Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Interview With Bart Yasso

I was thrilled to get a interview with the Mayor of Running, Bart Yasso, because he has led an amazing life. I met him at the the packet pick up at the Huntington Marathon in WV, but was too intimidated to ask him anything other than, "Can you sign my book?" and "Can I get a picture?"

I'm not sure which of Bart's accomplishments are the most impressive. Bart has ran races all over the world and is one of the few people who have finished races on every continent. He has cycled across the country twice, won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship, and won the Smoky Mountain Marathon in 1998. He has also completed the Ironman five times, the Badwater 146 thru Death Valley, and has helped countless runners reach their marathon goals with his Yasso 800s method. 

Bart has worked at Runner's World since 1987 and travels to races all over the country. He speaks at expos and often does shake out runs before the race. He is an inspiration to many and I was excited when he agreed to be interviewed for my blog. Enjoy! 

Do you remember the moment you felt like a runner?

I felt like a runner right from the beginning way back in 1977. When I started running I started dreaming about what I wanted most out of life. The mind works as hard as the body does during exercise. I knew I wanted to travel around the world, experience exotic locations and different cultures. I did participate in other sports in my younger years including wrestling, basketball and football. However, I made a critical error and chose the path of alcohol and drugs, mostly marijuana. I was very lucky to gravitate towards running in 1977. It may have saved my life.

How has your chronic illness (lyme disease) affected your running? How do you say positive?

I contracted Lyme disease twice, in 1990 and again in 1997. Running never helped my Lyme disease. Living with chronic Lyme is very painful. Doctors compare the symptoms to rheumatoid arthritis. My legs swell I limp around the office most days. I am still trying to figure out how to be a runner dealing with Lyme disease. If I’m having a good week I’m happy if I get in two runs per-week. My weekly mileage is around 10 miles. The other days I go to the gym or ride my bike when the weather permits. I always stay positive no matter how bad I feel.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions?

Before every run I remind myself how lucky I am both physically and culturally to have the opportunity to be a runner.

Do you have a philosophy on diet and nutrition?

I’ve been a vegetarian for many years. I follow a vegetarian regiment for ethical and environmental reasons.

What was your most epic race? Tell me about it.

Comrades Marathon the 56 mile ultra marathon held each year between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa. Comrades is the world’s oldest ultra and the world’s largest ultra with over 20,000 registered runners.

Advice for new runners?

I always tell new runners you never know where this sport will take you. Running became my vehicle to take me around the world and introduced me to different people, their history and culture.  Running in foreign lands has been special, but understanding a new culture has been my greatest reward and fondest memories.

Have you been to New Hampshire? If, so, what did you like about it? 

I’ve been to NH many times I love the Mount Washington Road Race.


Race: Comrades

Way to relax: Bird watching

Athlete: Abebe Bikila

Recovery meal: Veggie stir fry

TV show: Seinfeld

Movie: Caddy Shack

Book: Black Elk Speaks

Singer/Band: Bruce Springsteen

Mantra: Never limit where running can take you.

Guilty pleasure: Nachos

City: Cape Town

Country: Tanzania

Racing Memory: Seeing my mother at Trevi Fountain during the Rome Marathon.

Check out Bart's book "My Life on the Run: The Wit Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon". You can read about his adventures with running all over the world, struggles with Lyme Disease, and his special way with rhinos and burros.

Thanks for stopping by and reading, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below. Come by on Sunday and read about my weekly runs. I've got 9 miles on tap for Saturday, wish me luck! 

1 comment :

  1. How awesome! I remember feeling starstruck when I met Bart, too ;) But he is honestly one of the nicest people I've ever met, and so easy to talk to. Great interview!