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Morgan Groth — July, 2016
Morgan Groth represented the United States in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics at 800 meters after winning the 1964 Olympic Trials 800 meters. He was the 11th American to break four minutes in the mile with a time of 3:57.9 in 1964. Groth set the American Record of 1:45.7 in 1964 for 800 meters. Morgan was 1965 AAU 880 yard champion, after placing third in 1963 and fourth in 1964. He won the 1963 NCAA Mile championship and also was the 1964 NCAA champ at 1,500 meters. Morgan ran the anchor leg as Oregon State University set the World Record in the 2 mile relay with a time of 7:18.9 at the West Coast Relays in Fresno CA. He represented the U.S. in 1963, 1964 and 1965 in the US-USSR dual meets along with contests with Poland, Germany and England. Morgan ran for Alhambra High School in Martinez, CA, and won the inaugural Golden West Invitational Mile in 1961 in 4:10.0. His personal best times include: 880 yards – 1:45.7 (1964); 1,500 meters – 3:45.9 (1965); Mile – 3:57.9 (1964) and 2 miles – 9:00.1 (1964). Groth is a member of the Oregon State University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. He resides in West Linn, Oregon and was very kind to spend ninety minutes on the telephone in the summer of 2016.
GCR:You devoted at least a decade of your life to becoming a faster middle distance runner. Now that you can reflect back over fifty years later, how does it feel to know that you once and always are an Olympian that represented the United States?
MGIt’s a tremendous feeling. When I first started running I had no idea that I would progress that far. In a short span of four or six years it just blossomed and it was a total surprise. You’re all of a sudden there.
GCR:In track and field the media and fans evaluate competitors’ careers by championships, records and Olympic performances. When you look back at your Olympic Trials victory at 800 meters, NCAA championship at 1,500 meters in a Collegiate Record, an American Record for the half mile and being part of the World Record 2-mile relay, what does this say about your competitive career?
MGIt happened over a short span and we don’t give it much thought. We run these races and it happens. I was very fortunate to have some outstanding coaching and excellent athletes to work with. We were very competitive and it just happened so fast that we didn’t have time to think about it.
GCR:Since you mentioned coaching, could you talk a bit about your high school and college coaches? What did your high school coaches do to get you started and to tap your talent and what did your college coach do to take you to a higher level?
MGI started as a freshman in high school as a high jumper and didn’t give running a thought. I really enjoyed high jumping and I recall one day the coach asked me to run a 660. It had a staggered start as I recall and I ran the whole race in the third lane, not knowing that I could cut in. So that’s how I started and I think I ended the season running 1:32 for the 660 as a freshman.
GCR:Was this for Coach Ray Edman?
MGNo – Coach Edman was hired my senior year. The football coach, Jim Coulter, coached me the first three years. I had absolutely no interval training at all with him. It was a very informal approach as I would run around the track a couple of times and maybe head out to run in the hills. I didn’t even know what interval training was. Ray Edman was hired my senior year and that was also my first year of cross country.
GCR:What kind of mile and 880 times did you run through your junior year with that informal training?
MGMy sophomore year I lettered in track and I ran 2:01.3. My junior year I don’t recall running the half mile. I ran the mile and I think it was in the neighborhood of 4:26.4. So I went into my senior year and it was amazing when Ray told me at the beginning of the season that he wanted me to run 4:10. I just kind of brushed it off. I thought, ‘4:10… that’s unbelievable.’ He just ran the devil out of me and I had very intense interval training with him. I won the Golden West meet at the end of the year in 4:10 flat, so he was right on the money.
GCR:Your biggest high school accomplishment has to be winning that 1961 Golden West Mile in 4:10.0, just a tenth of a second ahead of John Camien who ran 4:10.1 and three seconds in front of Doug Calhoun of Culver City’s 4:13.3. From accounts of the race you ran a 62 first lap and were sixth of eight, moved up to 5th at 2:06, were third after three laps in 3:11 and were still 15 yards behind on the back stretch before unleashing a torrid kick and last lap of 59 seconds for the win. What was your race plan, on that last lap did you feel Camien and Calhoun had too big of a lead, when did you start realizing you could win and how did that last 100 yards play out?
