directed 
and won." That triumph did a good deal for Gil Dodds. 
It gave him the confidence he needed. The nation's top 
distance runners — 130 runners from 22 schools — ^were 
on hand for that race and so Gil toi^>ed the cream of 
the crop in his victory. Ever since the ]^dlrose games 
in 1938 Gil had had a fear of "folding up" in a race 
and that fear had affected his running right down the 
line. 

-34- 



But now he wets "over the hump" cmd a nationcd 
chGonpionship was his as he left East Lansing that 
night. That race has other memories, too, for Gil. It had 
its humorous angles. One of Gil's teammates lost one 
of his shoes somewhere on the course and finished 
barefooted. Another runner in the race broke his ankle 
during the first half of the rugged course and finished 
the race without even knowing that he had broken a 
bone in his ankle. Right after the race a friend of Gil's 
who had worked wiUi him on the highway crew the 
siunmer b^ore claimed some credit for Gil's champion- 
ship. "Why/' he said, '1 let him do all of my work last 
siunmer so he could stay in shapel" 

A cheering campus greeted Dodds when he returned. 
It was the first national championship which Ashland 
ever had won in any sport and it brought national pub- 
licity to Ashland. Ashland was proud of the fellow who 
shrugged off the friendly taunts of his classmates for 
getting so much sleep and for not eating rich foods. 

The next spring he won the Texas Relays 3,000 meter 
crown which had eluded him. He was still going strong 
on the cross country record which had seen him win 
eight out of nine races in which he had competed over 
three years. In the Penn Relays he broke the meet rec- 
ord for the two-mile but found himself second to Fred 
Wilt of Indiana. 

Then came a race which surprised even Hahn. 

Gil was invited to the Beloit Relays at Beloit, Wis., 
and after hitch-hiking to the meet he won the mile in 
4:13.7 minutes, a full ten seconds faster than he ever 
had run the mile in competition. Hahn was surprised 
because usually a cross country star is better at the 
longer distances, as two miles and three miles, than he 
is at the mile. Gil too felt lately that the two-mile race 

— 35 — 



was his best distance. 

That Beloit race was the second fastest collegiate 
mile of the season. George Donges of Ashland, when 
he heard the time a few days later said, "Say, you must 
be 10 seconds off there." As Gil sped around the track 
that day a little Negro boy in the middle of the back 
stretch called out to him, "Say there bo', what's wrong 
with you? You got hot rocks in yo' pants?" Along with 
the medal for winning the mile Gil was awarded a 
trophy for being the outstanding athlete of the meet, 
though people at home didn't know about the latter 
award for a week or so as Gil didn't mention it. 

Later that spring Gil won the Ohio conference two- 
mile run in 9:31.3 minutes, but failed to break the rec- 
ord. If you'll check the Ohio conference record books 
today, not once will you see the name of Gil Dodds as 
holding a conference record. He ran many, many fine 
races and clearly was the outstanding track star in the 
conference in many years, but an oddity finds him un- 
able to break a conference record in each of his three 
years of competition. 

In Milwaukee Gil ran the two-mile in the Central Col- 
legiate meet in 9 : 14.5 minutes to win and set the lowest 
mark in the country that year. This terminated his reg- 
ular season but it was NCAA time again and Gil's 
thoughts were turned toward Palo Alto, Calif, and one 
final chance at the two-mile championship. However, 
the Ashland budget again was depleted. To the rescue 
once more came sports editor Bill McKee of the Ashland 
Times-Gazette, now known as "Gil Dodds' Boswell." 
McEee started a fund himself and before the publicity 
was over 39 people had chipped in to send Gil to Palo 
Alto. 

But Gil didn't win. 

— 36 — 



He placed third to Fred Wilt of Indiana and Bobby 
Madrid of Fresno, Calif. His fine showing, however, 
gave him a place on the Ail-American track team, the 
first Ashland athlete in history to be so honored. 

The national A. A. U. meet was coming up and it 
would give Gil a chance to redeem himself. But when 
Gil found that this race would be held on Simday, he 
promptly scratched his entry. 

That finished Gil Dodds' collegiate career. He wasn't 
known as the greatest distance runner in college, and 
what might have happened had he gone to a school 
which had a track coach and a track team is purely 
problematical. As an athlete^ however, he had gained 
the admiration of every competitor. Not many people 
knew that he himself had bought and paid for every 
bit of track equipment he used imtil he was a junior in 
college. He had missed the personal, face-to-face con- 
tact with Lloyd Hahn; the usual deep feeling that de- 
velops between a coach and his pupil had been some- 
what stifled because of the necessity of their talking to 
each other through the mail. In cross country Gil had 
reached the top and was without a peer. In more-pub- 
licized track, however, he was just on the fringe of be- 
ing termed great. 

Had his running been the only thing Gil was in col- 
lege for, he might well have been disappointed. Even 
though these words have dealt mainly with his track 
exploits, we should not forget his other achievements in 
college. Track was his hobby — ^that and nothing more. 
His main job was being a Christian and letting other 
people know what it was to be a Christian. 

Together with a fellow student Gil had worked to 
open two closed churches near Ashland. When they 
left college the churches were thriving again. He spoke 

— 37 — 



often at other churches in cmd near AshlancL using 
testimony as a runner to bring out the Gospel story. In 
his class work he had finished with a high average in 
both of his major lines of study, English and history. 
He had been active in the Gospel Team work as con- 
ducted by the students, interested and occupied in the 
YMCA work, a member of the "A" club, and other 
extra-curricular activities. 

He had taken all of the honor coming to him with 
Christian humility. In March of his senior year a school 
banquet had honored him and the basketball team. 
Graduation came on fast and coUege was finished. 

What was next? 

The problem for the summer was solved when he ac- 
cepted the pastorate of a church at Fort Scott, Kansas. 
While there he stayed in shape by means of early 
morning workouts. When fall arrived he enrolled in the 
Seminary course at Ashland, not knowing exactly what 
to do and being somewhat in a puzsde. He kept up with 
his running, however, and that fall hitch-hiked to the 
Ohio Amateur Athletic Union's state cross country meet 
and won it. Then, characteristically enough, he thumb- 
ed his way out of town to a place 66 miles away to 
preach there twice the next day. 

Hahn had urged Gil to go east for a year and let Jack 
Ryder, Lloyd's former coach, take him imder his wing. 
He was confident that Gil could reach the top, but Gil, 
being of a conservative nature and always wanting to 
be sure of things, didn't think so. But Hahn was clearly 
convinced that Gil could succeed so he wrote to both 
Ryder and Walter Brown, president of the Boston Ath- 
letic Association, telling them of Gil's sensational time 
in the Beloit Relays and of his amazing stamina. 

A few days later letters arrived from Ryder and the 

— 38 — 



Boston Athletic Association, asking Gil and his wife 
if they were mterested in coming east. Gil and his wife 
answered, 'Tes, if it's the Lord's will/' Then they pray- 
ed very definitely about it. Things gradually closed up 
for Gil in Ashland and then a letter arrived from Mr. 
Brown stating that he would pay their expenses to Bos- 
ton, find Gil a job, take care of them for a couple of 
weeks and if they liked to stay it would be fine. Other- 
wise, he would pay their way back to Ashland. 

This definite answer to prayer led Gil to withdraw 
from Ashland Seminary and head for Boston. Another 
evangelical and spiritual Bible school — Gordon School 
of Theology and Missions — ^was located there and Gil 
planned to enroll there for his seminary training. 

Horace Greeley said a few years before, "Go west, 
young man, go west." Gil Dodds reversed the direction, 
but he also went up the ladder to world fame and sue- 



Chapter V 

BOSTON . . . JACK RYDER . . . FAME 

/ 

IT was a cold December day when Gil Dodds walked 
up to Jack Ryder, "maker of champions/' in Boston, 
handed him a letter written by Lloyd Hahn in Falls 
City, and said, 

"Mr. Ryder, Uoyd Hofan sent me to you. Td like 

to learn how to run." 

Jack Ryder read the letter, looked at Gil and said to 
him even as he had said to another Nebraskan years 
before, 

"All right, son." 

On arriving in Boston Gil had a job in defense work 
lined up for him by Mr. Brown, but this was changed 
and he started to work in a city gyxnnasium. He wanted 
to serve a church while going to school, feeling that the 
Lord wanted him to do that and also to relieve the fi- 
nancial strain. First one church apparently was all set 
to engage him as its pastor when some small item 
arose and the church decided that it did not want him. 

He applied to another church then without a pastor, 
and the same thing happened! Some small detail mi- 
nor in itself, was enough to keep him from getting the 
call. It was at that time that Gil decided that the Lord 
wanted him to run while going to school and that "He 
preferred that I glorify Him by my running, not my 
preaching, while going to schooL" 

Ryder had heard of Gil Dodds and had seen him run 
in the Boston Garden in 1939, the week following Gil's 
flop in New York. The veteran coach didn't know what 

— 40 — 



to expect when GU showed up. Without oaldxig for in- 
structions Gil jogged an easy mile, rode the bike, went 
through a half hour of hard calisthenics, jogged and 
sprinted a little more, and thmi, when he had done 
more drilling in a single day than ony athlete Ryder 
ever had trained, he came over to Ryder and said, 

'Tm ready to start now, Mr. Ryder. What do you sug- 
gest that I do today?" 

Then and there Jack Ryder knew he had a pupil who 
was willing to work. 

And work he did. Ryder toiled day in and day out 
with Gil, admixing the talent built into the sinewy five 
foot nine inch frame. The veteran Boston Athletic As- 
sociation coach, who has developed more track cham- 
pions than perhaps any other coach, believed in Dodds' 
greatness from the first. He saw a body whose muscles 
could absorb unusual punishment. He marvelled at the 
amazing recuperative powers which Dodds has: two 
minutes after a gruelling mile race his breathing is 
back to noxmall He saw in Dodds a modem mirade— 
a man who didn't have a sprint but still a man who 
could approach the four-minute mark in the mile in race 
after race. 

The explanation lies in Dodds' tremendous stamina. 
Gil doesn't "sonre himself" in any race. Once that start- 
ing gim goes off he starts running as hard as he can 
and doesn't quit until the race is over. His new "power- 
house" type of running surprised track experts at first. 
As a rule a miler would run slower the second and third 
quarters in a mile race, but Gil is just the opposite. His 
second and third quarters generally are his best as he 
"pours it on." 

Ryder was amazed at his pacing power. He would 
teU Gil to run a practice mile in 4:50 minutes. Gil often 

— 41 — 



would hit it right on the nose. That pacing power has 
proved invalucd>Ie to Ryder and to Dodds. 

In Jack Ryder Gil found an ideal coach. Lloyd Hahn 
knew of but one man to send Gil to for further training. 
That man was Jack Ryder. 

Dodds is Ryder's prize exhibit and there exists be- 
tween the two a deep friendship of mutual love and ad- 
miration. Ryder is a very devout Catholic and this has 
cemented rather than hindered their working together. 
Whenever Gil would get in a tough race, ox lose one, 
Ryder as often as not would remind GiL "Now, Gil, 
don't we say when we pray, 'Thy will be done?"' 

