THE DISTANCE RUNNER By Percy Cerutty
A poem by Percy Wells Cerutty
The famed Australian coach
Running: running; hear the beat!
Bursting lungs and pounding feet.
Straining: gaining: ‘til you’re done:
Or you have the race well-won.
Than give up or let them by.
Training: raining; wet or cold:
You’ll complain and say you’re sold,
But you’ll stick it every day,
When you find you’re made that way.
Living: striving: to make good;
Striving as a real man should.
Up at dawn and on the track;
You’ll be sweating ere you’re back.
Later on another run,
Tho’ you’re feeting rather done.
Hot or windy, hail or shine,
Real men run and never whine.
You will lose all ‘ifs” and “buts,”
If you are a man of guts.
If it’s on the old print blue,
That is good enough for you.
Tho’ the job will make you groan,
You won’t worry, wince or moan.
Running: running: early, late:
Running with a steady gate.
You who never quit or pause,
Soon shall learn the prize is yours.
Strong in wind, and big in heart,
You will grow a man apart.
If you’re soft, and just “so-so:”
Don’t start running, No: No: No!
Running is not meant for you,
Only for the favor’d few;
For the really strong and tough:
Those who like, and take it, rough.
Running: running: flat or hill:
Running mostly on your will.
It looks easy: just the same,
Try it out – this running game.
You can run if you’re a man:
He who runs is – he who can!
Come then running mile on mile:
Run and relax and you’ll smile.
Tho’ you blister, ache and sweat,
Tho’ you moan and groan and fret:
When the Race of Life is run,
You will know that you have won.
AFTERNOTE: The Australian Percy Cerutty is among the few coaches that left a tremendous impression on our sport. Cerutty coached John Landy, who soon after Roger Bannister broke 4 minutes in the mile, bettered Bannister’s world record. Cerutty also coached Herb Elliott, never defeated in the 1500 or mile, during his entire career, gold medalist at 1500 in the 1960 Olympics. Cerutty ran a training camp for runners at the beach community of Portsea, 60 miles from Melbourne. He sent runners like Landy and Elliott running up sand dunes. He pioneered a training approach that ignored tracks and stopwatches and trusted the runners’ instincts to push themselves to near exhaustion. Early in my career as a journalist, I wrote an article about the legendary Australian coach for the magazine Coronet. I will be offering a signed copy of this poem plus the manuscript of my article later this week on eBay.