Bill Rodgers inspires River Runners

Published On: Jan 06 2013 12:00:00 AM EST   Updated On: Mar 08 2013 03:40:00 PM EST

As thousands of runners picked up their packets and T-shirts at the Runners Expo on Friday they had the chance to meet a legend in the running community, Bill Rodgers.

Rodgers ran in -- and won -- the first River Run in 1978.

"There were nowhere near as many women runners, no prize money. The race was much smaller. It was still exciting. It's a very exciting course." Rodgers said.

Rodgers is also the only American to win both the Boston and New York City marathons four times each. He ranks his first 15K win in Jacksonville as one of his greatest and loves to see how the race has grown and gained interest over 35 years.

"When you become a walker, a runner, it's a lifetime sport. This is how we can beat diseases like heart disease and diabetes" he said.

Rodgers signed autographs for the runners on their race numbers, shirts, and some on his book, 'The Idiots Guide to Running'. For people just starting out, he recommends joining a running club locally to stay motivated, which is something he has managed to do since he was in his prime.

"I ran 130 miles a week I ran twice a day. These top young runners are doing the same thing," said Rodgers. "Now I run 30 miles a week, 40 miles a week. I can't train that hard. I'm 65 years old."