Go Be More Podcast

The Secret is to Make it Special - with 'Mr. Marathon' Tracy Sundlun (Ep 37)

Episode Summary

Jon and Bryan sit down with 'Mr. Marathon' Tracy Sundlun to talk about how he influenced the world of track and field and distance running.

Episode Notes

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We talk with Tracy about his amazing career as a coach, event planner, and governor of the sport of track and distance running.

His Coaching Career
- How he got his start in coaching at age 12 
- Why not being talented at track and field actually made him a better coach
- What makes rivalries so special, why the UCLA/USC dual meet was the best in the world, and how he actually won a car in his first one!
- Tracy’s theory for why the dual meet lost some of its luster in the late 80s and early 90s, and a discussion of whether the dual meet is the ideal format for determining the national champion
- His transition from USC to Colorado, his experience coaching the great Mary Decker, and what he thinks set her apart from other runners
- His friendship with Wilt Chamberlain and Wilt’s dedication to promoting women’s athletics, Wilt’s Wonder Women, his helping to get the Rock ’n Roll Marathon started, and Jon’s experience meeting him as a kid
- How he got started coaching the Warren Street Social Athletic Club and some of his memories from that time, including the fight to allow his athletes to receive prize money, which was barred at the time by the AAU
- How he knew it was time to transition out of coaching when he was no longer obsessed with thinking about the workouts

His Transition to Governance and Event Planning 
- You can’t put on a competition, it has to be an event. You need to make it larger than life.
- How he got involved in the AAU in order to stop them from punishing runners and how he stumbled into becoming the Men’s Chairman after losing the election to be the Women’s Chairman, and how that gave him the power to run meets the way he wanted
- His incredible first meet at the Armory in New York City, where he fired all the officials
- What led him to create the National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships, and all the hoops they had to jump through
- What drives Tracy to put in the work to create these new opportunities and change the sport for the better
- The importance of focusing on making an event special and doing it with people who are passionate about it
- The events he’s working on now, including a women’s running movement in Saudi Arabia, the Kigali International Peace March in Rwanda, and how to craft a space in track and field for transgender athletes that maintains fairness for all athletes
- And why the words Go Be More mean never stopping trying to be great and to never stop trying to do more for people

If you liked this episode, check out our interviews with legendary coach Bob Larsen and author/marathoner Tony Reed.

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Recorded August 19, 2020.


Tracy's Amazing Resume - National Scholastic

Wilt's Wonder Women Track Club (with some amazing photos of Tracy and his hair) - CompletePT

Warren Street Social and Athletic Club - Facebook

Rock 'n Roll Marathon - RunRocknRoll.com


Tracy Sundlun


Bryan Green - @sendaibry, Go Be More Blog

Jon Rankin - @chasejonrankin, Go Be More


Go Be More website

Go Be More YouTube Channel


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