I’ve admired Joe Dudman for years and it’s not because he once ran 84 races in a single year, or that he’s earned 540 race shirts, while both are impressive, but he’s an amazing athlete and my admiration has only grown after getting to know him. I’ve always known Joe was a gifted runner, since his name is usually on the list of top finishers, regardless of distance or age of his competitors, but I had no idea that running is just one of his attributes.
Joe has always been athletic. Born in Portland, Joe attended Catlin Gabel and Cleveland High School. He was involved in soccer and track at Cleveland, before heading to Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he ran indoor/outdoor track as well as cross county. He returned to Portland and has been a longtime member of ORRC (Oregon Road Runners Club) and joined the Red Lizards in 2005. With more than 540 races on his resume, he’s a familiar face in the running community.
I congratulated Joe after winning a local 5k run several years ago and he was gracious enough to thank me, even though he was probably wondering how on earth I knew who he was. I got braver a couple of years later and actually talked to Joe at the Run for Boston. He gave a short talk on his Boston 2013 experience and I had to ask his secret. I had to know how this guy, who was approaching 50, could compete with the teenagers out there and show no signs of aging. I will never forget his response. He said he was keeping his mileage low to stay healthy and injury free. I can only imagine the look on my face as the guy who just talked about running the Boston Marathon considered that low mileage. I think that’s what I love about Joe. He truly has no idea how amazing he is, or if he does he hides it well, very well.
Fast forward another year, where I was privileged enough to be on a relay team with this guy. The 12 Bridges Relay was a fun one-day relay and I was curious about the event itself, but truthfully I was running it to get some running tips from my running hero. I didn’t get any tips on my form, I think he’s too nice to critique my gait, or the list was too long to cover in one day. It was fun to watch this running superstar encourage the ordinary runners, like myself. I was chatting with Kelly, a close friend of Joe’s and the organizer of the Joe Dudman 5.0. I loved how she pointed out that Joe will win a race, not say a thing about it and ask you how your run went, genuinely wanting to hear, always humble.
I didn’t get advice on my running form, but he did give me some encouragement while we were chatting in between legs. I told him my two girlfriends were busy qualifying for Boston at the Newport Marathon while we were running the relay. I had three months to requalify to go with them and it was making me panic a bit. He told me to just relax and go run one for the fun of it, no pressure and to not worry about qualifying. I took his advice and ran Vancouver Marathon last weekend for fun. Joe was right, I needed to just step back, stop worrying about it and just let it happen.
I’m so glad (and honored) I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Joe Dudman. I still have plenty to learn from this guy. I saw him at the ORRC Hagg Lake 10k; he was WAY up front and I waved, probably looking more like a crazy fan than a friend. No response. He was focused and so determined he didn’t see anyone else, it was him and the pavement. You’ll see Joe at races chatting it up before the run and at the finish line, but when that gun goes off, he’s a true competitor. The most humble, kind hearted and witty competitor I know. I’ll never be able to run like Joe, but I hope to give it my heart like Joe.
**This super nice guy is turning 50 and he’ll be celebrating with a run, the Joe Dudman 5k. Come out and run or walk this Saturday, June 21st at ADAPT in Beaverton. Day of registration will be available, beginning at 7:15AM and all participants will receive a travel mug and cup of Joe at the finish line.