Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

Running in the Seventies – Some Differences


Writing about my husband’s past running accomplishments in my last blog reminded me of some of the changes that have occurred over those years.

Looking smug at the start of Ottawa Marathon,1982

  1. Conventional advice for winter running was to wear woolen socks to keep hands warm. Who knew that you might dedicate a pair of regular mitts or gloves to exercise, let alone spend money to buy special ones to run in.
  2. Runners used string to measure routes on paper maps.  The really high-tech folk, of whom I knew only two, bought special map measuring wheels.  My upgrade was to use candle wicking which had wire inside and improved accuracy while measuring around a bend.
  3. Not all results were made public for the Boston Marathon.  Not only were the qualifying times more difficult (sub- 3hours for open men) but you only got your name in the official program if you were 3:15 or faster, whether male or female.
  4. There was no such thing as a personal music device.  I owned the first Sony Walkman, introduced in 1981.  The prototype was a behemoth and to run with it involved a complicated system of belts and strapping which felt like being wrapped in a very wide tensor bandage.
  5. There was no affordable stopwatch available until 1974 when Casio produced the first, priced at $150.  A bargain compared to the $2100 Pulsar by Hamilton a few years earlier.
  6. Instead of chip-timing, the popsicle-stick-timing system was commonly used and believe it or not, fairly effective.
  7. There was no Olympic marathon for women. The first Olympic marathon for women took place in 1984, three years after I had run my first marathon at age 26.  Joan Benoit stepped into the record books with her historic victory.

To hear Joan Benoit read the poem below CLICK HERE

Wanting to be able to
by: Piet Hein

“Impossibilities” are good
not to attach that label to;
since, correctly understood,
if we wanted to, we would
be able to.

26 miles later, Olivia Newton-John Wannabe feels the pain

5 thoughts on “Running in the Seventies – Some Differences

  1. Wow! I don’t know how anyone used a walkman to run with back in the day. I had no idea about the timing issues back then. Very interesting info.

    • Crazy isn’t it. My brother worked at a stereo store so I was up on the latest and greatest and got the first Walkman. But it was HUGE!!!!! It was a few years before runners started using them while running. I think of myself as having been at the cutting edge 🙂

      • Hi Lynn,

        I am helping write a book to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ottawa Marathon. I am wondering if you would be willing to share that photo of you from 1982? We are collecting stories, photos and doing profiles of runners with exceptional stories.

      • Yes that is fine. I ran my all-time PB at Ottawa at age 47 (3:07:02), 30 minutes faster than I had run 20 years earlier 🙂

  2. I’m trying to picture the walkman. I just don’t remember them. Now with the ipod, you can hardly tell if someone has one.

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