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Larry Gassan Monday, 29 July 2013 10:09 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Ultrarunning Back in the Day - Page 3

What stopped your ultra career?

A knee injury that initially was a result of a fall in 1995 while running, where I fractured the head of the femur, cracked the bone inward, which took a year and a half to heal. All other knee issues are directly related to this fall. Three years ago I had a cartilage replacement on the left knee, using my own tissue grown in a lab in Boston, which seems to have helped.

Best memories of your own ultrarunning career?

1989 Angeles Crest. The day was magic. Everything came together.

How did you get into coaching?

I was approached by the Foothill Flyers to coach them. I decided that I’d rather have my own club rather than provide “friendly coaching” and then have someone get injured, and then get sued. This way I could get USATF coverage etc.

And this led to Team Blarney, which met on Monday, then Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. for the famous track workouts.

Here is a very short list of some of the runners:

Jennifer Johnston was getting her PhD at Cal Tech, and wandered in O’Brien’s office one day in 1994. She went from being a good marathoner to winning Angeles Crest for the women twice, and was on the USA 100K team.

Bruce Hoff and Dana Taylor came in good, and came out better. Taylor came from road marathons and triathlons—set a course record at Kettle Moraine 100 in 1997, which stood for two years. Hoff began to realize some of his epic goals at places as varied as Wasatch, Hardrock, Jed Smith and Vancouver after training with O’Brien.

Joe Franko finished in the low 22s at Angeles Crest in 1990 and 1991.

Francisco Fabian, while working a six-day week as a baker and going to school, started from zero. He’d originally started jogging in a pair of Costco cheapies to quit a three-pack-a-day smoking habit. After a year with O’Brien, he finished his first AC100 in 1999, in 26:28. He then buttoned it up to a 23:55 in 2001.

Hal Chiasson, who fooled all of us with his Clark Kent CPA exterior, was in reality a tough guy waiting to happen. He did his first 100 at 55 with a 28-hour finish. Admittedly never fast but always cheerful, polite—and tough.

Chip Parsons, Nancy Tinker and many of us would await the monthly handouts of the new schedules and wonder how many spare minutes would be left in our lives. This led to some highly charged speculation on the part of some spouses who felt they were in some way ignored, but it all got worked out somehow.

What are some of the biggest mistakes beginning ultrarunners make?

Not taking the distances seriously. Not treating the training seriously. Being self-coached with no serious direction. A blind willingness to replicate mistakes. Resistance to positive ideas.


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