MGI don’t recall being quite that far behind. About two weeks before that meet I had run 4:14.4. I had never run against Calhoun and, of course, Camien of New York before. There were also several other milers, primarily from southern California, who were down in the 4:12 or 4:14 or 4:15 range. I stayed with the leaders as much as I could and the last two hundred yards sprinted and I beat Camien by just that tenth of a second. I didn’t even know Calhoun was third. Mike Thornton of Torrence was also in there. I think Camien may have been the only non-Californian in that race.
GCR:When I looked at your high school’s website in the track and field area, you still hold Alhambra High School records fifty-five years later for the mile with that 4:10.0, and 800 meters with a 1:54.4 converted time from your half mile. Is this still a source of pride and do you still attend your high school’s sports banquets and functions?
MGI haven’t attended any functions. I would get down to Martinez, California several years ago when my mother lived in Walnut Creek and I would visit friends, but I’ve lost contact with the athletic program down there. I had Ray Edman coaching me for one year, and then a year or two later he went to Clayton Valley High School in Concord and they had a good cross country team that was nationally ranked one year.
GCR:When you finished high school you had to make a collegiate choice. How tough was making your collegiate choice between some of the California schools and also Oregon with Coach Bill Bowerman and Oregon State with Coach Sam Bell?
MGIt was extremely difficult. I was contacted by Peyton Jordan of Stanford and Bill Bowerman at Oregon. My high school grades were such that I would have to go to Menlo Junior College for a year before I got into Stanford. I wanted to get out of California, so Oregon was the obvious choice. In July of 1961 Coach Bowerman had me stay at his place in Crowberg for a week or two over the fourth of July weekend as there was a meet at Oregon. I was pretty well resigned to the fact that I would go to Oregon. Then I was contacted by Oregon State and several other schools and it was really fatiguing. I didn’t know where I was going to go. I finally made the decision to go to Oregon State and it was made partly because of some of the other runners from southern California that Sam Bell had recruited. Dale Story from Santa Ana, and Jan Underwood, a half-miler who ran 1:51 or 1:52 in high school, were both from southern California.
GCR:When you arrived at and ran for Oregon State, what did Coach Sam Bell do to build upon your high school running and racing success as you improved to a very high level rather quickly?
MGAs it turned out we had five or six half milers capable of running under 1:50. Then, of course, in the mile Dale Story had run 4:03 and we had several other milers that were in the 4:08 to 4:10 range. So, I had excellent people to work out with. Also, George Kerr, the great half miler from Jamaica, was at Oregon State working on his PhD. George helped quite a bit as well.
GCR:I’m sure George must have been a great training partner. When I interviewed Peter Snell about five years ago he talked about the battles he had with Kerr in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics so he must have helped out, whether he was running with you or giving you mental insights.
MGGeorge was a real character. I just found out the other day that he had passed away in 2012. I didn’t know about that. But, we had some excellent workouts. Another half-miler at Oregon State who was my roommate, Norm Hoffman, won the 1963 NCAA 880 and his best time was 1:47.5.
GCR:The Oregon State 2-mile relay broke the World Record with a time of 7:18.9 at the West Coast Relays in Fresno CA. Jerry Brady and Norm Hoffman got the baton around the track twice before you ran the anchor to set the World Record. Were you and your teammates aiming to challenge the World Record and how satisfying was it to do this as a foursome?
MGThe fourth half miler on that team was Jan Underwood. We didn’t think about the World Record at all. We just ran. I can recall running the anchor leg against either Jerry Siebert or Ernie Cunliffe. They were running for the Santa Clara Youth Village. They were ahead and I made the pass for the lead on the final lap. We didn’t know at all that it was a World Record until they announced it. We were as surprised as anyone else.
GCR:Let’s chat a bit about some of your other collegiate races in 1964 before we talk about the Olympic Trials and Olympics. Your 1964 NCAA win over 1,500 meters was a highly competitive race with a half dozen runners in the mix. UCLA’s Bob Day led for two laps, then Ben Tucker took the lead and finally you did during the final curve and you held off Archie san Romani, John Camien and the others in 3:40.4 with San Romani only four tenths of a second back. Could you take us through that race, how you were feeling and the tactics that led to your victory against such a strong and deep field?
MGAs far as tactics were concerned, I wanted to remain in second or third place and then with 300 yards to go to kick. I had problems during that 1964 season with an Achilles tendon injury so I had been training in the swimming pool quite often – just running in the water because my tendon could not take the interval training. I had run against San Romani it seemed like every other week and we would exchange wins back and forth and we were always within one to three tenths of a second. I viewed him as my main competition. There were some good milers in that group.
