Gerry Lindgren’s backstory — the dark side of a running legend

Boy, was I naive. When I interviewed Gerry Lindgren at the Hawaii masters nationals last month, I had no clue about his many-splendored malfeasances. I knew only about his track career. But today I read a 1987 article in Sports Illustrated by Kenny Moore about Gerry’s mystery life — living under an assumed name (Gale Young) for years, ignoring a paternity suit verdict, abandoning his wife, Betty, and their three children.

The article tells the story of a truly tortured soul, but it also contradicts what Gerry tells people in public. Gerry’s new autobiography begins with a little family history but says nothing about “the missing years” that Moore chronicles.
What a shame.
Moore’s 1987 article concluded thusly:
Lindgren turned 41 in March and says he intends to race contemporaries Jim Ryun and Tracy Smith on the newly popular masters circuit. His first chance will come May 16, in the Bud Light Legends Mile, on the same Eugene track where he held off Smith and sprinted into the spotlight 24 years ago.
”I’d like to run, and run really well, to show age is no barrier,” he says, his voice edging into the old song. ”And maybe talk to kids afterward about how if they believe and work, they can do anything. And then . . . then ideally I could go ‘Poof. . . .’ ”
He tosses up his hands, as if filling the air with magic smoke. ”. . . And be back in my secret, simple place.”

Later, a reader asked how Gerry did in that masters mile.
The answer:
Lindgren finished 11th in a field of 15 with a time of 4:39.6. — ED.
Gerry’s life is still a Hollywood movie — but not just a running fairy tale.
Forget Ron Howard as director. Only Oliver Stone would do it justice.

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September 8, 2005

4 Responses

  1. swifty at sixty - September 12, 2005

    Please quit wasting your time and space on this idiot. No one cares.

  2. John McCarroll - September 12, 2005

    I dont think its anyones business what Gerry may or may not have done years ago in his personal life. He will always be greatly admired for his running abilities including his ability to train very hard and win. He doesnt need to make apologies to the public for anything. I’m hoping he makes a great comeback in his 60s.

  3. Ryan Namaka - October 2, 2005

    If someone else dug up dirt about you, now you would not want the public to know. Just back off on Gerry. Did he do something to you or your family? No. Give him the respect and back off on him. Did you win a gold medeal in the last Olympics in the 5Km? Did you beat the Africans in 5Km and 10Km? No on both counts, back off.
    Ryan Namaka

  4. Joe Biehl - April 28, 2014

    Disappointed in you Ken. I have followed Gerry ever since I first saw him run in the early ’70’s. If you were born in ’54, maybe he was a bit before your time and that could excuse the ignorance, but not the lack of professionalism nor the meanness. He was the inspiration and the foundation of the running movement that continues to this day. For you to judge him so discloses your shallowness. You should apologize. Sure is taking a long time for that to happen. I have a number of friends who grew up with abusive, alcoholic fathers like Gerry had. Few overcame those challenges as well as Gerry did.

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