Fred Lebow once complained to his doctor that he lacked energy. His doctor advised him to take up running in order to increase his stamina. He fell in love with it! He was 39 years old when he entered his first race - and did horribly. He beat only one other contestant - a 72-year-old man. But he loved it!
Fred decided what he really wanted to do - and he did it in his spare time. He joined the New York Road Runners Club and organized New York City's first marathon race. But what Fred truly wanted to do, even more than run, was to bring people together. And that is what he did. He believe that anybody should be able to run - people of all ages, any background, professional or amateur, and of any country. Today, more than 28,000 people of all backgrounds and nationalities compete in the NYC Marathon.
Not everyone in New York was excited about people running through their neighbourhoods. Fred was approached by a youth gang that warned him that nobody had better run through their turf. "That's great," Fred enthused. "I need someone to protect the runners in your area, and you look like just the fellows to do it." He gave them each a hat, shirt and jacket and that year, when the marathon went through their neighbourhood, these young men proudly guarded the runners along their way.
Fred decided what was truly important to him and he found a way to do it. He lived with intent. That single decision made his life remarkably different.
In 1990, Fred Lebow found he had a brain tumour. In 1992 he ran his final race. He crossed the finish line holding the hand of his friend and Norwegian Olympic medallist, Grete Waitz. A bronze statue was created of Fred in his running clothes, checking his watch. It is now placed at the finish line of every race. Fred died in 1994. But as one sports writer said, "Fate handed him a short race. With his gall, with his love of life, Fred Lebow turned it into a marathon."
Fred would say that it's not about how long you live, but how you run the race of life. Do you run it with intent?
~ Steve Goodier
"The man who is intent on making the most of his opportunities is too busy to bother about luck."
B. C. Forbes