Comedian was fast in high school, joked about marathons.
August 12, 2014
The death of stand-up comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams has had a profound effect on communities worldwide–the running community among them.
Williams, beloved for his roles in Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, and countless others, ran track in high school, including a 1:58.8 800 meters in 1969. His relay team at Redwood High in Larkspur, California, once held the 4 x 400-meter school record , which remained in place for decades.
Track records aside, Williams once famously quipped, “I love running cross-country … on the track I feel like a hamster.”
Although Williams participated in numerous running races, including the Dipsea Race in 1984 , he's probably better known in sports for his cycling involvement and support of the Challenged Athletes Foundation , an organization that provides opportunities and support to athletes with physical disabilities.
His 20-year involvement with the foundation included teaming up with disabled athletes to participate in triathlons. One of his teammates, double-amputee Rudy Garcia-Tolson–featured in our 2006 Heroes of Running–went on theOprah Winfrey show with Williams to talk about the achievements of athletes with disabilities.
Founding members of the organization said the actor's presence brought attention and credibility to their cause. "He truly found joy in participating side-by-side with our challenged athletes and we cannot thank him enough for the support and energy he brought to our organization," they said in a statement onthe organization's website .
Williams will always be remembered for his outstanding comedic roles and standup performances, which occasionally touched on the subject of running.
In his act, Williams had this to say of elite running: "One of my favorite runners of all time was Abebe Bikila. He was an Ethiopian distance runner, and he won the Rome Olympics running barefoot. He was then sponsored by Adidas. He ran the next Olympics, he carried the f–-in’ shoes!"
Below is a clip of Williams explaining how running a marathon delivers a cheaper high than cocaine (with some explicit language). RIP to an unparalleled actor, comedian, humanitarian, and runner.