In zero weather they drilled together. Ryder risked 
pneumonia time and time again to be with Gil in those 
winter drills. Sports writers often have wondered why 
the venercd>le Ryder did it. There is no pay connected 
with his job as coach of the Boston A Jl. track team and 
the time he puts in with his "stcd>le" surely is valucd>le. 
Ryder lives for track and Gil's coming to Boston put 
"new life" into him, allowing him to develop his great- 
est champion. 

Gil almost worshipped Ryder. He followed his orders 
explicitly and to the letter. He told a sports writer once. 
'1 don't think 111 ever be able to repay Coach Jack 
Ryder. I have implicit faith in him. I'll always welcome 
his advice. He's the best coach a man ever had. There's 
none other like him." 

Ryder knows his track and knows his athletes. The 
sporting scene has known few men who can judge 
athletes as Ryder has done. At times his predictions for 
Gil have seemed a bit far fetched but time and time 
again Gil has ceme through with triumphs in record 
times to fulfill his prophecies. 

Ryder is a fluent speaker and knows how to write 

— 42 — 



and speak between nine to 19 languages with varying 
proficdency. He learned these when lyorking with the 
immigration department of the Federal govemmmit. He 
also is a good writer, plays the violin and piano« and is 
justly proud of his record as a champion checker play- 
er. He is employed at Boston College, where he serves 
as track coach and professor of physical education. 

Whmi Gil first came east several friends warned him 
that he never would get anywhere in big time racing 
because so many of the races were held on Sunday 
and Gil didn't run on Sundays. Gil's reply was his 
usual, God-guided answer, "If the Lord sees fit to have 
me run. Hell make it possible that I won't have to run 
on Sunday." 

This has proved to be the case. Gil never has run in 
a race on Sunday. To him it is strictly the Lord's day. 
A few meets have been moved to accommodate him, 
including two national A JL U. races which were moved 
ahead fxom Sunday to Saturday to allow Gil to run. 

Which brings up the story of one such two-day meet. 
Gil's specialty was scheduled for Saturday and a few 
minutes before the race was to start a thimderstorm 
loomed up. One of Gil's opponents jokingly suggested, 
"Let's pray for rain so they'll postpone the race until 
tomorrow and then Gil won't run." 

But the storm passed over . . . and Gil passed the 
runners to win the race. 

Ryder started to work with Gil in December, 1941. He 
arranged so Gil could dress in the same locker room as 
used by Hahn years before, and even use the same 
locker. Through December and January they drilled 
toge&er in the cold of the winter. Then Gil was invited 
to the Millrose games in Madison Square Garden. 

Much went through Gil's mind after that invitation 

— 43 — 



was received. It would be hard to explain his feelings. 
Three years before he had been booed out of the Gar- 
den OS the "Get outta there, ya bumi" cries hod reach- 
ed his burning ears. 

But a crowd soon forgets. The promoters needed 
someone to run against phenomenal Greg Rice and so 
they took the word of trusty Jack Ryder and invited Gil 
back for the meet. 

It wasn't until three days before the race that he 
knew he was going to run the two-mile. He had been 
training for the mile, but when the promoter asked him 
to run the two-mile in order to provide competition for 
Rice, he agreed. 

Just before the race he received a wire of encourage- 
ment from the "old highway crew gang" back in Ohio. 
Three years before, in this same race in this same meet, 
Gil Dodds the sophomore in coUege had folded up com- 
pletely, had been lapped by Rice and had spoiled the 
bid of Don Lash to overcome Rice. 

But this night it was different. 

Gil didn't defeat Rice. He never has done that, al- 
though they have had many close races. But about the 
time in the race when Rice's opponents usually start 
to lag behind and let him go on to unchallenged vic- 
tory, an imknown from the Boston A.A. started to give 
Rice a fight for the lead. Track programs hurriedly 
were scanned for his number . . . "GU Dodds, Boston 
A.A." That finish tape was getting closer, tmd still the 
dark-haired runner with glasses didn't fall back. Right 
up imtil the last few yards Gil was ahead; then the 
final, famous Rice "kick" moved him past Gil to win 
by three yards in the fast time of 8:53.2 minutes. 

That lone race revived track interest in the east. Out 
of nowhere but Jack Ryder's vest pocket had stepped 

— 44 — 



cm unknown, a divinity school student who had learned 
the fundamentals of nmning through the mail cmd now 
was ready to meet anyone on his own footing. Once 
more Jack Ryder had a champion and once more there 
was talk of someone beating invincible Greg Bice. 

The following week the Boston AJl. games were 
scheduled for the Boston Garden. The newspapers built 
up a great Rice-Dodds duel. Bice won decisively this 
time as Gil didn't do so well before his new "home 
town folks." He trailed Rice by 50 yards, although even 
a victory that night would not have meant too much 
as it was at that meet that Cornelius Warmerdam, the 
California pole vaulter, sailed over the bar at 15 feet, 
7% inches for an all-time world record. 

The next week it was back to New York for the New 
York Athletic club meet. Gil almost defeated Rice here 
again but trailed by three yards at the finish. Seven 
days later, m the Amateur Athletic Union's national in- 
door meet. Rice decided to run the three-mile race. Gil 
didn't think it would be too much fun chasing Rice for 
three miles so Ryder entered him in the mile. Heavily 
favored and recognized king of the milers was Les 
MacMitcheU, one of track's all-time greats and iq>orting 
a string of 19 straight victories. A few hours before the 
race he had been awarded the Sullivan trophy for be- 
ing the outstanding amateur athlete for 1941. Every- 
thing pointed to another MacMitcheU victory, this to be 
No. 20. 

But Gil Dodds proceeded to iq>oil a great day for 
MacMitchelL 

Gil ran the mile that day in 4 :08.7 minutes for a new 
national AAU indoor record. He was ahead of Mac- 
Mitchell all of the way ond when the New York ace 
tried to close the gap by his final sprint Gil was too 

—45 — 



fco: out in front and he fell a yard short. This was the 
greatest upset of the ind^r season and stunned the 
crowd and the sporting world. 

That triumph reaUy brought Gil up with the cream 
of the nmners. He fulfilled Ryder's predictions and 
hopes and brought joy to the heart of the Boston Col- 
lege track coach. It brought much-needed confidence 
to Gil and gave him that assurance that he was just as 
good as the rest of them. Newspapers the country over 
filled their columns about the "Scripture-quoting semi- 
nary student from Boston." 

After the race Gil went on a "spree" — ^he ate two 
honey and butter sandwiches and drank a bottle of 
milk. He startled the well-fortified AAU by presenting 
an expense account of only $17 for the meet — $10.60 
for train fare and $6.40 for board and room. Seventeen 
dollarsl .... after the AAU had been paying expense 
accounts into the hundreds for other athletes. 

But the lickings were still to come. A few weeks later 
MacMitchell defeated Gil in the Coliunbia mile in New 
York. This preceded the annual Chicago Relays spon- 
sored by the Chicago Daily News in which Gil had 
reverted to the two-mile by requests only to be defeated 
once again by "Rambling Rice." It was after the Chi- 
cago race that Gil's wife said/ "Why expend all of that 
energy chasing someone? Why not compete in the mile 
and beat MacMitchell?" 

So« back to the mile. Gil always has felt that he can 
run the two-mile better than the mile« but figures have 
proved him wrong from time to time. At least he can 
break records in the mile and win races, and this hasn't 
been true in the two-mile. 

MacMitchell's triumph in the Coliunbian mile left 
each of them with one victory. The setting was ideal 

— 46 — 



for a fined race and it was held for Navy Relief in New 
York on March 25« 1942. Before that race the promoter 
had asked Gil which race he would rather run. Gil 
answeredf 

"Whichever race will bring the most for Navy Relief. 
Where's an entry blank?" 

They handed him one and he signed it 

"One mile or two-mile." 

Gil would run any race that would swell the gate 
receipts or help along his favorite iq>ort or any service 
cause. When the plans for the meet were completed 
they asked him to compete in the mile against Mac- 
Mitchell. The race was a dandy and MacMitchell won 
in 4:07.8 minutes, up until that time the fifth fastest 
mile on record! Gil finished second with 4:08.5 minutes 
in a race that had the fans on their feet through all of 
the final laps. 

The indoor season was over and as it ended* firmly 
perched on the throne as the "newcomer of the year" 
was Gil Dodds of Boston. He almost had defeated Rice 
three times and he had handed MacMitchell his lone 
defeat in nine races. When iq>orts writers looked at that 
long list of second places they quipped* "Often a 
bridesmaid, but never a bride." It may have been true 
then, but not for long. 

The snows melted« the ground softened up . . . and 
the outdoor season was here. Gil tuned up for the na- 
tional AJI.U. meet by winning the New England A. 
A.U. mile championship in 4 : 13 minutes, breaking a 29- 
year old record by six seconds as the old recordholder, 
Jimmy Powers, looked on. All through the nation the 
stars were getting set for the top outdoor meet of the 
season — ^the national A. A.U. meet. This year it was held 
on June 20, 1942, in New York. The 1,500 meter race 

— 47 — 



(called the metric mile^ was the feature of the two- 
day tournament and carried in it the greatest field of 
the year. MacMitchelL of course^ was the favorite. 

But Dodds came through with a blazing 3:50.2 min- 
utes to win the race« with LeRoy Weed second and 
MacMitchell third. This was the second time he had 
defeated MacMitchell and this time it was deciidvely. 
From all outward appearances* Gil apparently was on 
the throne. 

That summer he worked in Boston, nmning in and 
wizming three races and placing second in a handi- 
cap three-mile race on July 4 in Boston after wizming 
his first race that day. 

When the 1943 indoor season came along everyone 
expected Dodds to reach his peak. He had trained hard 
all fall and early winter and apparently was ready 
for the indoor season. He won some races, but he lost 
others. This was the winter that sports writers, other 
track coaches, promoters and well-meaning friends 
tried to help Jack Ryder in coaching Gil. It also was the 
year that Frank Dixon, New York university freshman, 
was on his way up, and Bill Hulse, New York research 
analyst, also was challenging. Gil won more than his 
share of the races, including the famed Bankers' Mile 
in the Chicago Relays, and when the season was over 
he had more firsts than either Dizon or Hulse. As a 
whole, however, the season hadn't been the standout 
to which he and Jack Ryder had looked forward. At 
the A JI.U. outdoor meet he again proved his suprema- 
cy by winning the 1,500 meter race and lowering his 
time of a year previous to 3:50 minutes. He was the 
imdoubted "king of the milers," but not the undefeated 
king. 

But this was summer, 1943, and to America from 

— 48 — 



-5 * *^ ^ 



Sweden ccone long-legged, coniable Gunder Hagg, the 
great Swedish runner. Hagg needed competition cmd 
needed it badly after Greg Rice moved into the mari- 
time service. There was no one to push the Swedish 
star to hoped-for records, so the A.A.U. asked Gil to 
compete against him all over the country. 
Gil agreed, and that led to further glory. 



-49 — 



Chapter VI 

HAGG . . . SULLIVAN AWARD ... 
WORLD RECORD! 

THE first race in which Gunder Hagg competed in 
the United States was held on a Sunday. The race 
had been scheduled in advance and when the Swedish 
freighter on which he traveled arrived at New Orleans, 
only a few days before the race, efforts were made to 
postpone or cancel the meet. However, officials de- 
cided to go through with it. 

Hagg wasn't in tip-top shape and still had his sea 
legs even though he had been able to train a little 
since reaching America. Greg Rice was out of shape, 
being in the maritime service, and had Gil accepted 
the invitation to run against Hagg and Rice that Sun- 
day he easily might have achieved world-wide fame 
by defeating Hagg and Rice. 

