Let’s Get to Know . . . Richard Dodd

If you know anything about Richard Dodd’s past, you know his story is one of starting near the top, falling from grace and hitting rock bottom, only to rally and come back stronger than ever.

Below, he shares with us the role running has played in his life, his relationship with the sport and his most memorable race to date.


Richard Dodd

Head Cross Country Coach & Assistant Track Coach at Hartford High School/Race Director for the Adrenaline Full/Half/Quarter Marathon

Age: 54; born in Milwaukee, WI

Years running: 40

Favorite workouts: Long Slow Distance and 6-mile fartleks

Favorite song to get pumped up pre-race: Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen); Wave On Wave (Pat Green)

Favorite post-race treat: Chocolate milk, a banana and water

Fun Fact: My twin brother Pete (whose Marathon PR is 2:19:12) and I had the good fortune of running for the Saucony Racing Team for four years (1983-87).

Favorite distance to race: Marathon – it’s what I’m best at

Significant past wins:

  • Tied for first with my twin brother Pete in the 1982 Vilas 50K in 2:59:56, which is still a Wisconsin State Record and one of only 15 certified sub-3 hour 50K’s in US history
  • RRCA National Grandmaster Champion in 3:03:49 (age 52+) in the 2011 Lakefront Marathon, after a spirited battle with my good friend George Ogutu the entire distance

IMG_0016Dodd’s RCAA National Grand Champion awardwas presented by Bart Yasso

How did you start running? 

Although I was very small, I went out for freshman football. On the 3rd day of practice we had to run the mile in our helmet and cleats and I lapped the entire team save for my twin brother! I then ran a 5:08 mile in freshman track and was Varsity MVP of the cross country team for my final three years of high school.

What’s kept you running all these years?

Truthfully, it is the only thing that has ever come naturally to me.

What role has running played in your life? 

Through thick and thin, it has been my one constant for 40 years! The four-year period that I ran very little, ages 46-49, were by far the unhappiest years of my life. It is the way I connect with nature and, therefore, with God.

Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with the sport? 

I am in love with it! By far, I get my most satisfaction out of coaching distance-running to others. This will mark my 17th year of coaching cross country and track to boys & girls at the high school level, and I have coached others to their marathon goals.

Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running? 

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” (Steve Prefontaine)

What do you know now about running now that you wish you had known when you first started? 

That high-mileage isn’t always best; quality over quantity and easy (rest) days are good things!

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee? 

Whitnall Park, the Root River Parkway and anywhere along our beautiful Lakefront!

What are your favorite Milwaukee-area races and what do you like about them? 

The Lakefront Marathon, because I’ve run it a dozen times and set my all-time PR of 2:19:38 there in 1983; and the Firecracker Four in my hometown of Hales Corners, which my twin brother Pete and I co-founded in 1979.

IMG_0009Dodd racing to the finish line at Lakefront Marathon

You’ve had a long running career – what’s been the most memorable race? 

The 1986 Lakefront Marathon is the one I get asked about the most. My twin brother had won it the year before but was injured, so I was issued bib #1 and was anointed the favorite in the Milwaukee Sentinel headlines the day before the race. I was in the lead pack with John Zupanc and Tim Renzelmann at the 12-mile mark and planning to make my move at halfway, when we got stopped for two minutes by a freight train! I nearly dropped out of the race due to frustration, but hung in there and caught Tim for 2nd-place finish in the final half mile. John Zupanc showed tremendous focus by regrouping to win in 2:22, although that freight train quite likely cost him his chance at a sub-2:20 marathon.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners? 

Beautiful places to run; four-season weather that toughens one up; great camaraderie among fellow runners regardless of ability; wonderful running clubs to motivate (including the Badgerland Striders, of which I’m a Lifetime Member); great races that offer terrific competition for all ages; and outstanding running stores, such as Performance Running Outfitters, whose race-uniform I currently wear.

Well, that’s it for today – as always . . .

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

4 thoughts on “Let’s Get to Know . . . Richard Dodd

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