About Don Kardong
Native of Bellevue, Washington, born Dec. 22, 1948. Graduate of Seattle Prep (1967), Stanford University (B.A. Psychology, 1971), and the University of Washington (B.A. English, 1974; Teaching Certificate). Taught school in Spokane, Washington, from 1974-1977 at Loma Vista Elementary. Opened "The Human Race" retail running store in 1977 in Spokane (sold in June of 1986). Founder (1977) of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, a road race and community celebration with over 50,000 participants. Formerly a contributing editor for Running magazine (1980-1983), and a contributing editor (1983-1985) and senior writer (1985-1987) for The Runner magazine. Currently a contributing writer for Runner's World (1987-present). Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Spokane (2002-2004). Has been Race Director of the Lilac Bloomsday Run since August of 2004.
Began running during sophomore year of high school as a way of staying in shape for basketball. Ran competitively sophomore, junior and senior years, both cross country and track, for Seattle Prep. Finished 2nd in the state cross country meet, 1966, where the team tied for the championship. Best track times included a 1:58 half-mile, 4:30 mile, and 9:24 two-mile (indoors).
Ran four years of cross country and three years of track at Stanford, missing one season of eligibility (1969) while attending Stanford-in-Britain. Was a member of Stanford's second place NCAA Cross Country team in 1968. Finished 4th (13:28) in the NCAA 3-mile in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1970. Finished 2nd behind Steve Prefontaine in the 1971 PAC-8 3-Mile in 13:19.8. Is the Stanford record holder at two miles, three miles and six miles, and had a best mile time in college of 4:03.2. Coached by Marshall Clark while at Stanford.
After graduating, ran a first marathon of 2:18:06 (February, 1972), and went on to compete in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon and 10,000 meters. Finished 6th in both events. In 1974, ran a 3-mile in 12:57.6 in Eugene, Oregon, becoming the 5th fastest American 3-miler of all time. Also in 1974, ran a personal record of 4:01.9 in the mile. In 1975, was a member of the U.S. Track and Field Delegation to the People's Republic of China. In 1976, competed in the International Cross Country Meet in Chepstow, Wales.
On May 22, 1976, finished 3rd in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:13:54), and was 4th in the U.S. Olympic Trials 5000 meters a month later. Finished 4th in the Olympic Marathon in Montreal (7/31/76), running a personal best of 2:11:16, missing the bronze medal by 3 seconds. Was selected "Road Runner of the Year" by the Road Runners Club of America in 1976.
Winner of the 1976 Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta and the 1978 Honolulu Marathon. Has continued to compete in major road races since then, including competition as a masters (over age 40) runner. Won the 1987 Le Grizz 50 Mile Ultramarathon in 5:58:37 (10/10/87). In recent adventures, has raced to the top of the Empire State Building, through the streets of Saigon in the first International Ho Chi Minh City Marathon, and across the Grand Canyon and back in one day (41 Miles).
Positions and Honors:
National Merit Scholar (1967). Winner of the Stanford track team's Scholar-Athlete Award. Captain of the Stanford Cross Country Team (1970). President of Club Northwest (1972-76). President of the Lilac Bloomsday Association (1980, 1982-84). Has served as an athlete's representative to the Athletics Congress (TAC) and the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), and served as Chairman of the Men's Long Distance Running Committee of TAC (1986-92). Founding member and past president (1981-1995) of the Association of Road Racing Athletes, an organization representing the interests of world-class long distance runners. Was awarded Whitworth College's Community Service Award in May of 1981, Eastern Washington University's President's Medal in 1983, and the Inland Empire Sportswriters and Broadcasters Certificate of Excellence in 1983. Inducted into the Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. Recipient of the 1986 RRCA Journalism Award. Received an honorable mention in both the 1992 and 1993 Best American Sports Writing anthologies. Chair of the Inland Empire YMCA Board of Directors (1991-1993). President of the Road Runners Club of America (1996-2000). President, Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) Circuit (2006-present). Since August of 2004 has been Race Director of the Lilac Bloomsday Run.
Television commentary -- Cascade Run Off, Portland, OR (1982-88); Gasparilla Distance Classic, Tampa, FL (1987); U.S. Road Racing Championships, Dallas, TX (1987, ESPN).
Radio commentary -- Honolulu Marathon (1981-82), Cascade Run Off (1993).
Has three books published -- Thirty Phone Booths to Boston: Tales of a Wayward Runner (Macmillan Co., New York, 1985, selected an editor's choice of the American Library Association); Bloomsday: A City In Motion (Cowles Publishing, Spokane, WA, 1989); and Hills, Hawgs and Ho Chi Minh (Keokee Co. Publishing, Sandpoint, ID, 1996). Has also written (or co-written) two booklets for the Road Runners Club of America: Children's Running: A Guide For Parents and Kids and Why Run?
Member of "The Darman Group" speaker's bureau (contact Jeff Darman, 703-685-7181). Has spoken to groups locally and nationally on running-related topics, including:
- 1976 Olympic Experiences
- Running Adventures: From the Top of the Empire State Building to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon
- Kids Fitness
- Interval Training
- Marathon Training
- Humorous Running Anecdotes
Kardong’s “What do you get for fourth?” PowerPoint presentation covers his surprising development from a college walk-on to a spot on the 1976 Olympic team, where he was teammates with Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. With insight and humor, Kardong talks about the marathon strategy that nearly resulted in a bronze medal, as well as the tantalizing possibility that he may someday be awarded that prize. In the end, the audience learns what an athlete receives for finishing one place away from the Olympic podium.