But once more he chose not to run on Sunday. Hagg 
won the race, Greg Rice retiimed to the service and the 
sponsoring A. A. U. was stuck without a distance com- 
petitor for Hagg and his races in the United States. 

GH had planned to work all summer to make the ne- 
cessary money to put himself through school the next 
year. When the A.A.U. asked Gil to make the tour with 
Hagg it meant the loss of his "financial summer." But 
he consented readily: he always has done his best to 
further the cause of track and he was anxious to soy 
yes to their request inasmuch as all proceeds were to 
go to the Army Air Force Aid Society. 

Seven timectGil raced against Hagg . . . and seven 

— 50 — 



times he trailed him across the finishing line. As he 
told one audience^ "I chased him around the track so 
much and so often that by the end of the summer I 
could tell you the exact number of stitches in the seat 
of his pants." 

If Hagg and the promoters wanted to race two miles 
they raced two miles. If it was one mile they raced one 
mile. This led Gil to use yet another verse of Scripture 
when* in being told that the race in Chicago would be 
two miles he quoted Matthew 5:14« "And whosoever 
forces thee to go a mile, go with him twain." 

There grew up between these two great nmners a 
fine, deep friendship. Sportswriter's tabbed Hagg "Gun- 
der the Wonder" soon after he landed, and in many 
ways he was a wonder. Gil spoke to Hagg often on 
their cross country tour, usually through an interpreter, 
although by the end of the summer they could dis- 
pense with the interpreter as Hagg had picked up 
English fast after arriving. 

Gil admired Hagg for his dependence upon the Lord 
in his running. Before every race Hagg spent a definite 
time in speaking to and communing with God, or the 
"Supreme Being", as he referred to God. In one race 
a shght delay held things up for a few moments. Gil 
noticed Hagg's Ups moving and through his interpreter 
he told GiL "I just prayed to God that He would let 
each one of us do his best in this race." Gil always 
found that the runners hardest to defeat are the ones 
who beUeve in prayer — Greg Rice is another — and 
Hagg proved to be no exception. 

Anyone who saw Hagg run that summer was im- 
pressed by his greatness. He won every race and the 
competition was the best in America. He truly is a great 
runner, not only in the eyes of the sport world but also 

— SI— 



in the eyes of his competitors. When Gil finished the 
summer he had this to say: '1 thank God for the 
strength that enabled me even to stay close to this great 



nmner/' 



Hagg liked his sleep. Some nights he would sleep 
the clock around. Before the race in Chicago he slept 
from 11 pan. Friday to 11 aon. Saturday. Then he got 
up, did a few limbering up exercises . . . ate a little . . . 
and went back to sleepi 

One day he would eat two meals. The next day he 
would eat four. He liked milk shakes* but not plain 
ice cream. He insisted that Gil warm up first so that 
he could run behind him as they circled the track. He 
took the filling out of pies and ate only the crust. Gil 
says that he is one of the most carefree persons he 
has ever met. 

On his left wrist he wore a gold bracelet which he 
regarded as a good luck charm and would not run 
without it. It was a gift from a girl in Sweden. He 
thought that Gil's shoes weighed too much and prom- 
ised to send him three pairs of the lighter, Swedish 
type, with longer spikes, when he reached home. After 
they had finished the tour he took one of his shoes and 
wrote on it in Swedish as follows : 

"To my good friend Gil Dodds for much trade and 
good running and good companionship. Welcome 
to Sweden some day. May God give you happiness 
and fame in your chosen prof ession« the ministry. 
Your friend for Uf e. Gunder Hagg." 
The depth of their friendship was shown when Christ- 
mas, 1943, came along. On Christmas morning a cable- 
gram from Sweden arrived at the Dodds apartment in 
Boston, wishing the Dodds family a Merry Christmas 
from Gunder Hagg. Gil was pleasantly surprised to get 

— 52 — 



it and asked Coach Ryder, "Why would he do such o 
swell thing for me, lack?" 

Races were held in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Fran- 
cisco, Boston, Berea, Ohio, Cincinnati, and New York. 
The race in Boston proved to be the highlight of the 
entire tour. Up until this time Gil never had been able 
to run well before his Boston admirers. For some reason 
or other his best races were run on distant tracks. This 
day, however, it was different, even though Hagg again 
won the race. 

It was in this race that Gil forced Hagg to run his 
best race of the simmier and set a new all-time mile 
record for the United States. Th Swedish star ran the 
distance in 4:05.3 minutes, Gil trailing in second place 
with 4:06.5 minutes, up until that time the fastest mile 
any American ever had run. Finishing third was Bill 
Hulse with 4:07.8 minutes. Although Hagg won the 
race, Gil firmly established himself as the greatest 
miler America ever has known by breaking the Ameri- 
can mark held by Glenn Cunningham of> Kansas. 

When he had reached Boston a week before that 
race, Gil was far from bei£g in top shape. He was 
tired from the trip. On the long jaunt he had been 
forced to sleep in an upper berth while Hagg had a 
compartment. Often he couldn't get a trainer when he 
wanted one. Had the A.A.U. offered to send Jack Ryder 
along with him on the trip there might have been a 
difference in results. When he reported back to Ryder 
in Boston he had lost several pounds and was strained 
and tired. After a week of rest and treatment under 
Ryder he had gained back part of his weight and was 
ahnost in shape to test Hagg. Though he didn't win he 
gave Hagg the greatest scare of the summer. 

The last race was held in New York and proved to 

— 53 — 



be cm anti-climax. The week before, Hagg had run the 
mile in 4:05.4 minutes in Cincinnati as Bill Hulse biased 
through with a 4:06 minute mile to supplant Gil's 4:06.5 
of the Boston meet as the fastest American mile ever 
run in competition. In the finale, Hagg slipped to 4:06.9 
minutes and still managed to win as Gil trailed with 
4:07.2 minutes. 

The summer was over and it had been a pleasant 
and profitable one in many ways. The crowds con- 
tributed $136,000 to the Army Air Force Relief Fund to 
see these two champions meet. All across the country 
Gil had left a stream of Bible-versed autographs. In 
San Francisco he gave his testimony over the radio on 
a special broadcast. The day after the Boston race he 
was in Worcester, Mass., q)eaking in three services. 
He presented a true picture of a Christian gentleman 
on that entire tour. Fans flocked to see Hagg . . . and to 
see Dodds chase Hagg. 

Gil had sacrificed much that summer. His financial 
summer was gone, and not once did he pad his ex- 
pense account. On one trip, for example, he charged 
the A.A.U. $12.01 for a round trip ticket from Boston to 
New York. That represented the exact cost of the ticket; 
he didn't even charge them for the food he ate on the 
train. These minor things endeared him to fans and 
officials all over the country. He always praised Hagg; 
not once did he complain of a thing on the trip, ^le 
complaints usually were lodged by reporters who notic- 
ed how things were being run. Gil just ran and ran and 
ran. Sometimes it was one mile; sometimes it was two. 
He was licked every time, but he kept on coming back. 

Add all of these Uttle items together and you get the 
reason why in December of 1943 the Amateur Athletic 
Union bestowed on Gil Dodds the greatest honor that 

—54 — 



CGoi be given to coiy conateur athlete in the United 
States — the prized* sought-for, dreamed-of Sullivan 
award, given annually to the amateur athlete in the 
United States who has done the most to further the 
cause of sportsmanship during the year. 

Winner of the Suilzvon award/ 

Gil hardly could believe lack Ryder when he told 
him. He sincerely asked Ryder, "Do you really think 
it's true, lack?" and lack told him it was. 

Never has more sincere and fulsome praise been 
poured out on the Sullivan award winner than when 
Gil was announced as the winner. Given in memory 
of a founder of the AJI.U., the award is the dream of 
every amateur athlete. Gil had stood next to Don Lash 
on January 1, 1939, between halves of the Texas Chris- 
tian-Carnegie Tech football game in the Sugar Bowl 
when Lash received the award for the previous year. 
He remarked later to George Donges, attending with 
Gil from Ashland college as Gil competed in the two- 
mile, "I'd rather have the Sullivan award than anything 
else." 

Four years later it was his. 

The Sullivan award winner is selected in the follow- 
ing manner: Each of the 41 districts of the AJI.U. nomi- 
nates a candidate for the honor and a committee then 
picks 10 of those nominees. These ten names are sub- 
mitted to 600 sports leaders and the athlete with the 
greatest number of votes (three for first, two for sec- 
ond, etc.) receives the trophy. 

Usually an athlete is nominated at least once or 
twice before the honor comes his way. Gil, however, 
won it the first time his name was submittedl He re- 
ceived a total of 860 votes, almost twice as many as 
the second place winner. Bill Smith, a swimmer from 

— 55 — 



Ohio State university. loe Plcrtok, a handball player 
from Chicago, was third with 425. 

When the official notice reached his home Gil told a 
reporter of a Boston paper, 'Tve often dreamed about 
getting it, but felt that it was too much of a dream. Now 
I feel that God made it possible." 

Writers and athletic heads lauded the selection. The 
summer before they had written that if Gil Dodds had 
had an ounce of conceit in him, he would have licked 
Hagg in their races. The adjectives rolled out : "Modest, 
unassuming, honest, cleancut, pure .... the kind of an 
athlete who some day will be able to stand up in a 
pulpit and look his congregation square in the eye." 

Newspapermen wrote such words as the following: 

"He exemplifies all of the characteristics of a perfect 
gentleman and sportsman. Modest in victory and gra- 
cious in defeat. By precept and example he is a splen- 
did influence on all with whom he comes in contact. 
Has always been willing to cooperate with any organi- 
zation conducting track meets when such requests tend 
to help and promote interest in his favorite sport. Ex- 
emplified by his willingness to race anywhere against 

anyone from one to three miles." 

• • • 

"There's not a small bone in his body. He does his 
training at a Jesuit college under a coach who is a de- 
vout Catholic. He tries to set an example and, perhaps, 
to lead men to better things. But he never intrudes. He 
doesn't put the squeeze on the promoters for expense 
money they would willingly give. He would not think 
of padding his expense account." 



"An unquenchable typification of the idecd amateur 
athlete." 

— 56 — 



"Dodds never failed to do his best/' 

* * * 

From Greg Rice: "Gil is a great runner and has a 
great heart. He is one of the best there is along any 

line." 

* * * 

"Never given to an athlete who more typified its 
meaning. 



He is so sincere in his idealism that many of his fel- 
low contemporaries think that he is a chimip, but a 

chump who must be admired and respected." 

* * * 

"lie knows that this isn't a world of innocence and 
purity, and he knows, in his way, how to moke it a 
better world. Yet he never points a finger at his f eUow 

humans, whether in the sports world or outside." 

* * * 

"Unspoiled by fame • . . modest as a choir boy . . . 
American as apple pie . . . the kind of a fellow you'd 
like to have for a son or brother." 



"As becoming a figure in athletics as we've ever 
had. The purest athlete of modem times." 



"Stout fella, and a real champion." (lohn Kieran, 

New York Times, at that time). 