GCR:Since you mentioned Archie San Romani, one race that must have been a real collegiate battle was the 1964 Far West meet between Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State where Archie and you both ran a 4:04.2 mile with San Romani getting the win. Were you just side by side the whole way down the final home stretch to that tight finish?
MGI don’t recall exactly. It seemed that each time we raced each other we were neck and neck the whole way. Coach Bowerman knew that my strategy was to remain in second or third place and then relax and then kick with 300 yards to go. He told San Romani one time, ‘if you’re going to beat Morgan Groth you’re going to have to change that tactic.’ So I remember on the third lap he just took off and went for a hundred yards and took the wind out of me. Bob Day did the same thing to me at the 1965 NCAA meet at Berkeley. We went through the half mile of the mile race in 1:53 and then were at 2:53 for the three quarters. I tell you that is the toughest last quarter mile I’ve ever run. I ended up third or fourth and didn’t even break four minutes. It was real painful. I know Bob Day was suffering as well after that three quarter in 2:53, even though he did manage to hold everyone off and win.
GCR:Going back to 1964, The Compton meet was a real gem as eight runners broke 4:00 as Dyrol Burleson won in 3:57.4, Archie San Romani, you and Bob Day all ran your first sub-four minute mile and Jim Ryun was the first high school runner to go sub-4:00 with a 3:59.0. How exciting was it to break four minutes in the mile and what do you recall from this historic race?
MGThat was an amazing race, with Jim Ryun only taking eighth place in 3:59 flat. On the second lap Jim was knocked off the track and still finished in 3:59. It was a very close race with eight of us just 1.6 seconds apart. I don’t know about the other guys who broke four minutes for the first time, but I didn’t give it much thought. I know it was kind of a neat thing to run under four minutes, but I was more concerned about what place I would take. I knew in the back of my mind that sooner or later I would be under four minutes, but I didn’t know when. I just didn’t give it a thought. I was kind of disappointed that San Romani beat me in that race.
GCR:In the Pacific northwest you were also competing for conference crowns and, while at Oregon State, you were Pacific Conference 800 meter champ in 1965. How exciting and important was it to compete as an individual and team for conference crowns?
MGIt was extremely exciting. Back then there were eight schools in the conference. In either 1963 or 1964 Norm Hoffman and I ran the half mile against each other. We knew we would take first and second place so Norm suggested that we should go across the line together and I agreed. As we neared the tape he lunged forward and beat me by a tenth of a second. We laughed about that. We were still roommates at the time and were very competitive with each other in that way.
GCR:There were so many good middle distance runners on your team. What were some of the highlights of your training in college as far as race tempo workouts, speed work and the total miles per week you ran?
MGWe did probably close to ninety miles a week. We did a lot of interval training. At our peak we were working out two and three times a day – in the morning, at three o’clock to six o’clock in the evening and before I went to sleep I would always go out and run barefoot on the grass for a half hour or so. Interval training was all of us together and it was quite intense. We ran primarily 440s though we did some half miles in 1:53 to 1:58 and some three quarters below three minutes. We’d mix it up. Some days we would do quarter miles and half miles and other days we would do half miles and three quarter miles. We would always end our interval training with some fast 330s or 220 yards.
GCR:Let’s take a look back at the 1964 Olympic Trials and Olympics. At the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials you were 800 meter champion in 1:47.1, followed by Tom Farrell at 1:48.0, Jerry Siebert at 1:48.3 and Francis Smith at 1:48.7. What was your strategy going into the race and what were highlights and major strategic moves that led to your victory? Was it your typical sit in second or third place and move with 300 yards to go or did it play out differently?
MGThat’s exactly what I did. I wanted to stay in second or third place. Now the 1964 Trials were unique in that we had two Trials. The first was at Randall’s Island, New York and they took the top six to run a month or so later at the Coliseum in Los Angeles and they took the top three to the Olympics. Going back to Randall’s Island, I was very fortunate to have placed in that because the morning of that Trial I wrenched muscles in my lower back. When I looked in the mirror I was bent over. The only thing that saved me was I was bent over to the left towards the curve of the track and I had a chiropractor work on me for about an hour before the race. I don’t think I won – I may have taken second or third place – but I was lucky to run the race. That almost knocked me out of the Trials all together.
