Monday, August 22, 2011

Johnny Kelley

Johnny Kelley went for his final long run on Sunday. I knew of him more than I knew him. He was a running icon. He won the 1957 Boston Marathon, many national championships, and twice ran the Olympic Marathon. I learned of his passing in an article by Amby Burfoot, another running icon, a student of Kelley's in both running and life.
Early in my post high school days I ran a lot of road races. I would see Kelley and the other icons at the races, always encouraging to us middle of the pack runners. Much of what I know about Mr Kelley is from what I read or heard. He was a free thinker, an environmentalist, a running great, a running teacher and advisor. Thoreau and Dylan were said to be among those he admired. It seems that to him running wasn't something he "did", it was more a part of who he was. The running world will miss him. The world will miss him.
About a month ago it was my honor to care for him for a few hours. There wasn't a lot for me to do for him but I did listen, I hope it helped. At the end of my shift I handed him off to Mike. Mike recently ran his first marathon. Mike knew how I felt about Mr Kelley and he felt the same way. It felt good to be able to tell Johnny's family that he was in good hands. Mike even visited Johnny the next day. Mike didn't have to, it's not common practice, it's what Johnny Kelley meant to us.
Just as running wasn't something Johnny "did", nursing isn't something we "do".
I haven't run much in the past 2 years. When I heard of Johnny Kelley's passing there was two things I had to do. I went for a run and I wrote this.
Mr Kelley, it was an honor sir. We are all better because of you.

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