• * • 

These words and many more rambled off the pens of 
writers and sport liuninaries. The selection of Gil Dodds 
as the winner of the 1943 Sullivan trophy was greeted 
with gnrlafm from sport fans everywhere. L. di Bene- 
detto, president of the Amateur Athletic union, gave 

— 57 — 






this stcrtement 

'1 don't know dE a finer sportsman thcoi Gil Dodds. 
IBs willingness to tour America last year with Gmider 
Hagg was a splendid gesture; he did it because he was 
a sportsman, knowing full well that he could hardly 
expect to beat this wonderful Swedish athlete. He is a 
splendid athlete, sportsman, and Christian, and it was 

a pleasure for me to present him with this award." 

• * • 

Grantland Rice, dean of American sportswriters, 
wrote, 

"He is a fine combination of a great athlete and a 
great sportsman. He also happens to be one of the 
greatest competitors we have had in a long time." 

And how did Gil Dodds feel about all this? What did 
he think about the praise of the sports writers who re- 
member him best for his graciousness in defeat, not 
his happiness in triumph, a man who unfailingly gives 
credit to his conqueror? 

Gil said his piece to thousands of fans gathered on 
February 26, 1944, in New York when he was present- 
ed the award. The champ declared, 

"This is the high spot in my Uf e« the winning of 
this award* I know, and I want the world to know, 
that only through God hove I been able to achieve 
the athletic prowess I've enjoyed. I wont to pass on 
to younger olfaletes a bit of advice. I urge them al- 
ways to live up to the Ugh Ideals exemplified by 
the A. A. U. and to strive for the higher ond spiritual 
life which all must live if they expect success in ony 
kind of endeavor." 

The Sullivan award was his, and it fitted hhn well 
because once more he proved his worth by giving all 
credit for it to God. It's hard to take defeat, even at 

— 58 — 



the hands of a truly great champion such as Gundbr 
Hagg, but once niore Gil Dodds proved the truth of the 
Bible passage found in Luke 13:30, "And behold, there ' 
are last which shall be first, and there are first which 

shall be last/' 

* * * 

Winter of 1944 was here in Boston, just as in every 
other part of the United States. Cross country and in- 
door drills since September 1, 1943, had keyed Gil to a 
training pitch Jack Ryder hoped he would reach. The 
Sullivan award also helped Gil; it gave him added 
confidence. Through December and January Ryder and 
Dodds worked endlessly and tirelessly to get the "Fly- 
ing Parson" into shape. This was to be "his" year, or 
the start of a series of years when he hoped to reach 
the peak and stay there. 

As usual, the L^lrose games opened the indoor sea- 
son on the first Saturday in February. Gil was among 
the entrants but for once something other than track 
was occupying his mind. In Boston his wife was ex- 
pecting a baby and so anxious was Gil about the ar- 
rived of the offspring that he missed his usual train 
to New York. For a while track officials wondered if 
he would get to New York in time, but he made it. 
"With the stork wings flapping in unison," Gil won the 
Millrose mile race in 4:10.6 minutes, not a record time 
but still fast enough for the opener. 

But it wasn't until the following Thursday that little 
John Lloyd Dodds, named after Jack Ryder and Lloyd 
Hahn, put in his appearance. Gil explained the naming 
of "Jackie/' as he is called, this way: 

"We had agreed that if it was a girl Erma could 
name her. If a boy, I could. Well, you know how wo- 
men are. After Jackie was bom she thought it would be 

— 59 — 



i» 



sioe to name him John UoycL and ao did L ao we did." 

Two days after Jackie arrived Gil raced in the Boston 
AJL games iathe Boston Garden and nudged his time 
dow]^ to 4:09.5 minutes, "just for Jadde." A week later 
in New York it was whittled down to 4:08 minutes. In 
an exhibition race the next week it slipped back to 
4:10.2 minutes. But on March IL 1944, Gil Dodds open- 
ed another door to the track's hall of fame by clipping 
one-tenth of a second from the world's indoor mile rec- 
ord, winning the Knights of Columbus race in the Gar- 
den in 4:07.3 minutes. The old record of 4:07.4 minutes 
was held jointly by Glenn Cuzmingham, Charles 
Fenske and Les MacMitchell. 

A few minutes later he amazed the packed Garden 
crowd by roaring back to win the LOOO meter race, 
thus completing the first double triumph in the Garden 
since 1935 when the peerless Cunningham did it. 

But he wasn't through yet. 

A year previous he had won the Banker's Mile in the 
Chicago Daily News Relays, the same event which 
Lloyd Hahn had won three years in succession when 
he was in his prime. Now, seven days after setting the 
mark in New York, he stepped onto the Chicago Stad- 
iimi track again and broke the world record for the 
indoor mile by 9/10 of a second, slicing it down 4:06.4 
minutes. A few hours after setting that record he was 
on his way to Goshen, Ind., to preach a sermon the 
next day before returning to Boston and seminary 
classes. , 

Even headlines in newspapers give credit to the Lord 
when a story on Gil Dodds is written. After his record 
attempt in New York a headline read, 

"WHEN I RAN I PRAYED — DODDS" 

• * * 

— 60 — 



When he ran in Chicago the headline read, 
"THE LORD, HAHN, GIL 

COLLABORATE ON MARK" 

Even that headline writer knew Gil's Christian philos- 
ophy of "the Lord first, others next and myself last/' 

The final race of the 1944 indoor season found Gil 
reverting back to his favorite two-mile in a meet at 
Cleveland, Ohio. A bad ankle turn kept him from set- 
ting a record although he did win the race to end the 
season without a defeat and take rcmk with Glenn Cun- 
ningham and Charles Fenske as the only athletes who 
have won all of the races in a single season. 

Spring came, and then summer. The Red Cross asked 
Gil to run in an exhibition in New York but once again 
the Gospel call came first as he felt bound to keep an 
appointment to preach in his father's church at Smith- 
ville, Ohio. He had hoped, too, to defend his Northeast 
AJI.U. championship on June 9 and his national A.A.U. 
title on June 17, but plans had been made for a 16-state 
speaking tour of army camps, naval bases, youth con- 
ferences, etc., and so those two titles went undefended. 

From Sweden come an invitation to come over and 
run against Gunder Hagg and Ame Andersson, Hogg's 
great competitor there. Once more the temptation was 
great; Gil never has been abroad and the desire to run 
was strong. However, the Aosire to serve the Lord was 
stronger cmd the invitation was declined with sincere 
regrets. 

Gil hasn't been sorry that he followed that course 
during the simmier of 1944. All along the way the Lord 
proved to him by the response to his talks and mes- 
sages that his testimony of the saving power of the 
Lord Jesus Christ was winning people to Christ. He 
spoke 158 times in three and a half months, spanning 

— 61 — 



ccddrsuing at least 50,000 people direct- 
MB thousands of others through the radio 
I meetmgs at three army camps in the 
lagg, N. C, Fort Jaclcson, S. C, and Camp 
-he held 28 services with the Pocket Tes- 
e team of Gleim Warner, former Illinois 
and himself. At those camps he spoke to 
tnd 2,100 of them made a profession of 
[ personal Saviour. 

irith lock Wyrtzen, director of New York's 
i" hour, he sow 400 young people accept 

Montana, with the Christ for America 
1 by Horace Dean, he spread-eagled the 
and a half weeks of meetings, reaching 
f 40 per cent of the people in the state 
tings or over the radio. Here, too, many 
on for the Lord. 

Lake, Ind., for its world-famous Bible con- 
oody Bible Institute's Labor Day rally, to 
irist" meetings at St. Louis, IndiaturpoBs, 
V York and other cities throughout the 
ago and 16 meetings in four days with 
ey Johnson, Gil moved with his testimony 
ord had done for him on the track. Thou- 
es and New Testaments today cany the 
■odds autograph with a Bible verse as a 
rammer's traveling. Countless numb^ of 
ng people ware strengthened in theli own 
Mtimony. 

Boston on lune 2, the day after his spring 

were over. He returned to Boston and his 
r at Giordon School of Theology and Mis- 
lay that students were registering for the 
I summer hadn't been spent in dia^ng 



Gunder Hagg coround a track but ha wen still his ath- 
letic and in-condition self. It had been a busy summer 
and a hard summer, but Gil Dodds had given out free- 
ly that which the Lord had given him. 

Classes were started and in that position we leave 
Gil Dodds, as far as the year by year story of his life 
is concerned. Safely bade in their Boston apartment 
are the three members of the Dodds family — Gil, Erma 
and lackie. The future looks promising to this fine little 
trio; God has first place in their hearts and lives and 
they all know that whether defeats or victories are on 
the slate of the future that "All things work together 
for good to them that love God and are the called ac- 
cording to HxB purpose." 

What Gil Dodds will do when he is graduated from 
Gordon Sdiool of Theology and Missions in 1945 no 
one except the Lord knows. He might be in the service 
as a chaplain, he might be headed for some foreign 
mission field, he might be working in a youth organiza- 
tion, he might be serving a snudl country church in 
rural New &igland. 

But wherever he goes he says, and sings, 

"If Jesus goes wifli me. 111 go, anywhere." 



— 63 — 



Chapter Vn 

LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING 

In writing this story of Gil Dodds we have chosen to 
leave a goodly number of sidelights and human in- 
terest stories about Gil until this chapter. Each could 
have been fitted into a proper place and position in the 
past chapters, as you've read in greater and le^ detail 
the story of how Gil reached the top. 

Even though we open ourselves to criticism on repe- 
tition of something previously said, we must say once 
more that Gil is decidedly human. He enjoys the same 
•little things, such as fried chicken, as you do. He 
doesn't feel superior at all because fame has been his; 
it has come his way, he feels, because God gave him 
the ability to let it be his if he used it to the glory of 
God. Every time you talk to him he seems to emphasize 
that it doesn't take the best to reach the top; hard work 
and a definite dependence on the Lord are two funda- 
mental requirements. 

* * * 

Perhaps the thing for which he is known the most 
among non-Christians is the way in which he signs his 
autograph. Every time he signs it, whether it be a min- 
ute or two after a hard two-mile race or following a 
Gospel appeal in a church or any place else, the "Gil 
Dodds" will be followed by a verse of Scripture. 

It's not always the same verse, nor always his favor- 
ite verse. His favorite passage in the Bible happens to 
be Hebrews 12:1-2, 

"Whwefore seeing we olso are compassed 

— 64 — 



about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay 
aside every weight, and the sin which doth so eas^ 
ily beset us, and let us run with patience the race 
that is set before us, 

'Xooldng unto lesus the author and finisher of our 
faith; who for the ioy that was set before Him en- 
dured the cross, despising the shame, and is set 
down on the right hand of the throne of God/' 
QEten he adds his "life" verse, found in Philippians 

4:13, 

'1 can do all things through Christ, which 
strengtheneth me." 
Or it might be Isaiah 40:31, the verse that meant so 

much to him when he was trying to decide for or 

against the Lord: 

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew 
their strength; they shall mount up with wings as 
eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they 
shall walk, and not faint" 
Whatever the verse might be, there is a message in 

it. Gil has found 60 passages in the Bible which refer 

to athletics, and as the Lord gives him opportunity to 

use them with his autograph he does so. 

When you think of the number of times which he 
signs his name during a year and compare it with the 
chances which he gets to follow up his testimony by 
talking to the person about salvation you get a small 
percentage. The necessary time isn't there after races 
or after big meetings. Gil has felt, however, that God's 
Word will not return unto Him void and so he continues 
to add the Scripture verse and ask God to use it to lead 
someone to the cross. 