GCR:So when you ran the final Trials in Los Angeles and executed your plan did anyone go with you or did you just pull away and forty seconds later you were the champ?
MGThat’s how it was. Of course, the pressure of trying to make the Olympic team was unbelievable.
GCR:When you crossed the finish line and knew you were an Olympian and were going to Tokyo, what thoughts went through your mind as you were now on the U.S. team?
MGIt was the best feeling in the world knowing that all of that prior training had paid off.
GCR:Your Olympic racing experience wasn’t what it could have been due to an injury prior to the Olympics. How did you get injured and how tough was it mentally knowing that you couldn’t perform at full strength?
MGThe injury happened about a week before the race when I was already in Tokyo. It was my Achilles tendon again. Going into the Olympics I thought I was in the best shape of my life. Without even kicking I strode through a 1:15 for 660 yards without being tired. Tom O’Hara and I had trained, before we went to Japan, down at Mt. Sac. We ran eight to ten 220s all below twenty-three seconds, jogging a 220 in between. We were in good shape, but it was one of those things where the injury would flare up every once in a while and it happened in Tokyo.
GCR:The U.S. distance team was amazingly strong at the 1964 Olympics. Did you spend much time with Dyrol Burleson, Tom O’Hara, Bob Schul, Billy Mills, Gerry Lindgren, Jim Ryun and others in training and socially and are there any special memories you can relate?
MGI have a lot of memories. I roomed with Tom O’Hara and also Vic Swolac, from Villanova. Right across the hall were Billy Mills and Gerry Lindgren. I remember the morning of the 10,000 meter final, Billy Mills and I and two or three others – I think Tom O’Hara was one – went for a jog in the Olympic Village and Billy Mills was telling us how well he felt and how he felt fast that day. I kind of chuckled to myself because 10,000 meter runners aren’t supposed to be fast. I remember that quite well and several years later I mentioned it to Billy and he remembered that run before the final race. I recall Tom O’Hara on the practice track in Tokyo running against Peter Snell in an 800 meters and Peter beat him by five yards or so and ran about 1:48. I was watching the 1,500 meter final and Roger Moens of Belgium was there and I was really impressed because he was an Olympic medalist.
GCR:When I talked with Peter Snell several years ago he said that when he first beat Roger Moens in the 1960 Olympic 800 meters it was a big upset. Then years later after Snell’s career was over and he had added the two more Olympic Gold Medals in 1964, Moens told Snell, ‘I’m so glad you had a great career because it made my Silver Medal feel better.’ Do you have any more comments or memories about Snell?
MGHere’s a true story about Peter Snell. In Tokyo when my Achilles tendon kind of blew up again on the last half lap, I limped across the line and Peter Snell was the first one to come up to me. He was waiting at the line which really made me feel good.
GCR:Did you go to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and do they bring back special memories?
MGI went to both of them. They were just amazing. In fact, I have the movie of the 1964 Olympics and was watching it the other day. I tried to point out to my lady friend which one I was in the Opening Ceremonies. In the Closing ceremonies we were wearing our ten-gallon hats and we threw them into the air. Everyone was trying to get a hat.
GCR:Did you watch many other track and field events, attend other Olympic sporting competitions or hang out with any other athletes from the U.S or foreign nations?
MGOh yes, absolutely. I went to as many of the track events as I could. Another highlight in the Olympic Village was when I walked into a small room that was probably ten by twelve feet and they had television sets in the room. There were two people in the room in addition to me. There was Muhammad Ali, who then was Cassius Clay. And there was Buster Mathis, the heavyweight boxer. I was really thrilled to even be in the room with them. They were talking so I didn’t interrupt them. I sat down two or three chairs away from them at my thin 150 pounds. I was just amazed as Ali didn’t look that large to me. He was six feet or so, but didn’t appear to be that heavy.
GCR:After the Olympics, you still had one more collegiate season. How did that go as you were now a returning Olympian?
MGIt was a good feeling to be an Olympian, but I still had that Achilles tendon injury. I could train for two or three months and then it would flare up again. As far as running was concerned, my conditioning was never what it should be because I was never able to put in the mileage. My speed was good and I ran my fastest 880 that spring against George Kerr down in Jamaica and it was a personal record for both of us.
