Bowman and the Men of Oregon

Kenny Moore

Bill Bowerman was a remarkable man.  Among his accomplishments:

·      Was a World War II hero

·      Coached 16 sub-four-minute milers at the University of Oregon

·      Was a head US Olympic track coach

·      Ignited the running boom

·      Made Eugene, Oregon, the track capital of the world

·      Invented the waffle-soled running shoe and co-founded Nike

·      Was half of a passionate, 71-year-long love story

He had an incredible impact on the state of Oregon because of his long tenure as head coach of the track team at the university.  But he also had enormous influence on distance running and the world of track and field.   Many would say that he deserves most of the credit for the running boom that began in the United States in the 1970s and continues until the present.

He was a different man.  Unique.  Those who knew him well considered him a genius, for he was forever inventing things.  He was completely candid and honest with people, at times to a fault.  Of course he had weaknesses, such as being overly stubborn and even unforgiving.

The book is fascinating and is so well-written by Kenny Moore, who was one of his runners who was a two-time Olympian and who was a long-time writer for Sports Illustrated.  Kenny Moore can write.

This was my second time to read the book and I’m glad I re-read it.  I probably enjoyed it even more this time.  Why does the book appeal to me so?  Several factors:  My interest in distance running, my interest in Oregon, perhaps that I knew, at least casually, a lot of the people in the book.

The book is not simply on Bill Bowerman.  It is on Bowerman and the men of Oregon.  So many, many fascinating characters, with Steve Prefontaine at the top of that list and Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, somewhere near the top of the list.  But many others.

This is one of my all-time favorite biographies.