Sunday, November 12, 2006

Charlie Robbins Remembered By Ted Corbitt

The great American marathoner, Olympian, ultramarathoner, Road Runners Club organizer and course-certification pioneer (and that's only a beginning, but whew!) Ted Corbitt traveled to Middletown by several buses in late August to attend a rememberance get-together for "Doc" Charlie Robbins, who died at age 85 last August 10. With him, Corbitt carried 5 typed pages of his memories of Robbins. He gave these to Robbins daughter, Barrie, who sent me a copy. Herewith, some excerpts:

*** Had there been no World War II, Dr. Robbins, a talented national marathon champ, would have made an Olympic Team. With training and remaining injury free, he might have made two or three Olympic Teams.

*** Charlie did not exploit his gifted talents fully, but he did cop 11 National Championships>> 5 x 20K; 2 x 25K; 2 x 30K; and 2 Marathon Championships. He was inducted into the Road Runners Hall of Fame in 1974.

*** He was reported to be a light trainer, meaning that he did not train hard and long enough to develop his talents fully. He had the potential to become the first American marathoner to break 2:20, but he would have had to train his body to hold a sub-5:20-pace past the 20-mile mark.

*** An early newsletter of the New York Road Runners Club recorded Doc Robbins as the first person to advocate co-ed road running.

*** Some time in the 1950s, Doc Robbins and two friends had just started a workout from a park near Yankee Stadium, laughing and gabbing as they ran, when a cement truck driver pulled up next to them and yelled, "Why don't you bums go get a job?"
The runners were Herb Benario, a Ph.D. college professor; Aldo Scandurra, an already well-to-do electrical engineer working on his Ph.D. dissertation; and Robbins, an M.D.

*** While most runners do some sort of warmup, Doc Robbins tended not to bother. He preferred to just stand around talking.

*** At one National Championship 20-K, Doc Robbins apparently decided to have some fun, so he started the race from a crouch start like that used by sprinters. Robbins won the race, probably the only National road race championship for a crouch-start runner.

*** Charlie had one quality that's rare among the great champions: He enjoyed running even when there was no hope that he could win. When Charlie was not in good shape, he often raced anyway, purely for the run of it.


At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big thanks for these excerpts... i laughed so hard about the crouch start, i tried to imagine his race... and it made me think that what is beautiful about running all out is that it resembles deep genuine laughter, the heartfelt type when you can't seem to catch your breath yet you can't stop laughing... cheers to you :)

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