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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
Printad In th« United States of AflMrioa.
>• - - «t ^ /. ^ 4' C
*jt w- * '^- -
"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*"
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."
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
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/"
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 —
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-
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
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."
- •- * »
— 5 —
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 . •
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
• • •
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-
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-
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
Lloyd Hahn, the mile champ of 1924-1929. He, too,
was a Christianr— a deacon in his church and a Sunday
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
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
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-
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*
"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
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
'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
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
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 —
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
"Who was that guy?"
And they told him«
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
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
"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
Of his family, home, and parents Gil once told a
Two.ilaps bahind Gundai Haqg at Camp RaodolL N. Y.
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 .
nowflpoper ig p o n Br, iXRi ccoci Mcfluw Acnrs oeipBq mv
c ito ng at cdl times. Evm befaiB I beocone a C3h?lglMut
uMy M i op t id cDid tmiiM^I stj' fhinlrnij os i<!wji:ii,dg flw
^usIb CDid voB yiiMXl liulhs tfaflraiii. SSdiooiby' ocsoeplGaiOB
oi Ohnitf Ibey licnrs ijiiBufly ilnapftd stj^ tfaeology on
it fajiiiH to lMifiii9 im CDid pScrpisij pranks. Ho sdU Im
08 bio psovQS to poPrChiirfwiiw how tndy Lujjpj 000
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
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
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 —
• • • •
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 —
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
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
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
one is Hahn. Lloyd Hahn. Will you
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
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-
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
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 —
COLLEGE . . . CRISIS . . . CUPS
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
— 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*
^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
•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-
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
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
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
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-
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
"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
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-
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
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
But Gil Dodds proceeded to iq>oil a great day for
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
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
"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
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
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.
HAGG . . . SULLIVAN AWARD ...
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
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
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
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
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
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
— 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
* * *
"Never given to an athlete who more typified its
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 —
'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,
"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 —
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
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
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
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 —
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-
* * *
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
'1 can do all things through Christ, which
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
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
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
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,
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-
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-
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
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-
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
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
"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
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
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 /
* * *
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
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
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 —
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
"I PRAY ABOUT MY RUNNING"
A headline in the New York paper read,
"I prayed as I ran — Dodds."
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
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
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-
• • •
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
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-
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
• * *
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
• • •
— 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
• * • \
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-
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
• • *
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 —
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
* « «
"Christianity makes it eader for me to take a beot-
* * *
"By (he grace of God« weVe been able to do a little
* * *
'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
* * *
"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 —
"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
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 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,
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'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
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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
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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-
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
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
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