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Written by Rod O'Donnell on 26 March 2018.

One was a World War II veteran who had a tremendous impact on American distance running. Another was a two-time Olympian and the father of a gold medalist in the 1500. The third was one of America’s great track and cross-country performers in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. The lives of Browning Ross, Matt Centrowitz, and Craig Virgin are the subjects of three recently-released books. Despite widely-varied backgrounds, all three men shared a passion for their sport and were drawn to being the best that they could be.

Ross was born near Philadelphia, in the historic town of Woodbury, New Jersey. After serving in the United States Navy, he attended Villanova, and was coached by the legendary Jumbo Elliott. A long and highly successful career was highlighted by competing on the United States Olympic team at both the London, and Helsinki Games. His contributions to the sport went far beyond running; he was the publisher of one of the first running periodicals, The Long Distance Log, and he was the founder The Road Runners’ Club of America. The book will give the reader an interesting insight into the early days of competitive running and the beginning of the running boom.

Centrowitz was raised in the Bronx, and began his career at Manhattan College, before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he developed into a two-time Olympian under the guidance of coaching great, Bill Dellinger.

Virgin grew up in the small farming town of Lebanon, Illinois, was an outstanding high school runner, and continued his running career at the University of Illinois, where he was coached by Gary Wienke.

All three biographies present thorough accounts of the lives of three men who were great runners, and, in their varied ways, had an impact on American distance running long after their storied careers ended.

I would highly recommend adding Browning Ross: The Father of American Distance Running, by author Jack Heath; Like Father, Like Son, authored by Matt Centrowitz, Nathan Williams, and Chris Kwiatkowski; and Virgin Territory, author Randy Sharer, to your running library. You will find the story of their lives fascinating and will learn why all three developed into American distance icons.


Yours in Track,

Rod O’Donnell

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