Robin Williams Remembered: Possibly the Funniest Former Track Star

Robin Williams Ran before he flew

Robin Williams had to learn to run before he could fly. (photo:

“Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death” (Patch Adams).

Robin Williams was a favorite of many, and like too many that give the world so much, he reached his own end too soon. Robin learned that sharing his authentic personality was the most valuable gift he could share. “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Surely us runners relate to this: our hobby (lifestyle, passion, obsession) often starts before the sun rises, our toenails have been forsaken, and we will be perpetually sore and semi-injured for the rest of our lives. Williams said, “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” Surely we can all relate to the never-doing-that-race-again-but-if-I-paced-myself-hydrated-trained-better-was-healthy…dialogue in our heads. But when the weariness has passed, we will pick ourselves up and let the madness resume.

Robin had troubles and his death is an extreme and unfortunate reminder of the “bad times” he may have been battling. He leaves behind a devastated family and a few unanswered questions, but more enduring, he gave us some of the favorite characters of our lifetime. From the man that taught us to love poetry in Dead Poet’s Society, the cross dressing dad-nanny that fooled everyone in Mrs. Doubtfire, the genuine mentor that worked to tame the insecure genius in Good Will Hunting, a voice of happiness for our troops in Good Morning, Vietnam (and in life, traveling to military bases around the world to entertain), a blue-opaque genie that demonstrated how putting others needs before your own is a far greater wish than personal wealth and fame in Aladdin, and the adult-ish version of Peter Pan who in saving his children rediscovers his own youth lost in Hook.

In his passing, we look back at his life and enjoy the gifts he shared even more deeply. Traveling farther back in time before any of these characters lived, Robin was a high school track runner. He was good too! With a sub 2 minute half mile to his credit, his skills extended beyond acting. While this is certainly only a tiny footnote in his biography, it highlights the diversity that the running world can call its own. If one can draw some unfounded causation from a correlation, it may show that the same patience it takes to weather his personal ups and downs translated into breaking barriers with his feet.

So while we all wish that our favorite Genie might have waited a touch longer to take his own Magic Carpet for a ride, we can certainly be grateful for what he did give us and that he too wore shorts too short at one point.

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