GCR:In 1965 you did win the AAU 880 yards title, after placing third in 1963 and fourth in 1964. What in training or racing tactics was different that led to your win in 1965?
MGEach year a runner gets stronger and wiser as far as running. 1965 was a good year for me despite the injuries. I never would have run that American Record in the 880 down in Jamaica had it not been for Carey Weiseger who ran in the half. Carey knew that in order to beat George and me he would have to take off and run fast the entire second lap. He took off with about 300 yards to go and we went with him. He pulled us through that fast time.
GCR:Did you have a chance to represent the U.S. at many European meets in those years as I know the U.S. had dual meets against several European countries?
MGMy first European tour was in 1963 and we ran against Russia in Moscow, then against Poland the second week, versus Germany the third week and then against England. In 1964 the Russians came to Los Angeles to run and in 1965 we were back in Russia, not in Moscow but in Kiev. We repeated the Russia, Poland, Germany and England tour that year.
GCR:It must have been nice at a relatively young age to see a bit of Europe and the world while you were also competing. Was it a great experience?
MGIt was just amazing. In one of the years after we ran those dual meets I also went to Sweden and raced there. It was either 1963 or 1964 and I raced with the first group of Kenyans who raced in Europe. There was Kipchoge Keino and Wilson Kiprogat, among two or three others. We raced about every other day. We’d jump into a Volvo and get dragged to a meet, get out, warm up and run and then repeat about a day later. That’s how it went. We had some good races. I don’t recall being able to train much over there. We just ran those races and progressed with that.
GCR:You mentioned racing against the Soviet Union during those three years. Back then it was during the ‘Cold War’ years. You placed third in the 800 meters in Moscow in 1963, third in the 1,500 meters in 1964 and, though injured, jogged to a fourth place 800 meters finish in 1965. How was it racing not just for your country, but in the eyes of many in the world to prove the superiority of Western capitalism versus Eastern communism?
MGAs competitors the Russians were just athletes, just like us. I can remember running against Valery Bolechev and Abram Kribechev, who were the two 800 meter runners and they were just regular guys. In fact, Kribechev and I exchanged letters after that first 1963 meet and it took about a month for a letter to come from Moscow to the U.S. and likewise. There was a language barrier and I recall an interpreter taking me around Moscow and showing me their subway system and various sights. There wasn’t much discussion about the ‘Cold War.’ There was no animosity at all.
GCR:A little while ago we talked about some of your close races with Archie san Romani, but who were some of your favorite competitors and adversaries from your collegiate days and when you first started in high school competition?
MGIn high school not so much aside from the Golden West meet. In college it’s a different story as most of the people you are running against are excellent runners. You don’t take them for granted at all. We had some really close races. As far as competitors, I had some close races against Jim Grelle and Carey Weiseger in the mile. On any given day there were several of us who could either win or lose.
GCR:Did you race Gerry Lindgren at all, indoors or outdoors, or was he usually in races that were longer than yours?
MGHe was running the longer races, but I think I raced against Gerry in Jamaica at that Carreras Invitational which was a two-day meet. I ran the mile the first day and then against Kerr in the half mile the next day. I think that Gerry and Carey Weiseger were in that mile the first day.
GCR:When you look back at your running career, and I know you had that recurring Achilles tendon injury, but with the luxury of hindsight, is there anything you could have done differently in training and racing focus that may have resulted in better performances or are you pretty happy that you got all out of yourself that you could?
MGIn looking back, of course there are a lot of things I would do differently now with the knowledge I have. Particularly when I was running these races I don’t recall pace setters. Today it seems that every high caliber race has a pace setter. We just didn’t do that back in the early 1960s. Or if they did do that I didn’t know about it. Over the years things have changed including the quality of the tracks.
GCR:Speaking of changes, back when you were running and racing, track and field was an amateur sport and top U.S. runners ‘retired’ early to go to work and earn a living. Did you have hopes of training for the 1968 Olympics, or did the realities of life move you in a different direction?
MGBack then we had the draft for the Vietnam War and quite a few of the athletes dropped out of school and went into the service or who knows what happened to them. I went into the Marine Corps in 1966 and I still had that Achilles tendon problem. I could run below 1:50 in the half mile but I could not put in the adequate training to do much better than that.