He has signed his autograph thousands upon thou- 
sands of times. A girl in Chicago asked him, after hav- 

— 65 — 



ing him sign a scoreccnrd* "Is that your phone number?" 
A lady in New York wrote to him that she and her 
daughter had sat up until 4 a.m. after getting Gil's auto- 
graph, checking and following up the Scripture pas- 
sages which his verse had led to. 

Every time he signs an entry blank he adds a Bible 
verse. Track meet promoters need the Giospel, too, he 
reasoned, and in one meet he signed the blank, "Gil 
Dodds, Hebrews 12:1-2." 

The promoter decided to look it up. As he read the 
first part he was glad . . . "Wberelore seeing we also 
are compassed about with so great a doud of wit- 
nesses " This meant a great crowd, and promot- 
ers like great crowds. 

But he read on, " let us lay aside every weight 

and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run 
with patience the race that is set before us." 

He checked that lost part. "Rim with patience." That 
didn't fit so well when he was expecting a world's rec- 
ord; he knew that runners didn't set world's records 
numing patientlyl 

But no promoter ever has had to worry about Gil 
Dodds running a foot race with patience; it just isn't 
in him. He is out to win from the beginning and nms 
accordingly. 

Gil always carries a Bible in his pocket in case any- 
one wants to check the verse on the spot. So wide- 
spread has his autograph become known that one 
writer referred to it as "A sermon with every signa- 
ture." Gil's own reaction, as stated above, is to implant 
the Word of God in the heart of each person who re- 
ceives his autograph. He told one reporter, "If through 
my autograph I con inspire a single soul to return to 
the path of the Lord I will have achieved a greater 

— 66 — 



victory than the brecddng of any track record." 

A few minutes after his record performance in Chi- 
cago Gil was getting a rubdown in the lockezr room. 
The pliable fingers of the expert soothed the tired mus- 
cles that had just moved Gil to a new world record. 
Gil was resting, his eyes shut. He opened them after 
a few minutes, canight the eye of a man standing by 
the door, and nodded. The man slipped out of the door 
and in a moment was back with ten youngsters in tow. 

One by one they handed their New Testaments to 
Gil. One by one he signed his name and a Bible verse 
and added a word of encouragement. They looked at 
th^ Testaments, then at Gil, then quietly moved out 
of the locker room. The next week most likely found 
ten proud boys on playgroimds in Chicago showing 
their playmates the autograph of the champion and 
explaining what the Bible verse meant. And so the 
Word is spread. 

A story in "Yank," the service newspaper, by Sgt. 
Dan Poller, written in a semi-humorous vein, attributes 
the sale of two million more Bibles in 1943 to "Deacon 
Dodds." Poller writes, 

"Gil Dodds has done more for the American Bible 
Society than anyone since King James. He signs his 
name and the autograph seekers dash for the nearest 
book store and buy a Bible." Poller adds that in such 
manner Gil has been known to sell more than 15,000 
Bibles in a single night. 

Poller explains a typical scene after a big race. He 
suggests that reporters now come with Bibles in order 
to better check the passages to which Gil likely will 
refer. After breaking the record in the New York race 
Gil faced his "congregation" of reporters and said, 

"The good Lord was with me tonight. I never doubt- 

— 67 — 



ed he would give me the necesscory strength if <mly I 
didn't quit on myself. Yes, I prayed while I rccn." 

Along with his cnitogroph Gil now is using Gospel 
tracts, feeling that by that means he can better follow 
up on people who might not know what the verse after 
his ncone means. 

The autograph has brought him many chances to 
open the way of salvation to people who later write 
him. Often, after wiiming a race, he will sign his name 
and add the verse. A day later when he gets home 
he will find a letter asking for a little more informa- 
tion and help in such and such a verse. Many of the 
people who write in are yoimgsters, including athletes, 
and through this letter-writing Gil has the chance to 
reach them for Christ. 

An old man in New York looked at the autograph 
he received on his scorecard and said, 

"H-m-m. Phil. 4:13. That '4:13' must be his best time 
of four minutes and thirteen seconds, and that ThiL' 
must mean that he made it in Philadelphia." 

As one reporter wrote, Gil doesn't intrude. He doesn't 
make himself a pest by constantly talking "religion." 
Rather, he waits for opportimities to witness, and then 
uses them. 

A train was late in leaving Winona Lake, Ind., where 
Gil had spoken at that internationally-known Bible con- 
ference grounds. Gil slipped into town for a bite to eat, 
he and a friend each taking a seat alongside a little 
boy at a counter. First thing you knew Gil was talking 
to the little fellow. 

'Tou go to Simday School, pal?" 

"Now, I don't go." 

Before Gil was through talking to him he had prom- 
ised to attend the next day. Into the little boy's pocket 

— 68 — 



went a. tract with GSTm pictozB ooi it cmd tiis iajDOOM 
cxutoyitxpli, wndflT zL Even gb fh0y wcdlcdd oat of the 
rertaui cmt ibesB was time to slip a tnxc^ into tfaa hand 
of the Mlow in high school behind the cotmier who 
recognised Giil as soon as he rrnne in. 

With the atttogxtxph conies the handshake. Not &b 
puhredzzng land, but the fixm. solid handshake of a 
man who knows his pnxpose in life. GSL has shnirfln 
hands wiSi moxe people than pezhcq^s he would care 
to xemember. For each of tibem he has the eYer<4eady 
smile and the humble '^elL fhonts, but &b locd <fid 
it kx Toe." 

GH laughs every time he thtnlrs of one hand-shaking 
experience after a race. After it was over GH ionnd 
it extremely hard to reach the car in whidi he was sup- 
posed to go to the station as &e crowd of cdmirecs 
hemmed him in. Finally he slipped into a nearby car« 
circled the block and came back. Wbeaa. he hopped out 
of that car into the one he was going to the station in« 
a little fellow with tattered clothes spaed him and ran 
up« saying^ "Can I shake your haxuL Mr. Dodds?^ 

GH shook his hand, and just as he was getting into 
the cor this little fellow smiled and scddi 

"Boy« that's the fourth time tonight." 

ThiouQ^ all of the crowds, and all of the autographs 
Gil has remained the perfect gentleman. Sometimes 
crowds ccren't too easy on him but imTens he has to 
catch a trcdn he will stay and give his sdgnatuxe to 
anyone that wants it He's humble and wise enough 
to recdiBe that thue isn't mudi vcdne in his name and 
that in a few years it well might fade away. 

He xemeonbecs, however, that the Sciiptuie vecse un- 

will pass away. 

— 69 — 



ztrnw :. »i I « 



GIL AND HIS FAMILY 

No higher tribute could be given to Erma 
Seeger Dodds, Gil's extremely pleascmt and capcdble 
wife, than Gil paid her when asked which person had 
had the most influence on his Christian life. 

He answered briefly and surely, 

"My wife." 

Gil met Erma Louise Seeger, daughter of fine Chris- 
tian parents, soon after Gil's father moved to Falls City 
to assume the pastoral work there. He was a junior in 
high school and she was a sophomore. As soon as 
they started keeping company they realized that as 
far as they were concerned they would have to look 
no more at anyone of the opposite sex. The young fel- 
low with the heavy mop of hair that liked to stick up 
as though freshly washed was solidly in love with the 
girl with the pleasant smile and the air of being in con- 
trol of every situation. 

When Gil's dad moved to Mexico, Ind. the summer 
after Gil finished high school Gil easily found two jobs 
in Falls City to keep him busy . . . end near Erma. He 
worked in a bakery and a library and when he wasn't 
working he was either training or seeing Erma. 

That was in the smnmer of 1937. A few months later, 
on the last day of the year — a few hours before the 
dawn of 1938 — Gil and Erma were married in Indian- 
apolis, Indiana. 

Their one son, Jackie, is a regular little boy, rough 
and tough as they come, although not yet a year old at 
this writing. Gil likes to pick him up by one foot and 
one arm in taking him out of a car and wants to make 
a man out of him in a hurry. The three of them form one 
of the happiest Christian families which God ever has 
placed together. They live in a modest apartment in 

— 70 — 



Boston, not for from the Gordon College of Theology 
and K^Bsions, yrhsze Gil attends. 

Joclde atrived on February 3, 1944, and since that 
time Gil has yet to lose a race. Even during the added 
work which Jackie's coming meant — as cooking for 
himself, keeping things in the aportment clean, etc. — 
Gil managed to stay in tip-top shape and keep on win- 
ning races. 

Mrs. Dodds is a fine cook and to her goes much of 
the credit for keeping the 'Terambulating Parson" in 
shape. Jack Ryder colls her "^I's second coach," and 
she does take up where Ryder leaves off in keeping 
an eagle eye on the habits of her famous husband. Gil 
sums it up tersely, "Everything Eima cooks is body- 
building, so why should I kick?" 

Gil has the athlete's appetite — good and large. One 
of his favorite dishes when in training is a "good pound 
steak." These come often when Gil is in training, ra- 
tion points willing. One time Gil came home from a 
week-end and had gotten in with a bimch of vegetar- 
ians. Ryder noticed something wrong right away in 
Monday's drill and slowly pulled the story out of him. 
Training was over for that day and Gil went home to 



aU 

es 
3d 



snips out the sports pages before he comes home 
from trcdning. They have two reasons for doing this. 
First is that if Gil spends too much time on the news- 
papers he won't have enough time for studying. The 
second is the feeling that most of the stories are just so 
much propaganda, with plenty of advice on how Gil 
can reach the four-minute mile "if he just does this, 
etc." A friend on a Boston newspaper, George Carens 
of the Boston HERALD, snips out stories for Gil diuing 
the season and gives them to him when the season is 
over. In this way Gil feels that he will not be swayed 
by what sportswriters might think of his running, pac- 
ing, etc. 

On the way home from New York after breaking the 
world record on March 11, 1944, Gil pulled out a sand- 
wich and apple and shared them with Ryder. So thor- 
ough is Mrs. Dodds about seeing that Gil stays in tip- 
top shape that she even had the trip home planned on 
that race. 

Usually after a race Gil will drink up to two quarts 
of milk in his hotel room. Sometimes he'll add a honey 
sandwich. His sense of humor keeps cropping out at 
the most unusual times. Once as he and Mrs. Dodds 
were about to leave New York for Boston and the re- 
porters were still standing around, eager to use any 
word Gil might say in their stories, he remarked to his 
wife, 

"Honey, let's stop for a bottle ..." and as the re- 
porters looked at each other in surprise, he added, 
. . . "of milk on the way home." 

He likes apples, oranges, nuts, raisins and honey. 
Often when he walks to and from training at Boston 
College he will have a carrot in his pocket on which he 
will nibble. He's a good bread-maker as well as bread- 

— 72 — 



winner and often has done the family washing to help 
his wife along. 

Mrs. t>odds was along on part of the trip in 1943 when 
Gil raced Hagg. It was sort of a second honeymoon for 

them and they tried to make the most of it. 

* * * 

Before every race Gil can feel her prayers for him. 
He told reporters in Chicago on that record-breaking 
night that "Knowing that my wife is with me in her 
prayers, asking that the Lord's will might be done even 
in this race, helps an awful lot. She's a real moral asset, 
too. Her fine Christian parents also have helped me a 
good deal in my nmning through their encouragement 
and especially in that it con be used as a testimony for 
Christ." 

