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In The Presence Of A Legend -Coach Bill Dellinger!

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This piece was done during the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, in June 2021. Bill Dellinger is an iconic coach and athlete, a true leader of men. His innovations in training have changed modern distance running. His collaborations with Bill Dellinger changed generations of American distance runners and are influencing them today.

No one but Jeff Benjamin could have done this story with the love and reverence it deserves. So, sit back, read, re-read and enjoy.

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L-R, John Combe, Jeff Benjamin, Coach Bill Dellinger, Oregon Legend & Gonzaga Coach Pat Tyson, Tony Gulotta

image3.jpegHall of Famer, Bill Dellinger (1964 Olympic bronze medalist

In The Presence Of A Legend -Coach Bill Dellinger!

By Jeff Benjamin

“Oh C’mon! We’ll all fit…Get in!!”

So commanded Coach Matt Centrowitz at the Wild Duck bar in his native Bronx Bomber-deep-toned accent, as 9 (!) of us packed into one small Uber!

Like from one of the milder scenes of the classic movie “Animal House” (which was ironically filmed on the campus of the University of Oregon!) John Lovett, Tony Gulotta, John Edwards, Jimmy Morgan, John Combe along with this writer and others crunched together in all different fetal positions to traverse a few road miles uphill past “Pre’s Rock” to pay homage to a Legend in his home.

None other than Coach Bill Dellinger.

The 3-Time Olympian, 1964 5000 Olympic Bronze medalist, and Oregon Duck Coach invited us to visit and, no matter the method of travel, it was certainly an honor one could not refuse.

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Bill Dellinger’s book, published in 1984, with autograph

Replete with pictures, awards, and achievements, Dellinger’s home smacked of all things related to Oregon, American & World Track & Field!

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Still enjoying life and wearing the NY Yankees hat signed by George Steinbrenner!

87 years young, still razor-sharp, and quite humorous despite some health issues, the iconic Dellinger held this writer’s hand for support as he energetically guided us around the pantheon of his house in moments I will never forget!

image4.jpegBill Dellinger winning the Pan Am Championships

Equally unforgettable was getting the Coach to sign one of his great books, “The Competitive Runner’s Training Book.”

image5.jpegSteve Prefontaine racing in Van Cortlandt

Published in the pre-Amazon/Social Media days of 1984, this book was the closest an East Coaster could get to Dellinger and his vaunted Oregon Track stars during that era when books like these served as inspirational “Bibles” to many a young high school and collegiate runner.

image6.jpegBill Dellinger, University of Oregon Hall of Fame

image7.jpegBill Dellinger, University of Oregon Hall of Fame

Here are some pics videos below!

image9.jpegBill Dellinger’s 1964 Training Diary

image11.jpegBill Dellinger’s Training Diary, week of 1964 Tokyo Olympics

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L-R, Matt Centrowitz, Coach Dellinger, Jeff Benjamin, Tony Gulotta

Video – Jeff Benjamin reading aloud Bill Dellinger’s training diary leading to the 1964 Olympic 5000 Bronze medal!

Bell Lap –

A Final bonus visit took place for Tony & I once again, as the Dellinger crew asked us to bring up bottled water after the Trials were over to the house.

In a final farewell, Coach Dellinger gripped my hand hard as I told him we’ll see him next year at the 2022 World Championships.

With that positive glint in his eye he replied –

“You Betcha!”

Check out this video on Bill Dellinger, “The Magician” , courtesy of Elevation Films





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