Thursday, December 10, 2009

Carey Pinkowski on Jumbo Elliott

Carey Pinkowski was an All-American at Villanova in the 1970s, and has been the race director of the Chicago Marathon since 1990. At Hammond (IN) High School he was State Champion twice in both cross-country and the mile. His best times were 4:12 for the mile and 8:56 for two miles. With his teammates, Tim Keogh and Rudy Chapa, he is part of the only trio of runners from one high school to break 9:00 for two miles in the same year. At Villanova, he had personal bests of 4:00.8 for the mile, 13:48 for 5,000 meters and 29:12 for 10,000 meters. In a recent interview, he spoke about the Villanova program and running for Jumbo Elliott:

Q: You were a very good collegiate runner at Villanova with personal bests of 13:48 for 5,000 meters and 29:12 for 10,000 meters. Additionally, you ran on a Penn Relay 4 x 1,500 meter winning squad which included Sydney Maree and an IC4A distance medley winning foursome with the legendary Indoor Mile World Record Holder Eamonn Coghlan. Your coach was the renowned Jumbo Elliott. How did your coach and being around many dedicated, top-notch runners help you develop as an athlete and person?

Carey Pinkowski: Running for Villanova and Jumbo Elliott for four years was a great experience as we were IC4A and NCAA team champions at various times. To be coached by Jumbo Elliott was fantastic. I ran all of the distances and made All-American a couple times so it was a great career with wonderful teammates. The indoor schedule was very enriched by running big meets like the Olympic Invitational and Millrose Games. Jumbo’s philosophy wasn’t complicated. It was a specific routine where he tried to keep us healthy because one of the challenges was in having so many great athletes that we could get competitive in practice. The tradition of Villanova and of Coach Elliott was very impressive. When I ran there he was the only track coach Villanova had ever had as he ran there and coached the team while he was running. Then he just continued after graduating for many, many years. He had a marvelous personality and a great sense of humor and wanted to see his Villanova runners continue that tradition. He could get angry, but he liked to laugh and keep things on the light side. He expected things from his athletes but didn’t put on undue pressure. It was more like, ‘You’re here and you know what to do and lets see you do it.’ Jumbo’s philosophy was that life wasn’t just about athletics but that we should enjoy the school atmosphere, the friends we make and the people we meet because when you finish with school your life will change dramatically.

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