Because of Gil's frequent trips Mrs. Dodds has had 
to be home alone quite a bit. She realizes, however, 
that the Lord's work comes first and both Gil and she 
have agreed that Gil's nmning is the main way in 
which he can lead men and women to Christ at this 
time. 

Some day, if the Lord tarries and leads Gil to a 
church, she'll make an ideal pastor's wife. She is as 
sweet, kind, considerate, and fine as wives and mothers 
come and the type of a help which even such a famous 
man as Gil Dodds needs, appreciates and thanks God / 

for. 

* * * 

GIL DODDS — ATHLETE 
To most Americans Gil Dodds is known as an ath- 
lete. To them he is "The Champ," and as such a few 
words on his track achievements and abilities are in 
order. 
He's not a big man. He weighs 148 pounds when in 

— 73 — 



condition and stands five feet nine inches. He doesn't 
look like an athlete the first time you see him and your 
first reaction is that he's much smaller than you had ex- 
pected. Few people recognize him on the street, or did 
until the lost year or so, for which he is thankful. 

He has a powerful set of legs, a wonderful body and 
a strong heart. Ever since he started to run, people have 
told him that he never could be a great miler because 
he lacked a sprint, or final kick. But in that Gil has 
fooled them all. He might not have the sprint, but he 
does have stamina. And stamina has been winning 
race after race for Gil Dodds. 

Track experts, in analyzing the possibility of the 
four^ninute mile, contend that a runner to do that must 
be able to run a quarter of a mile in 48 seconds. Gil 
cannot go that fast — his best time for a quarter of a 
mile is 52 and 53 seconds. But where he lacks in speed, 
he makes up for in stamina and power. For that he 
gives credit to the Lord. "Instead of speed which most 
athletes have," he explained, "the Lord gave me an 
extra dose of stamina and staying power." 

This is how Gil will run a race: 

As soon as the gun goes off he starts at one steady 
pace. Usually in the opening yards he will lose a sec- 
ond or two in finding his place on the track, especially 
if the field is large. At the end of the first lap he gener- 
ally is behind. In the second and third laps he moves 
ahead and usually takes the lead as the other runners 
save themselves a bit for the final stretch drive. In re- 
cent years the lead which he builds up in the second 
and third quarters has been sufficient to withstand any 
sprint by his opponents. 

However, in Gil's record-breaking nights at New York 
and Chicago he did have a "kick" left.* With only the 

— 74 — 



crowd to spur him on at Chicago he unloosed the strong 
finish which put him nine-tenths of a second under the 
record. In lOO-yard dashes he cannot better 11.3 sec- 
onds, whereas other distance nmners get down as low 
as 10 seconds. 

Hagg and Gil stopped at Harvard university's fa- 
tigue laboratory when on their tour. The charts on Gil's 
tests astounded the scientists! They found that in run- 
ning Gil develops enough acid to kill the average hu- 
man being! In the matter of getting back to normal co- 
ordination after a race, Gil's test showed 120. The aver- 
age is 60 to 65! That explains why two minutes after a 
gruelling race Gil is almost his normal self. 

Gil produces sugar as he nms and as it is manufac- 
tured by his body he gets added stamina. This is the 
key to his great ability to run, run, run and run some 
more without stopping. 

However, a physique and ability do not make a 
champion. The training grind must be gone through. 
Gil has trained thousands of hours in getting in shape 
for races. He once told a reporter, '1 train as though 
everything depends on me and pray as though every- 
thing depends on God." 

Take a look at his training schedule and you'll see 
how much work he actually does. 

On or aroimd Labor Day of every year he starts his 
cross country work. In this he will run and walk any- 
where from five to ten miles a day. This continues until 
aroimd December 1, with perhaps a couple of cross 
coimtry meets thrown in on the way, when he starts his 
indoor drills on the board tracks. This keeps up until 
the first week in February, when he finally is set for a 
race, and on through the indoor season. 

— 75 — 



That adds up to five months of training before he is 
ready for a single rocel 

A regiilar day in Boston finds him reaching the Bos- 
ton College track at three o'clock after a five-mile walk 
from Giordon College. In the off-season he will work on 
sprints for a half hour, with four to six practice starts 
after a warmup of 10 or 15 minutes. Then he slowly 
jogs a mile and takes his exercises before he reports to 
Ryder for his workout of the day. About 4 or 4 : 30 p. m. 
he is through. After a shower he will walk five miles 
home some days and take a streetcar on others to be 
ready for a heavy supper. In the evening, after study- 
ing for a few hours, he will walk two or three miles 
before retiring between 9:30 and 10 p. m. 

When he returns from a meet and has spent extra 
time on the train he will walk an extra five or seven 
miles. The day he arrived home from Chicago with the 
world's record in his pocket he found Boston in a bliz- 
zard. The train was late and in order to make up for 
that extra time of sitting down he walked three more 
miles through wind and snow. 

Walking to him is one of the best conditioners there 
is and he follows Ryder's orders explicitly along that 
line. Gil is the greatest trainer that Ryder ever has 
coached; he won't spare himself in practice in order to 
get into shape. Ryder once scdd of him, 

"He is a modem Spartan, perfectly willing to sub- 
ject himself to the most exacting regimen." 
Gil's marvelous pacing ability has been touched up- 
on but it bears repetition. It has been said that he ad- 
justs himself like a metronome. He is never more than 
a second or two off when Ryder orders him to run a 
distance in a certain time. He is to nmning what Bobby 
Jones was to golf: both play against par and forget 

— 76 — 



their opponents. Ryder and Gil get together before a 
race and map out the time Gil should tcdce for each lap 
and each quarter. Often his opponents try to upset that 
plan by naming faster in the first quarter, or slowing 
him down, but he usually makes up for it on the next 
lap. 

Track experts hardly rave about his "style" of nm- 
ning. He isn't a beautiful picture of grace as he nms 
but the manner in which he puts one foot down after 
the other is a pleasure to watch. He has a very long 
stride and runs with an arm-flailing, head-rolling style. 
But, the experts add in the next breath, "How he can 
pour it onl" 

Most distance runners "train up" to the mile, that is, 
by starting with the shorter distances and then reach- 
ing the mile. Gil has been just the opposite. He is a 
long distance runner who has trained down. 

He runs with his glasses on. His eyes aren't bad but 
he is far-sighted and has a little astigmatism. Also, he is 
slightly color blind when it comes to distinguishing 
between green and red. 

One thing which few people know about Gil is that 
he has a hernia. He never has used it as an alibi for 
any defeat. In every race he wears a truss to protect 
himself. In this respect he is like Greg Rice, who has a 
double hernia. It developed in his junior year in high 
school when he was playing tennis and reached too 
fast for a high ball. 

When he walks he seems to have a little spring in 
his step. Since his sophomore year in college he has 
averaged 10,000 miles per season in going to meets, 
etc. Someone wondered out loud once how many thou- 
sands of miles he ever has run or walked in practice 
or in meets. Gil didn't even want to estimate it. 

— 77 — 



I 



Someone asked Gil about getting conceited about his 

feats and Gil replied this way, 

"The Lord gwn me my talent of running so 
there's no reason ior me to get conceited about it 
The defeats have come and I know they hare been 
for my own good. In each one the Lord has taught 
me something definite." 
As great as Dodds is physically, he is still greater 

spiiituolly. Which is why w© look at another side of 

him. 

"I PRAY ABOUT MY RUNNING" 
A headline in the New York paper read, 

"I prayed as I ran — Dodds." 
It's true. 

Being a real Christian, Gil prays about everything 
he does. As stated in the opening chapter, he prays a 
good deal before a race. He doesn't pray alone, either, 
because all over the country he has picked up "prayer 
woniors" who remember him as he races. 

Lewis Burton, a sports writer on the New York Journal 

American, once asked Gil what prayer he prayed so 

he could pass it on to aspiring athletes. Gil answered, 

""" ' '■ *- ■' ' om the Bible to 

art and He will 

[eat and soy. 
Lord hear your 



d let me win. I 
to do my best 
I is used up." 
e and the Lord 



taught him a lesson through it. Hs won the race handily 
but for two days after he was almost exhausted. He 
knows the reason now — no prayer and an entire de- 
pendence on himself and not God. 

After the record breaking race in New York a mer- 
chant marine man walked up to Gil and asked him for 
on interview. Gil said "Sure" so up to his hotel room 
they went. After Gil had answered his questicmB and 
the fellow was about to go, he asked, 

"Do you beheve in prayer?" 

"I sure do," Gil answered. "Why?" 

"Well," the merchant mariner said, "before I come 
down here tonight two of my buddies and myself, had 
a prayer meeting and asked the Lord to allow you to 
set a world's record tonight. And He onsweredl" 

Gil believes in consistent and daily prayer, not only 
before a race or test. However, in that fleeting moment 
before the gun goes off to start a race he utters a quick 
prayer to God for help during the race. 

Letters from boys warm Gil's heart. Just before a big 
race he received a letter from a little fellow which read, 
"I won't be able to see you run, but I'll be praying that 
you will win and set a record. I asked God to let you 
run the mile in 3:57 minutes tonight." 

Some people might say, "Well, why not the four- 
minute mile if God is helping you along so much?" 

Gil's reply to that has been, "The Lord will help us 
in anything we do if it's to His glory that it be done. 
But we must remember that prayer isn't the only thing. 
It's an important and necessary part in anything we 
do, but we must do our part." 



GLIMPSES HERE AND THERE 
Few people know that when Gil rooi in his first big- 
time race in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, 1939, 
he ran in a track suit which his wife had remodeled 
from a suit of underwear. Few people know, Joo, that 
he likes to buy a new pair of shoe strings for every 
race . . . and that he doesn't like to have his wife wa^ 
any track pants in which he has started a winning 

streak and in which he never has been defeated. 

* * * 

Gil always has been able to get along with news- 
papermen. They have placed many funny things after 
his name, as "Epistle Packing Pastor," "Flying Par- 
son," "Perambulating Parson," etc., but Gil hasn't 
minded it a bit. One reporter wrote, "He wouldn't nm 
on Sunday, not even for a streetcar." Gil takes every 
chance he can get to speak about the Lord, even to re- 
porters. Most of the reporters are not Christians but they 
hove been decent and fair to Gil. Especially to Bill Mc- 
Kee and to writers in Boston, as Terry Nason, George 
Carens and others does Gil extend a real thank you 

for the help which they have given him. 

* * * 

As a youngster Gil was interested in scouting and 
also served as an assistant scoutmaster for a period. 
He achieved the rank of Eagle scout (gold palm) as he 

moved ahead rapidly once started. 

* * * 

He doesn't sing much, nor does he play any musical 
instruments. . . His favorite subject in school is theology, 
with archaeology second. . .Sometimes after ruzming in 
a smoke-filled arena he will have a sore throat for a 
week because of the smoke. . . His constant aim is to 

— 80-^ 



talk to evexy runner agcdnst whom he competes about 

the Lord Jesus Christ. 

* * * 

Up imtil a few years ago he often went to a movie 
just before he raced. He hoped it would relax his mind 
and take his thoughts from the race but he usually 
found that it was the other way around. When he 
toured the country with Hagg and had an opportunity 
to visit Hollywood he was more convinced than ever 
that he never would patronize movies again. 

