George Sheehan passed away 20 years almost to this day on November 1, 1993. He was a true inspiration to many runners for his writings and quotes which are still used frequently for inspiration and contemplation on running and its influence on the body, mind and spirit. He was also a cardiologist and accomplished runner from the Jersey Shore. The Sheehan Classic held each year in Red Bank is dedicated to his memory.
I personally first ran into George Sheehan when I was relatively new to running participating in the Ocean Running Club’s Winter Series in Ocean County Park. It was a 5 mile race with two laps around the park. On the second lap with about a mile to go I heard very heavy breathing behind me. Suddenly this guy kind of older passed me. Inside I said I can’t let him beat me. So I picked up the pace passed him. We exchanged leads several times until the last 75 yards where you turn onto a field toward the finish. At that point spectators gathered and I could hear them cheering, “Go George!”. I had no idea who “George” was at the time but at that point I had to beat him. I picked it up and so did George and again we exchanged leads until with about 25 yards to go I just could not gather enough strength to keep up and “George” sprinted to the finish ahead of me. At the finish he fell to the ground totally spent as was I. But he had the inner strength to keep it up and I did not.
Later I found out it was the George Sheehan. I went out and bought his book and the next week brought it to the race where he autographed it.
To re – introduce “Doc Sheehan” to contemporary and old time runners Rodale Press which publishes Runnersworld is releasing a compendium of some of his best essays. It is titled” "The Essential Sheehan: A Lifetime of Running Wisdom from the Legendary Dr. George Sheehan."
The book also includes contributions from running legends Frank Shorter and Alberto Salazar.
The book is sure to inspire. Maybe if I had read his book prior to that race in Ocean County Park the results might have been a bit different – but probably not.
The book is available now at Amazon.
Runners can find upcoming events can be found on The Race Calendar.
Looking ahead to the spring there is RunAPalooza to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey on April 26, 2014. Registration for the Asbury Park Half is now open and a determination on the Jersey Shore Relay Marathon from Seaside Heights to Asbury Park should be forthcoming soon.