GCR:Today many track and field athletes have sponsorship opportunities and trainers and rehab and chiropractors and nutritionists. If it was like present day back then could it have been a different story?
MGI think so. Yes. I know that Coach Sam Bell was at Cal-Berkeley coaching in 1966 and he tried to get me back to where I was training hard. But he knew about my Achilles tendon. I just couldn’t proceed. Again my speed was good, but it was just the mileage I couldn’t do. In fact, my speed progressed to 1971 when I ran my fastest 100 yards. I ran 9.7 with a standing start at a meet in Corvallis. My speed was good, but it was the high mileage that I couldn’t do.
GCR:When we flash forward, the United States is seeing a resurgence in middle distance and distance running and in particular in the last two Olympics in the 1,500 meters where we have seen Leo Manzano win the Silver Medal in London in 2012 and Matt Centrowitz win the first U.S. Gold Medal in 108 years in Rio. Why do you think U.S. middle distance success is increasing?
MGI think we’re finally catching up with the Kenyans and the north Africans. If you take a look at Matt’s winning time in the 1,500 meters, that’s like a 4:07 mile. But we do know he’s capable of running below 3:50 for the mile. It is a strange situation that they went out so slowly. He did run his last 400 meters in 50.6. You have to give him unbelievable credit. Any time you can run the last lap of the mile or 1,500 meters in 50 seconds flat, it’s unbelievable.
GCR:Another interesting phenomenon the past few years has been attention brought to the mile in part from the ‘Bring Back the Mile’ effort. Have you been following this and do you think reinstating the mile in high school, collegiate and other meets in the U.S. would grow the interest of not just competitors and track and field fans, but of the general public?
MGYes, definitely. If you look back all the way to Roger Bannister, the mile was the premier track event. It certainly was when I was in high school. There was Jim Beatty and Dyrol Burleson and Peter Snell and Herb Elliott. It was the event. Yes, I’d like to see it back permanently.
GCR:Morgan, it’s been quite a while since your heyday in track and field. What have you done over the years to stay fit, how is your health and what do you do currently for health and fitness?
MGI’m hampered a bit. I don’t run. I have a very bad knee. My right knee probably needs a replacement. I had to go to the doctor the other day and I’m staying on top of that. It’s a good day when I can walk at a brisk pace. Yesterday was a good day and I did it out of survival when I flew to Chicago and in the airport probably put in two to three good miles of walking there.
GCR:The final question is a wrap up query for you. What are the major lessons you have learned during your life from growing up in the 1950s in the Eisenhower era, the discipline of running, your career and any adversity you have faced that you can sum up as your philosophy on life, being your best and reaching your potential?
MGThe big lesson I’ve learned from running is that it takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to accept the bad along with the good. You will have your ups and downs, just like in life. Just never give up. Keep plugging away.
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsI love to fish for salmon and steelhead and trout. Those are my favorites
NicknamesIn high school they called my ‘Spider.’ That was the basketball coach that came up with ‘Spider.’ In college Coach Sam Bell called me ‘Mogo.’