While on the way out to one of the studios in Holly- 
wood Gil stctrted to talk to (he chauffeur. The man re- 
marked to him, 

"Say, I can't figure you Christians out at all. That's 
why I'm an atheist." 

nien he told his story. A certain picture, religious in 
nature, had been filmed, and had not the churches en- 
dorsed it, it would hove been a complete financial flop. 
But that wasn't the rub. He went on to explain that it 
was his duty every night to see to it that all of the ac- 
tors and actresses were safely home after the day's 
work. Pay after day he had to take drunken show 
people home late at night after they had worked on a 
"religious" picture all day. 

And, he added, the man who played the part of Jesus 
Christ in the picture was the worst of them all. 

That trip "aured" Gil of Hollywood and motion pic- 
tures OS produced there. His fiery testimony, too, has 
been directed against what he regards as an evil ond 
not a benefit as for as recreation and amusement for 
young people is concerned. As for himself, Gil is one 
of the multitude of candid camera fans and usually 
takes his motion oicture camera alonq with him on 
every trip. 

-81 — 



His vccrious jobs going through school have found 
him employed as a life guard, in a bakery, in orchards, 
running a trap line, various odd jobs, in a hotel and on 
a highway crew. . . When idle he packs on weight fairly 
fast. . . ifis traveling has given him poise, but not hy- 
pocrisy. 

• • • 

One day while working along a road in Mexico, 
Ind., where his father was pastor, he heard the cry of a 
drowning boy. An expert swimmer, he was at the river 
in a moment. He ripped his clothes off and on the third 
dive reached the 15-year-old lad. He dragged him to 
the shore and started artificial respiration. For two 

hours he worked over him, but failed to revive him. 

• • • 

Several incidents stand out in Gil's life as far as any 
influence he might have had on other people. One such 
instance took place on the record-setting night in New 
York. As Gil was getting dressed in the locker room a 
yoimg fellow approached him and asked Gil if he 
would wear something in the race. Gil asked him what 
it was, and the fellow showed him a crucifix. 

Gil said that he didn't believe he needed the crucifix 
to win, but he insisted. Gil stalled him off by agreeing 
to meet him in the locker room after the first race and 
that he would wear it in the second race — the 1,000 
yard event. 

Between races Gil waited and waited but the lad 
didn't show up. Gil half expected to see him out near 
the track, but still there was no sight of him during the 
warmups. Just as the contestants were ready to go to 
the line and the infield had been cleared, the fellow 
broke past a guard, ran down to Gil, handed him the 

— 82 — 



and then bolted back to the sidelines. Gil didn't 
know what to do, so he slipped it into a fold in his track 
pants and wore it during the race. He won that race, 
too« though he was sure it wasn't because of the cruci- 
fix. 

Later Gil contacted the fellow and they became real 
friends. Gil was able to sit down with him and show 
him the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus 
Christ. He accepted the Lord as his personal Saviour 
at a Saturday night "Word of Life" rally in Madison 
Square Garden, and after correspondence with Gil 
seems ready to go into full-time Christian service as a 

medical doctor. 

• * * 

In the summer of 1944 Gil spoke at a youth meeting. 
In the afternoon he had given an exhibition at the local 
Y.M.C Jl. and a boy there had seen him and admired 
him, as he too was a trackman. Gil invited him to the 
evening service and he came and sat through it all. 
After it was over Gil noticed him lingering, waiting 
until the autograph-seekers had left. The first thing the 
fellow said was, 'Tou know, I want to be saved, but I 
just don't know how to go about it." Gil knew . . . and 
the Bible that never leaves him was put into use once 

more to lead a soul to Christ. 

• • * 

More than a score of national magazines have had 
articles on Gil, including Liberty, Scholastic, American, 
Magazine Digest, Life, Time, worldly-toned Esquire, 
Newsweek, and others in the secular field, and Sunday, 
Christian Herald, Watchman-Examiner, Protestant 
Voice, The Evangelical Beacon, and many others in the 

religious field. 

• • • 

— 83 — 



There was a time when he hesitcrted to ask for a free 
ticket to a meet for his wife. Another time he lost his 
contestant's ticket and rather than explain his way 
through the gate he paid the tax on a complimentary 
ticket which he had. . . When Gil wins a race the mail 

goes way up; when he loses it sags. 

* * • 

Gil is said to have set an all-time speed record when 
working at the Hotel Otter in Ashland and the hotel 
clerk gave a customer $5 too much in change when he 
paid his bill. They gave Gil the "go sign" and he 
caught the man at the depot just before he got on the 

train. 

• * • \ 

A glimpse into a Rotary club meeting and the voice 
of Gil Dodds is heard sajfing, "Life must be Christ- 
centered if it is to mean anything." . . A glimpse into a 
letter from the South Pacific tells of a lieutenant colonel 
writing to ask Gil for copies of a certain speech which 
Gil had made. Said the officer, "We want that type of 

talk. It's what we need for our boys." 

* * * 

A gUmpse into the Dodds apartment finds a beauti- 
ful 63-piece silver set which Gil and his wife received 
from a Swedish group in Boston for racing against 
Gimder Hagg. . . A look at a day of practicing might 
bring into view one of Gil's hero worshippers, a boy 
from Newton, Mass., who goes through exactly (he 
same warmup and workout which Gil does even 

though he is training to be a pole vaulter. 

• • • 

A glance at the comparative records of Glenn Cun- 
ningham, known to (he world as "Mr. Mile" ond one 
of Gil's heroes, gives Gil the upper hand. Whereas 
Cunningham ran only five races under 4:09 minutes in 
five years, Gil ran nine under 4 :09 in three years. Cun- 

— 84— 



ninghom perhaps never had anyone who idolized him 
as much as Gil did when he was growing up. The great 
Sanson, Who was told by doctors when only eight years 
old that he never would walk again, always has stood 

high in Gil's memory* 

* * * 

A careful look at the side of Gil's neck might reveal 
a small scar. Until the summer of 1944 he had a small 
growth there which hardened and became annoying 
after each race. An operation that summer took care 

of that 

• • * 

A check through his souvenirs finds a tattered con- 
testant's number with these words on the back: 'To a 
friend with highest regards. Cornelius Wannerdam." 
A strong and mutual friendship has developed be- 
tween Gil and the great pole vcodter. It's a spiritual 
friendship, too, because Wannerdam stops to pray be- 
fore every jump he ottempts* 

• • • 

Seeing the humorous side of Dodds is easy to do as 
he has so much of it. One example: '1 only hope I don't 
lower the records so low that my son can't break 
them." • • A lady in New York wrote Gil that she had 
had a revelation that Gil was one of the 12 disciples 
and that he should stop at a certain address in New 
York on his next trip and meet the other eleven. 

GU didn't Hop. 

* • • 

He always has met people who insist that it's impos- 
sible to be a C!hristian and an athlete at the same time. 
One old man backed it up with Scripture when he 
quoted Psalm 147:10, ". . • He taketh not pleasure in 
the legs of a man." In another church, one in which 
Gil hcni spent some of his early years, a man refused 
to come to church when he heard that Gil was going 

— 85 — 



to praadL "Attitotios coe sinfuL" he sakL 

* * * 

Que f cox mcdl letter disturbed him for a while. It ccone 
from one Sydney Dodds of New Orleans and traced 
Gil's lineage in the Dodds family tree bock through 
a Pennsylyania branch and thence to the Mayflower, 
winding up with a blast at Gil for being the first Dodds 
in history who has failed to bear arms in defense of 
his country. As far as the service goes, Gil has been 
advised by the head of chaplaanB of the Urst Cocps 

Area to finish his seminary work first and then apply. 

* * * 

Gil once ran against a horsel 

It happened at the Ashland county fair in Ashland, 
Ohio. As a speckd feature of the fair Gil had three 
races with a horse named Peter at Law. He ran a half 
xnile and the horse a mile. COnei lady wrote to the new»- 
poqper and said that the race was unfair because the 
horse had someone on his back urging him along and 
Gil didn't have anyonel) 

The horse won the first race, and collected a package 
of oats. Gil won the second . . . and a pair of pants. In 
the final "rubber" race, Gil won . . . and wi& it a suit- 



Horses or men, Gil has given his best every time he 
has raced. He's an ideal Christian, happy in the place 
in which the Lord has placed him and giving all glory 
and credit to God for any honors which have come his 
way. To the Christian world that modest, unassuming 
and God-glorifying nature is one to be sought after; to 
the world it is at times hard to explain. 

But because of it people tend to turn around and say, 

'1 wish I had what he has." 



— 86 — 



vm 



WITNESSING WITH HIS UPS 



BECAUSE of Ids iai^ poBitiop in tiie tpottB wodd Gil 
Dodds 1x91 bcRl uiuiiy o^yortimitiflg praBootod io 

in^ to him pcaiigps would bo sotis&dd widi a ^ood 
mocol tcdk on £viiig a dean Wb in aider to be a soc- 
fwmrfiii cwblele. But Gul never foiis to use siicsi oppar- 
tmnties Io apecdc a word cdxnd Ids iatOi in tibe Lozd J^sitt 
ChrisL Many of Ids track tx^>s torn into piecEadni^ ti^pB 
befose ne gc^ nfwnei He told r^xsteis in dhimyjo on 
file idxfist of brecddnQf the wocid's leoonl ffaot be was 
moze excited cdxmt piBoriiing' fiie next day in GkMdien* 
Ind. fiion be was in winniiifj tiie race ffaot nigj^it. 

H yon o on l d bcrve slipped into eosne of the iriftefiiigs 
in whidi be bos tpolcen iroui cocrirt to iiNJsi in fiie lost 
few yeuis you would have beaxd statements sudi ccs 



J2 younre wncs you pieocn cm can oe leocoea wizn 
the Gksspel if it is presented fiuoiiQib flie Splxit's ^fuid- 



nOie best way to run the xooe of fife is to tcdce God 
CCS your ^^dde. It's miirh ^owiei' to be coi nfhlete and a 
Qmsuon f"^*^ to be an fftpfft te ^^^y j fy^if ^ ^ ^lyiyy^i^^ 
ubsbobm mCiipe me rBmUaf moie uian ever niy oepenor 



Tnadc is, bos been and <dways will be w mnnukny 

wifli me. My Gospel work comes fissL 

* « « 

— 87— 



"Christianity makes it eader for me to take a beot- 
ing." 

* * * 

"By (he grace of God« weVe been able to do a little 

miming/' 

* * * 

'Tolks who doubt the Bible and tear it apart talM the 
heart out of the Bible; they tear up the Master's training 
rules before they even start life's race, and they can't 

possibly win." 

* * * 

"Some people tell me I'm crazy for signing a Bible 
verse after my name and for witnessing for our Lord 
whenever I get the chance, but after what He did for us 

on Calvary we can never do too much for Him." 

* * * 

"Some Christians are like athletes we often see. They 
have the ability and power to succeed, but they don't 
use it in the right way or they don't train right. That's 
the way it is with some of us Christians. We've got the 
greatest thing in the world to present but we don't do 

anything about it." 

* * * 

"I wanted a baby boy . . . and God was even good 

to me there. I got one, little Jackie." 

