Encounter with an Olympian

On today’s 25K run, I had the honour of meeting and chatting with an Olympian – a rare treat indeed!

I met Jillian Richardson, who won a silver medal for Canada in the 400 meter relay at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, at about the 17K mark of the run. She and her young son were walking their dogs along the sidewalk. She asked about barefoot running, I complimented the dogs, and off the conversation went.

I’ve learned that it’s worth interrupting a run to talk with people. I run slowly most of the time anyway, and hold as one of life’s truths the dictum “Don’t hurry.” I’ve had lots of good conversations lately because I stopped to chat.

This time it was really worth it!

Richardson told me what it felt like to run an Olympic 400. “You’re in your own little tent for the first 100,” she said, “and after that it just feels like floating.” She was present when Zola Budd and Mary Decker had their infamous “collision” incident in the 3,00 meter event of the Los Angeles Olympics.

I was overwhelmed, simply because I was chatting with an athlete of Richardson’s calibre and reputation. She said – very kindly, I thought – that she was impressed by the fact that I’m running 100K a week barefoot. A nice lady, a nice kid, a couple of nice dogs, and an absolutely amazing experience.

Even aside from that encounter that, the run itself was pretty incredible. All through it, I felt that I was gliding effortlessly in a way I’ve never known before. After meeting Richardson, though, I don’t think my feet touched the ground at all for the remainder of the run!

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