Favorite moviesI love ‘Chariots of Fire’ and enjoy watching that every once in a while
Favorite TV showsAnything to do with sports. I don’t really watch a lot of television except for sporting events. I like to stay away from the news
Favorite musicI like all different kinds of music except for rap. I appreciate all sorts of music
Favorite booksI enjoy books about track and field. My first book that I read and I’ve almost worn that out was about Percy Cerutty and Herb Elliott. I still have that book and Jim Ryun’s book. I just got Ollan Cassell’s book about amateur athletics
First carIt was a Chevy that had the engine in the rear back in 1960 or 1961
Current carA Ford Explorer that is an older car. The other thing I’m having trouble with is my eyesight. For the past three years the DMV requires me to go to my ophthalmologist to get my eyes checked because I have macular degeneration. So I haven’t purchased a new car
First JobIn Martinez, California our family owned a couple of hardware stores, so I worked at the hardware stores off and on. I did everything. My great-grandfather started the store back in the 1870s
FamilyI have three children. The oldest is Morgan, Jr. who lives in Cincinnati. He is married to Christina and she is a vice president at Kroger that has their headquarters in Cincinnati. My second son is John who lives in Eva Beach, Hawaii and manages three departments for Macy’s. My youngest is Heidi and she is a manager for Verizon Wireless in Honolulu, Hawaii. I think I attended seven Pro Bowls in a row in Hawaii
PetsI love dogs and my lady friend has a cat. One of my main reasons for visiting Cincinnati is to see the family dachshund, Simon. I hadn’t seen him in a year. Last night when I got here I was sitting on the couch when they let him in the house. He went berserk when he saw me
Favorite breakfast: I eat a lot of oatmeal and fruit primarily. I do like bacon and eggs once in a while. But my lady friend is very health conscious, so that’s why I concentrate on oatmeal
Favorite mealDefinitely fish. I like salmon and trout
Favorite beveragesI don’t drink alcohol at all, going back to my father, I don’t even drink an occasional beer or glass of wine. I drink an ‘Arnold Palmer,’ which is a mix of lemonade and tea or I just drink tea. Of course I drink a lot of water with lemon or lime added to the water which I like
First running memoryI recall in 1954 when Roger Bannister broke that four minute mile barrier. My family took the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and I can still remember that picture of him crossing the finish. It was shortly thereafter in the next day to a week that my brothers and I hopped on our bicycles and we went down to the high school track which was a dirt track. I had a stop watch and I had my brother time me going around the track on my bicycle telling me to slow down or speed up. I wanted to see what a four minute mile was like. So I did a four minute mile on my bike. I can still hear him calling, ‘You’re going too fast. Slow down,’ or ‘You better speed up.’ Just like Gerry Lindgren did in his youth, I used to run at night quite often as well. I lived in the hills down in Martinez, California and there was a Christian Brothers Winery from back in the 1800s. I set up a mini cross country course that went through the hills on that property and I timed it so it would take about four minutes. Of course it was much shorter than a mile. It might have been a three quarter or somewhere in between. I would run that course and time myself to see how fast I could run. I was probably 13 or 14 years old, maybe right as a freshman in high school
Another early running memoryOne running memory as a young child is that I would spend summers with my grandparents and they would drive down to L.A. to visit family. We’d go down highway 101 and I remember spending one night two or three years in a row in Kirko de Ria which is right on the ocean there and I would enjoy running two or three miles up and down the beach on the wet sand. I was probably seven or eight years old. Rather than building sand castles, I would be running in the sand
Running heroesI have a lot of heroes. Roger Bannister. Jim Beatty was a hero. Herb Elliott was a hero. You mentioned Horace Ashenfelter recently on Facebook and I recall in our large back yard I would set up a steeplechase jump with broomsticks or dowels. I had everything minus the water jump. My mother wouldn’t let me do a water jump. So Horace was one of my heroes. I remember watching Horace in the first USA-Russia meet on TV – I think it was held in Philadelphia. It was an old black and white television and it was either the 5,000 meters or the 10,000 meters where one of the Russians almost passed out with a lap to go. I thought that was something with Russia versus the USA and I had no idea at that time that someday I would run in that meet
Greatest running momentsThe win in the Golden West Mile in high school would be one as it was my first great moment. The World Record in the two-mile relay and winning the Olympic Trials would make three moments
Childhood dreamsI didn’t have one dream. I went from one sport to another. Football was my favorite sport during football season and then it went into basketball and baseball and track. Whatever the season was my favorite sport
Embarrassing momentThe most embarrassing story would be that 1965 NCAA mile when Bob Day took us out in that fast first three quarters where we were 1:53 at the half and 2:53 at the three quarter. It was the dumbest race I’ve ever run and that was embarrassing to me. But I can sit back and laugh about it now. Tracy Smith, who ran the 5,000 meters in Mexico City was my roommate at Oregon State for a while and he brings that up to me every once in a while and we just laugh about it because it was just a real stupid thing that I did to follow Bob through in 2:53 at the three quarter
Favorite places to travelDomestically, I love Lake Tahoe, California and I love the mountains. Carol and I go to the mountains as she has a place in the Trinity Alps in between Eureka, and Redding, California up in the mountains where we spend three weeks at a time. When I return to Oregon I’ll spend a week at home and then we’re going to take off for another three weeks in the mountains. As far as Europe, I love Dublin. That city has always been one of my favorites. Ireland as a whole is nice. My last trip over there was a few years ago, but we rented a car and drove all over except we stayed out of Northern Ireland. It has a beautiful countryside and nice people and I enjoyed that