* * * 

"When a young fellow writes to me to find out how 
to run the mile I tell him that the first thing he should 
do is accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Sav- 
iour. Then if it's in the Lord's will that he can be a run- 
ner, nothing can keep him down. The Lord has a plan 
and a ploce for each of us, and it's for us to find Him 
and to let Him show us His plan f or us. • . After the first 
step is taken and the way seems open to run, the sec- 
ond step is to determine your weakness and start drill- 
ing on that. If you're weak on the dashes spend three 
or four weeks doing dashes of from 50 to 100 yards dur- 

— 88 — 



ing the off modmil Three or four weeks before the meet 
let the speed done and do basic work« with distance 
work, to regain the stamina lost in speed work. Each 
man is an individual and should be trained as such. 
For the basic work run the 220 yards. 300, 440 and an 

occasional 660, half-xnile or three-fourths mile." 

• • • 

"Whatever I do in action, word or deed I do to the 
honor and glory of God, endeavoring to give forth the 

best I have for Him, the author and finisher of my life." 

• • * 

Many times, immediately after a race, Gil has been 
asked by a radio announcer to say a few words over a 
national hookup. Invariably a word of praise to God 
for strength in running the race and an appeal comes 
from his lips. He told a reporter once, 'Tm generally a 
bit winded after a race but the Spirit supplies the words 

in time of need." 

• * • 

These past pages and chapters have tried to give you 
a picture of Gil Dodds, one of the greatest athletes of 
this century and all time, thanks to the help of God. 
It's hard to put into words the wannth that flows from 
the personcdity of God-guided, God-honoring Gilbert 
Lothair Dodds, "Miler for Christ." Great as he is in the 
sports realm, and his greatness there is undisputed, his 
greatest aim is to be great in the sight of God, usable 
to win souls to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

IBs clear, unflinching testimony rings out when he 
asks himself, and you, "Do people want what Fve got?" 
He means it when he says, 'It takes a man to be o 
Christian, and nothing is impossible with God, even 
the much talked of four-minute mile. PhiL 4:13." 

And now, the testimony of God's brightest light in the 
sports field, Gil Dodds. 

— 89 — 



CaiapterIX 

"I RUN FOR CHRIST!" 

By GU Dodds 

r' IS a privilege and a pleasure once more to give my 
testimony for Jesus Christ. Before going another step 
I wish to soy that it has been only through the help of 
God and His Son, Jesus Christ, that I have been able to 
do what I hove done in track. In every bit of my nm- 
ning there has been but one dominant thought — that 
in every possible way I might testify for my Lord wher- 
ever my racing might take me. 

My one dream as a boy was that some day I should 
be able to run in big-time competition. I used to read of 
the attainments of Paavo Nurmi, Lloyd Hahn, Glexm 
Cunningham and many others. The obstacles they met 
and overcame encouraged me. I often dreamed dreams 
of some day sinking my spikes into the pine boards of 
Madison Square Garden, lining up at the starting line 
with some of the greatest at the starter's command, to 
hear the gim and lunge forward for the lead and finally 

feel the tape snap across my chest, the WINNERI 
It all seemed in the realm of the unattainable in those 

early days, as far as I was concerned. It was a far-off 
vision, a deep burning desire and inward ambition; 
some even politely called it a "Day Dreamer's Fan- 
tasy." But it was at this time in my life, when I was but 
13 years old and with my head swimming with the 
ideas of what I would like to do in life, that a Christian 
lady — a wonderful Christian lady — crossed my path 
of life. But what help could this be to the realization of 
what I bad dreamed? 

I wanted to be an athletel She wanted me to be a 
Christian! 

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« 



• • 



She told me that I had to give my heart to Jesus, that 
the Christian home in which I lived wasn't going to 
save me and that my church membership and baptism 
was far from sufficient. I needed Christ — 'The Rose 
of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star, the Altogether 
Lovely One." She also told me I had to realize that I 
was a sinner, that the wages of sin is death, but that 
Jesus because of His love for me died upon the cross 
for ME that I might have EVERLASTING UFEU 

It was then that I made the initial step which every- 
one in life must take before having his highest vision in 
life come true. I yielded my life to Him. He has proven 
Ifimself to be the one who is able to do exceeding 
abimdantly above all that I could ask or think for life. 
My dreams have been realized and I know that it was 
made possible only through the Lord. He knew my 
secret desires and He fulfilled them for me. Why I do 
not know, but I thank Him always that He was so good 
to me. 

To me one of the most glaring misconceptions of the 
average man on the street is that you can't be a busi- 
nessman, a professional man, or, most remarkable of 
aU, an athlete, and yet be a Christian. 

It's just the other way aroundl It's the easiest thing 
in the world to be an athlete and a Christian at the 
same time. People often have wondered how the two 
mix and have asked me that question time and time 
again in my traveling all over the United States. The 
one rule which I keep before me at all times and which 
applies to both is found in the Bible in Hebrews 12 : 1-2, 
"Wherefore seeing we cdso are compassed 

cxbout with so great a doud of witnesses* let us lay 

aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily 

beset us, and let us run with patience the race that 

is set before us, 

— 91 — 



'Xooldng unto Jmanm ibm cnifhor cmd flnlihcr oi our 
fodth; who for fho Joy fhot wos sot boforo Him on- 
durod tiho ctoath dospising tiho shomo* cmd is sot 
down on tho right hand of tiho fhrono of God." 

In running I put aside cdl weights. I exercise and con- 
trol my eating to take off excess poimdage first of all. 
Then I look to my clothing. I have the lightest shoes in 
my possesion to use only in the race. Then I see that 
my trunks and sldrt are just right — not tight and likely 
to bind me in any way. 

So it is in life. We lay aside the sins that are in our 
lives and hearts and don the full armor of our^Lord. 

We have to run the race with patience. This is harder 
than some may think. In a two-mile race we shouldn't 
go out into the lead and fun as fast as we can, or run 
it as though it were <mly a one-mile race. And so it is 
in our spiritual lives. After some have accepted Christ 
as their Saviour they want to grow to be mature Chris- 
tians so fast that they don't stop to learn the small 
truths that could be a help. We get impatient and we 
take on spiritual tasks which we cannot accomplish. 
Wait on the Lord; He wiH teach you these needful 
things. If not you may have to leaxn through bitter de- 
f eat« even as I did in many a race. 

The last part of the rule is the most important. There 
is always a finish to a race, the place where victory or 
defeat is made known. You have to keep your xnind 
and your eyes set on the finish. Some runners look back 
while they are running and I can't figure out why they 
do. They lose precious seconds and there is the added 
danger of losing their footing and perhaps f alUng. 

This applies to life as well. We must keep our eyes 
on Jesus, "the author and finidier of our Icdih." He ran 
IBs race also, and He had a more difficult race than 
you or I will ever have. He won, tool That is what 

— 92 — 



mcdces it glorious for us cdl. He received the prise. The 
prizes that I receive in races are corruptible prizes; 
they are beautiful, have a definite sentimental value 
and we take pleasure in them. 

But the prize that gives to me the greatest pleasure 
and joy is the prize that Christ won ahd gave to me and 
to you who believe on His Name. ETERNAL LIFEl It will 
never tarnish, be broken, stolen or lost. It is the gift of 
God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

My orders are to go to athletes. If I should fall down 
on this I feel that God would hold me accountable. 

I find in the Bible many outstanding athletes. David, 
a man after God's own heart, could shoot the arrow, 
whirl the sling and track animals as none other. Sam- 
son, the strong man of the Bible, feared neither man 
n(H: beast but met all in wrestling duels and won. Elijah, 
the great prophet of old who lived and walked with 
God, at one time outran a chariot for 26 miles. (Fm 
going to ask him how he did it when we get to heaven.) 

But above all they lived for God. 

You perhaps have noticed how many times Paul the 
Apostle mokes reference to athletics in the New Testa- 
ment — such as "running the race set before us," 
"pressing toward the mark," "so run that ye may ob- 
tain," "fight the good fight of faith," and "we wrestle 
not against flesh and blood." 

So, it seems to me, they who live according to God's 
rules achieve greatness that endures. 

As you may know, my races have not always been 
victories. I have suffered many defeats. For these I 
thank the Lord also. His plan has been worked out in 
my life regardless of my desire. Just as Job and other 
Old Testament figures suffered setbacks and defeats, 
so did I, ior the Lord had a much greater glory pre- 
pared for Himself. A defeat can help you more than a 

— 93 — 



victory crt times^ cmd I feel that many of you fxom.your 
own experience realize that this is true. 

He taught me, through these bitter defeats and dis- 
appointments, to trust and lean on Him completely. 
And He has not failed me! Many people whom I had 
considered as friends have left me at these times of 
defeat and often it seemed more than I could bear. But 
the Spirit of God would lead me to read Paul's letter to 
Timothy. His friends forsook him, too, but he testifies 
and says, "The Lord stood with me and strengthened 
me." Our Lord is true to us today as he was always 
true to UiB disciples in those early days. 

My wife and I pray about everything. Before the 
Gunder Hagg trip came up we had prayed about it for 
several weeks, even before it was suggested that we 
make the tour. We wanted to do His will and felt that 
whatever came about the Lord would use it to His honor 
and glory. We had nothing to do with making it pos- 
sible; we had just one thought in mind — to testify for 
our Lord at every opportunity on the tour. When the 
opportunity came we were willing. We had opportunity 
to testify in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and 
other places along with the small personal opportim- 
ities which came to us on the train, in restaurants, etc. 

As an "ambassador" one must train accordingly. No 
one can serve God and the world at the same time. 
Separation is demanded. An ambassador is interested, 
above all else, in being properly recognized, and to an 
athlete that means, "Is my name in the world's record 
book of sports?" I have achieved that satisfaction, but 
far above all this I praise the Lord that my name is 
written in the record book of life, through the shed 
blood of Christ. 

Just a word or two to the fellows and boys who are 
so vitally interested in athletics. From my own per- 

— 94- 



sonol. experience I tell you this — you can Jbe on cxtb- 
lete and a Cbiistlan at the same time. The outstcmding 
athletes whom it has been my privilege to run against 
were not only clean fellows but they abided by their 
Christian beliefs as well. It's this type of athlete that I 
fear the most to meet — the one who knows Christ and 
obeys His teaching. They have what I have and we are 
equal in that respect. It is the athlete who is not a Chris- 
tian, who smokes and drinks and disobeys all of the 
rules of training, who gives me the least worry. 

Fellows, every outstanding athlete, such as Greg 
Rice and Gimder Hagg, knows that there are simple 
yet vital rules that every athlete should and must fol- 
low if he hopes to reach the top. These are tmwritten 
rules, but by disobeying them he signs his own death 
warrant to success. 

I won't say here that if you become a Christion that 
God will make a world chan^ion miler out of you. But 
I do say this, that if you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as 
yoiu: personal Saviour and yield your life to Him, He 
will put you just where He wants you to be and you'll 
be mighty satisfied with it. As I said before, I don't see 
why God allowed me to satisfy all of my personal de- 
sires except that every bit of it has gone to His honor 
and glory. Let Jesus come into your heart and Hell 
make you a success in whatever you do; shut Him out 
and you'll never be the real success you could and 
should be. 

Many people feel that athletics or other worldly piu:- 
suits ore all that matter in life. They throw aside every- 
thing else, even their Christian beliefs. Remember this, 
always — whenever you stand up for yoiu: beliefs, in 
the Qiristian spirit, tiie world will admire you. What 
con the world give you that God can't give you, plus 
much more? Sacrifice none of your principles for the 

— 95 —