Raised to Run: Swag Hartel

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Running
Tags: , , , ,

By Amy Freeze

I first started running with my dad – who was a “middle of the packer” but that didn’t keep him for admiring the guys that won the races. My Dad made sure that I learned how to run from the very best.  While “learning to run” might seem like a funny statement.  There are tricks of the trade – and learning them from other runners is an ongoing eneavor for me.  The summer after my first Mini Marathon I attended a running camp put on by the legendary Swag Hartel. I joined other preteens learning form, how to run sprints, drinking just enough water before races and how to chose the right shoes. I still think about the simple, basic tips Swag taught me during that camp that I use today:

  • Form – holding my fists gentle enough to carry an egg!
  • Sprints – sprints can be incorporated into any run… it’s called tempo training
  • Water- drink the day before a race, sip on race day
  • Shoes- ALWAYS get them at a Running Store so you have the right size

I still think about those training tips when I run today. Even though I started young, I feel like I learn new things about myself and my fitness level every time I hit the road.  I looked up Swag’s running store and reached out to ask him some questions.  Here’s some Rare Video of 1983 Swag Hartel KY Derby Mini Marathon


AMY FREEZE: Swag!  I hope you remember me. I wanted to catch up with you and see how your running life is going. 

SWAG HARTEL:  It was great to hear from you and learn you still have a love for running. I do remember you and sure liked your dad, Bill. I appreciate your interest in my story and hope the following information will be of assistance for your blog. 

AMY FREEZE:  Swag Hartel grew up in the 50¹s and 60¹s in England.  He was inspired by Roger Bannister, best known for running the first sub-4 minute mile, and Herb Elliott¹s Olympic 1500m gold medal run in 1960. What do you remember about your start in running?

SWAG HARTEL:  I played rugby in school, but took up running when I acquired a shoulder injury. I enjoyed running because of the joy and freedom it gave me. Plus, it was something I knew I was good at and I¹ve always loved winning! My senior year of high school I ran a 1:50.8 and became the fastest 17-year-old half-miler in the world that year. Many miles have past since those days and I now consider myself ³retired². I no longer run competitively, however I do still enjoy coaching the youth in my area and running with my dogs.

AMY FREEZE:  What’s your favorite running or race experience?

SWAG HARTEL:  My favorite running memory was in 1975 when I proved I could compete with the best. It was the British AAA Championship at the London Crystal Palace. I completed a 3m.40.6 after running the prior heat at 3m.41.2, to place 3rd and establish my name among the world¹s top runners. Although I no long compete, I continue to receive great satisfaction in running. It is my sanctuary in overcoming challenges. Running is my way to relieve stress, to get away from everything and see God¹s magnificent creation around me.

If you are even in Louisville, KY – get fitted by the best: SWAG

 Amy Freeze


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