Classic Corner - Andy Palmer - a Tribute
The Bill Rodgers Running Center and the running community in general lost one of its stalwarts this weekend. Andy Palmer died on Saturday, February 2nd, 2002 while pursing his love of running in Moses Cone National Park near his home. Andy and his wife Zika were just getting underway at their new ZAP Fitness facility, a state of the art physical and psychological testing and training center. It was a dream come true for Andy and his enthusiasm for this new Project was evident when I saw him at the Boston Marathon Expo last spring. We had a great talk on the state of American distance running and upon finishing our conversation it occurred to me that Andy was a man who was going to make a difference. A lot of us give lip service to what needs to be done to improve American distance running. Andy was going to do something about it.
He first appeared on the Boston Running scene in the late 1970's, a tall, lean redheaded kid with a quiet intensity. When you asked him where he was from he would say Northern Maine. There was a difference between Maine and Northern Maine.
He once told me he wanted to be one of the "heavies" in the Boston running Scene. Boston had a lot of "heavies" back then. Andy's goal was to be one of them. So he threw himself into his training. He worked at the Bill Rodgers Running Center and soon became part of the family. Sister Jane soon came down and there was beginning to be a Palmer presence at the Bill Rodgers Running Center and Bill Rodgers & Company, Bill's new clothing line.
Andy soon developed a reputation as a monster trainer, putting in weeks of up to 160 miles. He could dominate local road races and was becoming someone who could start competing with the big boys.
In the fall of "83" there was a one shot marathon that started and finished on Charles street between the Common and the Public Garden. It soon became apparent that almost everyone who wanted a local Fall Marathon was signed up for the Boston fest Marathon. Except for the world class guys like Rodgers, Thomas and Hodge, all the guys on the next level were there, the Kimball brothers Mark and Dean, Uinnie Fleming, Doug Sweazy, Paul Operowski and Andy Palmer. It was developing into a contest for bragging rights for New England Marathons. Well, on a tough course Andy ran a strong race crushing a good field, coming up on the leaders as the race developed, and ultimately running away from everyone in a time of 2:16. Later at the Eliot Lounge Andy danced the night away.
Some of Andy's best accomplishments are: Two time Olympic trials qualifier in the Marathon He was 13th in the trials for the world Marathon in 1986 He held the American record for 30 K for 29 year olds in 1984 He had the tenth fastest American time (47:52) for ten miles in 1981
Andy Palmer was a great example of an old school mentality that was prevalent during the running boom years of the late "70's" and early "80's." He was a man who actualized his potential to the max with a great work ethic and mental toughness that was second to none.
The following is an excerpt from an email I received from Andy last April..
"Jason, One Summer I did this workout every day"
Jump rope: 100 on right foot / 100 on left foot / 100 on both feet X 5
100 double Turns
100 cross the rope
100 power jumps to a beam nine foot six inches (I would go up and grab it)
50 rim touches
The first week I use on set of 2 and ╫ pound ankle weights
The second week two sets
The third week three sets
The fourth week I added a 10 pound belt.
The fifth week I added that 20 pound vest you talk of and kept it for the remainder of the summer. I did that workout with 45 extra pounds on my body. I would also run to work with ankle weights and the vest occasionally. I can understand your old workouts. And my vertical leap in College was 36 inches (13 inches my freshman year in high school.) This is Andy in a nutshell.
It is with a profound sense of loss that the Bill Rodgers Running Center pays tribute to Andy Palmer. Andy's life was full of enthusiastic intensity and represented what is possible with a vision and the drive to achieve that vision. This is like the passing of a family member for us and our heart felt sympathies go out to all of the people, family and friends, who Andy's life touched. Andy Palmer will be missed by us all.
Family owned and independently operated since 1977