Bart Yasso may be one of running's most recognizable faces, and Legacy of Hope is thrilled to sponsor “the Mayor of Running” himself for the 2022 Love Run Half Marathon. If you don’t know who Bart Yasso is, let’s just say you could easily get lost in awe when reading through his accomplishments, a few of which follow:
Yasso was CRO (Chief Running Officer) for Runner’s World magazine for 31 years (he's now retired); he has logged roughly 120,000 miles in his 44 years of running. Yasso racked up that mileage over years of running dozens of marathons annually—some under grueling conditions, like Death Valley and Antarctica—and competing in more than 1,200 races—including marathons on all seven continents. He has run ultras including Badwater (when it was 146 miles), completed five IronMan triathlons, and invented “Yasso 800s”—a workout devised to predict marathon finish times. His personal best marathon time is 2:39, though he doesn’t boast. He was inducted in the Running USA Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Long Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2018. He has cycled solo across the country, twice—with no support team. He's a beast of a cyclist, even though he's best known for running. He won the 1987 US National Biathlon long course championship. And he is the author of two books: Race Everything, and My Life on the Run. Out of breath yet?
Despite his world-class achievements, Yasso remains grounded. Cancer took two of his older brothers, Jerry (at age 66) and George (at age 52) who challenged him to his first race (a 10k). The most striking thing about Bart is his approachability. His lack of pretense and his encouraging, compassionate, supportive energy are genuine and inspiring.
He connected with Legacy of Hope a few years ago after meeting Mike Rowe. “Mike hooked me after telling me what it’s all about. Legacy's mission is something I feel passionate about—helping people when they’re in these tough situations. It could happen to anyone. You never know. It could happen to me; it could happen to you. You just never know...people not being able to pay their medical bills, not having enough money to put food on the table or pay their mortgage or rent. That's brutal! If you can help those people out, that’s what it’s all about.”
“The sport of running seems so simplistic. You know, you just put one foot in front of the other and continue down the road. But running has done so much for charity, for things like cancer. What the sport has done is just so amazing. It makes me feel good to know that running plays a vital role in helping people.”
Yasso recounts a particularly inspiring memory (of many). “I was down in Austin to speak at the expo, run the half marathon, and for festivities of the Austin Marathon. The race director asked if I might go visit this guy, Shawn McGuire, in the hospital. He was entered in the race but got really sick with cancer, and his treatment was slated for race weekend. He just wanted it so bad, and he ended up running the marathon course by himself and the next day he was in the hospital for his cancer treatment. He got out there and did it—all on his own. So I call him the winner of the Austin marathon. When he ran that day he may not have had the fastest time out there, but sometimes winners aren’t the ones who cross the line first, but the ones who overcome all kinds of stuff just to get to the starting line. It was so cool to be part of that and meet Shawn.”
While seemingly an unstoppable juggernaut, this 66 year old Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native has had ongoing bouts with Lyme disease since 1990, having contracted it four times, with each subsequent infection doing more damage to his body. A particularly nasty episode left him temporarily unable to run, but led to him bouncing back with a vengeance, and a win, at the 1998 Smokey Mountain Marathon—at age 43! Yasso credits his vegetarian diet—vegan about 95% of the time—with helping to keep his Lyme disease in check these days. And we're grateful for that, perhaps somewhat selfishly, because it gives us the opportunity (two actually) to run with him in the weeks ahead, and it allows him to continue doing what he does best, giving back while uniting the running community.
Come out and join Bart Yasso on Saturday, March 12, 9am (meet at the Art Museum steps) as he leads a 10 mile training run for this year's Love Run. Yasso stresses “This is a really key workout for those who are running the half marathon. It’s your last long run before race day; so it sets the tone. You don't wanna race it...keep it a training run.”
We'll see you out there. Meanwhile, please support Bart Yasso and Legacy of Hope by donating to Bart's Fundraiser or, there's still time register to run alongside him at Phillyrunsfree.com—raise $250 and your registration is free.