Vegas with TF 1983


Vegas with TF Flyer 1983

Rigged marathon course downhill etc. home of tricksters hucksters gamers so naturally it had to be.

77 journal Vegas Ronnie

Tumble of the dice with life racing much more than a boot strap pick up of maybe some combination Lady Luck.


La Dolce Vita

Tumbling Dice


I have been to Las Vegas twice and have no further interest in the place but the first visit while on a cross country trip in 1977/78 was an eye opener and educational experience.

My comrade Ronnie and I were traveling hobos about to partake in some high roller activities with our meager funds. Ronnie played some cards I stuck with the one armed bandits and quit while I was ahead about seven bucks. 

Truth was I hated Vegas and considered myself an observer of a freak show, Pottersville on steroids.

Lady Luck casino, Lady Luck roll the dice with your life, running and racing bootstrap pick up, American dream, Vegas personified huckster and grifter in American life. Still fucking peasants….

We milked our time eating as much of the free food for gamblers we could. And the cheap breakfast and bottomless cup of coffee.

Then we skulked our way out of there never to return, but I did as fate would have it almost exactly five years later.

In January 1983 I was invited along with a host of others to a race in Phoenix AZ the Runners Den 10k . I was coming off a busy mostly successful year that had left me weary the hard running traveling racing always running the edge and something wasn’t right with my body and mind .

I stayed at the race directors house with other racers and we ran together each day and generally had a good time if it weren’t for the race commitment it would have been perfect.

I started the race but by the time I hit the mile I was well behind in 4:47 and I dropped out.

My breathing was off and I was heavy with fatigue but I seemed to recover quickly. After the race I met a doctor friend I knew from Boston named Kent Smith who had moved to Phoenix and he made an appointment for me the next day to go and have a physical and get some blood tests. True Lady Luck a very generous offer.

As I sat in Kent’s office waiting to see him I looked over my running logs and journals where I might glean some wisdom as to my current predicament.

In 1982 I ran 32 races including three marathons. There were other fatigue factors including my peripatetic lifestyle having changed abodes five times in the last six years.

Kent’s diagnosis was “Bobby you may have a low level virus complete rest or very little running for a few weeks is what I would recommend.”

Arthur Lydiard talked about recovery and how moderate paced running even a great amount was quick to recover from but that too much anaerobic work,racing required longer recovery.

While I appreciated and respected Kent’s recommendations it was out of the question to me that I would shut it down so I continued to run 100 mile weeks but at a moderate pace.

It was in the midst of this little personal crisis I had an offer from Las Vegas Marathon Race Director Al Boka who was in Phoenix for Runners Den, to attend the marathon and speak at the pre race dinner as well as ride the press truck and contribute to the commentary.

I would partner with old friend Tom Fleming for this excursion. It seemed like a nice diversion and Al was a nice sincere guy a musician who played piano with an orchestra while reading “War and Peace” since they did the same gig about 300 nights a year.

Tom and I watched an entire show in the pit with Al, pretty awesome dancing chorus girls and everythang.

In typical Vegas fashion the course had been rigged to start in the mountains outside town with a massive elevation drop in the first half hoping for fast times.

Somehow the effects of this elevation drop on the athletes bodies was not seriously considered.

TF and I were put up in a nice hotel where the pre race dinner and festivities were held. 

Tom was an old hat with the speaking gig deal and we played off each other like another Vegas comedy act as the competitors ate we did stand up.

Tom re enacted a run we did along with Bruce Bickford the day before flying to Vegas where I was belching and complaining about the bean sprout salad I had eaten. 

They ate it up the way a group of warriors ate up a speech by General George Patton before going into battle.

The morning of the race TF and I got a ride to the start ahead of the race and ran the first ten miles a quad shattering experience even at an easy pace.

Mark Messler a very solid competitor lead from start to finish going through 10 miles in 46:00 and change.

Well well well I will say this, It was something to experience Vegas scene so different from five years earlier but I still felt the same way regardless.

Las Vegas Marathon: