Jan 13, 1999

Arne Richards

I am writing a story to commemorate Arne Richards on the 20th anniversary of his death. I think the young bloods around here don't know what it's all about when we give the Arne award at the Trinity Hospital Hill each year. Can you share your memories of him? (Jerry Morrison, Kansas City, Missouri)

REPLY: Here are key lines from the June 1979 Runner's World column. Arne had died on March 26th at age 46.

Arne Richards never set a world record. He never wrote a book. It had been years since he wrote an article or held an office with a running organization. Not one runner in a thousand knows his name. Arne was one of the rare people who moved running quietly.

The important fact about Arne was how he approached his running, not how fast he did it. In the 1950s and 1960s, he lived the sport the way others would only start to live it years later. Arne Richards was a Complete Runner.

Besides running himself, Arne worked to make the sport better. He never earned anything for this as he wrote for what passed as running publications, put on races and served as an AAU and RRCA officer when no one else wanted those jobs. He also took time to help young runners who might not have gone on without a kind word at the right time.

He, more than anyone else, planted the idea in my mind that I would grow up to be a long-distance runner. But what he did for me looks small beside what he did for Runner's World founder Bob Anderson.

Arne, more than anyone besides Bob himself, started the magazine moving toward what it is now. The distance running experts of 1965 mostly pooh-poohed the idea of a new magazine. They said there weren't enough runners to support it, and they doubted that a 17-year-old boy could handle a publication.

Arne may have thought this too, but he helped Bob find starting-up information. He subscribed when others weren't rushing to sign up. He agreed to serve on the editorial board. When Bob moved (from Overland Park) to Manhattan in 1966, Arne was there to greet him -- the only true long-distance runner in town. Today's magazine -- and sport -- bear Arne's imprint.